Medicine Hat is only 3 hours from Calgary but many people don’t realize that it is a great place to visit when you want to get out of the city for awhile. This past weekend, I made the drive and found so many great places to visit including beautiful places to visit outdoors, historic places to visit and great foodie spots.
This past weekend, Medicine Hat hosted the 2015 Sunshine Skillet Food Festival. It included an amazing sunset dinner under the Saamis Teepe (see pic above), an amateur cooking competition, a media cooking competition, a chef competition and a great showcase of local food providers.
While the Sunshine Skillet was only for one weekend, it was a great way to get an introduction to some of the very talented chefs and food providers in the Medicine Hat area. On Friday night, I attended a 5 course collaborative dinner in one of the most beautiful venues I can imagine…the Saamis Teepee. Watching the sun set while eating delicious food and drinking wine? Bliss.
First off…here is the delicious menu that we were presented with prepared by chefs from local restaurants. The only change was that the Wild Elk Carpaccio ended up being served as Seared Wild Elk Tartar Style.
From top left: Beef Brisket, Pemican and Corn Ice Cream, Seared Wild Elk Tartare, Beef Cheeks and Microgreens and Cabbage Salad. All were delicious. It was my first time trying pemican. I have to say that it was a bit odd at first but the tastes and textures really work!
The next day it was time for the cooking competitions to start. Watching the amateur cooking competition was a blast. I don’t know how they do it, though, I would be overcome by stress. Remind me never to sign up for one! Overall it was a great event and I look forward to going next year.
Now…on to things in Medicine Hat that you can visit any time (because they aren’t just a great place to visit one weekend a year!).
Things to Do in Medicine Hat
Riverside Memorial Veterans Park is a gorgeous park along the river in downtown Medicine Hat. Gorgeous trees near the river bank make it a great place for a picnic on a warm day. There is also an antique CPRail locomotive and a tank for kids to investigate.
Medalta Stoneware was a ubiquitous part of many kitchens in Canada for many years. Visit their factory and see how they produced their stoneware and experience the beautifully industrial spaces within. When I visited, they were preparing for a wedding. I can’t imagine a more beautiful space for one.
Antique machinery, exposed brick and wonderful light plus cheeky and interesting historical facts about Medalta through the years (they freely admit to sending out salesmen to gather popular pieces from other companies to bring them back for Medalta designers to copy). If you visit during the week, you can see Medalta being made. On Thursdays afternoons there is also a farmer’s market to check out.
The Esplanade – The Esplanade on First Street SE is the new home of Medicine Hat’s museum, art gallery and archives. Performing arts take place in the 750 seat theatre or in the more intimate Studio Theatre. This is on my “to visit” list because I didn’t make it there on this trip.
The Windmill Garden Centre and Butterfly House – Tour their tropical gardens and experience butterflies first hand. This is another place on my “to visit” list as I ran out of time.
Places to Eat/Drink/Snack
Station Coffee Company is a great coffee house with a fun and funky vibe. They take their coffee seriously but they also have flavored syrups for people like me who are okay with venturing off the coffee purist path.
Mad Hatter Coffee Roastery is locally owned and you will likely see the owner behind the counter when you visit. Try one of the list of specialty coffees using Bailey’s and more as they are fully licensed. YUM!
Zucchini Blossom Market and Cafe is a bit restaurant, a bit coffee house and a bit market. It’s the perfect place to visit for a panini lunch alone or with friends. They have a great selection of travel books and magazines for patrons to peruse while they dine. I love that since dining alone can sometimes be a bit boring. Try the Gaucho panini….delicious!
Twist Wine and Tapas Bistro – With a great downtown locations, Twist is a great place to grab dinner or a snack. I tried the chorizo and scallop tapas place and it was amazing. I would love to go back with 3 or 4 friends for a tapas feast.
The Cypress Club of Medicine Hat – I’m being a bit mean with this recommendation. You see, The Cypress Club is a private club open to member’s only except under special circumstances. I had the opportunity to dine there during an event. The gorgeous building is a throwback to a bygone era. If you get a chance to visit…take it!
Skinny’s Smoke House – I didn’t get to experience eating at the Skinny’s Smoke House location but I did enjoy a pulled pork sandwich from them at the Sunshine Skillet food festival. It was superb. The pulled pork had a nice bark on it, the barbecue sauce was great and the German-style slaw is delicious. Put all that on a toasted bun from a local bakery and YUM. Best barbecue I’ve had in Alberta. Hands down.
The Local – Looking to grab a pint or a bite in a fun pub atmosphere? Head to The Local. I can’t wait to go back on a warm day so I can sit on the patio. Also, if you are a wine drinker they have a fun special where you can get a glass of wine for $4. You get to pick red or white but otherwise you get what you get. I tried it and got a $10 glass of sauvignon blanc. Win!
I know, I know…I shoved a LOT of information in this post. I hope you see that Medicine Hat is a great place to visit on a weekend you want to escape Calgary. Go! Eat! Drink! and experience one of Alberta’s fun prairie towns.
For more information and to find out about events, check out the Tourism Medicine Hat website.