Lethbridge is a city in southern Alberta. It is a commercial hub for the many smaller farming and ranching communities in the surrounding area. It is quiet and on the small side, but has a friendly population. Lethbridge has about 102,000 people in its metro area (2016), and that number is growing fast. The natural beauty of the area is in its starkness. The "coulees" are a valley formed by erosion. The Oldman River runs through this interesting landscape. This valley provides some shelter from the wind, which can be quite strong at almost any time of the year.
Before European settlement of Lethbridge the area was under the control of various Indigenous nations, including most recently the Kainai Nation (called the "Blood Tribe" in older writing) part of the Blackfoot Confederacy. In the late 19th century the main food source and spiritual icon of the Blackfoot peoples, the bison (buffalo), were being wiped out by White American hunters. The Blackfoot turned the Canadian government for help and a signed treaty in 1875 that relinquished control of Southern Alberta in exchange for food rations, medicines, and help to learn farming and ranching. These promises were never fully met by the government, but the Blackfoot were no longer in a position to resist, and the government meanwhile invited thousands of non-indigenous people into the region with the promise of free land and a subsidized railway connection to Eastern Canada. But before the Canadian government could established full control over the area, a booming whiskey trade took root, with Americans illegally importing "whiskey" (poisonous and impure moonshine) to sell to the Blackfoot. One of their main bases was "Fort Whoop-Up" in present-day Lethbridge. The Canadian famously government created the Mounted Police and marched them west in 1878, supposedly to stop the whiskey trade, but also to keep an eye on the Blackfoot.
Soon after this a major coal mining operation started to develop in the coulee regions of Coalbanks. Coalbanks was renamed Lethbridge in 1885. Lethbridge received city status in 1906.
During World War II, many Japanese Canadians and German POWs were interned in Lethbridge. After the war many stayed having established a new life. As a result, you'll see some influences of Japanese and German culture blended with the surrounding Ukrainian, Dutch, Mormon, Native and Hutterite cultures.
Today Lethbridge is undergoing a strong economic boom and as a result many new businesses are cropping up. There is also a large population boom but many businesses are still looking for people to work because there are still so few people to work.
If you are coming from Montana or somewhere south of Lethbridge, you can either use Highway 4 or Highway 5. Highway 4 takes you past Canadian Tire. Highway 5 takes you right past the airport and some big box stores like Wal-Mart & the Real Canadian Superstore.
If you are coming from Medicine Hat or somewhere east of Lethbridge, use Highway 3. Highway 3 turns into Crowsnest Trail and goes through the heart of Lethbridge.
If you are coming from Calgary go onto Highway 2 and turn left onto Highway 3 near Fort Macleod.
If you are coming from the Crowsnest Pass, British Columbia or somewhere west of Lethbridge then you will also use Highway 3.
- 1 Lethbridge Airport (YQL IATA). Lethbridge is served by a regional airport just outside the city limits in Lethbridge County. The airport is beside Highway 5 and south of Lethbridge. The airport is not an international airport, so only flights from somewhere in Canada can come into Lethbridge. The only exception are seasonal flights from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during the winter. Air Canada and WestJet offer flights to Lethbridge.
- Red Arrow, service from Edmonton and Calgary. There are stops at the University of Lethbridge and downtown. Red Arrow's downtown stop is at 449 Mayor Magrath Drive South (adjacent to the Sandman hotel). The office is open M-F 7AM to 9PM, Sa Su 9AM-9PM. Check-in at the office at least 15 min prior to departure.
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service, service from Kaslo, British Columbia. As of Jan 2021, this service is suspended.
The closest city with intercity rail passenger service to Lethbridge is the Montana city of Cut Bank (90 miles from Lethbridge), which is served by the Empire Builder passenger train which operates between Chicago and Seattle/Portland, stopping also in Shelby, Montana. For information, call Amtrak at ☏ .
A car is probably the easiest way to get around Lethbridge. Every major attraction is easily reachable by car. Car rentals:
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 1106 3rd Avenue South, ☏ .
- Hertz Rent A Car, 1021 3rd Avenue South, ☏ .
- National Car Rental, 417 Stubb Ross Road., ☏ .
Watch out for yellow signs that say "30km/hour 7:30-10:30 School Days", you will get dinged by photo-radar in school zones even during the summer holidays.
