Most Calgarians have visited the Badlands at least once - this incredible, unique geological formation stretches all the way down to Arizona. It’s home to unique plant and animal life, rich natural resources, incredible rock formations - and, at least in our part of the Badlands, some world-class hospitality. As your kids grow older, it can be hard to plan long vacations around their increasingly busy schedules. While the Rocky Mountains are known far and wide as a great winter destination, the Badlands are a hidden treasure full of interesting day trips which can be easily accomplished on a weekend - right in our own backyard. Here are our top five picks for a weekend of fun which should please even the pickiest teen!
1. The Royal Tyrrell Museum. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a world-class facility. It’s Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to palaeontology, and we’re lucky it’s so close! It can get exceptionally busy on weekends, but tends to quiet down in the fall and winter. Many of us have toured the exhibits before, but the museum is always changing! A large section of the second floor has been given a facelift with new exhibits recently, and construction has begun on an ambitious new wing, which will house meeting and learning areas to accommodate more workshops and visitors.
If you have time to spare, we really recommend signing up for one of the workshops offered by the museum. Be sure to check out the board at Guest Services when you arrive and register as early as you can! Programs range from guided hikes to supervised ‘digs’ to assembling replica dinosaur skeletons - the programs change seasonally. For more information, visit tyrrellmuseum.com/programs/public_programs.htm.
2. Rosebud Theatre. Rosebud is a tiny town of around 100 people located approximately 30 minutes outside of Drumheller, and it will surprise you! Nestled in a valley between rolling hills, Rosebud is picturesque and a little eccentric. It’s not the kind of place you’d expect to see in rural Alberta; a wooden windmill greets you on your way into town, and the flower-lined streets in the summer showcase incredibly well-loved heritage buildings which have been restored to their original beauty. It feels a little like something you’d see on Vancouver Island - half artist commune, half campus town. Rosebud is home to the Rosebud School of the Arts, rosebudschoolofthearts.com, a respected and established post-secondary institution offering a unique multi-year certificate focusing on acting and music. It’s also home to a number of excellent gift shops, galleries, and - of course - the Rosebud Theatre. For more information, visit rosebudtheatre.com.
The Rosebud Theatre offers ‘dinner-then-theatre’ performances, which truly highlight what makes this little town so special. Dinner is served buffet- style with plenty of choices for even the pickiest eaters, accompanied by live music from the school’s students. Dinner seatings start at 5:30pm and the shows start at 8pm, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy your meal and then explore the streets and shops at your own pace.
3. The Monarch Theatre. Located in Medicine Hat, this theatre is the oldest operational movie theatre in all of Canada. Opened in 1911, it has only a single screen, no 3D and no attached arcade, but it’s a piece of true Canadian history and well worth a visit. The showing schedule changes frequently and you won’t find your average first- run movie offerings here, but you can check them out online ahead of time before you decide to make the trek. It’s a great opportunity to talk about how much daily life has changed over the past hundred years and consider the many world events the theatre has survived over its lifetime! For more information, visit themonarch.net.
4. Medicine Hat JazzFest. The Medicine Hat JazzFest has grown to a widely recognized world- class festival that has taken its place alongside the other great jazz festivals in Canada. It features an eclectic mix of venues, running the gamut from their signature concert at the downtown Bus Terminal parkade to the intimate and quaint atmosphere of late night clubs. It features both free and ticketed events. For more information, visit canadianbadlands.com/events/719/medicine-hat-jazzfest.
5. The Patricia Hotel Steak Pit. The Steak Pit has to be experienced to be understood. Grill your own steak in the lobby of a 100-year-old hotel decked out with all the western memorabilia a fan could ask for! Perfect for the meat-eating teen. For more information, visit thepatriciahotelab.ca.
Happy (Badlands) Travels!
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