Need ideas for a day trip from Calgary? Listed here are 25 places you can visit on a day trip that are within 2 hours of drive from Downtown Calgary. Whether you want to go whitewater rafting or on an Alberta history trip, you are sure to find something in this list to suit your taste.
Visit Sundre Pioneer Museum to view Chester Mjolsness World of Wildlife, an amazing trophy collection of animals from around the globe, then go white water rafting at the Upper Red Deer River, a class 3 river which offers adventure with a wide variety of white water rapids that will constantly challenge and thrill.
If you don’t have a feel for the water, have a picnic and hike on the banks of the Red Deer River or go trail riding with Sunset Guiding and Outfitting and see wild horses that roam freely amongst high mountain meadows and crystal clear waters.
2. Makerville – Spruceview – Dickson
Dedicate this day trip to learn about the Nordic history of Central Alberta.
Settled by Icelandic pioneers in 1880’s, the village of Makerville is home to The Markerville Creamery Museum that offers tours of a 1930’s butter creamery, and the Kaffistofa serves coffee, lunch and Foothills Creamery ice cream. Enjoy the “Kaffistofa” coffee shop featuring Icelandic food and great tasting ice cream.
After your trip to the creamery, visit Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site, where costumed interpreters help to bring the Poet’s story to life.
Next on the itinerary are The Dickson Store Museum, a 1930’s style General Store and The Danish Canadian Museum, that features 7 acres of Danish gardens with an Island Castle & Drawbridge and a small Danish Church in its grounds.
On the way back, if time permits, stop at Red Lodge Provincial Park.
Plan my Trip – How to get to these places?
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If you're looking for something to do this weekend, the Danish Canadian Museum in Dickson (near Red Deer) is holding its annual #Viking Days festivities. There will be Viking battle re-enactments and a Viking feast later in the day (reservations needed.) And I could be wrong, but I think they put the Viking boat replica out on the water too. Yeah, yeah, I'm a nerd. But I find this stuff kind of cool.
3. Blackfoot Crossing
Located on Siksika First Nation, Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park was a traditional wintering ground, gathering place, a shallow path across Bow River and the site of signing of Treaty 7. Though you can tour the museum and the extensive grounds on your own, the best way to experience it is to go on a guided tour with a local Siksika guide, who will escort you through the 62,000 square feet museum and then go on a self guided tour of the grounds.
4. Aspen Crossing
Aspen Crossing is a train-tastic destination located just 45 minutes SE of Calgary. Explore the stunning prairie scenery that awaits you through of 3+ hours of Train excursion along some of southern Alberta’s diverse and historic landscapes. A combination of elements from the historic dining car, replica train station gift shop, big rig friendly campsite, glam-ping caboose cabins and a full-size train offering 12 excursions including Date Night Trips.
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"It's not about the destination, it's about the journey." Experience the wide expansive landscapes through the prairies. Mix and mingle with fellow travellers as you wind through Alberta agriculture in bloom! image: Neil Zeller Photography #explorealberta #travelalberta #mybadlands #yyc #calgary #alberta #explorecanada #discoveralberta #sharealberta #exploresouthwestalberta #corporate events #familyreunions #family #traintravel #abagriculture #aspencrossing #mossleigh
5. Kananskis Country
Kananaskis Country located in foothills of the Canadian Rockies , is made of 51 parks of various classifications administered by Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation. The area opens up many nature and adventure trips to those seeing to escape the city. Filled with countless hiking opportunities and weekend getaways, there are plenty of things to do from downhill Skiing to whitewater rafting. If you want just a taste of the area, here are five day trips:
- Drive Dorrien/Spray Trail.
- Discover Grotto Creek Canyon
- Walk the highest paved pass in Canada, the Highwood Pass.
- See the Elbow Falls
- Hike Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes.
6. In and around Fort Mcleod
Drive to Fort Museum in Fort Mcleod, to enjoy the NWMP Musical Ride, to learn about First Nations history and about how the arrival of North West Mounted Police, formed to protect Canadian sovereignty in the West put an end to the illicit trade in the Blackfoot, Blood, and Peigan Indian territory and established a town.
Located 15 minutes west on Highway 785, is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, where for thousands of years the native people of the Plains hunted the North American Bison by driving them over steep cliffs. Join for short interpretive hike beneath the cliff that leads you to spectacular views of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Cliff, the great prairies to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the south.
Before returning to Calgary, drive to the intersection of Highway 3 & 22 (another 50 minutes drive), to enjoy the sight of Crowsnest River plunging 12 m down into the canyon below at Lundbreck Falls. You can go down to the gorge via the wooden steps. You can return via Highway 22 (2 hours).
