There are several staycations around Alberta that you can create within our large provincial borders. Beyond Alberta’s Provincial Parks, National Parks, campgrounds, and big cities, you can plan your local vacation or getaway around our several small towns, villages, and hamlets which offer unique dining or cultural opportunities, outdoor recreation, site-seeing, or historical touring.
Here are 15 Alberta towns you should consider for a weekend getaway (once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted):
Located very close to the U.S border and Waterton Lakes National Park, the town of Cardston is worth a weekend or more of your time. If you are looking for adventure, then Incept Adventure Co. will take you on white water rafting, kayaking, and even guided fishing tours on St. Mary’s River, but if you rather be on land, then go on carriage rides at the Remington Carriage Museum. The museum houses the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in North America with over 300 carriages, buggies, wagons and sleighs. For more history and cultural experiences visit, the Courthouse Museum, Cardston Mormon Temple – the first Temple constructed by the L.D.S. church outside of the continental U.S, and join for summer theatre shows at Carriage House Theatre.
Sitting on the dividing line between the foothills and the Rockies, you can expect a lot in terms of outdoor recreation around Pincher Creek. At the centre of town, you can mix outdoor exploration with a little bit of history at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village. After visiting the Village, you could extend your historical walking tour through the self-guided Heritage Acres where numerous buildings and pieces of antique farm equipment sit. Pincher Creek sits south of the Crowsnest Highway, and opposite the town you can enjoy the natural beauty of the area at the Old Man Dam Provincial Recreation Area. The Old Man River area offers camping, picnic and day-use areas, a huge reservoir suitable for boating and water sports, and wildlife viewing. Waterton Lakes National Park is located just 1 hour from the town.
Escape to Nanton for a little trip back in time with its historic Main Street, the Bomber Command Museum, the Museum of Miniatures, or the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre. If you love antique shopping, Nanton is the place to go. On Nanton’s Main Street, there are a variety of boutique and antique shops where you’ll find collectibles, clothing, and candy. There are a few dining options on Main Street as well. The museums can show a little bit of the area’s WWII history, Nanton’s development history, and farming and rail roots. If you are visiting during mid to late August checkout the sunflower fields at Paradise Hill Farm. Do not miss, Nanton Candy featuring over 2000 sq ft of candy, antiques & ice cream.
Consider Canmore your gateway to the Rocky Mountains. While many stay here and play in Banff, the town of Canmore can provide its own great dining, shopping, and outdoor recreation. Canmore boasts of fabulous hikes from leisurely ones at Policeman’s Creek to summitting a mountain at Ha Ling Peak. The town is home to various outfitters offering a wide range of adventure activities in the nearby Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park.
Canmore also has a long list of beautiful and scenic golf courses for amateurs and pros alike. These world-class greens normally draw in golf enthusiasts from all around the world!
The foothills surrounding Sundre make it an excellent ATV and motorbike destination, and the trails can bring you to some unreal views of clear rocky rivers, green forest, and rolling hills. In town, you can explore some local history at the Pioneer Village Museum, which also hosts a large Car Show each Canada Day. On the north side of Sundre is the Snake Hill Recreation Area, where you can enjoy an afternoon of hiking, cycling, or mountain biking, on over 17 km of groomed trails. There are a few loops, so you can choose the length of your adventure before you head out. Visit Bergen Rock International Sculpture Park, go white water rafting, and see wild horses roaming freely along Rocky mountain foothills when you stay a weekend in Sundre.
This Central Alberta town located south of Red Deer at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 54 is where you should go for a fun time with kids.
Visit Discovery Wildlife Park, home to animals that cannot be returned to the wild. You can see monkeys, bears, tigers, jaguars, wolves, raccoons, squirrels and more! RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre has public demonstrations which are conducted every Wednesday afternoon between Victoria Day and Labour Day.
Do not forget to visit Innisfail & District Historical Village to know more about the history of the local area.
You might know of Stettler because of its famous railway tours. The must-do for this trip is travelling back in time withAlberta Prairie Railway Excursions on a steam train that includes full course meals. Depending on the day of travel, different themes are enacted, including train robbery, murder mysteries, family, fall colour tours and Polar Express. Take the time to shop on Main Street for unique and diverse shops, enjoy a walk at West Stettler Park, and visit Stettler Town and Country Museum, Alberta’s 5th largest pioneer museum. If you want to camp out in a provincial park, visit Rochon Sands Provincial Park.
