The Okotoks Dawgs play at Seaman Stadium, which many in the town say is a not-so-hidden gem in Okotoks that’s worth exploring.

Hidden in plain sight

Residents highlight best-kept secrets in M.D. of Foothills

Directly south of Calgary lies the Municipal District of Foothills, a scenic area replete with expansive landscapes featuring rolling hills and ranch lands.

Home to several growing communities – including Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond and Turner Valley – the historic region is also the setting for its fair share of hidden gems.

CREB®Now chatted with several regional leaders to get their takes on some of the district’s best-kept secrets. Here’s what they had to say:

Kelly Tuck, mayor of Turner Valley

Tuck says the town, which is located about 35 minutes southwest of Calgary, offers fun for the whole family.

For the younger set, Tuck points to Turner Valley’s Dr. Lander Memorial Pool. It was built in 1963 and remains one of the oldest operational outdoor pools in the province, open from May to September. Behind the pool is Turner Valley’s new spray park, a huge hit with kids.

For the over-18 crowd, Tuck suggests a tour of the new Eau Claire Distillery, which is housed in Turner Valley’s 1929-era movie theatre.

“It’s the very first independent craft distillery opened in Alberta,” said Tuck, emphasizing the distillery’s vodka, gin come from locally sourced grains. “It’s the coolest place to go.”

Last, but certainly not least, Tuck said good eats can be found at Turner Valley’s Chuckwagon Café.

“If you’re not here early on a weekend, you’ll be waiting in line a long time,” said Tuck, noting the café raises its own beef and is known for its eggs benedict.

Shane Olson, economic development manager for the Town of Okotoks

“A cool little town” – that’s how Olson describes the community located just south of Calgary’s city limits.

“Olde Towne Okotoks is almost like Inglewood in Calgary. It’s becoming a hip area.”

“We have close to 80 restaurants around the community, including a new high-end destination called Bradley’s Grill House,” he said. “We also have a handful of boutique retailers in Okotoks’ Olde Towne that sell everything from home décor to jewellery and clothing to specialty vinegars.

“Olde Towne Okotoks is almost like Inglewood in Calgary. It’s becoming a hip area.”

Olson said other hidden gems in the district focus on the area’s rural roots: The Chinook Honey Company, Chinook Arch Meadery and Kayben Farms.

Chinook Honey Company is a family-run apiary that educates visitors about honey bees and honey’s health benefits, while also producing their own honey and mead (honey wine). Kayben Farms, meanwhile, provides visitors with a kid-friendly farm experience.

Brendan Rose, outfielder for the Okotoks Dawgs

Brendan Rose has played baseball in Okotoks since he was in Grade 9. Now, the University of British Columbia engineering student still returns to the town each summer to play with the Okotoks Dawgs, a Western Major Baseball League team. All Dawgs players are college students.

Rose said Seaman Stadium where the Dawgs play remains a not-so-hidden gem in Okotoks that’s worth exploring if you haven’t already.

“It’s a pretty cool experience to attend a Dawgs game. It’s treated very professionally, like a minor – league game. It’s very family friendly,” said Rose, noting that tickets for berm seating in left field go for as little as $7. “After a game, kids can come on the field and interact with the players.”

Karen Gimbel, owner of Bluerock Gallery

Gimbel’s own hidden gem discovery in Black Diamond lead to her moving into the community herself and purchasing Bluerock Gallery six years ago.

Bluerock Exterior

“I used to be one of those people who just drove through town on my way somewhere else. Now, when people stop and ‘stumble’ upon us, I can relate,” said Gimbel, adding “People are often surprised to find such high-quality work in such a small town.”

The Bluerock Gallery represents more than 200 artists, most of whom live within a small radius around Black Diamond.

“We call it the 100-mile art diet,” Gimbel laughs.

Gimbel also highlights Black Diamond eatery The Westwood By Treeline Outdoors as another hidden gem.

“They are doing some very interesting things with (mostly) local ingredients,” she said.

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