Find your golden teen years in Three Hills
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Growing up in a small prairie town in the ‘80s, like I did, you had to make your own fun. It was an era of fast cars, wild fashion and some pretty darn good rock and roll. Probably a good thing most of us were too young to drive. But that doesn’t mean we’re too old to party now. And Three Hills gives you licence to let loose.
Three Hills, AB, 1981: three guys — John Robinson, Ben Maerz and Dwayne Ellis — launched the Three Hills Cruise Night. It was a June evening that would live on in history, as the beginning of Western Canada’s largest cruise weekend to this day.
The annual weekend event is the town’s busiest of the year, with show ‘n’ shines and drag races to get your pistons firing. Car lover or not, the excitement in town is infectious.
But if your car movie of choice is more Thelma and Louise than Heart Like a Wheel, that’s OK. Three Hills is a car town for a reason — this is road trip territory.
If you can, find a convertible, drop the top and let your hair down. There’s something about those wide-open prairie roads. From town, Horseshoe Canyon is an ideal destination less than an hour away. That canyon edge, where flat farmland falls away into the badlands… it gets me every time.
When you’re ready for refreshments, Shirley’s Flowers serves up classic sodas, treats and unexpectedly good coffee. As Terri says while handling the dials and knobs on the full espresso bar, “We love our coffee here.”
(The shop is named after Terri’s mom, who owned the shop in the ‘70s. It has been open ever since, although it passed through some other hands before Terri eventually bought it back.)
While making a pit stop, check out the Kneehill Historical Museum, which features a vast collection where you can really get hands on with history. Unlike many museums, they encourage you to type on the typewriters, stir the butter churns, hand-spool the wool and scratch-test geological samples.
It’s also a little-known secret that Kneehill County is the only region in Canada that can trace its settled origins back to medieval times.
OK, that’s not technically true, but when you’re greeted (as “Lord” or “Lady”) at the gated village of Good Knights Medieval Encampment, the illusion will become real. Beyond the fortress walls, turreted tents with colourful pennants flying form a semi-circle around a lush meadow. A creek runs behind.
You can try your hand at archery, swordsmanship or leather working, before retiring within to your chambers, furnished with classic four-poster beds and ancient decor. (In true royal style, foregoing none of the luxuries, Good Knights has ingeniously tied in electricity, fireplaces and a “throne room” with running water for a full glamping experience.) Breakfast is served en plein air, and Saturday nights feature a medieval feast.
It’s not the ‘80s anymore (or the ‘90s, or the ‘00s), but that doesn’t mean you have to stay grown up forever. From prehistoric badlands, to medieval feasts, to the golden era of the automobile, Three Hills is a good reminder that fun doesn’t have an age — and being ageless keeps you young.
If You Go
Three Hills Golf Course rivals Trochu for some of the best golfing in central Alberta. The two towns are so serious about their golf that each year they compete against each other in a tournament, for bragging rights (as of summer 2018, Trochu held the trophy). Which is better? You decide.
Three Hills is about an hour-and-a-half drive north east of Calgary.
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