Like many Albertans, Wetaskiwin is a place we’ve passed through but never actually explored. I knew the name well though. As a kid, I watched many commercials about Wetaskiwin thanks to their famous jingle “Cars cost less in Wetaskiwin.” Long story short, word on the street was that car dealerships charged less for cars there. I’m not sure if there was any truth to it, but the commercial sure caught on.
Aside from the jingle though, Wetaskiwin actually is a great place for car enthusiasts. They’re home to the Edmonton International Raceway, which offers test drives in race cars on their Nascar-sanctioned track. Then there’s the ever-popular Reynolds Museum, which has one of the most beautiful collections of vintage cars we’ve ever seen. In fact, they restore the cars right there in the museum! Even the founder, Stan Reynolds, grew his fortune by selling used cars.
This year, however, we finally had the chance to truly explore Wetaskiwin, racing cars on the raceway, flying a plane over the beautiful landscapes, learning about its history, and more. In this article, I’ll lay out all the cool things to do in Wetaskiwin and encourage you to visit the next time you pass through. It might even make a great vacation for those of you looking to explore Alberta further.
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As mentioned above, for such a small town, there’s actually some really cool things to do in Wetaskiwin. Below are some of the things we experienced during our visit.
Edmonton International Raceway
Don’t let the title of Edmonton International Raceway fool you. The track is very much in Wetaskiwin. This 1/4 mile paved oval auto racing facility is the first track in Alberta to be sanctioned by NASCAR and hosts races in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. But while watching races can be fun, what we truly loved was getting in one of the cars and driving it around the track ourselves! That’s right, during the summer weekends, people like you can sign up for their “test drive experience” and actually race the car around the track. It’s about a two-hour experience, which consists of a lengthly instruction and walk around the track, followed by getting suited up, and then hopping into the car. A professional driver will drive in front of you as the pace car and you’ll stay behind him during your time out there. In total, you get 5 warm-up laps followed by 10 faster laps. Your comfort and skill will dictate how fast he allows you to go. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking to floor it, this is not the place for that. Half of your time is going around turns and when you think of a 1/4 mile oval, it’s not like you can floor it to 200 km/h. Still, for anyone out there who loves racing and cars, this is a unique experience. Just sitting behind one of these cars is quite the experience. You get to put on the steering wheel, climb in through the window, and get your photo with the car. Highly recommended!
Both my wife and I were blown away by the Reynolds museum. If you have any interest in classic cars, aviation, motorcycles, or other types of machinery, this is a must-do. It’s quite incredible. As someone who loves classic cars and history in general, it was pretty cool to see electric cars from the 1910s, as well as steam-powered cars, custom classics, and even an old 1950 Buick 41D Special Series 40 Deluxe Touring Sedan that was used to transport English Royalty here in Alberta. I also loved the first car you see when you enter the building because it’s there to show you the incredible restoration work they do in-house. What they did was renovate half the car so you can see how awful in shape they are when they come in and how incredible they look after. It’s really astonishing to see them take what looks like scrap metal and turn it into something that could be sold on a lot. In addition, they have an exhibit on motorcycles, an entire hangar dedicated to aviation, and so much more. Stan Reynolds is perhaps the most iconic person in Wetaskiwin’s history but we’ll let you learn why when you visit. Just go!
Flight Tours and Training
Wanna jump in a plane for a flight-seeing tour over the prairies? Or maybe you want to actually fly a Cessna while in town? Well, Absolute Aviation offers both. We actually took them up on their introductory flight training package and got to both practice in a simulator as well as take the reins of an actual Cessna. The simulator itself was pretty cool to experience but it’s hard to compare to the real thing. Once our pilot had us up in the sky, safe and sound, my wife took over and steered the plane to where we wanted to go. She turned left, she turned right, and she learned how to keep us going straight. Not only did we experience flying a plane, but we also got to see the beautiful countryside that you can’t see otherwise. While it may look quite flat from the road, the sky really allows you to see all the beautiful lakes and lush vegetation. This is another experience we highly recommend.
Wetaskiwin District Heritage Museum Centre
Want to learn about this area of Alberta? If so, the Wetaskiwin District Heritage Museum Centre is a great place to visit. Located in the heart of downtown, this small museum offers you insight into the history of the First Nations as well as the pioneers that shaped the city. You’ll find all sorts of old artifacts and there’s a new coffee shop on the main floor if you just want to sit down and enjoy a warm cup of java. For those with kids, you don’t want to miss the basement floor where they’ve set up one of the coolest play areas we’ve ever seen. Let your kids be transported back in time while you take a load off in their community hall.
