Okotoks, AB

by | Mar 26, 2023 | Uncategorized

The humble town of Okotoks has a population of around 29,000. It’s a suburb located to the south of Calgary, and if there was ever any doubt, it’s no longer a town in the middle of nowhere.

Its convenience, in fact, can’t be denied. From the very edge of south Calgary to the very edge of north Okotoks is only about six minutes on the highway. Yes, I timed it. My mom makes the commute almost daily.

The suburb is just as flat and open as Calgary if not more so, and slightly higher in elevation besides. If you’re used to mountains, you will not notice the hills unless you let yourself acclimate to the environment for a while.

Head westward on the 549, though, and you will soon be met with vast rolling hills leading into the Rockies. From Okotoks, you can get a good view of the mountains to the west as well as to the south towards Waterton.

Characteristic of southern Alberta, Okotoks can be very windy. But Waterton and surrounding area (Fort Macleod, Lethbridge, etc.) are far more prone to gusts of wind.

Like Calgary, Okotoks is sunny most of the time. Even when it’s cloudy, the clouds seem to pass over relatively quickly. That said, we are basically talking about mountain elevation, so snowstorms, hail, heavy fog, and more, are all par for the course. Winters in Okotoks can be very cold indeed, but summers can be very pleasant, and even hot.

I am most familiar with the southwestern end of Okotoks, but my favorite part is the northeastern end, as there is far more vegetation overall.

Food wise, Okotoks used to be reliable only for the occasional decent Italian, Indian, Japanese, pub, or pizza place. Today, there are far more options for bubble tea, Korean, Indian fusion, donairs, and more. When I discovered that, it made me feel like the town had come a long way.

Of course, you can still find all your standards – McDonald’s, A&W, KFC, Wendy’s, Tim Horton’s, Dairy Queen, Boston Pizza, and so on. The occasional hot dog or slice of pizza at Costco is not a total loss, either.

If you’re going to eat at a pub, though, The George Traditional House is the place to be, with a good mix of standard pub fair, fusion, and Indian dishes.

In terms of nightlife, Okotoks either doesn’t have one, or is mostly limited to small, tame gatherings at Boston Pizza or The George. Most places shut down early, especially on a weekday. Better head into Calgary if you’re looking for more of a heartbeat, but even there, your options will be limited.

No matter how you cut it, you will only be able to find certain creature comforts and conveniences in Calgary. That said, more is being added to Okotoks all the time.

Speaking of Calgary, though, the drive into the city from Okotoks is remarkable. I mean, it is flat and wide open – uncomfortably so – but the panoramic view of the city from the top of the hill on highway 2 is noteworthy, and it’s a thing of marvel at night, too.

While it may be another 10 to 20 years off, I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that the Calgary city limits will extend to swallow up Okotoks, especially if both cities continue growing at the rate they have been.

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