September and October can provide ample opportunities for good weather and clear skies. That means that you can still enjoy activities outdoors, especially to see the spectacular fall colors that seep into the forests and parks in the region. The city itself has many excellent things to do and see, but the surrounding areas provide even more for those willing to take a day trip. Head out on the highways and byways to find some of the best things to do this fall.
1. Hike the Wild Sculpture Trail
You do not have to head to Southern Alberta to see hoodoos. Wild Sculpture Trail in Sundance Provincial Park located 63 km northwest of Edson, just under 3 hours from downtown Edmonton, hosts a multitude of hoodoos formed from several thick layers of rock that, over a period of time were eroded into their current shape with wind and water. The trail winds through the old-growth white spruce forest and leads to three hidden lakes. The Hoodoos are only about a 15-minute hike in from the parking lot.
2. Take in the Night Skies or Enjoy Fall Colours
The short drive out of the city will take you to the incredible beauty and nature of Elk Island Park. Not only can you enjoy the gorgeous fall colors that will accompany the undulating landscape, but you can enjoy the 250 different bird species that can be found here. Not to mention the bison herds and other wildlife that frequent the area. Also designated as a dark sky reserve, you can spend a nice fall evening here looking at the stars. Take a picnic or something to BBQ in the day-use area to make it a full day out.
There is also guided dark-sky programs so that you can gaze upon the countless stars in our galaxy with a friendly park interpreter.
3. Drive for Dinner
The Bruce Hotel is absolutely famous in the Edmonton area for their steaks and buffet dinners. Originally built in 1911, the Bruce Hotel has been an icon in Central Alberta for over 100 years. This is a truly unique dining experience that is well worth the drive. Friday and Saturday nights offer up steak or steak and shrimp dinners like nowhere else. Top grade AAA Canadian beef grilled up to your exact preference served along side the freshest produce possible transformed into mouth-watering salads and side dishes buffet style.
Address: 104 Main St, Bruce (75 minutes from Edmonton ~115kms)
4. Take in the Fall Colors within the City
In reality, you don’t even have to leave the city to take in some of the amazing fall colours, due to the fact that Edmonton has the beautiful river valley and lots of parks to enjoy. Take a “stay” day and explore the city to find the best spots and colours or create a game between friends or family members to see who can get the best fall pictures. The many trails that lead through the River Valley open up fantastic chances to get some good pics, or visit Hawrelak Park, Emily Murphy Park, or Kinnaird Ravine to feel like you are in a fall wonderland. The Mill Creek Trail is also an excellent place to get up close to the spectacular bright fall colours.
5. Find Your Way through a Corn Maze
Celebrating 20 years of corn mazes, the Edmonton Corn Maze creates a different design every year for kids and adults of all ages to explore. Wind your way through the complicated twists and turns to find your way through the maze. Open from Tuesday to Sunday until October 24th, you can enjoy the maze and the other farm activities during the day or on certain evenings. Breathe in the crisp fall air and experience the outdoors in a unique way.
6. Visit the nearby “Biggest” Attractions
Head out onto the highway and the country roads in a search for what are Alberta’s largest roadside attractions. Not even an hour outside of the city along Highway 16 to the east, you will come across Mundare’s large sausage and Vegreville’s unique Pysanka. Andrew has a giant Mallard Duck, and Smoky Lake has the largest Pumpkin Park. These are just a few roadside attractions that you can easily visit on a day on the road.
- Vegreville Pysanka (Easter Egg), 4500 Pysanka Avenue, Vegreville
- World’s Largest Mushrooms, Vilna
- World’s Largest Mallard Duck, Andrew
- World’s Largest Pyrogy, Glendon
- World’s Largest Oil Lamp, Donalda
- World’s Largest Ukrainian Sausage, Sawchuk Street and 50 Avenue, Mundare
7. Visit an Autumn Garden
A short 20 minutes out the west end of Edmonton you come across the University of Alberta’s Botanic Garden. The 240-acres that make up this property provide a lovely peaceful, relaxing environment to spend a lovely fall day. At this “garden in a forest”, you’ll get an introduction to plants that survive and thrive in a northern climate, you’ll see how cultures define gardens, and you’ll be connected to the natural world in a beautiful way. Visits are by appointment only, so make sure you reserve online before heading out there.