Downtown Heritage Walking Tour
Did you know that Wetaskiwin was one of the first five cities in Alberta? That’s right! Along with Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, Wetaskiwin was one of the first cities after Alberta joined confederation. Due to some economic issues, it didn’t grow to the size of the other four, but it did retain some beautiful historic buildings. The best way to see them though is on foot, so the town has created a historic walking map of downtown Wetaskiwin. If you’re short on time, at least visit the old city hall. It was designed by the same architect who designed the Edmonton legislature buildings.
Montgomery Glen Golf & Country Club
Montgomery Glen Golf & Country Club is a full-service golf facility that includes a championship golf course, driving range, practice putting green, and a friendly clubhouse. Thankfully (or unthankfully?), the day we went was +36 Celcius and so we had no one behind us. Otherwise, we can be quite slow. Overall, it’s a nice course and the on-site restaurant is one of the best in the city.
Another surprising thing for us during our visit to Wetaskiwin is the array of restaurants. While you’ll find some typical favourites (like Tim Horton’s, Boston Pizza, and McDonald’s), there are actually quite a few local restaurants that are truly in a league of their own. Skip the franchises and try something new. Below are the restaurants we ate at during our stay, but there’s actually many more that we hope to try next time.
This is the iconic restaurant of Wetaskiwin. With all-natural, fresh ingredients and everything created in-house, Huckleberry’s Café provides delicious high-quality cuisine. We opted for their most iconic dishes and so we ordered a Sirloin Oscar (steak with a side of holandaise sauce and prawns), a side of Dill Pickle Soup, and a slice of their huckeblerry pie. Everything was very good and we could both see why the Dill Pickle Soup has become so famous. What started out as a random offering is now offered daily and even comes in tubs for those wanting to take it home. We also learned that they sold more steak than any other restaurant in all of Alberta in 2020! That should tell you something!
Located at the Golf course, Glen’s Grill this restaurant serves up delicious cuisine in a lightly posh setting with views of the 9th hole. We ate here after playing 9 holes and were quite impressed by everything. We started off with their appeteizer BC Albacore Tuna Ceviche Tacos, which were outstanding. Even Karla (who is from Mexico) loved them so much she wishes she had them as her main course. We also shared their Chicken & Rib combo with Saskatoon Berry BBQ sauce and a side of their yam soup. All of it was truly deliciious and I can see why this place is so popular. Prices are reasonable too!
Fresh Grill Kitchen & Bar
Those looking for some Asian flare will enjoy the Fresh Grill Kitchen & Bar. Located in the heart of the downtown heritage district, we were also quite impressed by this restaurant. While they serve common staples like burgers and steak, we opted for their Asian dishes, including the Pad Thai and Spicy Singapore Cashew dish. Both were delicious but I might tip my hat in favour of the Spicy Singapore Cashew dish as it just had enough spice to make my nose run. Some like it ever spicier but the flavour was spot on. They also make a darn good Ceaser too!
This restaurant is located within the Best Western and is where you’re breakfast is served if you’re spending the night. According to the reviews, it’s fairly popular for lunch and dinner but we only had breakfast here, which usually consists of an omelete, pancakes, or a Monte Cristo. I would compare it to something like Smitty’s. Overall, considering you get this as your Best Western breakfast, it’s pretty good!
Those looking for a place to rest have a few options. We stayed at two places during our visit and highly recommend both of them.
Best Western Wayside Inn
Like most Best Western’s, it’s hard to go wrong with the Best Western Wayside Inn. They offer spacious and clean rooms with popular amenities like a mini fridge and microwave, as well as an on-site restaurant and bar, which includes a beautiful backyard patio. They also offer free WiFi, an exercise facility, and lots of space for parking.
Willow Inn & Westview RV Park
Whether you’re looking to go camping or to stay in a beautiful Inn, the Willow Inn and Westview RV Park is a great place to go. Located directly across the street from the one and only Reynolds Museum, this is a little slice of tranquiity within the city. We don’t have an RV, so we opted for their Willow Inn suites, which were recently renovated and look very modern and clean. It’s almost like walking into a mansion with a fireplace and a big kitchen and seating area. The rooms are spotless and as I mentioned, basically brand new. They even offer a complimentary breakfast, which includes things like cereals, bagels, granola bars, and more. Plus, if you want to go walk into the RV park, you’ll find some nice walking trails, a very cool playground for the kids, and a pond. Plus, for those parking their RVs, you’ll find the bathroom that was ranked as the best restroom in Canada in 2020!
What to Do After Wetaskiwin?
Located near Edmonton but not far from many other awesome destinations in Alberta, there’s no shortage of things to do. For more ideas, check out these articles below: