Fun is Relative in Lethbridge

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Andrew Penner

The trail dips and dives through the coulee, along the heaving banks above the mighty Oldman River, and I've got to have my “A” game. One wrong turn, one tactical error, and I'll have a close encounter with thistle and sage. Or, worse, prickly pear cacti. Or, much worse, a deep ravine. The trail could be anywhere in southern Alberta, I suppose. But the backdrop – the longest and highest trestle bridge in the world – is a dead giveaway.

I'm in Lethbridge, Alta. and I'm “swerving” my way (on a mountain bike) through an awesome #BucketlistAB adventure. As anyone who has ever been to Lethbridge will testify, coulees are par for the course.

Book your next #BucketlistAB Adventure. Tourism Lethbridge helps.

Exploring the extensive trail system in town is certainly a great way to start your Lethbridge getaway. For bikers, the trails range from easy coulee-top paths that meander along the ridge (you can park at the Galt Museum for easy access to trails) to white-knuckle thrill rides that plunge to the river. There is something for everyone. And, of course, walking the trails is a low-risk option for anyone who isn't comfortable on two wheels.

Photo: Chris Istace

While on the trails you'll no doubt encounter a few trademarks of the town. First and foremost, the soaring High Level Bridge is a sight to behold and the most recognizable landmark in Lethbridge. Built by the CPR between 1907-1909, the steel trestle is 1.6 kilometres long and just shy of 100 metres high. It was built by a gang of 100 men and it's weathered the winds of time well as it's still heavily used today.

Other landmarks in “The Bridge City” include Fort Whoop-Up (a legendary whiskey-trading outpost), the University of Lethbridge (its walls are exquisitely camouflaged in the coulee on the west side of the Oldman River), “Green Goliath” (the 1950s water tower-turned restaurant on Mayor Magrath Drive), and numerous murals, sculptures, and kinetic artworks on display throughout the historic downtown core.

Without a doubt, Lethbridge, Alberta's third-largest city (it just eclipsed the 100,000 mark), is an ideal destination for cyclists and walkers. But, as evidenced by the public artwork on display, there is plenty of art and culture as well. In other words, things that will appeal to folks who like to live life in a slightly slower gear!

Nikka yuko
Photo: Chris Istace

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, for example, is a place as peaceful and quiet as it gets. Built in 1967 during Canada's Centennial year, the gardens were created to honour the Japan-Canada friendship. The garden is an amazing place to meditate, to stroll through, with hundreds of plants, rocks, bridges, trees, waterfalls, reflection pools, and so on, meticulously placed at the key focal points. Rich with Japanese symbolism, natural shapes, colours, and textures, the garden is a fascinating place that nature lovers will definitely appreciate.

Other forms of art, such as live theatre, are also alive and well in Lethbridge. With a small and intimate guest limit of 25, Life on the Whoop-up Trail is an entertaining depiction of what life was like for the early American whiskey traders, pioneers, Métis, and the local Blackfoot people in the region. Professionally performed by actors from New West Theatre, the dinner and performance runs every Wednesday until the end of summer at Fort Whoop-Up.

Photo: Andrew Penner

Of course, there's only so much time you can spend in the slow lane! When you need to pick up the pace, another option in Lethbridge is True North Axe Throwing, which is located in a warehouse building just a minute, or two, from the downtown core. Yes, indeed, axe throwing is a real sport! (There's even a National Axe Throwing Federation, the NATF.). Newbie “choppers” can get tips from the staff, who are always eager to introduce people to this exciting target sport.

After throwing axes, nothing tastes better than a pint of local beer and a massive plate of nachos. The place to do that? The Telegraph Taphouse. This local favourite has an extensive worldwide craft beer selection, amazing fresh food, and is conveniently located in downtown Lethbridge.

Depending on your tastes – and how fast you wanna live! - the fun is all relative in Lethbridge. And, make no mistake, when you're on vacation, any speed will do.

When You Go

Recently, the City of Lethbridge opened a new Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) behind Chapters at the Park Place Mall that is a part of The Peaks to Prairies Electric Vehicle Charging Network.

Learn more about BucketlistAB here.

Grab an awesome itinerary and start your Southern Alberta adventure.

Check Tourism Lethbridge to start planning your trip and find other activities in the area.

Hit the road to explore Alberta's South along Highway 3 this month and be sure to share your discoveries on social media with the hashtag #BucketlistAB and #ExploreAlberta - you could be featured on our social media channels.  Check out for itineraries, stories and lots more video on Southern Albertan experiences.

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