Canmore began as a coal mining town in service of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but it has since become one of the most beautiful and enchanting towns in Alberta. This Rocky Mountain getaway is only a little over an hour’s drive from Calgary, which has made it an increasingly popular spot to spend a day, or even check in to one of the resorts and settle in. No matter how long you spend in Canmore, this things to do Canmore list should fuel your trip with experiences and treasures.
Summit a mountain at Ha Ling Peak
This trail is repeatedly hailed by tourists and locals alike as one of the best hikes in the Canmore area. In three or four hours, you’ll have summited a mountain and taken in the otherworldly views. While some people tote this as an easier hike, the official rating tends closer to challenging — keep this in mind as you embark. Only a few minutes outside of Canmore, this hike is the perfect way to spend an early morning or an afternoon.
Stop in at the famous Rocky Mountain Soap Company
Known across Canada for their quality natural products, the Rocky Mountain Soap Company is proud of their Alberta heritage. The flagship store is located in Canmore where you can partake in a tour of the workshop. With any ticket to the tour, you will receive a twenty dollar gift card as an adult and a five dollar card for every child. This is a great deal: after this tour, you’ll certainly be ready to fill your bathroom with these marvellous soaps.
Discover the amazing, underground world of caves on this half-day, small-group guided cave explorer tour with all equipment included. Follow your guide through the twists and turns of this subterranean world, crawling past prehistoric bones and observing centuries-old rock formations. Choose to explore lesser-travelled places in the cave and wriggle through manhole-cover sized passages (optional) to test yourself in this rugged environment.
Take a tour of the Wild Life Distillery
The Wild Life Distillery crafts spirits that are as clean and gorgeous as the land around them. They use mountain water and source local grains to create small batches of alcohol that has put them on the map. The good news for those spirit-loving travellers? You can book a tour through the premises for only nine dollars and learn both the history and the process that goes into the beverages that Wild Life Distillery create. You’ll even get to sample, giving you everything you need to choose which of these craft spirits you’ll want to take home.
Dine wild at the Crazyweed Restaurant
Consistently raved about, the Crazyweed Restaurant is “a fancy, not-so-fancy Canmore dining experience”. The name comes from a chance opening of a book of mountain wildflowers and captures the spirit of this always fun and always fresh establishment. They serve lunch and dinner and have a special selection of wood fired pizza for all the pizza lovers out there. Check out their website for the menu and photos of some of their delectable concoctions.
Treat yourself at the Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe
A thrill for children and adults alike, the Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe is one of the highlights of Canmore’s Main Street. Specializing in their range of bulk, international, and — of course — old style candy, this flagship shop has now expanded into four other locations. If you can’t find a specific candy you’re looking for, you can call the shop and they will try their best to get it in for you. Make sure you stop by this Canmore treasure and treat yourself before you leave.
Take it easy on Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk
Accessible from downtown Canmore, the Policeman’s Creek boardwalk provides an easy and convenient path to take in the scenery. Enjoy the river as you make your way along the boardwalk and across the bridge that leads you through the Spring Creek community, then back to the centre of Canmore. At 3.9 kilometres long, this stroll is perfect for families hoping to spend a day in town but who want to enjoy the beauty of the area free from roads.
Rest and refuel at the Grizzly Paw Pub and Brewing Company
Adults will love the craft beer on tap at the Grizzly Paw Pub and Brewing Company, and kids will love the craft sodas that are also available. Settle into this rustic restaraunt and enjoy the delicious menu or a pint, all within the beautiful Rocky Mountains. This is the perfect dinner stop after a day of hiking or exploring. Or if you’re still in the mood for exploration, book a tour of the production facility and learn all about how this brewery works their magic.
Pick up something truly unique at the Ammonite Factory
Ammolite is a rare gemstone found in southeastern Alberta that comes from the shells of fossilized ammonites. It is special for its full spectrum of colours and pearly sheen and is the gemstone of Alberta. The Ammonite Factory gets its ammonite from the Red Dragon Mine and has a yield that surpasses any other ammonite mine. The jewellery, stones, fossils, and art pieces found at this factory are all exceptional grade ammonite and will have you marvelling over the range of colours.
Skate on Canmore’s downtown pond
Where else but Canmore would you find a downtown pond so perfect for an afternoon skate? Just along Seventh Avenue is an outdoor pond that is popular in the colder months for getting a little winter wonderland into your life. Skating on the pond is free — just remember to bring your skates. After your skate, there are cafes within walking distance to warm yourself up with a cup of hot cocoa and grab a treat.
Find something special at the Canmore Mountain Market
Take your adventure indoors at Elevation Place
If being surrounded by the rockies is making you want to try your hand(s) at climbing a mountain, but you don’t know where to begin, Canmore’s Elevation Place has got you covered. This recreational facility goes above and beyond, and is regularly singled out as a gem of Canmore recreation. The climbing gym is accessible to people of all experience levels and you can even book a lesson. If climbing isn’t your thing, Elevation Place also features a pool with eight lanes and a lazy river, a water slide, and a children’s area. This is the perfect activity for a rainy day.
Hit up the art scene in Canmore
It will come as no surprise that Kananaskis country is home to a plethora of incredible artists — perhaps that’s why there are so many breathtaking galleries in the area. From the Western Canadian artists featured in the acclaimed Avens Gallery to the folk art gallery and studio of local artist Virginia Hemingson, this is a geographic area rich with art for you to admire and enjoy. For more eclectic exhibits, you should also check out the Curbside Museum, which features art both indoors and along the stretch of sidewalk out front.
