Find your way to great experiences and new memories with day trips from Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary!
Find your way to great experiences and new memories with day trips from Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary!
Find your way to great experiences and new memories with day trips from Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary!
We thought it would be a wonderful day to do a nice scenic drive. Starting from the Flatiron building, we drove west down highway 12. Our first stop was the Brown Eggs and Lamb to grab some snacks for our drive. Brown Eggs and Lamb has a variety of foods such as veggies and preserves, baking, dairy and an assortment of meats. Our next stop was at the Wooden Shoe in the Summer Village of Gull Lake to grab some coffee. Just a couple minutes past the Wooden Shoe is Aspen Beach Provincial Park. We made a quick stop to look at the beautiful lake and to take some nice pictures. After the visit to Aspen Beach we went further down highway 12 to Bentley. We needed more coffee, so we stopped at the Cross Eyed Giraffe Café! It was time to hit the road for our scenic drive. Along the drive there is many spots to take some beautiful pictures. We stopped by the Medicine Lodge Ski Area for a little while to take in the surroundings. Back on the road we went, and we found some neat old barns! We went south down highway 766 towards Eckville. Eckville would be a good spot for you to get out to stretch your legs and walk down the beautiful walking trails! When you’re out walking along the path, make sure you find the geocache that we placed! We then continued on down the highway 766, along this highway you can see Sylvan Lake. So we turned east down highway 11 towards Sylvan Lake to see another beautiful lake. We stopped for ice cream at The Big Moo Ice Cream Parlor before we headed back to the office. We decided to go a different way back to Lacombe. We went up highway 20 and then turned east down Aspelund Road towards Blackfalds. Then we went through Blackfalds and turned north up 2A to get back to Lacombe! There was pretty scenery this way and much less traffic. We had such a nice drive, share with us your scenic drives on Facebook and twitter!
With just a short drive down highway 2A, we decided that it was a perfect day to visit the beautiful town of Blackfalds! A trip to the Abby Centre would be a great way start to the day, and beating the crowds we were able to tour the facility. The Abby Centre offers fitness and fun for all ages, including an outdoor pool/water park, a running track, indoor & outdoor playgrounds, a multi use field house, fitness centre & studios, outdoor fitness centre and much more! After our tour of the Abby Centre we set out to find someplace to eat and found this cute little café called After the Grind. The workers are all volunteers and the profits from the café goes to support the local and global community. They have raised funds for Fort McMurray, AIDs program in Africa, feeding kids in North Korea, Blackfalds food bank and many more. After a delicious lunch we stopped by Tayles Water Park, this is a perfect place to bring the kids! The park is not just a spray park, it has a gazebo, picnic tables and a playground. Pack a lunch to have a picnic then play in the splash park! The last stop of the day was the Blackfalds Community Market. It runs every Thursday from 3:30-7:30pm in the summer at the Blackfalds Motor Inn parking lot. The market has a variety of vendors and products, such as canned goods, vegetables, clothes and food trucks! So don’t worry about cooking supper on Thursdays, just come on down to the market. Blackfalds is such a vibrant town, we had a blast touring around. We’d love to hear about your day trip to Blackfalds. Share with us on Twitter and Facebook!
The drive from Lacombe to Alix is beautiful and to say the least the scenery along the way is gorgeous! Our first stop was the Alix Wheel Wagon Museum, here we got to tour the museum and learn a vast amount of Alix’s history. The staff of the museum were so wonderful and informative, they showed us various exhibits showcasing life as a pioneer, the history of Alix, wildlife of Central Alberta, and much more. We were surprised at how big the museum was, just when we thought we had come to the end of the museum there was more interesting and intriguing things to see. Our favourite exhibit was the sports exhibit, it contains uniforms, sports equipment and trophies from decades of Alix sports teams. Stop by anytime from 10am-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday and say hi to the wonderful staff. Admission is by donation! Our next stop was Alix Lake even though the day was a bit gloomy, the lake was beautiful and so peaceful. At the lake there is as an 11 site campground, day use area, playground, swimming area, concession, and calm waters for water-ski and wake board enthusiasts! After roaming around the lake for a while, we got quite hungry, so our next stop was The Pantry. This is a quaint little café which is home of Sweet Crumbs Cakery, is also a local cake and pastry shop. They had so many options for lunch, from soups and salads, sandwich’s and specialty drinks. Everything looked so amazing! It was pretty busy when we first got there, but the staff were fast and efficient and the food was delicious! We had the Strawberry Spinach Salad with chicken, the Chicken Bacon Swiss Melt and we both got the Italian Peach Soda. After we were full, we stopped by Moonwalkers! Moonwalkers is a 3500 square foot indoor play centre that offers fun and family memories in an affordable and safe environment. The staff were delighted to answer all of our questions and gave us a tour. This facility is the only indoor play centre in Alberta that allows families to bring in their own food, but are also nut free! Moonwalkers is open Sunday – Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday-Saturday from 11am-7pm. Stop by to have the time of your life and remember to bring your socks! Before we headed back to the office, we stopped once again at the Pantry to get one of their famous cinnamon buns. The cinnamon buns were warm, soft and so delicious! There are so many things to do and see in Alix, we had such a great time on our daytrip! We’d love to hear about your visit to Alix, share with us on Facebook or Twitter!