- Lethbridge Transit. 16 routes. M-F 5:45AM-midnight, Sa 7AM-midnight, Su 8AM-midnight, holidays 8AM-7PM. Single fare $3, day pass $7.50; discounts for youth 6-17 available only for multi-ride tickets.
On foot or bikeEdit
You can walk or bike around in some stretches of the city, but trying to walk or bike from south Lethbridge to west Lethbridge is a daunting task as you will have to walk Whoop-Up Drive, which translates walking or biking down a hill, into the coulees and then walkingor biking up a steep hill. However parts of Lethbridge are tailor-made for walking or biking around to explore, such as downtown Lethbridge and the actual coulees themselves. The parks around Henderson Lake and Nicholas Sheran Lake provide pleasant spaces for recreation.
- 1 Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden (corner of 9th Avenue South & Mayor Magrath Drive), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Open from mid-May to mid-October. Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is a beautiful example of a traditional Japanese garden nestled beside the equally beautiful Henderson Lake. Traditional Japanese architecture and flower design are abundant. Guided tours are available. Adults $7, seniors (65+) $5, youth (6–17) $4, children (0–5) free.
- 2 Galt Museum & Archives, 502 1 Street S, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-9PM, Su & holidays 1-5PM. The Galt Museum has numerous exhibits detailing the history of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta. The museum was built as a hospital, and it is rumoured that the museum is now haunted. The museum is also the starting or ending point of many walking trails going in or out of the coulees. Adults $5, seniors/post-secondary/IYH Members $4, youth (7–17) $3, children (0–6) free.
- 3 High Level Bridge (Lethbridge Viaduct). This trestle bridge goes across the coulees and can be viewed best when traversing Whoop-Up Drive. The High Level Bridge is the longest and highest bridge of its kind in the world reaching 5,327.625 feet long (1.6 km) and 314 feet high (96 meters). It was built during 1908–1909, and still has trains pass over it everyday. It is one of Lethbridge's most well-known landmarks.
- 4 Fort Whoop-Up, ☏ . May-Sep: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. Fort Whoop-Up is a nearly exact replica of the original whisky fort that served as a trading centre for during the late-1800s. American traders fled laws prohibiting trading whisky for buffalo robes in Montana, and set up their illegal trade in Canadian territories. The illegal whisky trade decimated the buffalo population and dramatically impacted the traditional diet and ways of life on the Blackfoot tribes in the region. Ultimately, the traders at Fort Whoop-Up and their illegal activities prompted the formation of the North-West Mounted Police. $10.
- Helen Schuler Coulee Centre, 910 - 4th Avenue South, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nov-Mar: Tu-Su 1-4PM; Apr-May & Sep-Oct: Tu-Su 10AM-4PM; Jun-Aug: daily 10AM-6PM. It features many displays that highlight the delicate ecosystem in the coulees. Don't miss Pegleg, the talking crow. Guided walks through the coulees can be booked here. The centre also has many programs and displays especially for kids. Free.
- 5 Southern Alberta Art Gallery, 601 3rd Avenue South, ☏ . Tu W 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-7PM, F Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. Exhibitions from many local contemporary artists. The SAAG also has beautiful scenery surrounding the building, as it is in Galt Gardens, a picturesque downtown park. Admission varies. General $5, student/senior $4, children under 12 free, free on Sundays.
- Brewery Gardens - 1 Avenue South (near Tourist Information Center). A constantly changing floral garden, the gardens are put into a display that represents the time of year or a special event that is happening in Lethbridge. You can't walk through the gardens. The gardens are best viewed during the summer (Jun-Aug).
Lethbridge has many things to do, especially in the area of hiking and natural wildlife observation.
Lethbridge has numerous places for a good hike or leisurely walk. Some recommended walks or hikes include:
- Coulees (starting at the Helen Schuler Coulee Centre)
- Popson Park (down 10th Street West, past Paradise Canyon)
- Alexander Wilderness Park (north of Stafford Drive North, near Hardieville)
- Henderson Lake (South Parkside Drive, near Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens and the Exhibition Grounds)
- Nicholas Sheran Park (just off McMaster Blvd. West).
Lethbridge annually hosts Whoop-Up Days, a carnival of sorts with rides, live performances, a rodeo, and exhibitions. The late is held in mid-August at the Exhibition Grounds (end of South Parkside Drive and next to Henderson Lake).
