Growing up in the early 2000s in Edmonton, I listened to a lot of radio. And one of the most memorable things I heard on the radio during that time, in between the music and the funny host banter, was the jingle: “Cars Cost Less in Wetaskiwin!” Do you remember? There’s even a YouTube clip of the jingle—click to listen and be flooded with nostalgia!
For pretty much my entire life, that jingle and statement was the only thing I knew about Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Oh. Wetaskiwin? Cars cost less there, don’t they? Ha!
Well all of that changed this summer (August 2020), when I finally drove down to visit the City of Wetaskiwin as part of my “close-to-home” (pandemic-friendly) summer road trip series. The City of Wetaskiwin invited me to come visit their city and share my experiences with other Albertans who may be looking for some day trip, road trip opportunities.
Turns out there’s a lot more to Wetaskiwin than its affordable cars (lol). The city is located just 40 minutes south of south Edmonton, past Leduc, and has a lot of lovely spots you should consider stopping into as you plan close-to-home trips to take this summer.
Absolutely feel free to use this Travel Guide to plan your visit to one of the smallest and oldest cities in Canada (Wetaskiwin incorporated in 1906!)
Note: this blog post is sponsored by the City of Wetaskiwin, but all opinions are 100% mine!
Travel Guide: Wonderful Wetaskiwin, Alberta—Where to Eat And What To Do in One of Canada’s Smallest Cities
Fun Facts about Wetaskiwin, Alberta
The City of Wetaskiwin’s name comes from the Cree word “wītaskiwinihk” meaning “the hills where peace was made.” The story goes that many years ago, a clash had ensued between Cree and Blackfeet tribes. The two chiefs finally settled their differences by sharing a sacred pipe at the site of their former battleground—wītaskiwinihk, the place where peace was made. You can learn more about Wetaskiwin’s history here. And as you enter Wetaskiwin, notice the Tatawaw (Cree for “Welcome”) above the main entrance.
This small city is home to the famous Reynolds-Alberta Museum and one of the oldest water towers in Canada (more on that below).
Wetaskiwin has one of those classic rural Alberta Main Streets—lined with historic, brick buildings that are well over 100 years old!
Wetaskiwin is home to the Edmonton International Raceway—one of Canada’s premiere race facilities that was first opened in 1968. You’ll find NASCAR racing, stock races and more here! You can even book test drives.
And interestingly, Wetaskiwin residents are also some of the most charitable in Alberta! Wetaskiwin is the third most giving place in the province (residents donate more money annually than other Albertans).
As you enter, be sure to notice the lovely flower pots that line the meridian as you drive in from Edmonton (on Highway 2A), water tower towering in the distance. That’s not really a fun fact, it’s just nice.
Where to Eat and Drink in Wetaskiwin, Alberta
As with any place I visit, my first question is: where can we eat? What are the local gems?
Well I’ve got some great answers for you when it comes to Wetaskiwin!
On your way into the city: stop at Beans Coffee Bar & Bistro, located at #114 – 4814 56th Street, and order coffees or lattes, loose leaf teas, iced teas or lemonades. Beans serves food like paninis, quiches and sandwiches as well!
Next: visit Nio’s Baked Creations, a small Wetaskiwin bakery located just off Main Street at 4909 50 Street, owned by a sweet Filipino family. Nio is the father / husband in the family, and Nio’s Baked Creations sells an assortment of breads, buns, muffins, cakes and famous cinnamon buns and Filipino sweet treats, like the popular “pilipit”—a Filipino twisted doughnut. Think mini doughnuts, but long and braided.
For lunch: we ate at Huckleberry’s Cafe, which is basically a Wetaskiwin institution—serving slow-roasted Alberta beef and famous dill pickle soup in the city for over 27 years (since 1993). The cream-based dill pickle soup is made fresh every day, and includes ground beef, shredded carrots and pickles. It is DELICIOUS and a must-order. It even has its own story featured in the menu:
“It started as a random soup of the day. Then the phone calls started asking “was today the day you had that soup?” So we began having it every Friday. Well that didn’t stop the calls, thus it became a regular on the menu.”