Rocky Mountain House
You’ll find Rocky Mountain House directly west of Red Deer; it’s a common stop for people headed to the Rockies but has a lot to offer for a staycation from Edmonton, Red Deer, or Calgary. The picturesque main street is a great place to start exploring, where you’ll find local shops and restaurants and a few pieces of public art. And every Thursday, from June to August, Main Street transforms into Marketplace on Main, a large outdoor market.
Visit Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site and discover how the fur trade helped shape the nation. The town is in David Thompson Country, so it is surrounded by several family-friendly outdoor opportunities for fun. Crimson Lake Provincial Park is only a 15-minute drive from town and offers camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and much more. You can stay at Rocky Mountain House for the weekend and use it to explore Nordegg, Siffleur Falls and Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Areas.
Head to an Alberta town which is known for its summer fun, but which is “brilliant all year long.” The scenic lakeside town of Sylvan Lake offers tons to do in the summer, like swimming and paddle-boarding, but you can also head their early for a simple and cost-effective weekend getaway. The shoreline is dotted with multiple hotels, and the town has many Airbnb locations open year-round. If you’re looking for a more relaxing getaway, you can take advantage of their Sylvan Steam and Spa or take a stroll around the Farmer’s Market. But if you’re more in the mood for adventure, try Lakeside Go Karts and Minigolf, the Aqua Splash, or Sylvan Lake Paintball.
Located just 10 minutes from Edmonton International Airport, the town of Devon may very well serve as your basecamp for exploring the city of Edmonton, but the town holds its own as a weekend destination. North Saskatchewan River provides ample water fun including calm river tubing out of Voyageur Park. While here, hike Devon River Valley Trail along the river and give yourselves a workout by climbing the steep Legs of Fire Staircase. If you are interested in motorsports, visit Castrol Raceway. The famous U of A Botanic Garden is just 5 km from the town. The town also has its own share of delightful eats and local shopping. For those looking for more cultural and historical experiences, check out the Canadian Energy Museum (Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre), Devon Historical Museum Society and take part in dinner theatre at East of 60 Productions.
Located near the North Saskatchewan riverbanks and Whitney Lakes Provincial Park, Elk Point is an essential place to visit for anyone who loves the outdoors. Between the 4 lakes at the provincial park, and the river, there are several chances for great Alberta fishing and camping. But the town itself has its own chances for exploration through the local history, art, and food. Upon entering town from the north, you are greeted by the town’s largest piece of public art, the Peter Fidler Statue, and further into town you can take a walk around Mural Park, an homage to the area’s history.
The town of St. Paul is well known for their famous UFO Landing Pad: part alien landing pad, part visitor’s centre, it is an incredible piece of public art to behold in person. Exploring the Landing Pad, photographing the unique sites, and wandering the Visitor’s Centre is a perfect place to start when exploring the town. St. Paul, sitting on the north side of Upper Therrien Lake, is also a town rich in Metis and Ukrainian history and provides several dining, arts, and cultural experiences like the Art Walk, the dining on the main street, or Lagasse Park.
There are a few hidden gems within and outside Whitecourt which make it an excellent destination for spring and summer vacations. The surrounding natural areas provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun like hiking, swimming, or water sports. Athabasca and McLeod rivers provide ample opportunities for fishing, boating and lazy river tubing (McLeod River). Rotary Park is a scenic area over the Athabasca River where you can enjoy the waterpark, an off-leash dog park, or a riverside hike. A short drive south of Whitecourt will bring you to the Hard Luck Canyon Falls area which has a short loop trail, suitable for all skill levels, and several picnic areas.
Along the northern Rockies, you’ll find the scenic town of Grande Cache surrounded by mountains, blue lakes, and raging rivers. Upon entering the town, you are greeted by Grande Cache Lake which is a beautiful place to picnic or spend a summer afternoon. There is a lot of natural beauty to see around Grande Cache, and Sulphur Gates is one of the more popular natural attractions. It offers cliff-side viewpoints, camping, a hike to Eaton Falls, and equestrian trails. The rivers you’ll see from the Sulphur Gates viewpoint, Sulphur and Smoky, offer their own adventures as well like Whitewater Rafting.
Just an hour north of Grande Prairie is the town of Peace River. This northern Alberta region offers endless fun for adventurers, with anything from jet boating to ATVing, camping, hiking, biking, and more. If your trip has more of a relaxation focus, however, you can find guided tours, berry-picking, and the Paradis Valley Honey Farm (which offer tours and off-sales!). Accommodations range from quaint hotels to several cabins and lodges. Further from town, you can also find campgrounds suited to tents, trailers, and RVs. Do not forget to check out the legendary Peace River monument to Henry Fuller Davis that stands 12 feet tall at Riverfront Park.