With plenty to see and do, the Municipal District of Foothills may be your next day-trip destination
South of Calgary lies the Municipal District of Foothills. Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Longview are all within the district’s boundaries, an area that encompasses some 3,600 square kilometres of ranchlands and rolling foothills.
According to 2011 census figures, not only is the district home to 21,258 people, it also offers Calgarians and area residents a variety of interesting attractions. The website www.coollittletowns.com – an initiative of several southern Alberta communities – provides information on district attractions, from hundreds of unique shops, restaurants, galleries, activities and experiences.
Davina Comstock, the Town of Nanton’s marketing and communications director, highlights a few of the Foothills’ top attractions so visitors can find the coolest things to do just outside their own backyards.
“What I love about this area is the sense of community and the emphasis on the preservation of history. Each town takes pride in who they are and how far they’ve come.”
What I love about this area is the sense of community and the emphasis on the preservation of history. Each town takes pride in who they are and how far they’ve come.
Comstock says the Cool Little Towns website also promotes driving tours in the MD of Foothills as a way for visitors to experience the area’s beautiful scenery.
“We’re trying to connect our region. Some of our smaller towns don’t have enough amenities within their boundaries to make for a full-day experience. By providing tours on our website, it gives tourists some direction,” said Comstock.
The Saskatoon Farm, Okotoks
Starting in mid-July, visitors to the Saskatoon Farm can stop by the 50-acre orchard to pick their own juicy berries. There’s also a seasonal garden centre on site, as well as a year-round café featuring a range of Saskatoon-themed desserts, from pies to scones to tarts. A gift store also sells unique arts-and-crafts items. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful place,” said Comstock.
Kayben Farms, Okotoks
Also in Okotoks is Kayben Farms. “It’s a wonderful place to take a family,” said Comstock. Kayben Farms operates the 12-acre Sunshine Adventure Park, which has such play features as a climbing wall and a four-lane slide. Kayben Farms has a seasonal corn maze and pumpkin pick, as well as you-pick black currants and an on-site café. There are also field-trip options for youth where they can interact with farm animals.
This scenic route through the foothills of southern Alberta along Highway 22 features trail rides, farm and ranch vacations and western-themed attractions. “The Cowboy Trail is popular in southern Alberta,” said Comstock, adding that it’s only one example of the outdoor adventures that await visitors to the MD of Foothills.
Antique Shopping, Nanton
While not technically in the boundaries of the MD of Foothills, the town of Nanton is right next door. It’s known not only for its world-class Bomber Command Museum of Canada, but also for its many antique and vintage shops — tempting fare for those who love to hunt for unique treasures.
Chain Lakes Provincial Park Driving Tour
While Chain Lakes Provincial Park, which Comstock describes as “one of the jewels of southern Alberta,” is in the MD of Ranchland, the drive to take one there winds its way through the MD of Foothills. “The scenery is beautiful en route. There are rolling hills, lush greenery in the summer, ranch lands, wildlife, fishing and camping,” said Comstock.
Longview Steakhouse, Longview
A village of just more than 300 people seems an unlikely place to find a world-class restaurant for which you might have to wait two months to secure a reservation. But such is the case with the Longview Steakhouse, one of the MD of Foothills’ most prestigious culinary destinations. In fact, Condé Nast Traveller magazine, named the Longview Steakhouse one of the world’s 15 best steakhouses. Besides the Steakhouse, Comstock says there are many “new and fun culinary experiences” throughout the district that feature locally-grown food.
Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley
A key attraction in Turner Valley is the new Eau Claire Distillery. It produces spirits distilled using local grains and water from the Sheep River. The Eau Claire Distillery offers tours and tastings, all in a 1929-era movie theatre and dance hall the Distillery calls home.