8. Fall Colours Tour
Are you searching for a perfect fall date? Then head to Heritage Ranch in Red Deer. Book a 1 hour private horse-drawn carriage ride through the beautiful Fall trails of Heritage Ranch! Afterwards, have a 3 course chef-inspired dinner from the WestLake Grill!
They also offer regular fall trail rides through the ranch.
9. Look for Birds at Big Lake
While Big Lake is a great place to check out birdlife at almost all times of year, fall is special, as you can view large numbers of pelicans and Tundra Swans. In fact, in some years there have been as many as 20,000 swans here during the fall months. You can keep your eyes open for Cormorants, Loons, Great Blue Herons and Ospreys that commonly fish the lake. In years that there is low water you can view Lesser Yellowlegs, Dowitchers, American Avocets and Sandpipers. Enjoy a day out at this important bird area as you explore the Big Lake Natural Area.
10. Visit the Hard Luck Canyon and Whitecourt
This destination is definitely worth a day trip, but be aware that the trail is short, so with the more than 2 hour drive each way you will probably want to check out some of the other activities or sites in the Whitecourt area, such as the Forest Interpretive Center and Heritage Park. Hard Luck Canyon is a gorgeous, unique geological formation of sandstone banks and cliffs. Follow the 0.8 kilometer round trip hiking trail to the bridge located at the canyon’s edge for the best view. The bridge spans the falls, which are fed from a beaver pond that typically overflows in the spring. Venture down the series of stairs and paths to the canyon floor to get a closer look at Hard Luck Creek and the canyon walls.
11. Explore the Iron Horse Trail
The legacy of Alberta’s Iron Horse Trail began back in 1999 people from across Lakeland came together to preserve the historic route so that enjoyment of this trail and park system could last for generations. Now the trail is more than 300 kilometers of developed trails connecting the communities and allowing both residents of the areas, and visitors, the chance to enjoy the outdoor life. Hike, bike, ride a horse or jump on your all terrain vehicle to travel the route and soak up the history and beauty. Use the website to help plan your trip, get the start and staging points and maps, or learn more about the history.
12. Echo Glen Park
Visit Echo Glen Park in Gibbons and enjoy fall colours along 2 km of natural walking trail along the Sturgeon River Valley and enjoy glimpses of wildlife such as deer, coyote, fox and birds – including hawks.
13. Parkland Art Tour
Get a head start on Christmas shopping and explore Parkland County’s art and craft galleries through a day trip. Visit Gossamer Gallery and Gifts, the Spruce Grove Art Gallery, Salt Of The Earth Gallery, Crooked Pot Gallery, Faulkner Fine Art Gallery and others.
14. Ghost Tours
Go on a private ghost tour of the Multicultural Heritage Centre in Stony Plain. It is a living museum that reflects local history, Western Canadian pioneer life and much more! You can book ghost tours and listen to the stories of hauntings in the two historic buildings: the Old Brick School, built in 1925, and the Oppertshauser House, built in 1910. There will also be plenty of opportunities to collect paranormal evidence through your camera and recorders.
15. Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area
With over 480 acres of woodland and lakes, Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area in Onoway is fabulous in fall. Hike, bike, or go horseback riding along any of the 11 kilometres of trails traversing lakes and ponds. The area is home to a diverse collection of wildlife.
Directions: 1128 Township Rd 534, Onoway
16. Grey Owl Meadery
Nestled in the rolling foothills, Grey Owl Meadery located a little less than 2 hours from Edmonton is a perfect day trip. The wine here is made from honey extracted right on site from the hives that are located in the Alder Flats and Buck Lake area. Serving charcuterie boards, mead by the glass, and gourmet coffee, you can enjoy the fall vistas from the patio and learn more about the unique history of mead. Of course, there is also a gift shop onsite that carries products made from beeswax and honey.