Embrace Winter at the Canmore Winter Carnival
The first two weeks in February are a magical time to be in Canmore. The Canmore Winter Festival is a tradition that brings the community together to celebrate the joys of wintertime in the mountains. There is ice carving, skating parties, street hockey, and log sawing competitions to watch and enjoy, as well as some canine themed events: the pooch parade is a real treat.
Spend a weekend at the Canmore Folk Musical Festival
The Canmore Folk Music Festival is the longest running folk festival in Alberta and has gained a reputation that brings the best in folk music to you. Enjoy the sounds of the country while surrounded by it. The festival always takes place over the August long weekend and runs for three days. This is a festival the whole family can enjoy, with kid-friendly activities, a free concert on Friday evening, and more than thirty artists to soak up. Let the tunes sooth you at this mountain music festival.
Go where the artists go at Cafe Books
There are more than 60 published authors living in Canmore — which only has a population of around 14,000. It makes sense. Being surrounded by this much natural beauty is known to inspire art. Cafe Books is the local literary hub in Canmore and has a delightful atmosphere sure to set any book-lovers heart aflame. Complete with a reading room, a tea room (check out the dainty desserts) and a selection of pottery and jewlery made by local artists — this is a shop that thrives on creativity.
The Highland Games
Bike the Legacy Trail
Twenty-two kilometres of paved road bridge the gap between Canmore and Banff and this is a popular route for the bicyclists of the area. Following the Trans Canada, the trail features look-out spots arranged for when you need a rest, and even a marked halfway point. The Valley View Day Use Area makes a great stop for a picnic. This trail is noted as a beginner level, so anyone can make their way up and around the Legacy Trail, but if you do get tired, the Roam Transit system can take you and your bike back to Canmore once you get into Banff.
Dinner and a concert at Communitea Cafe
Hang out in Communitea’s newly renovated and chic space while you take in live music by artists of the area. Using as many local ingredients as possible, Communitea is devoted to creating fresh meals and treats that will have you feeling good about what you’re eating. The lineup of music and events that occur here can be found online, but you always know that whatever is happening, it’s in service of the community of Canmore.
Grab a bagel at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company
Known as a keystone of the community, the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company is a scratch bakery that finds both locals and tourists coming in time and time again. With gluten free options and home made cream cheese (in a variety of flavours!) you can customize your perfect bagel experience. Don’t forget to order a Bagel Co. Coffee as well — it’s a crafted combo for your perfect breakfast or lunch, and fits right in with the “coffee culture” feel that Rocky Mountain Bagel Company is going for.
Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre
The gorgeous Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre provides an opportunity to learn about the area around Canmore. From Mine Site Tours to the North Western Mounted Police Barracks to Canmore Engine Bridge, you’ll get a taste of history and geology. The permanent exhibits include “From Coal to Community” and the interactive “The Fossils Around Us”. This is the perfect chance to take it slow and gain a new layer of appreciation for the geology of Canmore. You won’t see it the same way again.
Get close to a landmark with the Three Sisters Mountain
A notable landmark on the horizon, the Three Sisters Mountain has been the subject of many art pieces and has become a symbol of Canmore. The peaks even have names: Faith, Charity, and Hope. The Three Sisters Pass Hike is a half-day journey that tends towards challenging, but you will have the best views of the biggest sister as she looms over you. For an even trickier trek, you can grab your rock climbing gear and climb the mountain (Three Sisters Pass). The best time for climbing is through the summer months, as the range is quite snowy.
Delight in culinary creations at Canmore Uncorked
From May 3rd to 13th (2018) is the Canmore Uncorked Festival — an award winning food and beverage festival in a beautiful setting. With an array of set-price menus, a wine festival, beer festival, and whiskey and spirits festival, each day will bring something new. Make sure you don’t miss the bistro tours, which are themed and give you a sense of Canmore’s spirit as a whole. This is the best way to familiarize yourself with the dining opportunities in Canmore, and will help you make informed decisions for every visit after.
Try your hand (and feet) at snowshoeing
What better way to explore the Canmore area in winter than by floating atop fresh, untouched snow. You’ll feel like a true explorer, discovering sights unseen and marking the snow, when you travel by snowshoe. If you have your own snowshoes just check the Canmore trail guides to see where would be the best trail for the season. If this is something new for you, check out one of the guided tours available. Kananaskis Outfitters have an array of choices, including a Snowshoe tour that comes with fondue! They also a variety of summer activities too.
Get a wholesome view of Canmore from Grassi Lakes
Hike the Grassi Lake Interpretive trail to reach the aquamarine Grassi Lakes. This trail climbs gradually through forested terrain before reaching a very steep section with excellent views of a waterfall and the town of Canmore.
Take gentle tour along the Bow River
Spend a night in Canmore’s Top Rated Hotel
The StoneRidge Mountain Resort is Canmore’s premiere luxury resort. Enjoy the heated outdoor pool where you can float amongst the mountains, or soak in the hot tub. Each of the rooms is a condo-style suite ranging from one to three bedrooms. The resort’s Blackdog Cafe makes a delightful breakfast and serves great coffee, perfect for the morning after your night in the Rockies. Many of the rooms have fireplaces and balconies so you will never be far from living your cabin-in-the-woods dream.
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