Drop the kids at Grandma’s and treat your sweetie to a romantic dinner in Lacombe. Picture it: a country drive under the big moon and about a million stars, dinner at a nice restaurant and a whole evening of quiet, thoughtful, grown-up conversation. Sounds good, eh? Here are four of Lacombe’s best date night places. Image: Seasoned and chargrilled lamb fillet steak by Murcotipton on Wiki Commons. Hungry yet? A nice steak dinner at Leto’s Locally-owned Leto’s Steakhouse and Bar has been serving up hearty portions of homemade food in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere for more than 20 years. Settle in for their generously portioned signature prime rib or traditional Greek fare – and pair it with craft beer or a nice bottle of house red. Highly recommended: the cheezy, bubbly pizza and, of course, their perfectly cooked sirloin – and from now until Valentine’s Day, you’ll also find lots of seafood specials. You can always extend the night in the popular Leto’s lounge over nibbles and the game. The best calamari is at The Station For fresh food and great service, head to The Station across the road from the town’s iconic railway. You’ll find a menu packed with scratch-made sandwiches, sizzling steaks, lots of pasta and tender roast lamb on special weekends. Word on the street is to try the “huge and amazing calamari salad” – the best around, so folks say – Linguini Alfredo, and the Chicken Cordon Bleu topped with roasted red pepper sauce. Kick back and relax at Ugly’s Maybe your sweetie has a hankering for burgers, hockey and live rock’n’roll? You caught yourself a keeper there, mister. Take your most awesome laidback girl to Ugly’s for frosty beer on tap, classic pub fare and a fun and cozy atmosphere. Live bands play here every week and you have to try the chicken wings, as if you wouldn’t anyway. Sushi and stay over at the Lacombe Hotel Sushi Maru is in the Lacombe Hotel downtown and gets rave reviews on urbanspoon. This darling restaurant serves up authentic sushi, fresh sashimi and crisp tempura veg – try the popular Rainbow Roll. Then you say this: “Hey, wait a minute, I just had an amazing idea – let’s stay over, leave the kids where they are, they’re totally fine with Grandma, let’s gorge ourselves on dynamite rolls and get a deep sleep all night long.” Boom! Best date night ever.
You have some time to kick back with the family over the next couple of weeks – how about a fun cross-country ski through the sparkling snow under the big blue sky followed up by a creamy hot chocolate? Ok then, here are three places for a family ski in Lacombe this holiday. This winter wonderland image is one of last year’s photo contest submissions from Lacombe Tourism on Facebook. The new TransCanada Trail Start the 8-km TransCanada Trail from Lacombe to Blackfalds at the Lacombe Research Station public parking lot and ski through a century-old alley of giant evergreens and puffy snow-capped forest. Follow the beautiful natural trail past Lacombe Lake all the way to the Abbey Centre – a new rec centre in Blackfalds and the only place in Canada where the trail travels indoors. You can stick around here a while – the Abbey Centre is a fitness centre, play space, running track, gym and, in the summer, one of the biggest outdoor waterparks in Canada too. Winter wildlife at JJ Collett The JJ Collett nature preserve is 635 acres of aspen and spruce forest, open meadows and ancient sand dunes – 15 minutes north of town towards Ponoka. The nine trails that weave through the park are all open in the winter thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers. Trails 7, 8 and 9 are set for cross-country skiing and the rest are groomed for walking through a winter wonderland (please, please, please bring the dog, says the dog.) Rolling along the Lacombe Golf Course Lacombe Golf Course has trails through the property – over rolling greens and under all those hundreds of trees. The club’s pro shop is open and memberships are available – just in case, you are looking for a last minute gift, hint, hint, honey. The course is on the west edge of town along Hwy 12. Bonus ski day: Need for speed? Spend another fun family day at the Medicine Lodge Ski Area, just 11 km west of Bentley. This approachable ski area has 500 vertical feet of terrain and 13 family-friendly runs. The hills are great for beginners who are just learning – plus the country landscapes west along Hwy 12 make one of the region’s most scenic drives. Open Saturdays & Sundays from 10–4 – check their Facebook page for lessons and clinics.