The soup comes in a cup for $4.99, but you’ll definitely want a bowl at $6.75. They also sell the “world-famous soup” to-go! You can pick up a 1-litre, take-home jar of the soup for $14.75. It’s not the only dill-themed dish here too. You can also get dill poutine and dill seasoned fries—so good! For the dill poutine, think fancy dill pickle chips drenched in dill pickle sauce, lol.
You also can’t visit Huckleberry’s without trying their Huckleberry pie—which is also made fresh daily. In fact, almost everything is made fresh, from-scratch here at Huckleberry’s.
The beef served here, they claim is “Alberta’s best!” They use Alberta ranch raised CAB grade beef. According to Huckleberry’s, only 3% of all Alberta beef is graded as “prime” standard and meets 10 branch quality specifications. Only 3% of THOSE make the cut into the ‘CAB’ grade. So Huckleberry’s serves the best of the best Alberta beef!
It made for a solid burger, but I also wanted to come back to try their prime rib for dinner (only available after 4:30 p.m.)—so I did! Ridiculously good. The prime rib comes with a Yorkshire pudding au jus “volcano” (it just looks like a volcano, they don’t call it that lol). The jus is inside the Yorkshire pudding and breaks out when you cut it. The prime rib comes in 6 oz., 9 oz., and 13 oz. sizes. You can “Huck Size It” to add a cup of the dill pickle soup!
The interior of Huckleberry’s is an experience in itself. The restaurant has a rustic, rural country charm to it. Find all sorts of photos and artwork themed around horses, farming, and ranching / cowboy life. There’s a lot of wood and rock. They play country music. There are chalkboards with handwritten daily specials. Horse saddles hanging as decor. And you’ll find cow skull art scattered around the room.
We were surprised and delighted by their fun drink selection too! We enjoyed our Hucks Hula Colada (like a pina colada, topped with cotton candy), and Lava Flow (pineapple and coconut rum in a strawberry-filled glass with a banana popsicle on top!)
Huckleberry’s is an absolute must-stop when in Wetaskiwin (or just driving through—pick up the soup and huckleberry pie to take home with you!)
For second lunch: ha ha. If you’re like me, second lunch is a thing. During our day trip, our second lunch was at Seoul Restaurant located at 4912 50 St. —the first Japanese and Korean restaurant to open in Wetaskiwin back in 2013.
As of this post, it is still the only Korean restaurant (and the only combination Japanese/Korean restaurant) in the city—though there is another Japanese restaurant you could try Sakuragi Japanese Pan Asian Cuisine!
Seoul Restaurant is a really nice space offering a pretty varied menu. You’ll find your classic Korean dishes here, seafood and kimchi pancakes, bi bim baps, kimchi jjigae soups, plus nearly 20 specialty sushi rolls to choose from, and lunch and dinner Japanese bento boxes. You can dine in booths or beautiful, private rooms, or of course, take-out!
Since we were pretty full from our first lunch at Huckleberry’s, we only shared the Blossom Rolls here—really fresh tuna, red snapper and salmon rolls. Would very much like to come back to try the rest of the menu soon!
And for dinner: we sat out on the patio at The Glens Grill at Montgomery Glen Golf & Country Club, which overlooks the golf course. This is a beautiful place to dine al fresco in rural Alberta. This restaurant has been serving “local fare with gourmet flair” since 2007. I was really impressed to find The Glens Grill’s menu features predominantly locally-grown and produced in Alberta ingredients, like Bear and the Flower Farm pork belly, Bles Greenhouses lettuce, Morrison 4-H Steers local beef, Sunrise Farms chicken, Marshall Eco Farm carrots and potatoes, Strohschein Farms bison, Gruger Family Fungi mushrooms, and The Farmhouse Bakery pies and breads. They offer an all day menu as well as a specific dinner menu (not listed on their website). We primarily ordered off the dinner menu (each dish featured some ingredient from a local Alberta producer!)
Our server Sarah was so friendly. And the food was SO good! And so beautifully presented.
This was my friend Lisa’s first time trying pork belly and she said it was a fantastic introduction. The maple glazed pork belly was perfectly caramelized. The pork belly also came with grilled peach which, if you were wondering, is an excellent pairing with pork.
