North America's most breathtaking places: Havana, Mexico City ... Red Deer?

The place best known as a doughnut stop on the highway between Calgary and Edmonton is featured on a list compiled by the travel website Expedia that also includes Haida Gwaii in B.C., Mexico City and, yes, Banff.

Travel site Expedia includes the small Alberta city on a list of must-see locales

The Donut Mill on Gasoline Alley in Red Deer is a familiar sight to many driving the highway to Edmonton, but the city has more to offer than tasty treats. (Google Maps)

At the Mayan ruins of Tulum in southern Mexico, the warm breeze caresses your skin as you look out onto the turquoise-hued waters of the Caribbean.

In Old Havana, Cuba, the crumbling majesty of an earlier time fuels your imagination as old cars, lovingly maintained by locals on this island nation roll by.

In Red Deer, well, there's more to it than Gasoline Alley and a high crime rate.

According to Expedia, the middling Alberta city is at least on par with those other impressive travel spots. 

The place best known as a doughnut stop on the highway between Calgary and Edmonton is featured on a list compiled by the travel website that also includes Haida Gwaii in B.C., Mexico City and, yes, Banff.

"In order to compile the definitive list of spectacular sites, we searched throughout North America to find sweeping landscapes, famous views, and sights that elicit the word 'wow,'" reads the intro to the article.

City parks and 'lively downtown'

Featured are photos of the sun setting on the shores of the Pacific, old streetscapes from places like Montreal, soaring peaks meeting the Atlantic in Newfoundland and Labrador and then a short paragraph on Alberta's middle city. 

"One of the best features of Red Deer is that you can just as easily enjoy the lively downtown area as the great outdoors," it reads in part. "It's the latter category that really makes the town stand out, with Maskepetoon Park as the local favourite."

Expedia isn't the first outlet to sing Red Deer's hidden praises, CBC Calgary's Paul Karchut made the argument last year that the city of just over 100,000 is the Portland of the Prairies thanks to a strong artisanal food and drinking scene mixed with progressive city policies including approval of backyard chickens.

So yes, you could go to Hilo, Hawaii, the red-orange canyons of Page, Ariz., or you could just forego a quick stop at The Donut Mill along Gasoline Alley and drive into the little city along the Red Deer river and see if it really stacks up to a crashing Atlantic vista or the tropical ruins of a great civilization. 

Maybe you'll be surprised. 

If not, at least there are those doughnuts nearby.