Red Deer is the third largest city in Alberta. It is in the middle of the rolling hills of the aspen parklands, halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. The city has a lot of history and culture, and it is also a major center for oil distribution. In fact, it was named the Cultural Capital of Canada by the Department of Canadian Heritage in 2003.
Everyone can find something to do in Red Deer, from arts and entertainment indoors to outdoor fun. Whether you like sports, nature, shopping, or food, there are lots of things to do in the beautiful city. The 10 best things to do in Red Deer are listed here.
1. Put yourself in the middle of nature
You can do this at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, which is a nature center on the south side of the Red Deer River. The area is open all year long, and no matter what time of year you go, you’ll see some beautiful sights.
One of the best things about the nature center is its five-kilometer trail network that goes through a protected 118-hectare bird sanctuary. You can see migratory birds as you walk along the trail or from the different lookout points.
The Kerry Wood Nature Centre is also a place where you can touch and learn about the natural history of the area. There is also a music garden with lots of outdoor instruments that people can play together to make beautiful music.
2. Try fishing
Or canoeing, ice skating, kayaking or cycling. At Bower Ponds, a recreation center on the Red Deer River, there is even a board game café.
In the winter, you can rent ice skates and skate on the frozen water or pull your kids on a sled. Come to the city in the summer to do water sports like kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding, or walk on the water in a water ball.
Don’t want to get wet? Then go to the board game café, where you can play over 225 games, such as Battleship, Scrabble, Jenga, Trouble, and Monopoly.
3. Take a tour of a fort
There is more to Fort Normandeau than just a fort. It is also an important part of Red Deer’s cultural history and the place where the city as we know it today began.
Once upon a time, the fort was the safest place to cross the river between northern and southern Alberta. In 1884, a stopping house was built, and the 65th Mount Royal Rifles made it stronger the next year.
Fort Normandeau is now a park and an interpretation center with displays about the city’s natural and human history. It also has a boat launch that people can use to start canoeing down the river from.
4. Learn about sports stars from Alberta
Fans of sports shouldn’t miss the chance to learn about Alberta’s most famous athletes at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. The Alberta Amateur Athletic Union started the museum in 1957. The first people to be put in the museum were boxers Charles Cheesman, Wilf Greaves, and Hugh Sloan.
In 1997, it was taken over by the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Society, which made it what it is now. The museum is full of sports’ old records. There is a poster from the 1978 Commonwealth Games, which were held in Edmonton, as well as a limited-edition print of hockey great Wayne Gretzky and the torch from the 1995 Canada Winter Games.
The museum has more than just sports memorabilia. It also has interactive games, an ice and snow gallery, an art gallery, and a hockey gallery. There’s also the hall of fame gallery, which shows off all of Alberta’s great sports teams and famous athletes.
5. Look at art.
If you want to learn more about Red Deer’s past, go to the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery, which people in the area call “the MAG.” The MAG’s collection shows the city’s history and culture through textiles, archaeological artifacts, farming tools, and art made by local artists.
Look at the permanent collection, “Remarkable Red Deer: Stories from the Heart of the Parkland,” as you walk around the gallery. The gallery also has special shows that go on all year long.
The MAG is not only a museum and art gallery, but also a place where people of all ages can go to learn new things. Bring the kids on a Saturday afternoon to have fun making art, go by yourself on a Tuesday morning, or check their schedule to see if a local artist is teaching an evening class for adults.
6. See animals on a farm
At the Sunnybrook Farm Museum, you can meet chickens, goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, donkeys, and a lot more. At this four-hectare farm and museum, you can also learn a lot about how rural life in Central Alberta has changed over time.
Take a self-guided or guided tour of the city’s oldest farm to see what life was like in Red Deer and the rest of Central Alberta between 1880 and 1950. See how pioneer families worked the fields and baked bread on their farms.
The people who work at Sunnybrook Farm Museum even wear clothes from the time period so that visitors really feel like they are on an old working farm. Don’t forget to check their schedule for special events like the Ladies of Sunnybrook Farm Pie Sale, the Fall Turkey Supper, and the Pioneer Days Festival.
7. Head for the hills
The 32-hectare Canyon Ski Resort is only nine kilometers east of Red Deer, on the banks of the Red Deer River. During the winter, you can ski at one of the first ski resorts in Canada.
The resort is not in the mountains, but it is in the hills. It was one of the first ski hills in Canada to use equipment to make artificial snow. Since the 1960s, the Canadian National Ski Team has been training at Canyon Ski Resort.
There are 22 runs, 6 lift systems, a snow tube park, and a snowboard terrain park at the resort. There is also a pro shop, a cozy lounge, a cafeteria, and a lodge.
8. Attend a rodeo
Not just any rodeo, but the Calgary Stampede, which is well-known. This 10-day festival happens every year in nearby Calgary, and if you’re in Red Deer in July, you can’t miss it.
In 1886, the stampede began as a show, and in 1916, it turned into a rodeo. Since then, it has become one of the biggest stampedes in the world, with over a million people attending every year.
Today, the event is so big that it takes place in 12 different places all over Calgary. Big names like Tim McGraw, the Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks, and the Beach Boys perform there. It has many things going on, such as a parade, a derby, a midway, a market, and, of course, a rodeo.
9. Go to the store
In 1906, Red Deer’s first public market opened where City Hall Park is now. Since then, the Saturday morning market has grown quickly.
The market opens every year on the long weekend in May and stays open until Thanksgiving. If you’re in the city during these months, you can’t miss it. In fact, there’s no reason not to go, and there’s a lot to do there for people of all ages.
There are a lot of local vendors at the Red Deer Market. They sell everything from fresh food to clothes. Walk around the outdoor market and eat, among other things, mini-donuts, homemade sweets, or beef jerky that was made in the area.
10. Drink some local beer
Troubled Monk is a local craft brewery and distillery in Red Deer that you should go to if you want to try some tasty local craft beer. Most of the malts used to make the brewery’s award-winning beers are grown locally.
Visit the brewery’s taproom to try some of its best beers, like Golden Gaetz Golden Ale, Pesky Pig Pale Ale, Brut of All Evil Brut IPA, and Rebels Red Ale. With or without a brewery tour, you can talk to the experts and find out how each beer is made.
Even if you don’t like beer, you can still have a great time at the Troubled Monk because they serve vodka and hard iced tea. They even make ginger ale and root beer with sugar from beets grown in Alberta.