The mushroom and barley risotto was also fantastic. I’m used to smoother rice-based risottos but thought the texture of the barley risotto was really nice. This risotto came with Bear & The Flower confit pork cheek, caramelized onions and Gruger Family Funghi oyster mushrooms and crispy shallots with basil oil.
The scallops in The Glens Grill’s striploin and scallops (their take on surf and turf) was perfectly cooked. Everything was just excellent! This golf course restaurant is definitely one of the finer dining experiences you’ll find in the Wetaskiwin area, and often a go-to for events and other celebrations. I just love the focus on local (and truly “farm to table”) dining here!
What to Do in Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Now as much as I’d like to just eat back-to-back, that’s unfortunately not how stomachs work, so here are some suggestions on activities and experiences you can try in between your Wetaskiwin food stops!
Take a walk at By-the-Lake Park: This park is, well, by the lake! By-the-Lake Park is located at 6128 56 Ave. and features a 17-acre man made lake with 2.5 kilometre paved trail that loops around the lake. There’s also picnic areas and a playground. It’s a nice area for a bit of a nature break, and if you’re visiting with a dog, find The Bark Park off-leash dog park on the northside of By-the-Lake Park (accessible from the trail system).
Snap a photo at the Wetaskiwin Water Tower: The City of Wetaskiwin is home to one of the oldest water towers in Canada! This water tower, located at 5003 56 St., was built in 1909 and stands at 42m high. Turns out Wetaskiwin also has a Water Tower mascot named Wally! It was restored in 2006 and is a big landmark for this city.
Explore Downtown Wetaskiwin: Wetaskiwin’s downtown (Main Street) stretches from 48 Street to 53 Street along 50th Avenue. The downtown features 13 restored, turn-of-the-century historic buildings lined mostly back-to-back, on either side of the Avenue. You can do a self-guided walking tour and check out plaques that go into detail about each of the historic buildings. You can also duck into some of the alleyways to find some Instagrammable Walls! (This one pictured is on the Heritage Museum building, which is 117 years old!)
Shop at French’s Jewellery: Right on Main Street in Wetaskiwin is a store called French’s Jewellery! This is a family-owned jewellery and gift shop. We were greeted by daughter Heidi when we entered, and then got to chat with owner (Heidi’s mom) Laurelle. Both were excited to tell us about the history of the store, that is—French’s has been operating on Main Street in Wetaskiwin since 1912!
The French family owned the store from 1912-1988. In 1988, Laurelle’s family took over. In 2013, they moved the small shop across the street—including hauling original jewellery cabinets from the old shop to the new one. You’ll even find one of the store’s old vintage signs on display in the back of the shop. There is a lot of history in this shop, which could certainly be considered a Wetaskiwin landmark. Find jewellery, purses, art and other gifts here. This is easily one of the most modern stores on Main Street, with the most boutique-y vibe.
Visit the Wild West Gallery in Wetaskiwin Mall: In Wetaskiwin, you’ll find the Wild West Gallery, which displays and sells one-of-a-kind products by First Nations crafters from western Canada. There’s Indigenous art, mukluks and moccasins, Pendleton blankets, and the largest selection of First Nations beadwork in Alberta. Artists come here to get feathers, beads and other supplies. It’s a large space inside the mall with lots of gifts and collectibles that’s been in business for over 30 years (the mall location is newer).
Explore the only museum of its kind in Canada—the Reynolds-Alberta Museum: Wetaskiwin is home to a pretty unique museum: The Reynolds-Alberta Museum, which features an impressive collection of vintage cars, airplanes, tractors, and industrial machines. The Reynolds-Alberta Museum is a “museum of mechanization”—paying tribute to Alberta’s mechanical heritage. And is also home to a lot of “oldest” “only” and “largest” collections of vehicles and aircraft!
Like many museums and attractions in pandemic times, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum has made updates to its operations to ensure physical distancing and safety including timed entry and one-way markers and distancing signage. Perhaps one of the biggest changes is visitors aren’t allowed to sit in the historic vehicles and aircraft anymore—but they’ve got other ways you can interact, including scanning QR codes to watch videos of the vehicles in action, and also offering a texting program to launch a scavenger hunt. Find answers to the questions texted in the exhibits for a more involved experience (plus completed scavenger hunts win a free pencil—it’s a nice family, friendly activity for sure).
