With a colorful history and wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities, Lethbridge is a fun winter road trip destination only two hours and 15 minutes from Calgary.
As the sun sets on the Old Man River Valley, the Lethbridge Viaduct, hills, and coulees are bathed in golden light. It’s easy to see why First Nations called this place “steep banks” or “painted rock.”1 Tomorrow we will explore the “big bridge” (longest and highest steel trestle bridge in the world!) and riverside parks, but first, we have a festival to go to!
Michelle Day, Executive Director, warmly greets us at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden for a sneak peek of the Winter Lights Festival. She’s proud to share what her staff have been up to for the past several weeks. Over 100,000 lights adorn the trees, shrubs and buildings of the garden transforming it into a winter wonderland. We pose under the Romance Tree, ring the Friendship Bell, check out Mount Fuji, then enjoy some hot green tea.
The Winter Lights Festival runs Wednesdays-Sundays 6 pm – 10 pm (last entry at 9 pm) from November 30, 2022 – February 26, 2023. Visit the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden – Events Calendar for more information. Special friends & family packages (admission, drinks, and cookies included) are available as well as private bookings for corporate events / family reunions.
NEW at the Winter Lights Festival this year: A 360-degree projection dome experience (Northern Lights show on Wednesday, Friday, Sunday; or Sakura/Cherry Blossoms show on Thursday and Saturday) “with a host telling stories on Japanese winter customs, traditions and tales!” $25/person.
Evening finds us in the swimming pool and hot tub at the Coast Hotel & Conference Centre. Since the hotel restaurant, Firestone Restaurant & Bar, is full with a one-hour wait, we order takeout and relax in our room.
Morning dawns bright and frosty. After a scrumptious brunch at Chef Stella Diner, we explore the historic downtown and Galt Gardens, then head to Jump LA Trampoline Park (formerly Get Air) to warm up. We discover that two hours is plenty of time to get a great workout! Tip: Bring grippy socks if you have them; otherwise you will have to purchase some.
All that jumping has left us feeling peckish, so our next stop is Edible Elegance Cake & Bake Shoppe. Choosing a treat takes time as everything is so beautiful, but in the end, we all find something we love. I’m happy to report that everything tastes as good as it looks!
We spend the afternoon exploring Helen Schuler Nature Centre (admission by donation, see website for hours), and surrounding Lethbridge Nature Reserve Park. Watched over by the Lethbridge Viaduct, aka High Level Bridge, and surrounded by coulees on the bank of the Old Man River, the city feels far away (but it’s minutes away). We explore the indoor exhibits, adjacent Coal Banks Kiosk, and then hike the Coulee Climb Trail for a closer look at the bridge. The hike is short and steep (has stairs – not stroller friendly), but rewarding.
For the best pizza in town, Two Guys And a Pizza Place is the place to go (rated #1 Lethbridge restaurant on TripAdvisor at time of writing). The menu is huge, food is delicious, and they even have gluten-free pizza crust!
We loved friendly Lethbridge and look forward to visiting The Galt Museum next time. What are your favorite winter activities in Lethbridge?
Lethbridge is located 212 kilometres south of Calgary. Allow 2 hours and 15 minutes to get there.
For More Information
Check out Visit Lethbridge for more fun things to do in Lethbridge.
Thank you to Visit Lethbridge and ZenSeekers for making this trip possible! All words and opinions are my own.
Lethbridge history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lethbridge