The gateway to Banff National Park, Canmore provides its own share of attractions and activities. Highlights include: Grassi Lakes Hike, Ha Ling Peak Hike, Canmore Nordic Centre, Canmore Museum and Geo Science Centre, and Raft tours on Bow Rivers.
8. Rat’s Nest Cave Tour
This is a must do guided trip for the physically active. Take a guided Natural History tour of Rat’s Nest Cave in Grotto Mountain near Canmore. It’s a natural wild cave with no artificial lighting or handrails. Tours that last from 3 hours to 6 hours go year round.
The town that was established by Senator Mathew Cochrane when the government granted grazing leases across the land, is now a bedroom community of Calgary that very much retains its ranching roots and small town charm.
Learn the history of the town at Historic Cochrane Ranche Site, visit Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park to hike and bike endless lands, explore Big Hill Springs Provincial Park and tour Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
Called “Gateway to the Parkland”, Bowden is a small town of 1240 people located on on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway.
Find your way out of the Sunflower Maze at Eagle Creek Farms, find all things berries at Pearson’s Berry Farm, explore the history of the village at Bowden Pioneer Museum, enjoy pony rides or go trail riding at Red Lodge Guest Ranch.
Located at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 54, Innisfail provides a variety of activities. Buy the most tender Asparagus from Edgar Farms, or pick strawberries with your kids at the Jungle Farm, learn the history of the town at Innisfail & District Historical Village, and visit Discovery Wildlife Park that permanent homes for unfortunate wildlife.
Make another trip on a Wednesday afternoon between Victoria Day and Labour Day to see public demonstrations at RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre.
13. Sylvan Lake
Alberta’s summer destination, this town for all seasonsoffer plenty of activities whether it is summer or winter. Enjoy a day of swimming, building sand castles or just sunbathing at the Lake.
This historic townis a wonderful place to visit as a day trip from Calgary. Get lost in Alberta’s record holding Corn Maze, have beach time at Gull Lake, discover bluebirds at Ellis Bird Farm, go on a Historic Town Walking Tour and enjoy a hike at J.J. Collett Natural Area.
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Corn Mazes in Alberta
15. Red Deer
Alberta’s third largest citylocated equidistant between Calgary and Edmonton has its own share of museums and natural attractions to explore! On a couples day trip – visit Heritage Ranch. Explore Alberta’s Sports History at The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum ,discover Red Deer’s History at The Red Deer Museum, learn about Alberta’s Norwegian heritage at Norwegian Laft Hus Society & Museumand enjoy water based recreational activities like waterball, paddling etc at Bower Ponds.
Hike over 5 kms of trails at Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Gaetz Lake Sanctuary and see migratory birds, native wildlife and plant and a replica of a 19th-century fort – Fort Normandeau.
16. Stettler – Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions
Plan a day trip to Stettler to spend few hours aboard Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions that will take you through Alberta Parkland landscape from Stettler to Big Valley and back. Depending on the day of travel, different themes are enacted, including murder mysteries, family, live stage show, seniors and teddy bear specials. Most trips include a full course buffet meal at destination, entertainment, sightseeing.
17. Torrington and Irricana
On this day trip, combine two museums that are worlds apart in its themes.
Located 45 minutes north-east of Calgary, is the Pioneer Acres of Alberta that preserves a variety of early steam and gasoline traction engines and equipment from the early 1900’s.
Another 45 minutes north is Torrington, where there is a museum dedicated to Gophers that features stuffed gophers in 40 dioramas with gophers in various poses, from getting married to fishing.
Travel to the graveyard of dinosaurs and discover Drumheller. Explore all things palaeontology at Royal Tyrell Museum, lookout from the jaws of World’s largest Dinosaur, hike the moonlike landscape of Horsethief Canyon and explore the site of an old coal mine at Midland Provincial Park. You can do all this and more when you drive the Dinosaur Trail.
19. East Coulee
Go on guided tour of Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site that tell true tales of mines and men. Climb into a coal car and tour the surface plant and spectacular badlands scenery or climb the last wooden tipple in Canada, and see the inner workings of this nationally designated historic icon. Hear stories of the men and the boys who worked in the Drumheller mines.
Located 5 minutes from the Coal Mine is East Coulee School Museum, a former four-room schoolhouse. This museum is home to mining archives and exhibits that details the coal mining era in Alberta. Who knows you might even encounter a paranormal phenomena.
