15 Best Things to Do in Red Deer, Alberta

Red Deer is a charming urban oasis and the third-largest city in Alberta. Set between Calgary and Edmonton it’s often overlooked as a travel destinations, but some hidden gems can be found here.

Named after the roaring river that runs through it, The Cree referred to the river as Waskasoo Seepee, translating to “Elk River,” for the thriving population of elk found here. Upon European arrival, the North American elk was occasionally termed “red deer,” in reference to its Eurasian counterpart. Eventually, settlers named the entire community after this river.

Now it is a large city of 100,000 people located midway between Calgary and Edmonton. It is commonly viewed as a convenient stop-off in “Gasoline Alley,” but stay a few days and you’ll find it has more offer.

The Best Things to Do in Red Deer

Kerry Wood Nature Center

Kerry Wood Nature Center

Set along the south bank of the Red Deer River, Kerry Wood Nature Center is open year-round and provides stunning scenery regardless of the season. It offers a network of over three miles of trails within a protected bird preserve called Gaetz Lake Migratory Sanctuary, which spans almost 300 acres. 

Numerous viewing decks throughout allow visitors to spot countless species of native migratory birds. The nature center on-site offers interactive exhibits about the area’s ecology. Be sure to find the magical music garden featuring outdoor instruments to create your own symphony inspired by the surroundings. This is one of the best ways to engage with the local wilderness of Red Deer. 

Heritage Ranch

Heritage Ranch

Heritage Ranch has over 200 acres of fun-filled farm land for a variety of festive activities to partake in. You’ll find hayrides, horse-drawn carriages, and an interactive ranch tracker game, an elaborate scavenger hunt, making Heritage Ranch one of the best things for families to do in Red Deer.

Heritage Ranch in red deer
Travel Alberta / Colin Way

There are pumpkin patches, easter egg hunts, holiday lights, and wine tastings as well as their on-site restaurant, Westlake Grill, which is a go-to for gourmet grub in the area.There are plenty of trails to traverse, and each activity is adorned with the beautiful natural backdrop of the ranch. Mitchell Pond is a favorite fixture of the landscape here with opportunities for park playing, picnics, and fishing. 


The MAG red deer

Officially named the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, the MAG is a must-visit cultural center of the city. Their historical collection of archaeological artifacts, antique agricultural equipment, and textiles create a delightful way to delve into the heritage of Red Deer. 

The gallery space displays works from local artisans in many mediums, boasting permanent and rotating installations. It’s also an educational center that offers engaging events for all ages. Make sure to check their schedule to see what captivating programs are being held during your visit as there are often lectures, films, or creative workshops. 

Sunnybrook Farm Museum

Sunnybrook Farm Museum

Meet all of the cute resident creatures of Sunnybrook Farm such as goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, donkeys and more. It’s a historical center and museum as well as a functioning farm, and a lovely way to learn all about the evolution of rural life in this Canadian province. 

There are self-guided experiences or official tours to take. Both feel like a step back in time to a bygone era of simple pioneer life on what is the city’s oldest farm. At the museum, you’ll find plenty of interpreters dressed in period clothing for an authentic and immersive educational adventure. 

Try Out the Breweries

troubled monk
Travel Alberta / Colin Way

Troubled Monk is a mecca for microbrews and house-made beverages in Red Deer. Try the Juicy Gossip IPA if you’re a hophead dedicated to hazy pints, or the Daycation Lager for an easy sipping beer best gulped down in the summertime sunshine.

troubled monk

They also function as a distillery, making craft spirits such as gin and vodka. The space offers classic taproom ambiance and an intimate patio all set in an industrial part of the city near the river.  For the tea totalers, there are refreshing organic sodas made on-site, and for the tea connoisseurs, try their original iced tea concoctions. They use a traditional brewing process with locally grown ingredients, creating a wide array of unique tastes for every possible preference.

Belly Hop Brewing, Red Hart Brewing, and Sawback Brewing are a few other options for trying out tasty taps in Red Deer. 

Partake in the Festivals

red deer festivals

Red Deer is known for hosting many exciting events throughout the year. These signature annual happenings are a great way to get to know the city’s real spirit.

They range from marathons to musical performances and everything in between. Red Deer is also the site of the famous Canadian Rodeo Finals, a beloved affair around the county and one of the biggest culmination of equestrian sports around. 

Centrefest is one of the most popular, celebrating street artists who travel from all over the world to share their talents. Buskers, stilt walkers, and unicyclists all conjoin for a one-of-a-kind blowout. Westerner Days involve an elaborate parade, agricultural exposition, and concerts.

Try the Many Restaurants

The Granary Kitchen is a haven for locally sourced and sustainable fares in the area. As such the menu changes seasonally, and the plates honor cuisines from all over the world. It’s farm-to-table food always with a fun twist.

Boulevard is an eclectic contemporary Red Deer eatery serving up new American cuisine inspired by global flavors. Look no further if you’re in the mood for a foodie approved feast. For a vibrant space cooking up mouthwatering Mexican, Blanco Cantina takes the taco. Sweet Capone’s is everyone’s favorite escape for dreamy confections of all kinds in Red Deer.

Queen’s Diner is the retro-themed hotspot for simple and classic comfort foods for a hearty meal at any time of day. 