Time to break out your sequin-iest, super-sparkly, be-jewelled and be-reindeered Christmas sweater. You’ll fit right in at the concerts and skating and markets all over the region this time of year. Here’s a rundown of all the fun happening in and around Lacombe this ho-ho-holiday season. Celebrate with Santa in Alix This Saturday, Dec 6, the community of Alix is coming together for a whole day of holiday fun. Shop for hand-made goodies and gifts at the Christmas market at Alix Community Hall from 10–2, get pictures with Santa at the Alix Fire Hall at 11 and bring a toy for the toy run, and practice your backwards crossovers during the skating carnival at the arena at 1 pm. Alix is 25 minutes east of Lacombe on Hwy 12. Come back again next week and visit all your new friends at the village’s Christmas Dinner on Dec 12 at 6 pm at the Community Hall. Carriage ride home tour Also this Saturday, Dec 6, take a carriage ride through the sparkling Christmas card snow on a heritage home tour through Lacombe. Start at Michener House Museum at 3:30 and ride past festive lights and the town’s historic buildings to five heritage homes decorated for the season. Tickets are $45 and available at Michener House and the Flatiron Museum. Also check out the Flatiron’s annual Christmas Village display with more than 3,000 pieces meticulously constructed by local resident Dennis Wilson. CP Holiday train Every year, the CP Holiday Train travels across Canada collecting food donations for local food banks. Kids who love trains will go bonkers for the big diesel pulling brightly lit cars through town. Then enjoy free concerts by The Odds and Roxanne Potvin and other festivities from the boxcar stage. The train will be in Lacombe (at the parking lot between 46 Ave & Hwy 2A) at 2 pm on Dec 8. Music and dancing The Lacombe Fire Dep’t Christmas Ball is Dec 6 at the LMC with cocktails at 5:30, dinner at 6, then music and dancing to St James Gate. Dance the night away at the Legion’s free Old Time Dance on Dec 11 at 6 pm – and sing along with all your favourite carols at the town’s Annual Christmas Concert on Dec 12 at Lincoln Hall. The concert starts at 7 pm – followed by a visit from the big guy his very self. Join the Retro Rocking Feel-good Christmas Show at St. Andrew’s United on Dec 22 at 7:30. Tickets are $20 – in support of the C4 Initiative Crabba Community Cultural Centre. Christmas farmer’s markets Check everyone off your nice list with handmade goodies and gifts at Lacombe’s Christmas farmer’s markets. Two markets run at the LMC on Friday, Dec 5 and 12 from 9 am–1 pm. Also be sure to check out the LMC’s holiday light displays choreographed to music and running every night from 5–9 pm until the New Year.
Here’s an idea for you and your Mom-Sister-BFF – take a country drive to Lacombe, wander along the historic downtown Main Street looking at antiques – reminiscing about happy days – and maybe even crossing a few things off your nice list. A perfect daytrip? We think so. Here’s the plan. Image: Sunny happy kitchen kitsch from Vintagebelle’s Antiques on Facebook. China teacups and antique jewellery Begin your day browsing more than 80 patterns of vintage Royal Albert china in a 1939 heritage home at And Everything Nice – 5403 50 Ave. The shop specializes in rare and hard-to-find antique china and collectable glass and also carries gourmet chocolate, handmade soap and romantic jewellery. Get in the holiday spirit Head down Lacombe’s Main Street, past brick buildings and heritage homes to Timeworn Charm – at 5105 50 Ave. Shop here for antiques and country home décor. Inside it’s beginning to look like Christmas right now with snowy sparkles, wooden decorations, candy cane cupcake candles and lots of other vintage holiday details. They also have gorgeously patina-ed antique furniture and housewares. Mid-century treasures Keep heading west, past the town’s famous Flatiron Building to 50 St and Vintagebelle’s – at 5014 50 Street. The new shop is filled with mid-century treasures – candy-coloured kitchenware, vintage and retro-inspired clothing and glittering sparkling jewellery. You can check out – and drool over – what’s brand new in this very cool store on the Belle’s active Facebook page. Time for lunch By now, you will be hungry – but that doesn’t mean you have to stop shopping. Lacombe is home to many great food and drink options. Stop by Kavaccino’s(5028 51 Street Lacombe), a cozy place offering homemade lunches, specialty coffees and treats. Or maybe you’re thirsty – indulge in a pint at Ugly’s Pub (5010 50 Street Lacombe) located in the historic Puffer-Chung Block built in 1911 Bookworm’s paradise Now that you’ve eaten, you’ll be ready to walk a few blocks (less than 10 minutes) to Second Glance – a bookworm’s paradise. The secondhand bookshop – at 4842 46 St – is packed to the rafters with books of every genre, including young adult and children’s. Devoted readers will spend some time here deep-breathing the cozy aroma of old books piled high to the ceiling and shining in the sun.