Lisa and I learned and saw a lot during our visit to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum. For instance, we checked out a model of the first airplane to ever fly in Alberta—a 1910 replica. We also learned that electric cars were around in Alberta since at least 1915! And back then, electric cars were more popular with women because they were considered “fancier” and easier to drive (lol hey nothing wrong with that). The museum is home to the only Duesenberg vehicle on display in Canada. This historic vehicle back in the day would have cost $20,000 versus a regular $400 car. The museum is also home (on loan) to one of just two Royal Family cars! Three generations of the Royal Family rode in this vehicle. Pretty neat. We also learned that the museum is home to an on-site restoration garage. Over the years, the museum team has worked to restore a number of old vehicles that have come in. The majority of its collection was donated by a man named Stan Reynolds, a Wetaskiwin businessman and world-renowned collector. His donation remains the largest of its kind in Canadian history! There’s an exhibit all about Stan and his life, collecting, and contributions, where they call him Honest Stan, the Car and Truck Man.
Our tour guides Cynthia and Tyler told us, while there are aircraft museums, and car museums, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum is pretty much the only one of its kind in at least North America as it combines transportation, aviation, industry and agriculture. This museum is also home to the largest collection of aircrafts in Canada—with 135 aircrafts. They also own the oldest Chevrolet in existence—a 1913 Classic Six Touring Car. The oldest car in their collection is from 1898! And in their Aviation hangar they have the first helicopter registered to ever fly in Canada too. Interestingly, 90% of the museum’s aircraft collection comes from the Reynolds family! Stan’s description as a world-class collector is no joke.
Not all of the equipment the museum owns is on display of course. Many are stored in warehouses, including one that you’re able to go on a special tour of (in addition to regular admission)—for diehard aviation or automobile fans. We asked Cynthia and Tyler how much they suppose their collection is worth and they told us what Stan had once said: “There is no price because these pieces are beyond value.” It really is such a blast from the past to see and read about these different machines and imagine how we used to live.
The Starlight Drive-in Movie Theatre inside the Reynolds-Alberta Museum used to be open to the public as well but due to the pandemic is now only being rented out as a small wedding or event space. What a neat spot it would be to get married!
You can really spend hours and hours here (ESPECIALLY if you’re a car or aviation buff) and honestly if you’re interested in a full Reynolds-Alberta Museum experience I’d suggest planning either two day trips to Wetaskiwin (or an overnight), or make sure you go earlier in the day so you’ve got enough time to experience the museum as well as food stops and other experiences in town. We appreciated all of the hand sanitizer stations, physical distancing and mask signage, and integration of videos and text-based programming.
The museum—like many attractions—has seen a pretty significant dip in visitors due to the pandemic. This is a fun, family-friendly Wetaskiwin experience that is definitely a must-visit!
So those are just some of the food and activities Lisa and I experienced during our day trip outing to the wonderful City of Wetaskiwin. It’s really so close to Edmonton, you could easily go explore after work, and definitely spend a day or two during your weekends checking out the area. Even if you’re just driving through on your way in or out of Edmonton, I’d highly recommend a quick stop at Nio’s Baked Creations or Huckleberry’s.
The small city of Wetaskiwin has a lot to offer—much more than just low-cost cars! Like many visits to small towns or cities in the province, I can’t believe it took me this long to explore. While this was my first experience in Wetaskiwin, it will not be my last (it actually wasn’t as I went back a few days later for prime rib dinner at Huckleberry’s lol).
And something I always like to say is even if you’re a local—maybe it’s time to play tourist! I love being a tourist in my own city. Find attractions and visit shops you’ve never been before. Especially now—all small businesses could really use the support.
Thank you to the City of Wetaskiwin for inviting me to experience what your city has to offer.
Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a sponsored blog series partnership with the City of Wetaskiwin. This does not impact opinions stated in this post. As I’ve shared repeatedly, I love exploring my province and am always eager to check out small towns and cities I haven’t yet been. My visit to Wetaskiwin was wonderful and there are definitely places I’m eager to revisit and recommend to others too.