Alberta Sports Hall of Fam

Alberta Sports Hall of Fam
Darren Roberts @darren_roberts

An homage to the top athletes of Alberta this hall of fame is full of sports archives and celebrity champions. The first-ever inductees in the 1950s were all boxers, and since then, the walls have been adorned with iconic players in the realms of soccer, wrestling, curling, and more. 

However, it’s not just a home to cool memorabilia, there are interactive games to try your hand at, a snow and ice gallery, art exhibits, rock climbing, and a whole hall dedicated to hockey. This is a special stop for sports enthusiasts and all Canada aficionados alike. 

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets in red deer

Red Deer Farmers’ Market is a very popular public market in the heart of farm country that began over a century ago in 1906, right where City Hall sits today. It’s home to a vast assortment of local vendors selling gourmet goodies. You’ll find everything from fresh produce to clothing to artisan handicrafts. It’s an idyllic outdoor space, perfect for a day of browsing delectable eats and delightful souvenirs. It’s open from May to November and is a must in these warmer months at Red Deer. 

The Gasoline Alley Farmers Market is convenient for passersby and regular patrons of Red Deer. Here there are fresh fruits and veggies sold alongside works of arts and handmade wines and meads. It’s indoor and open year-round. Farmers’ Markets are a wonderful way to support the community and shop small when visiting a new city. 

Stroll Through Downtown Red Deer

Downtown Red Deer
Travel Alberta / AV Wakefield

Explore the bustling downtown of Red Deer. It’s a fairly condensed area compared to the rest of the sprawling metropolis making it an easily walkable activity for the day. It’s surrounded by the scenic Red Deer River, which will provide plenty of picturesque points along the way.

Ross Street is a particularly happening area, lined with cute cafes and eateries. Around 49th and 51st streets, you can shop until you drop at unique boutiques and specialty stores. 

There is also a historic section of downtown, with architecturally amazing antique buildings and the stunning City Park, which boasts beautiful flower gardens. Inside the charming Rotary Recreation Park, keep your eye out for colorful murals, local works of art, and some famous significant statues, such as Francis the Pig. 

McKenzie Trails Park

Courtesy of Kristina Cajipe

Easily accessible within the city of Red Deer, McKenzie Trails Park is located within the wonder-filled Waskasoo Park and offers several tranquil trails to trek. Some of the oldest trees in the city reside along these paths. There are trails for cycling if you prefer biking to hiking, and some are even part of the Trans Canada Trail, an iconic cross-country system.  

There’s also a favorite canoe launch that’s accessible here, a perfect place to start any paddles down the river. The verdant network of trails is lined with spruce trees and pines for a pleasant outdoor excursion. It’s also a nesting area for Canadian geese, so keep your eyes out for local wildlife. 

Bower Ponds

A large green space that overlooks the gorgeous Red Deer River, Bower Ponds is an alluring destination for outdoor activities and water-based adventure. There are so many fun pastimes to partake in every season here. In the warmer months enjoy canoeing, kayaking, paddle boats, fishing from the dock, and even water balls which allow you to tumble around on top of the river. 

An outdoor amphitheater hosts concerts and other events, and there are plenty of picnic spots. Take a stroll through the pollinator park or cozy up in the indoor games center. In the colder months, it’s a super spot for ice skating, sledding, and hockey.

This is also where the Cronquist House is located, an elegant Victorian-style farmhouse converted into a tea house overlooking the beautiful landscape. 

Fort Normandeau

This iconic historical structure dates all the way back to 1884. Fort Normandeau was once a major crossing point between the north and the south of the country. Early indigenous communities and travelers from Montana to Calgary often used it en route to Fort Edmonton. 

This was before the railroad was formed, when the Red Deer River Crossing was the safest course of action. There’s a small museum on-site to learn more about the facade and its significance to the area’s heritage. There’s also a boat launch here, which is great for kayaking, canoeing, or tubing down the Red Deer River. 

Red Deer Symphony Orchestra

Red Deer Symphony Orchestra

One of the coolest cultural things to do in Red Deer is take in a performance by the Symphony Orchestra. It’s one of the only cities like it to have a full band of such a professional caliber, something many locals are quite proud of.

Free community concerts and open dress rehearsals are making it accessible for everyone in the city. They host many impactful supportive events like Seats for Students, Music for Mental Health, and Choir Kids. Established in 1987, the Main Series has grown to be a symbol of the depth of appreciation of the people here for the arts and culture. From fall to late spring, it offers seven concerts, along with three chamber music events. 

Day Trip to Banff National Park 


Just a few hours away from Red Deer lies Banff National Park. No trip to Alberta is complete without taking in the majestic beauty this bastion of nature has to offer. It’s the oldest national park in the country and is home to part of the stunning Rocky Mountains.

There are a variety of spectacular terrains to explore, from ice fields to glaciers to dense alpine forests. You’ll also discover a slew of outdoor activities to try, including skiing, hiking, biking, and climbing.It’s known for its sparkling turquoise glacial lakes, sure to inspire awe and make it on to your Instagram feed.

About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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1 thought on “15 Best Things to Do in Red Deer, Alberta”

  1. Loved reading about the top things to do in Red Deer! We’re planning a road trip to Alberta soon and this blog post was super helpful in deciding where to start. The mention of the Bower Ponds was especially enticing – we’ll have to make sure to visit while we’re there


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