There are so many things to do and see in Newell County Alberta. Stay the night in a cozy BnB, get artsy with local Artisans and taste the local flavours.
*Special thanks to Visit Newell for hosting this grand small town adventure.
Newell County Alberta
Drive East from Calgary on the Trans Canada highway and chances are you’ll find yourself in Newell County. The county shares its western border with Wheatland and Vulcan Counties and its eastern border with the County of Cypress. The main hub is the bustling city of Brooks, but there are also some wonderful little surrounding towns. Together, they add a certain charm to this diverse Alberta rural County.
Did you know that Newell County has one of the largest and warmest man made lakes in Southern Alberta? Lake Newell is known for its stunning sandy beaches and great sailing. Kinbrook Island Provincial Park is located on the banks of Lake Newell which makes for a unique Alberta camping experience only 2 hours from Calgary.
Where to Stay in Newell County
If you’re not the camping sort, there are so many cozy and unique places to stay in the County. For a large group, or a cozy get away for two I highly recommend Red Roof Studio BnB located just ten minutes out of Brooks. Owners Collin and Rita Wildschut have created a lush oasis in the heart of the prairies, filled with vibrant art created by Rita. The couple live next door in the space attached to their studio but pop in to show guests the warm hospitality that the Dutch (and prairie folk) are known for.
Rita is an accomplished artist and has a wonderful ability to inspire others to create in many mediums. I have a very low opinion of my artistic ability but was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned at paint night. Stay here a few days, book yourself into Rita’s art classes and you’ll become an artist too! Avid travelers, artistic souls, and curious culinary enthusiasts are all welcome at Red Roof Studios and Bnb.
Country Charm in Newell County
After a good night’s sleep (and one of Collin’s great breakfasts) you’ll be ready to explore the gems of Newell County. If it’s a Friday, well this is your lucky day! It’s doughnut day at the Prairie Cottage Bake Shop and this charming, gingham wrapped bakery does them up right. They’re not fancy, but they are fabulous!
Hello? Is it meat you’re looking for? Well, you are in the heart of Alberta cattle country so don’t forget to stop by Alberta Prairie Meats. Bring a cooler and fill it up because the prices can be quite reasonable. Fun Fact: During the filming of Fargo Season 2 (the FX series, not the movie) props managers bought a side of beef from the shop and recreated it as a prop that hung in Ed Blumquist’s butcher shop.
Shopping Local at Badlands Mercantile
Got plans to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park, THE most famous natural wonder of Newell County? This UNESCO World Heritage Site is like stepping into a different time and place. To complete your ultimate Badlands experience, visit the unofficial gift shop of the badlands, Badlands Mercantile located in Patricia. There, you will find snacks, souvenirs, and a wide selection of high quality, locally created artisan products. Badlands Mercantile is like a treasure trove of everything Badlands all packaged up a quaint little general store.
Speaking of local artisans, Roxanne Neu is the fabulously talented pottery queen who owns Burnt Earth Pottery Studio in Brooks. She loves sharing her love for pottery with others during regular courses using a variety of pottery techniques including wheel throwing, carving, and sculpting. I’ve never even touched potter’s clay and I have always found the wheel to be super intimidating. Roxanne has a way of putting those fears at ease and in her class there are no ‘screw ups’. She’ll find a way to turn damaged pottery into a lovely piece, or encourage you to try, try again.
Where to Eat & Drink in Newell County
Patricia is famous around these parts for the ‘Grill Your Own’ steak experience at the Patricia Hotel. It’s no surprise that you can get a great steak in these parts..but how about sushi? Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Nikko Sushi is located on the top floor of a building in an industrial area of Brooks. This quiet, unassuming sushi restaurant on the prairies really has some outstanding sushi, comparable to many places in Calgary and better than most.
Gee, a person sure can get thirsty after a day on the dusty roads of Newell County. Everyone is welcome (doggos on the patio) at Piston Broke Brewing, Brook’s first craft brewery. The brewery is owned by two mechanics (surprise) who have combined their love for cars and beer. The head brewer, Rebecca Spence grew up in the area and is a graduate of the Olds College Beer Program. After you’ve had a couple of pints (I loved the Smoke Stack Black IPA) I recommend getting some wings. I was absolutely floored by the ‘Cowboy Candy’ wings…so sweet n spicy, just the way I like them.
Hot on the trail of Newell’s first brewery, is Newell’s first seed to sip distillery; Pivot Spirits in Rolling Hills. It’s not quite ready to open just yet, but owner/farmer/distiller Larry Hirsh is working on distilling his own style of vodka, gin, and rye using grains that he grows on the land. Fingers crossed Pivot Spirits is open by fall 2019.
Little Tea Shop on the Prairies
Drive into the unassuming little village of Rosemary (pop. 400) and you might just turn around and drive back out again, especially if you’re looking for a gas station. However, if you’re looking to fill your soul (and stomach!) with THE BEST SCONES IN ALBERTA, then you have come to the right place.
Little Teapot and Bakery owner Janet McKirdy (with her lovely Scottish brogue) has renovated the tiny little town bakery into a splendid tea lover’s oasis. The room is what my gran would call ‘Country Classy’ with fine china and prairie farmhouse accents. It’s not posh, nor stuffy but rather makes you feel like you are having tea with your gran. Customer favourites include house made sausage rolls (go early, they sell out!) and ‘Ploughman’s lunches’ during seeding/harvest.
Since opening in September 2018, Little Teapot Cafe & Bakery has become an integral part of the town in this short time. In addition to hosting special events, owner Janet McKirdy and staff offer High Tea on the Prairies ($25 pp) which includes a delicious array of homemade goodness, tea, and country charm
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Road Trippin’ with Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Newell County Information
Red Roof Studio and Bed and Breakfast
Collin and Rita Wildschut; Hwy #544, 1 km East of Hwy #36; 403-456-2933
Prairie Cottage Bake Shop
108 Centre Street; Duchess, AB.; 403-378-4123
Kevin Spence; Centre Street & Railway Avenue; Patricia, AB.; 403-363-5896
Burnt Earth Pottery
Roxanne Neu; 130-3 Street East; Brooks, AB.; 403-376-0891
740C, Alberta Street West; Brooks, AB.; 403-362-8868
Piston Broke Brewing
Craig Hopt & Lance Liboiron; 350-9 Street East; Brooks, AB.; 403-427-2537
Pivot Spirits Distillery
Larry Hirsch & Rachelle Fiset; Rolling Hills, AB.; 403-793-3105
Little Teapot Cafe & Bakery
Janet McKirdy; 424 Centre Street; Rosemary, AB.; 403-378-3390