Harvest time in the country Fall is the perfect time for a drive in the country to gather the fruits of our good farmers’ hard work. Here are four country stores in and around Lacombe where you can buy farm fresh food. Image: a pick-up full of country pumpkins from Billyco Junction Gardens on Facebook. Billyco farm store and B&B Billyco Junction is a working farm, wedding and family picnic venue and year-round B&B 10 minutes SE of Lacombe. The farm’s Community Shared Agriculture program delivers fresh, seasonal produce to Edmonton, Red Deer and the Calgary region and their summer u-pick grows chemical-free berries, rhubarb and apples. Right now, in their country farm store you can stock up on jams, jellies, syrup, honey, pickles and relish. Of course, if you are staying in the Honeyberry Inn right on the farm, you can wake up to home-cooked breakfast, coffee and your pick of scratch-made jelly on toast from your perch on the sundeck – before a soothing bath in the suite’s deep soaker tub. Greenhouse veg at Pik-n-Pak Pik-n-Pak is a distributor for several of the region’s family-owned greenhouse growers. They sell wholesale to your local grocery stores but you can also visit their self-serve corner store year-round for fresh peppers, cucs and tomatoes. The Pik-n-Pak facility and store is located in Gull Lake, less than 15 minutes west of Lacombe along Hwy 12. Local and farm fresh year-round The country store at the Brown Eggs and Lamb farm is open year-round with a mission to connect food eaters to food producers. Shop their farm store – just south of Gull Lake – for their own brown eggs, of course, and Alberta lamb, plus home-ground stone-milled flour, yogurt, honey and goat’s milk. They also sell locally-raised meats, including bison, elk, beef, free-range chickens and pork. Stock your pantry at Green Pantry The three moms who run the Green Pantry describe themselves as an online farmer’s market – where you can go to order all your local produce, meats and grains and then sit back and wait to get your delivery. They specialize in sustainably produced groceries and 90% of their food is grown locally, much of it spray-free. If you live in Lacombe, Ponoka, Blackfalds, Stettler, Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House or Sylvan Lake – you can take advantage of weekly deliveries. If you live outside the region, you can still drop by their warehouse in Lacombe (at 4702 Hwy 2A) from 3–6 pm on Thursdays, sample delicious food and buy your fresh fruit and veg, grains, granola and locally produced organic dairy.
Camp, play and eat ice cream It’s high summer – time for eating ice cream, spending all day outside and cooling off in the lake. Less than 20 minutes straight west of Lacombe, you’ll find Gull Lake – home to one of Alberta’s best beaches for kids, a country market and family-friendly golf. Image: exploring the interpretive trail at Aspen Beach from Lacombe Regional Tourism on Facebook. Camp at Aspen Beach Aspen Beach was the first provincial park in Alberta and has one of the best beaches in around. The white sand beach is long, soft and shallow for a long way out – and the concession serves your kids’ favourite foods: hot dogs, fries and ice cream. No wonder it’s packed with families during the hot summer. The Brewer’s campground is located close to the main beach, has a huge playground and lovely non-power sites among the trees. Lakeview campground is a little higher up the lake with its own less-crowded beach, private sites – most with power hook-up – and a small boat launch for fishing on the lake. Gull Lake is full of northern pike and walleye, so plan ahead and bring your license. An interpretive walkway winds through a nearby marsh – so you can explore the wetlands and search for water striders, frogs and beaver lodges. Park your ride at Summerland The Summerland Leisure Park is located in the summer village of Gull Lake – 2 km from the beach and along a safe 6-km bike path into the town of Bentley. This family-oriented RV park has a colourful new playground, 18-hole mini-golf course and driving range. The well-spaced full-service camp spots are big enough to accommodate any size RV and have fire pits, picnic tables and free Wi-Fi. The park hosts birthday parties, corporate events and stags/stagettes – and for your next big family gathering, you might park yourselves here and rent the village’s community hall. Shop and eat in Bentley The town of Bentley is nestled among green fields and a warm shallow lake – and on a clear day you can see the Rockies just peeking up on the western horizon. The town has an annual summer fair and rodeo, cute country shops and a pioneer museum in a heritage farmhouse. Shop for farm-fresh food and hand-made crafts at the busy Bentley Farmer’s Market that runs every Saturday, 1:30–4 from May to the Sep long weekend. Read our recent blog all about the charming little town of Bentley. Golf by the lake Work on your short game at the Gull Lake golf course, a nine-hole par 3 course – 14 minutes north of Bentley on the northwest corner of the lake. The course takes less than two hours to complete – which leaves lots of time for lunch at the licensed clubhouse. Since you can see the entire hole from every tee, this short course is ideal for beginners – you’ll learn how to play across contoured fairways, rolling greens and out of sand bunkers. And advanced golfers can glory in brag-worthy birdies among lovely lakeside views and a relaxed vibe.
Tees and Bentley rodeos This month, Bentley and Tees are throwing their long-running town-wide rodeos and country fairs. You won’t want to miss the wild rodeo action, all the kid fun, beer gardens and the food – well, hello, country BBQ. Here’s what you’ll find this month at these two Lacombe region rodeos. Image from Bentley Ag Society on Facebook. 38th annual Tees Rodeo Every August long weekend, the hamlet of Tees – less than 20 minutes due east of Lacombe – kicks it up with their annual rodeo. The CARA sanction Tees rodeo starts at 5 pm on Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday at the rodeo grounds. Enjoy free camping, covered beer gardens with live entertainment, stock horse and pony races and all your favourite rodeo events. Admission is free on Fri and on Sat and Sun it’s $10 for adults, $5 for kids six to 12 years old and kids under six are free. Tees Longear Days, Aug 17–18 And now that you know how fun and friendly this little hamlet is – you’ll want to come back for the 25th annual Tees Longear Days, Aug 17–18. The local donkey and mule club put on this family event each year with donkey and mule games, drills and races, little tykes events, BBQ supper and entertainment on Sat – and obstacle races and trail riding all day Sunday. And the concession is open all weekend with crepes, smokies and perogies – yum! Bentley Rodeo, Aug 8–9 Bentley is a charming little town – 20 minutes west of Lacombe and next to popular Aspen Beach on Gull Lake. Visit on Aug 7–9 for the Bentley Fair and Rodeo at the ag grounds and all over this sunny busy town. Kid-fun Thursday The whole deal kicks off on Thursday, Aug 7 with a pancake breakfast at 7 am at Legion Park then the big parade winds through town at 1 pm. Also in Thu, the arena has kids wool bustin – sheep riding for kids seven and under – and the bench show from 2 to 6:30 pm at the curling rink. You’ll also find free face painting, a magic show and a family concert at 5:30 around town on Thu. Rodeo on Fri and Sat Rodeo events – racing, roping, riding and wild cow milking – run Friday and Sat evenings. Adult admission is $8, seniors and kids six to 18 are $6 and tykes under six are free. Party into Saturday night at the rodeo cabaret starting at 9 pm at the curling rink ($15 at the door) – and fireworks are at 10:15 pm. There’s also beer gardens and 50/50 draws. Fun all over town During this big fun weekend, the town also hosts a horseshoe tournament, show and shine, bouncy house, Farmer’s Market, bazaar and a drive-in movie on Saturday night. You can see the schedule on the Bentley Ag Society’s Facebook page – the hard part will be packing it all in!
Fourteen kinds of farm-fresh fun Play comes naturally to little kids – give them space and they’ll just run – sometimes in circles until they’re dizzy. But as kids grow big, you need to remind them of their love of play by taking them to safe, busy places like the Kraay Family Farm, home of the Lacombe Corn Maze and super-fun all-day playground. Here are 14 ways to play all the live-long day at the farm. Images from the Kraay Farm on Facebook. 1. Run, run, run The farm’s corn maze is 15 acres big and features a new design every year. It take about an hour and a half to run the full corn maze – but if you have little ones, or need an ice cream break, there are a couple of exits at the beginning of each phase. Big kids can take on the twisty-turny maze after dark by flashlight or by the light of a full moon. 2. Jump The farm has two giant jumping pillows this year, so there’s plenty of room for all the kids who like to bounce – actually, that’s all of them. And yep – you’re allowed to bounce too, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa. 3. Climb Climb up and over the rope spider web then scale prairie-style mountains made out of giant tires. Climbers use muscles all over their body and practice their balance too. But mostly it’s just fun. 4. Drive Take a turn on the mini-John Deere tractors on a trail through the corn and steer your speedy pedal cart through a big metal tunnel on the dirt racetrack. 5. Play pretend Work your imagination and play pretend in the farm’s kid-sized crooked fairy tale houses. You be daddy kitty, I’ll be mama kitty and little sis can play our baby dinosaur. Roar! 6. Swing Take a spin around and around and around on the tire horse carousel. (Ok, Mom, if you get Dad to push – this is where you get a little breather. Enjoy it.) 7. Meet critters Visit the petting zoo to meet Brownie the goat and her spring baby and Jackson, a pig who sits for treats – plus ducks, bunnies, chickens, sheep and a donkey. 8. Cheer and clap Root for your favourite little curly-tail during the farm’s piggy races – twice a day in the summer. And settle down for just a couple of minutes to watch the animatronic chicken show. 9. Ride trains Attention junior engineers – trains are a big deal here at the farm too. Take the popular grain train around the corn maze, ride the barrel train and the corn maze is in the shape of an Alberta Prairie Railway steam train. (Train rides are two tokens a ride.) 10. Make stuff go boom! Aim and fire the corn blaster at a big old bus and completely annihilate an innocent wonky-shaped pumpkin with the pumpkin cannon in the fall. (Corn cannon is two shots for a token, pumpkins are 1 token per try.) 11. Slide One, two, three, four, five slides all in a row. Go side-by-side on the giant yellow slides then run back up to try the tube slides. Repeat. 12. Golf Putt around the dinosaur-themed 18-hole mini-golf – golf is included in admission, just sign out your clubs at the Corn-er store. 13. Find treasure Buy a bag in the store then head over to the gemstone mine and wash it in the bubbling rainwater sluice to reveal precious gemstones, golden nuggets and other fantastic treasures. 14. Eat All that playing is going to give you a good appetite. Luckily the farm sells ice cream, kettle popcorn, hot dogs and deep-fried pickles. New food this year includes mini-donuts, cotton candy and fresh roasted nuts. Or you can bring a picnic, cook out over a firepit or rent a BBQ. Grand opening party The farm opens for their 15th season on July 25 and they are throwing a grand opening party on the August long weekend and special events all season long (so keep an eye on KraayFamilyFarm.com for dates). Play all summer from 10:30 to 8 pm, Mon to Sat including holiday Mondays. Head 10 minutes west of Lacombe on Hwy 12 then south on range road 273.