On select times of the year, East Coulee School Museum and Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, host Mine and Dine, when you can discover the area’s gritty mining culture first-hand with real life miners and families, and unwind in their booming coal town while savouring a heart Hungarian family-style meal.
20. Nanton & Vulcun
Nanton is a great visit for art, antique collectors and history buffs. Tour the Bomber Command Museum of Canada that displays three WWII Bombers, as well as training aircraft, displays, aviation art, Bomber nose art, informative videos and archives. Then, go antique hunting along Nanton‘s downtown core and explore a diverse collection of merchants and galleries. Also at Nanton is one of the few remaining Grain Elevators in Alberta, visit the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre for to learn more about Alberta’s farming history.
Are you a Star Trek Fan? Then why not trek to Vulcan for to the Vulcan visitor information centre that was designed to look like a landing spacecraft that is home to a large collection of Star Trek Memorabilia.
Explore Calgary’s biggest commuter city – learn more about the bees at Chinook Honey Company, have some farm fun at Kayben Farms, learn more about Okotoks history at Okotoks Museum and Archives, explore local creativity at Okotoks Art Gallery, housed in the historic 1929 CPR Railway Station and hike to Okotoks Erratic, the largest known rock in the Foothills Erratics Train.
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22. Turner Valley & Long View
Learn more about two of the Alberta’s most important resources and way of life today – Petroleum and Ranching.
Visit Turner Valley Gas Plant and venture into the past of one of the British Empire’s major suppliers and a glimpse into the colourful lives of the workers who were part of this era. Before leaving for the next history lesson, stop at Eau Claire Distillery for a behind the scenes tour of how spirits are made.
Discover the life of a ranching cowboy from the late 1800s at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site which boasts of 35 historic buildings and structures. Learn roping, watch the blacksmith prepare horseshoes, tour the roundup camp, saddlehorse barn and go on horse-drawn wagon rides.
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I had a great city-break today @ the Bar-U Ranch National Historic Site, near Longview Alberta! The Bar- Ranch is the only place to see sites dedicated to and to learn about ranching history in Canada. This statue is of George Lane, famously remembered as one of the Big 4 who underwrote the Calgary Stampede. Lane was the one who purchased the 3,000 cattle and 500 horses, part of the largest ranch sale in Alberta's history. He bought the Bar-U Ranch, which he had started working at when he came to Alberta. #baruranchnationalhistoricsite #baruranchnhs #canada150
23. Banff National Park
Calgary is blessed to have a National Park in its backyard, which has a place in the travel bucket list of almost every world leisure traveler.
To see the National Park from Calgary on a day trip, split the entire park into 6 or more trips. It is better not to attempt Banff National Park portion of Icefields Parkway as day trip unless you want to spend 5 hours or more on the road(roundtrip).
Six Day Trips to Explore Banff National Park from Calgary
- Banff Town: Hoodooos, Bow Falls, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Mt Norquay, Banff Gondola
- Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive covering Lake Minnewanka, Cascade Ponds, Johnson Lake and Two Jack Lake.
- Sunshine Meadows
- Vermilion Lakes
- Bow Valley Parkway
- Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
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Vermilion Lakes by: @markjinksphoto #vermilionlakes #explorealberta #banffnationalpark #hiking #naturelovers #naturegram #modernoutdoorsman #nature_seekers #nature #travel #wanderlust #natureporn #nature_obsession #naturelove #theoutbound #landscapelover #landscapehunter #adventure #landscape_captures #exploreeverything #landscapephotography #backpacking #keepitwild #instapassport #instatraveling #neverstopexploring #earthfocus #earthporn #discoverearth #wilderness
24. Alberta Farms
Why not visit Alberta Farms near you like Saskatoon Farm in De Winton, and pick vegetables and fruits for your table, have great food, buy some yummy treats and enjoy some old fashioned fun like farm based petting zoos, and feeding chickens. Call and find out whether the Farms allow visits and public tours. If you are going specifically for U-pick activities, call ahead to make sure that the produce is available.
See here for Farm listings.
- Alberta Farms
- Central Alberta Farms
- Alberta Farm Days – Though the site lists farms participating on tours during Alberta Farm days, you can still call on other days and find out whether you can visit.
25. Alberta Provincial Parks
There are plenty of provincial Parks and recreational areas near Calgary which showcase the varied Alberta landscape, that you can explore on a day trip. Find the one near you and explore each one whenever the urge for “lets get out of Calgary” strikes. Best part – Alberta Parks has not implemented a visitor fee till date, so pack a picnic basket and get ready to explore and enjoy a day trip for free (well except, the gasoline for the car).