Lethbridge has numerous semi-professional sports teams, including:
The main mall is Park Place Mall which is north of Galt Gardens on 1st Avenue South. It has some big box stores like Chapters Books. It also has many clothing shops, a food court, a movie theatre, and few locally owned art and craft stores. Lethbridge also has a Wal-Mart near the airport at 3700 Mayor Magrath South and a Home Depot beside the Wal-Mart. Downtown Lethbridge is also a good place to spend a day shopping. Downtown has many locally owned shops selling items ranging from clothes to computers to stationary. Beware however that downtown businesses have higher prices than big box stores.
- Ciao Mein, 680 Columbia Blvd. West, ☏ . Italian & Chinese food. Take-out or delivery.
- Coco Pazzo, 1264 3rd Ave. South, ☏ . Italian.
- Douros Pizza & Steak House, 2433 Fairway Plaza Rd. South, ☏ . Mostly Italian.
- Earls, 203 13th St. South, ☏ . Wide range of menu options.
- El Comal Mexican, 1020 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . Mexican.
- Fire Chef's Creations, 860 Heritage Blvd. West, ☏ . Expensive.
- Georgio's Contemporary Dining, 1520 3rd Ave. South, ☏ . Italian.
- [dead link] Guesthouse Restaurant Ltd., 110 W T Hill Blvd. South, ☏ .
- Imperial China, 1903 - 3 Ave South, ☏ . Chinese. Daily lunch & supper buffet, plus a full menu.
- Lighthouse Japanese Restaurant, 708 3rd Ave. South, ☏ . Japanese.
- Luigi's Pizza & Steak House, 306 13 St. North and 1119 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ (13 St), (Magrath Dr). Mostly Italian.
- Mandarin Restaurant, 1624 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . Chinese.
- Mongolie Grill, 502 5th Ave. South, ☏ . Mongolian.
- Moxie's Classic Grill, 1st Ave. & Stafford Dr. South. Premium steaks.
- New Dynasty Restaurant, 103 7th St. South, ☏ . Chinese.
- O-Sho Japanese Restaurant, 311 4th St. South, ☏ . Japanese.
- Thuan Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant, 1354 Mayor Magrath Drive South, ☏ . Vietnamese.
- Poly's Pizza & Steakhouse, 3205 8th Ave. North, ☏ . Pizza & steak.
- Regent Restaurant, 1255 3rd Ave. South, ☏ . Chinese.
- Ric's Grill, 103 Mayor Magrath Drive South (Lethbridge's old water tower), ☏ . Steakhouse with a view of Lethbridge.
- Saigonese Restaurant, 1210 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . Vietnamese.
- Shanghai Chop Suey, 610 3rd Ave. South, ☏ . Chinese.
- Song Thuan Vietnamese Restaurant, 265 13th St. North, ☏ . Vietnamese.
- Tony's Diner, 3221 2nd Ave. North, ☏ . Locally owned.
- Spring Rolls Restaurant, 321-13th Street North, ☏ . Vietnamese.
- Café Verde, 1503 Mayor Magrath S, ☏ . Super affordable, fresh, and delicious Mexican Food. Huge portions, quick and easy.
The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18.
- Average Joe's Sports Bar, 518 5th Street South, ☏ .
- Backstreet Pub & Pizza, 1810 3rd Avenue South, ☏ .
- Backstreet Pub & Pizza, 407 Laval Boulevard West, ☏ .
- Blarney Stone Pub, 1917 Mayor Magrath Drive South, ☏ .
- Bo'diddly's Pub & Grill, 425 21A Street North, ☏ .
- Bully's Sport & Entertainment Centre, 3401 Parkside Drive South, ☏ .
- Corner Pocket Billiards and Lounge, 241 Stafford Drive North, ☏ .
- Honkers Pub & Eatery, 2808 5th Avenue North, ☏ .
- Ice Taps & Grill (Heritage Heights Plaza West), ☏ .
- O'Rileys Pub & The Attic Grill, 411 3rd Avenue South, ☏ .
- Scores Thirst & Grill, 1025 Mayor Magrath Drive South, ☏ .
- Shotz Billiard Club & Lounge, 1120 2nd Avenue South, ☏ .
- Studio 54, 202 5 Street South, ☏ .
- The Duke Of Wellington, 132 Columbia Boulevard West, ☏ .
- The Front Row Pub, 2012 Mayor Magrath Drive South, ☏ .