Directions: 452036 Hwy 22, Alder Flats
17. Experience Oktoberfest on a Train
On the 25th of October head out with Battle River Train Excursions to experience Oktoberfest in a completely different way. You ride the train to the small town of Kelsey – polkaing down the tracks with the onboard accordion player to the 65th Annual Heisler Community Sausage Supper. You will be treated to an amazing full course supper featuring local homemade sausage and sauerkraut. Stop in at the Historic Heisler Hotel for a quick cold drink before returning on the train. This is a fantastic way to enjoy a fall day in rural Alberta. The ticket includes train ride, supper and of course, entertainment.
Address: 103 Main Street, Heisler
18. Spend the Day in Lacombe
An hour and a half outside of Edmonton you will find one of the most picturesque historic downtowns in the province. Most notably is the flatiron building which is the oldest in Alberta and now home to the visitor centre. Spend the day browsing in the boutique shops, taking a walking tour of the interesting murals, and checking out the local eateries. The Lacombe Museum and Archives are worth a visit as well. It will be easy to spend the whole day here!
19. Prairie Gardens
All fall you can enjoy more than just the “gardens” at this local Bon Accord farm. There are corn mazes to explore, barnyard animals to pet, a pumpkin cannon to enjoy, and u-pick pumpkins! Along with a general store and greenhouses, there is much here to keep you busy throughout the fall months. As well, Halloween brings loads of other activities and festival fun. Open from 11 am to 5 pm on Tuesdays through Sundays, you can easily spend a good part of your day exploring the farm.
56311 Lily Lake Rd, Bon Accord
20. Founders Walk
Make a quick jaunt to St. Albert and Step back in time as you embark on the Founders Walk, following in the footsteps of St. Albert’s founders. Start at the St. Albert clock tower, pass the Healing Garden up to the Father Lacombe Chapel and finish off at the Grain Elevator Park. Printable maps are available and you’ll be able to learn some of the rich history and heritage that shaped the community into what it is today.
21. Barr Estate Winery
Barr Estate Winery is a winery near the east side of Edmonton where they grow their own berries and plants to use in the wine. They feature 3 different wines; The Other Red, a Raspberry wine with a full flavour, medium body and refreshing off dry taste; The Barb, a pale coral medium bodied rhubarb wine with hints of citrus; The Rhuby, an easy-going rhubarb and strawberry wine. Tour their working sheep and fruit farm and take a stroll through the fields of raspberry, rhubarb and sour cherries. Their tours and tastings are by appointment only.
51526 Range Road 231, Sherwood Park
22. Take a Self-Guided Ghost Tour
Enjoy a day on the road and explore some of the province’s ghost towns. Using the ghost town map, you can choose to range far and wide, or close to the city, whatever suits you best. Exploring the province in this way will give you an excellent chance to experience the fall scenery and build your way up to the Halloween season by getting into some interesting history and spooky, abandoned locations.
23. Waskahegan Trail
Waskahegan Trail is often described as “hidden in plain sight.” The entire length wraps in a roughly circular route and varies from an urban environment near Edmonton to wilderness near Elk Island National Park. It’s a network of 40 routes, ranging from 5-15 km. Hikers are just as likely to discover domesticated animals and livestock as they are wildlife, but no matter what you come across, you’ll want to keep your camera handy. There are public campsites en route, so you can take several days to hike the loop. The serene landscapes showcase some of the best of Alberta’s autumn scenes as it moves through the rolling parkland.
24. Metis Crossing
The first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta, this 512-acre site is designed to engage and excite visitors, and is comprised of river lot titles from the original Métis settlers to this region in the late 1800’s. Metis Crossing. Enjoy a walk around the site experiencing fall colours along North Saskatchewan River.
17339 Victoria Trail, Smoky Lake
25. Hang out with some Dinosaurs
You wouldn’t think that dinosaurs would be hiding out in the woods in Alberta, but you can certainly find them in the fantastic Jurassic Forest, less than an hour outside of Edmonton. Take a stroll along the boardwalk and find the gigantic dinosaurs that are hiding in the foliage. If you are up for it after exploring the forest, take some time to play a round of mini golf here as well. A great day out for dinosaur lovers of all ages.