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.
- 1 Tourism Lethbridge Visitor Centre, 2805 Scenic Drive S (near the intersection of Scenic Drive & Mayor Magrath Drive), ☏ , toll-free: . M-Sa 9AM-5PM. Offers year-round visitor information services, RV Sani dump, picnic shelter, playground and outdoor exercise equipment, and public WiFi.
Highway 3 (the Crowsnest Highway) runs from Medicine Hat to British Columbia border and is the major east-west highway; it's known as Crowsnest Trail and goes through the heart of Lethbridge. Traffic originating from Calgary can follow Highway 2 south to Fort Macleod, then follow Highway 3 and approach Lethbridge from the west.
Traffic coming from the United States (Montana) can use Highway 4, which connects to Interstate 15 at Coutts and is the only 24-hour land border crossing in Alberta. Alternatively, Highway 5 provides connections to other border crossings. Both Highways 4 and 5 converge in southern Lethbridge near the visitor information center (Mayor Magrath Drive & Scenic Drive).
The only international flights planned are seasonal flights to/from Tucson, Arizona, by Flair Airlines during the winter 2022/23.
- Westjet, toll-free: . Canada's second largest airline services with hubs in Calgary and Toronto. It operates across Canada and services international destinations. Operates filghts between Calgary and Lethbridge (50 minutes).
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service, ☏ , email@example.com. Weekly service between Calgary and Kaslo with stops in Okotoks, High River, Claresholm, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek, Sparwood, Fernie, Cranbrook, Creston, Salmo, Nelson, and Balfour. Travel time to Lethbridge, from Calgary is 2.75 hours, from Sparwood is 2 hours, from Cranbrook is 4 hours, from Nelson is 7 hours, and from Kaslo is 8 hours. This service provider also offers a twice per week service between Kaslo and Vancouver via Nelson.
- Red Arrow, toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates premium service in Alberta featuring spacious seating (only three seats to a row) and workstation seats with electrical connections for business travelers and their computers. Operates a route between Lethbridge and Calgary International Airport including stops in Fort Macleod, Claresholm, and downtown Calgary. Travel time to Lethbridge from downtown Calgary International Airport is 3.5 hours and from downtown Calgary is 2.75 hours. Operates several days per week. 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.
A car is probably the easiest way to get around Lethbridge. Every major attraction is easily reachable by car. Car rentals:
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, ☏ , email@example.com. 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 bike
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), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 5 Helen Schuler Nature Centre (Helen Schuler Coulee Centre), 910 - 4th Avenue South, ☏ , email@example.com. 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.
- 6 Brewery Gardens, 50 1 Avenue S. 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).
- 7 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.
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 Lethbridge Hurricanes (Western Hockey League). They play each year from October to March at the Enmax Centre (2510 Scenic Drive South).
- The Lethbridge Bulls (Western Major Baseball League). They play from the end of May to the end of July at Henderson Stadium (2425 North Parkside Drive South).
- 1 Downtown Lethbridge, 501 1 Avenue S. Downtown Lethbridge is 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.
- 2 Park Place Shopping Centre, 501 1 Avenue S. Park Place Shopping Centre is the main mall in Lethbridge. 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.
- 3 Mayor Magrath Drive (24 Avenue S−40 Avenue S). The southern portion of Mayor Magrath Drive is home to most of Lethbridge's big box stores such as Costco, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.
- 1 Birdy Restaurant, 1312 Mayor Magrath Drive S, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM. Nashville hot chicken.
- 2 Ciao Mein, 680 Columbia Boulevard W, ☏ . W-Su 4-8PM. Italian & Chinese food. Take-out or delivery.
- 3 Douros Pizza & Steak House, 2433 Fairway Plaza Road S, ☏ . Mostly Italian.
- 4 Earls, 203 13 Street S, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-10 PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. Wide range of menu options.
- 5 Imperial China, 4038 4 Avenue S, ☏ . Tu-F 11M-2:30PM, 4-8PM; Sa-Su 4-8PM. Chinese. Daily lunch & supper buffet, plus a full menu.
- 6 Lighthouse Akari Sushi Japanese Restaurant, 708 3 Avenue S, ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-2PM, 4:30-9PM. Japanese.
- Luigi's Pizza & Steak House. Mostly Italian.
- 9 Motte's Café Verde Real Mexican Grill, 1503 Mayor Magrath S, ☏ . Tu-Th 11:30AM-8PM, F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa 11:30AM-8:30PM. Super affordable, fresh, and delicious Mexican Food. Huge portions, quick and easy.
- 10 Moxies, 1621 3 Avenue S, ☏ . Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-midnight. Premium steaks.
- 11 O-Sho Japanese Restaurant, 311 4 Street S, ☏ . Tu-Th 4-8PM, F-Sa 4-9PM Su 4-8PM. Japanese.
- 12 Shanghai Chop House, 610 3 Avenue S, ☏ . Daily 4-10PM. Chinese, since 1942.
- 13 Song Thuan Vietnamese Restaurant, 265 13 Street N, ☏ . Vietnamese.
- 14 Spring Rolls Restaurant, 321 13 Street N, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-8:30PM. Vietnamese.
- 15 Thuan Hoa Restaurant, 1354 Mayor Magrath Drive S, ☏ . M-Sa 4-8PM. Vietnamese.
- 16 Two Guys & A Pizza Place, 316 11 Street S, ☏ . Pizza
- 17 Water Tower Grill & Bar, 103 Mayor Magrath Drive S (Lethbridge's old water tower), ☏ . Steakhouse with a view of Lethbridge.
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 & Breakfasts
- 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.
- Lethbridge Public Library - Main Branch - 810 5th Avenue South, +1 403-380-7310. Open M-F 9:30AM–9PM, Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM, Su 1:30PM–5:30PM.
- Lethbridge Public Library - The Crossings Branch - 255 Britannia Blvd West, +1 403-320-4037. Open M-Th 9:30AM–9PM, F Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM, Su 1:30PM–5:30PM.
- 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.
- Vulcan - the "Official Star Trek Capital of Canada"
- 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|