Lethbridge, Alberta: Chinooks, Gin, and Yellow Fish

Tuesday Aug 10th, 2021

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If you start in Calgary, the scenic drive to Lethbridge, Alberta is two hours due south, which provides just enough time to listen to all of your favourite Jann Arden hits. Dubbed the gateway city to both the Badlands and Rocky Mountains, Lethbridge is one of the sunniest places in Canada (320 days a year!) so grab your sunscreen and get ready to explore the unexpected surprises this western Canadian city has to offer.

Favoured for its warm chinooks and mild winters, Lethbridge’s 100,000 residents (and growing) love the urban residential greenspace found in namesake places like Chinook Lake Park in the beating heart of Uplands. More than 20 kilometres of shale trails and coulees split through Indian Battle Park, Bull Trail Park, and the Nature Reserve.

Image via Flickr@Jerry”Woody”

The city has shifted from underground whiskey trading to coal mining, to “Irrigation Capital of Canada,” to becoming home to one of the top-three research universities (undergraduate category) in Canada. The University of Lethbridge alumni includes eight Olympians, one Paralympian and two Olympic medalists!

What to know about Lethbridge, Alberta

  • Lethbridge has a plentiful crop diversity, with commodities such as fruits, vegetables, potatoes, corn, hemp, and more grown in the region. In fact, it’s been reported that 20% of Lethbridge’s GSP comes from agricultural companies. 
  • Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden offers a steady feed of zen. This year, visitors can imbibe in a Gin and Junipers Tasting Series featuring green tea, ginger matcha, maple leaves, and blueberry rooibos. Or, enjoy a flow of a different sort: yoga in the garden!
  • Get hooked on fly fishing with a four-night course at Lethbridge College. Learn about rods, reels, fly line, belly boats, waders, trout behavior in southern Alberta’s scenic foothills, and mountain country.
  • Lethbridge’s High Level trestle bridge is the longest and tallest railway bridge of its type in the world. It was built in 1909 and spans 1.6 kilometres over the Oldman River (*recommended for serious sunset selfies).

What to do in Lethbridge

Lethbridge is an inclusive community with countless organizations connecting artists, amateur genealogists, climbers, and barbershop singers! Downtown Lethbridge wants to be “your family room in the city.” After a hard day’s work, everyone is invited to join in on the merriment and support local businesses. Every First Friday features a variety of community events that have become an integral part of the city’s friendly and creative vibe.

Lethbridge is also a passionate and concerned community. The city encourages everyone to get involved in green initiatives like the Clean Community Challenge. Participants can adopt-a-storm-drain, adopt-a-park, take part in shoreline clean-ups, or channel their inner artist. The Yellow Fish Road™ project is a free storm drain painting program that promotes awareness about urban runoff pollution and welcomes everyone to “go fish.” Fishing for compliments is allowed!

Looking for a place to eat? The eclectic menu at Mocha Cabana Bistro is sure to satisfy any diner, whether you’re seeking breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an after-work drink! Mocha Cabana partners with independent farmers, businesses, and producers in Lethbridge to help nourish and sustain the community. 

Or, head to Two Guys and a Pizza Place for a TV-worthy bite—seriously! The Lethbridge restaurant was featured on an episode of the Food Network’s hit show You Gotta Eat Here, which finds restaurants across North America serving up amazing food. Their classic donair and perogy pizzazz 2.0 pizzas are a must-try when you’re in the area.

Housing market stats and where to live

According to the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA)’s June 2021 report, year-to-date sales hit record highs. Lethbridge has been experiencing favourable seller’s market conditions in the first half of 2021, with average residential prices reaching $319,764, an 8% increase from last year. 

According to AREA, “tighter conditions in the detached segment of the market have been fairly persistent since the last quarter of 2020. This has contributed to steeper price gains in the detached market relative to the other product types.” Average detached home prices were listed at $358,274, a 12.2% increase while the semi-detached average is $253,950. The row house average for June was $240,181, while apartment listings were balancing at $174,252.

Downtown Lethbridge is bordered by the Oldman River valley on the west and Crowsnest Trail and the CPR rail line to the north. North Lethbridge is known for its century homes and tree-lined streets. University students gravitate towards the west, to be close to school and trails. Chinatown is a dense two block area on 2 Avenue and locals will insist you order take-out from Ciao Mein (they open at 4 p.m. and often sell out within the first five minutes). 

For those who want to sleep without ear plugs, keep in mind that Whoop-Up Drive is the busiest roadway in Lethbridge (it connects west Lethbridge to downtown)!

Image via Flickr@JasonWoodhead

If you’re considering moving to the area, contact a local REALTOR® to help you navigate the eligibility process as well as narrow down the perfect home for you and your family. Lethbridge and District Association of REALTORS® has more than 300 REALTORS® with offices in the city and county of Lethbridge, Cardston County, County of Warner and the municipal districts of Taber, Warner, Willow Creek, Pincher Creek and the municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

Alberta has so many perfect pockets to call home. Those who choose Jasper can brag about having a national park as their backyard. If you want some cosmo city life within range, High River is a convenient 55 kilometres south of Calgary. For those seeking equilibrium, Cochrane is situated on the banks of the mighty Bow River, 20 minutes from Calgary. 

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