Mike and I find ourselves in Medicine Hat, Alberta every so often to visit our dear friends Jack and Nicole.
Medicine Hat is a small city in southern Alberta, about five hours south east of Edmonton or 3 hours from Calgary. We first visited in 2015 (see my original blog post about ‘The Hat’) and I’ve been delighted that there’s been no shortage of sights to see and places to try (particularly, restaurants!) on our following trips.
If you’re headed to Medicine Hat (or maybe in Medicine Hat and looking for some thing news to do / places to eat), below are some of the things we did on our most recent visit (December 2019).
Explore Alberta: 7 Things To Do (Including Where To Eat) in Medicine Hat
1. Explore A Used Book Store
I love spending time in a book store. I used to read constantly growing up, then went through a bit of a book dry spell in my early adult years, and now I’m back reading again in full force! New and used books alike.
In Medicine Hat we explored Unlimited Characters book store (1577 Dunmore Rd SE). The bookstore is open seven days a week and launched in the fall of 2019 by a man named George Giffen who went from oilfield worker to taxi driver to used bookstore owner—his dream job (according to this Medicine Hat News story on the store!)
Mike found some great old fantasy novels and Nicole found for me A BIOGRAPHY ABOUT SPAM!!!! Amazing!
2. Take in a Junior Hockey Game
Being from Edmonton, hockey games don’t come cheap lol. But the big hockey in Medicine Hat is their junior league, where tickets are extremely affordable! We got club seating (prime seats!) for around $30 a person.
It was a great game! Go Medicine Hat Tigers, Go!
3. Eat At The Best Sushi Restaurant in The Hat!
We love Japanese food! So do our Medicine Hat pals Jack and Nicole. They’ve tried all the Japanese options in Medicine Hat and were excited to take us to the newest spot: Takumi Japanese Restaurant. This spot turned out to be their favourite Japanese in Medicine Hat—and in turn, ours!
Takumi is a tiny, 10-seat eatery located at 23 8 St. NW. This restaurant offers some dishes that aren’t available in Japanese restaurants I’ve been to in Edmonton, Calgary and beyond, like Spam Maki!! They also offer a variety of Aburi Style Nigiri (slightly seared raw fish), specialty rolls, and ramen, incuding ramen combos that come with gyoza, rice or salad. Food is rolled out in little carts and service is lovely. It’s a really great, intimate spot with delicious food!
Takumi’s Chef Seho has 23 years of experience, working in Tokyo, Japan, San Francisco, and Seoul, Korea and on the menu, the following quote is printed:
“I want to give you my heart and love through food.”
4. Visit the Red Rock Coulee
Medicine Hat is located about 36 minutes from the Red Rock Coulee Natural Area in southern Alberta.
This area is home to some of the largest sandstone rocks in the world! These are giant red, spherical boulders said to have been formed from shale, sandstone and sediment a millenia ago when the land was at the bottom of a prehistoric sea. How cool is that?! You could camp out here (Jack and Nicole tried, but it was very windy and scary lol), or just take a short day trip out for photos and wonderment. Along the way there’s an old abandoned little park where you can also snap your next album cover photo, lol.
Medicine Hat is also located near an area of the province known as the Canadian Badlands!
The Red Rock Coulee is part of that, but there are also hoodoos (tall, thin, even alien-looking formations also formed from prehistoric rocks).
We’ve never seen hoodoos but that’s something on our to-do list for a summer visit to the region!
5. Have Lunch At The Zucchini Blossom
You can’t beat a lovely little lunch at a local cafe in a small town (or small city, or okay any sized city lol). The Zucchini Blossom Market & Cafe at 50 3 St. NE (Riverside) is one of those small town cafes you just have to visit.
The Zucchini Blossom Market & Cafe serves paninis, salads, pizzas, soups and quiches, plus great drinks including my typical drink order—a matcha latte. The soup of the day was a deliciously creamy tomato (pro-tip: get a large not a small! It’s so good). The pizza was thin (more flatbread-like) with a great bite. The sandwiches were super fresh. Everything was a great size at a great price!
6. Spend the Night Out a Prohibition-Era Themed Restaurant
Jack and Nicole wanted to take us for a night on the town and that included food and drinks at a prohibition-area themed restaurant and bar—The 1911 Lounge, where you’re invited to “lift your spirits underground,” a really fun play on words because of their focus on drinks (spirits) and that the restaurant is located in the basement of a historic building (since 1911) in downtown Medicine Hat (620 2 St. SE).
The 1911 Lounge offers 18 wines, 15 signature cocktails, 11 scotches and bourbons, and 11 beer on tap.
They also have delicious food!!
We would recommend the chorizo meatballs with white cheddar aioli, dill aioili, and bacon jam, scallop and short rib ragout with braised mushrooms and U-10 scallops (a higher quality). Their 1911 Crispy Potato (their take on a mashed potato) was perfect. And I loved the wild mushroom risotto with roast chicken.
The vibe / look and feel of The 1911 Lounge is what you’d expect of a prohibition-era place. It definitely feels like a nicer, more elegant room, and along with the great drinks and food, was why our friends wanted to treat us to a memorable night here!
7. Play Board Games and Grab Brunch at The Heartwood Cafe
We love board games and we love brunch, so what perfect pairing it was when we visited The Heartwood Cafe for a delicious brunch AND also saw it had a cupboard full of board games you could play too!
The Heartwood Cafe, located at 403 North Railway St. SE, is so damn charming. There is a really cool, rustic, upcycled wooden counter/bar, there are vintage ornate mirrors and tea cup collections on display (and for sale). It’s spacious, eclectic, warm, with funky lamps and knit owls. There’s wooden bench seating with cute pillows. It’s honestly such a cool cafe!
The eggs benedict and breakfast sandwich were unbelievably delicious. Do try them!!! We are also told that their pizzas are presented on heart-shaped wood, so fun! And fruit on our bennies were cut into heart shapes too.
Now full disclosure, we didn’t play any board games there, we were just there for the amazing brunch, but I like going to places that welcome you to sit down for awhile and enjoy and would totally come back to play games here on a return visit! What an adorable cafe. I seriously cannot recommend a visit here enough.
We had a lovely visit to Medicine Hat. We also realized despite our visits over the years, we still haven’t explored during the summer! Lots more opportunities for fun and exploration to come—and amazing more dining opportunities, I was seriously so impressed with the food we ate in Medicine Hat this trip!
And although we didn’t do it on this most recent trip, I always recommend looking for and photographing yourself with Instagrammable Walls!!
Check out my 2017 Guide to Instagrammable Walls of Medicine Hat (there may have been some changes since then—definitely some new walls now too! I’ll be sure to update on my next visit!)
And don’t forget to read about our first visit to The Hat.