Medicine Hat has continually captured my attention online and ever since doing my trail and coffee tours a couple of years ago, I have kept saying I need to go back. The trail system was REALLY calling my name now that I have an e-bike!
Over the next few months, I will be teaming up with Tourism Medicine Hat to show you some of my adventures. My experiences are still my own and I will be sharing my own thoughts and views.
When I heard that there was going to be a hot air balloon festival in the Hat, I knew I had to plan my trip around that. I also knew that the downtown murals had to be part of my first visit in this series. I grabbed an Experience Medicine Hat Guide as soon as I got to town. (Wow, as someone involved with making guides now, this one blew me away!)
The guide comes with a map that will help you find your way through each self-guided tour. True to my usual travel style, I parked my car, glanced at the map, and then wandered aimlessly through the downtown streets, finding the murals as I went.
I miss wandering new streets and being surprised at each corner.
I loved the positive messages, stunning visuals, and graffiti style artwork. As I stopped to take photos and ran to pose before my self timer went off, I was greeted by friendly people who were curious about what I was doing. They were all eager to tell me which mural was their favorite and where I could find it. The artists and the stories behind their paintings can be found in the Experience Medicine Hat book.
With so many great lunch choices, I decided to start with The Hat’s Olive Tap. O.M.G.! I walked in to a café full of olive oil and balsamic vinegar canisters and a menu of healthy, flavorful meals to choose from. I went with a Lemon Dill Chick Pea Salad and a Mojito drink that was flavored with balsamic vinegar. How Cool!
After lunch I tasted a few Balsamic samples and chose a small bottle to bring home.
With a full stomach, I wandered back out to find chainsaw sculptures by Marina Cole. You can find the various locations on Tourism Medicine Hat’s website. The dragon was really neat and I loved the interactive ones at Kiwanis Central Park. After the kids saw me posing on a bear’s lap, sitting on mushroom tables, and crawling inside of a hollowed out fort, they were inspired to do the same. Luckily, the parents realized that I was harmless!
After a Zoom meeting back at the hotel it was time to head to Echo Dale Regional Park for the kickoff to “Rise Up,” the hot air balloon festival. I had read that parking may be difficult, so I parked at Gas City Campground and jumped on my E-bike.
It was so great to be on an actual trail. The scenery was beautiful and it was a relaxing ride out to the balloons.
The best part was the way back to my car. After the balloons launched, I used my bike on the trail to chase the balloons and caught a variety of views of the 15 balloons drifting over the city.
It was getting late, but I had one more stop on my list… and I was hungry, so didn’t want to skip it! The Whiskey District was another place that had caught my attention online. I pulled up a bar stool and chatted with the staff while sipping on a couple different flavors of Gin made right in the city at Grit City Distillery. Medicine Hat also has a bustling craft beer scene that and I can’t wait to try.
I highly recommend the baked cauliflower!
My alarm was set for early the next morning, as I had been granted up close access to the hot air balloons and had to be at the safety meeting by 5:30 am. Good thing I am an early bird!
The sky wasn’t looking favorable, but I was still excited to meet the pilots and crews and to get a better idea of what was involved in a safe balloon launch. The safety master read some weather reports and hinted that it was not looking good, but we still convoyed to the launch field.
Ultimately, the flight was cancelled, but I had a great time and had a nice couple open their trailer and teach me a few things about the balloon and the process of becoming a pilot. It was apparent right away that this is an awesome hobby and that the balloon enthusiasts are like a big family.
I wasn’t able to stick around for the rest of the Rise Up Hot Air balloon Festival, but I kept checking Instagram to see all of the beautiful photos that people were sharing. They hope to make this annual event, so stay tuned for next year.
Since the morning flight was cancelled, I ended up helping out with a photo shoot at Cafe Verve. I might have trimmed and cleaned my finger nails, if I had known I’d be modelling! Cafe Verve is just one of the many coffee shops that are a part of the Indy Coffee Tour stops. You can find that tour in the Experience Guide as well. The perks of food photo shoots is that we got to eat and drink the props!
I enjoyed every part of my time in Medicine Hat and can’t wait to check off more items from the Experience Medicine Hat Guide. The Jazz Festival is at the end of the month, so I plan on taking in some of those festivities.
What else should I add to my list of things to do, eat, and see while in The Hat?