- The Roadhouse, 420 6th Street South, ☏ .
- The Tankhouse Neighbourhood Pub & Grill, 1814 Mayor Magrath Drive South, ☏ .
- Top Hat Strip Club, 1216 1st Avenue South, ☏ .
- Yoyo Crepe's, 102 5 St.South (just south of the mall main entrance), ☏ . Crepes and Italian ice cream.
- Lethbridge Community College Residences, 3000 College Drive South, ☏ . Open from May to August 15.
- Henderson Lake Campground, 3419 Parkside Dr. South, ☏ .
- Bridgeview RV Resort, 1501 2nd Avenue West, ☏ .
Bed & BreakfastsEdit
- Enid's Bed and Breakfast Lethbridge, 3204 Lakehill Cres. South, ☏ . $60/single, $85/double.
- B & B in Paradise Canyon Lethbridge, 402 Canyon Blvd. West, ☏ .
- Heritage House B&B Lethbridge, 1115 8th Ave. South, ☏ .
- A CouleeView Getaway B&B Lethbridge, 1604 Scenic Heights South, ☏ .
- Chellsea House B&B Lethbridge, 9 Dalhousie Rd. West, ☏ .
- Parkside Inn Lethbridge, 1009 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $40+.
- Howard Johnson Express Inn Lethbridge, 1026 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $40–80.
- Peppertree Inn Lethbridge, 1142 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $40–80.
- Travelodge Lethbridge Hotel & Convention Centre, 526 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $40–100.
- Thriftlodge Lethbridge, 1142 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $50–70.
- [dead link] Econo Lodge & Suites Lethbridge, 1124 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $50–80.
- Lethbridge Village Inn, Scenic Dr. & 4th Ave. South, ☏ . $60–90.
- Days Inn Lethbridge Hotel, Scenic Dr. & 3rd Ave. South, ☏ . Home of Canada's largest indoor mural. $50–120.
- Comfort Inn Lethbridge Hotel, 3226 Fairway Plaza Rd. South, ☏ . $70–140.
- Sandman Hotel Lethbridge, 421 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . Denny's Restaurant attached. $70–150.
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Lethbridge, 120 Stafford Dr. South, ☏ . $70–160.
- Ramada Hotel & Suites Lethbridge, 2375 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . $80–220.
- Lethbridge Lodge Hotel, 320 Scenic Dr South, ☏ . $110–160.
- Premier Inn & Suites Lethbridge, 2225 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ .
- Heidelberg Inn Lethbridge, 1303 Mayor Magrath Dr. South, ☏ . HI restaurant attached.
Violent crime is extremely rare in Lethbridge, but there are probably a few places you should avoid at night for fear of being hassled for money or robbed. Although safe during the day, several robberies have happened at the Galt Gardens at night. Similarly, you might want to avoid walking downtown near the Coal Banks Inn at night if you are alone. All in all however, Lethbridge is a very safe city and the probability of a crime being committed against you is very low.
Super windy! Prepare to have your hair messed up.
Both branches of the Lethbridge Public Library have Internet-access computers - free to use; first come, first served; maximum of 120 minutes per day.
- Waterton Lakes National Park - A beautiful national park that is about an hour drive away southwest from Lethbridge. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts tourists from all over the world.
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump - A UNESCO World Heritage Site near Fort Macleod, about a 30-45 minute drive west of Lethbridge. Head-Smashed-In displays how First Nations (Aboriginal) people lived before and after they came into contact with the European settlers; and it shows how they used buffalo jumps to kill the buffalo for food, protection, and shelter.
- Calgary - About a 2 hour drive north, Calgary offers world-class attractions and shopping. Calgary is also home to numerous professional sport organizations and is home to over 1,000,000 people.
- Montana - About 45 minutes south. The nearest American city is Great Falls which is about 2 hours.
- Edmonton - 5 hours away and is the capital city of Alberta. It is the second largest city with 1.1 million people. It is popular for its numerous festivals, amazing river valley, West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton Oilers, a growing arts community, and the University of Alberta.
|Routes through Lethbridge|
|Cranbrook / Calgary via ← Fort Macleod ← Jct N ←||W E||→ Taber → Medicine Hat|
|END ←||N S||→ Milk River → becomes → Great Falls|
|END ←||NE SW||→ Cardston → Waterton Lakes NP|