#ExploreLethbridge for its Spirit of Good Times Vibes

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What does the spirit of a place mean to you? A city can have intangible energy, something you discover through the experiences you have there. It can be uncovered through the local attractions or the people who call it home. Throughout August and September, follow us as we #ExploreLethbridge, getting out on the trails and city streets seeking outdoor adventures, good-time vibes and uncovering a history going back many millennia.


My recent rediscovery of Lethbridge had me hanging out with locals, stepping into the city's wild past and getting a glimpse of the future of this vibrant city. 

Here's what I got up to in just one day exploring the spirit of this vibrant city.

#ExploreLethbridge to experience its Spirit of Good Times Vibes

Let's Start Here: The Stoketown Cafe + Cure

Before kicking off your full day in Lethbridge, I recommend stopping into the Stoketown Cafe + Cure for some fuel of the caffeinated and nutritious kind. You’ll find delicious sandwiches, baked goods and a decadent cup of coffee. Our time here turned into a small feast as we took advantage of the variety of snacks and beverages, great company and conversation, and basically not wanting to leave. What a way to start to the day; we were fired up to explore the city.

Photographer: Dax Justin

Discover Your Vitality at the Cor Van Raay YMCA at ATB Centre

This multi-use facility has everything under one roof. Phase I of this building included recreational arenas for skating and curling, and Phase II is the Cor Van Raay YMCA within ATB Centre. The complex is an athletic and recreational haven for anyone looking to move their body and get some physical activity. When we stepped inside, we were wowed by all of its amenities and opportunities to step your game up. My favourites? Wave-surfing, hitting the slides and rock climbing in the pool. You can even ride trails in other countries on a large screen in the exercise bike room. Am I still in Lethbridge?

Photographer: Dax Justin

This facility is state of the art, and just opened to the public this year. You can easily spend the whole day here and no doubt you’ll leave feeling energized.

Witness the Future of Exhibition Park


As I took part in the Indigenous cultural events (see Part II of my series here), I couldn't help but notice what's happening at Exhibition Park. This is a game-changer for this region. If you’ll look at these renderings - you’ll see first-hand what’s coming to life here. Since the first fair in 1897, it has hosted more than a century of agriculture, trade shows, midways, rodeos, sporting events, and numerous special events. But that was the past, and the future is what is going to be absolutely spectacular because this will become the largest outdoor festival venue in Alberta.

The future of Exhibition Park looks bright.

Experience the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden

Photographer: Chris Istace

There is an unexpected oasis on the prairies, and it holds a special place in my heart. Once you enter the gates at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, you’ll find yourself taking a deep sigh and relaxing amid the sheer beauty of this serene setting. Japan and Canada come together here. Established during Canada’s Centennial in 1967, Nikka Yuko was built to recognize contributions made by citizens of Japanese ancestry to the multicultural community of Lethbridge, and as a symbol of international friendship.

You can experience this place through horticultural, cultural, and historical programs offered throughout the week. When you visit, I recommend booking a private tour for a deeper look into the garden and the history. Beyond that, you can also get a Japan-Canada Experience, led by a historical expert.

Photographer: Chris Istace

This place is special to me because I got to meet the landscape architect of the garden, Tadashi Kubo, of Osaka Prefecture University who was commissioned to design it. From the beginning, it was agreed that the garden had to be authentic and provide an immersive experience. An authentic Japanese garden not only reflects the local natural landscape, but also the culture. Tadashi visited for the first time a couple years ago, and I was honoured to meet him and capture his portrait. 

I’ve visited the gardens in both the fall and summer, and they both hold unique photo opportunities for photographers. You won’t be disappointed by the views, and if you can catch the calm water, you’ll be rewarded with reflections that will make your jaw drop. If you happen to visit on a Sunday, be sure to drop in for Sumo Sumo Sundays where you can watch sumo tournaments streamed live from Japan and enjoy Japanese beverages and snacks. You can even dress up like a sumo wrestler and wrestle opponents if you really want to get into the experience.

Laughs, Food and Drink at Mocha Cabana

Photographer: Dax Justin

After experiencing the Japanese Gardens your appetite will need some serious attention. Mocha Cabana, in the heart of downtown Lethbridge the area’s original farm to table restaurant with a commitment to all things fresh and local. What that means is that you can savour the flavours of the Lethbridge, support local farms and enjoy the patio all summer. After enjoying dinner, I’ve got to let you in on the highlight of my meal - a slice (or two) of cheesecake, one of the house specialties. This restaurant is a hidden gem of southern Alberta. Bon appetite!

Suggested Readings:

#ExploreLethbridge this season to make your endless summer spirit come alive.

When You Go

The spirit of Lethbridge is unique in so many ways. It's easy to uncover the good-time vibes, its outdoor and historical spirit that goes back many millennia. Search #ExploreLethbridge on your favourite social media channel to learn more

Learn more at the Lethbridge Information Centre (2805 Scenic Drive South) or visit TourismLethbridge.com

Want to get your spooky on? Make sure to check out the Fright Hall Music Fest on October 25-26. Learn more here.

Fill your adventure spirit meter by heading into Lethbridge. Let us know what you find along with way using #ExploreLethbridge and you could be featured on our social media channels.

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