My name is Lacey Pilgrim and I am a summer student intern at Lacombe Regional Tourism. I have recently had the opportunity to visit the Ellis Bird Farm for my very first time and the place was above and beyond my expectations. Although I was there by myself, it seemed like the perfect place to bring your friends and family to join in and share the unique and pleasurable experience. I began my visit at the Ellis Bird Farm’s Visitor Centre. The staff members that welcomed me were delightfully friendly and welcoming, and one of the staff members, Shalynn, answered all of my tough questions with ease (and there were quite a few!). She had suggested I take the self-guided tour to start off my adventure and I’m glad she had – it was very informative! However, with a love for goats, I headed to play with the farm animals first. The baby goats were only a month old when I visited and it was safe to say my heart was melting as I played with them. When I finally forced myself to leave the animals I decided to try the self-guided tour, even with my terrible sense of direction. Lucky for me the tour was easy to follow and had a great description of each of the thirteen spots to visit. I captured some beautiful photos of the area, although it was impossible to capture just how much beauty this area truly holds – from the colourful and unique nest-boxes, to the butterflies flying around the gardens, it is a masterpiece of nature. While I was walking around, I met a few visitors walking around the area and asked how they were enjoying their day at Ellis Bird Farm. Their responses were all positive and many of them were returning visitors who brought their friends who had never been there before. One of the groups visiting was all the way from Holland! I also met parents that brought their kids to visit the farm for the day, and took advantage of the beautiful weather and had a picnic at the tables near the entrance. At the end of the tour I decided to check out the Tea House. This quaint little house was the perfect end to the perfect day. Their food is made with local ingredients and consists of a farm to fork style menu. They even have a patio area for the beautiful summer days when you just can’t be indoors! I finished off my tour where I began, at the Ellis Bird Farm Visitor Centre, reading the descriptions on each of the displays and marveled at their display of the Purple Martin routes and just how far these birds fly; it is truly amazing! After taking in all of the information at the Visitor Centre, it was time for me to leave this breathtaking area. Although it is free to visit, they do appreciate donations for a great cause. The donations help provide continued educational programs, general upkeep, help develop and expand the projects and the Visitor Centre displays, all of the important aspects that make it such an inspiring place. It is safe to say that I will be returning to the Ellis Bird Farm this summer but next time I will be bringing a few friends to share the experience with me; and who knows, maybe I will take an idea from the other visitors I met and have a picnic! For more information on the Ellis Bird Farm visit their website at ellisbirdfarm.ca or phone them at (403) 885-4477.
Run the kids here Goodbye cabin fever – spring is springing up all around. These three Lacombe trails are great for letting kids run in the fresh air and sunshine. Image of JJ Collett trail in the spring, photo by Dr. Charles D. Bird (jjcollett.com) A huge natural park The J.J. Collett Natural Area is a whopping 635 acres of rolling parkland, 15 minutes northwest of Lacombe. In the park, 18 km of trails wind through aspen groves, grassy meadows, stands of white spruce and living wetlands. Take the 200-foot boardwalk across a wetland to look for insects and beaver lodges. You will see butterflies, lots of birds and maybe moose. And here’s a cool fact: the aspen parkland sits on top of ancient sand dunes. The park’s foundation maintains the area and supports a grade six program that brings 450 kids here each year to study science and talk about the environment. The group also holds guided walks in the spring and fall. This spring’s annual walk is on June 1 at 2:00 pm. Go on a trail walk with a park director and stay for the free BBQ. Elizabeth Lake for families The trail around Elizabeth Lake is a nice one-hour family hike on the edge of the city. These wooded trails are fairly flat, so they’re good for little ones – plus you can stop often to watch ducks bob on the lake. You could also bring bikes and zip around the dirt, gravel and wood chip trails. Also in Lacombe, the 1.8 km Cranna Lake loop is paved and has new fitness equipment installed along the way. Trans Canada Trail from Lacombe This eight-km trail opened last summer and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. The paved path connects Lacombe and Blackfalds and winds through quiet rural countryside. You’ll walk over a boardwalk, rest at a gazebo and pass a 106-year-old research station – one of Canada’s oldest. Local grade five kids wrote some of the interpretive signs along the trail about plants, animals and the area’s long agricultural history. Check this trail map (pdf) from the Central Alberta Regional Trails Society.
A good day for cats You know, I would make a fine house cat. I like to sit in sunbeams and take naps. Give me hot tea and warm baking, I could look out the window all day. Here are four cafés in Lacombe where you can tuck up your tail. And since they’re pretty much in a circle – fifteen minutes to walk to them all – here’s a whole day of warm, quiet and cozy. Baking in a sunny window Start with a latte and home baked muffin by the fireplace or under giant sunny windows at Anna Maria’s. It’s in the Lacombe Memorial Centre on the town’s historic main street. The building has the public art collection and library with lectures, knitting and book classes. The café is named after Lacombe opera soprano Anna Maria Kaufmann, she sang here to open the centre. Hot soup and fresh bread It’s a late lunch at Morrison House Café – a heritage house open for tea and lunch. Their food is home made – hearty soups, sandwiches on fresh baked bread, quiche and desserts. Dessert again Yes you can have dessert twice. Kavaccino’s is an old Dutch home that’ll warm your toes with cappuccino and more home made dessert. Come back in the summer for lunch on the big flower patio. You can see their specials of the day online. Bonus pedi Walk down the block past the first Flatiron Building in Alberta to Orchid Rain for a pedi. Walking, conversation, two desserts – what a nice day. — Image: good friends and good chat from Morrison House Facebook page.