You and your girlfriends have an unbreakable bond that will take you through life. But where else will it take you? Plan a weekend getaway suited just for your group and make memories you’ll be talking about long after you get back home.
1. Yoga Retreats
When the grind of daily life starts to become too much, it’s time to take a deep breath and find some inner peace with your best friends with some yoga. Refresh with crisp mountain air with Mountaintop Yoga at the Banff Gondola on level 4 of the summit. If heights make you nervous and distract you from the stretching, you can also take classes in downtown Banff, facing the majestic views of Cascade Mountain. Outside of Banff, world-class health experts lead retreats at Evolve Retreat Co. to help you restore some balance. Or get away to Kananaskis Country and restore your inner balance at Mount Engadine Lodge. What about a Yoga Festival?
2. Wine & Brewery Tasting
Alberta is much more than just beef. Choose someone else to be the designated driver, since you and your girlfriends will want to take full advantage of a trip focused on tasting locally-brewed beer and wine. The Jasper Brewing Company makes beer with glacial water, for a fresh taste you won’t get anywhere else. Medicine Hat has two craft breweries, both focusing on using regional ingredients: the Medicine Hat Brewing Co. and Hell’s Basement Brewery. Field Stone Fruit Wines in Strathmore is the largest and most award-winning brewery in Alberta – find out why with a tasting tour.Barr Estate Winery, just outside Sherwood Park, was born out of a passion for wine, and it’s evident with every sip. Make a toast and take a sip of a local drink no matter where you are in the province.
3. Lake Louise – Winter Getaway
When you live in Alberta, you can’t limit getaways to summer months – there’s just not enough of them! Take a snowy, winter escape with your girls in Lake Louise. Pictures can’t prepare you for the breathtaking views! Take a brisk sleigh ride around the lake. Warm up next to roaring fire pits with hot chocolate at Baker Creek Mountain Resort. Get in some adventure with downhill or cross country skiing, or revel in the stillness on snowshoes. If you go in January, make sure to catch the Ice Magic Festival! At Lake Louise, you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale.
4. Spa Vacations
Alberta has been blessed with numerous rejuvenating hot springs and mountain mineral springs – so take advantage of it! The healing powers of soaking in the springs heated naturally from deep within the earth will do wonders for you and your gal pals. Add in hot stone massages, mud wraps, and more, and you have the perfect weekend away. Go natural at UNESCO World Heritage Sites Miette Hot Springs in Jasper and Banff Upper Hot Springs. Get your glam on at the sophisticated Kendall Danielle Salon and Spa in Grande Prairie, treat yourself at The MacDonald Health Club in Edmonton, get a few minutes of peace at Lethbridge’s Piel Bonita Salon Spa, Canmore’s Solara Resort & Spa, or try one of the many other spas across the province and pamper yourself.
5. Newman Country Retreat Farm
Take a relaxing getaway with with your girl friends. Get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and discover a quiet haven at Newman Country Retreat Farm. Enjoy tranquil surroundings with a waterfall, fish pond, and duck pond. Walk the labyrinth for some time in meditation, have a massage, and hike the trails. Visit with and feed the friendly farm animals, including cows, donkeys, and horses. The secluded, solar-powered cedar wood cabin is perfect for relaxation, allowing you to get back in touch with yourself. Regular events and demonstrations help visitors to learn relaxation techniques to take back with them when they head home after their stay.
Where dinosaurs roamed the earth 70 million years ago is the best place for you and your gal pals to roam this weekend. Head to the Canadian Badlands. Wander the banks of meandering river amongst the striped canyons, ride horseback through prairies and grasslands like early cowboys and ranchers, and discover the rich history of the area at Raymond Pioneer Museum. Go dino crazy at Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology, housing one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils and exhibits. Go and a dig and see what you can dig up! The stunning landscape sweeping out before you when you go exploring will not only take your breath away, it will also provide the perfect background to your group selfie.
7. West Edmonton Mall
Why should you and the girls go to West Edmonton Mall (wem.ca)? Where to begin? Book a private cabana and slide the rides at World Waterpark. Get up close and personal with penguins and sea lions at Marine Life. Lace up the skates at Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace, then the bowling shoes at Ed’s Bowling. Jubilations Dinner Theatre will fill your stomach and make you laugh until you cry. Or, class it up on Bourbon Street, where top restaurants await. Some of Edmonton’s top retail outlets are down the hall, and then book a room at Fantasyland Hotel. And the best part? It’s all under one roof – you don’t even have to go outside.
8. Ranch Vacations
Saddle up with your inner cowgirl at a ranch vacation. Grab the girlfriends and discover the Wild West. Ride the Wind Ranch has cabins with spectacular views across the boreal forests to the Rocky Mountains for picture-perfect landscapes, Peace Valley Guest Ranch is a family-owned working cattle ranch for those who want to get right into the thick of things, and Rocking R Guest Ranch is a luxurious destination for those who don’t want to leave the comforts of home behind (plus the hot tub under the stars is a great way to end the day). Take trail rides, sleigh rides, help round up the herds, and much more as you swap tales with your fellow trailblazers.
9. Shopping Vacations
What’s better than a little retail therapy with your girls by your side? Cutting-edge designers and locally-made gifts can all be found across the province. West Edmonton Mall is synonymous with epic shopping – and you know your girls will be honest with how awesome that new dress looks on you. Head to Edmonton’s historic Old Strathcona District and Whyte Ave for funky boutiques. If you’re looking for outlets, Calgary’s CrossIron Mills is your best bet. Find vintage pottery having a revival in Medicine Hat and pick up a piece of Alberta’s own gemstone ammolite in Banff. Find vintage antiques in Lacombe, or the latest trends at Red Deer’s Bower Place Shopping Centre. Wherever you go, you’ll shop ‘till you drop!
10. Wildlife Viewing
Alberta is teeming with wildlife – so fill the car up with gas and grab the girls for a trip to see what you can find in the great outdoors! Don’t forget the camera! Easily accessible protected areas like national and provincial parks are home to over 600 Alberta all stars: moose, bison, elk, bears, bighorn sheep, and much more. Take sightseeing tours in the Peace River Region, keeping an eye out for elk, fly like an eagle with an aerial tour over the peaks of the Rocky Mountains or heli-tour the badlands, or take an interpretive guided tour of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park for a glimpse of a cougar. Who can get the best pic of Alberta’s animals in their natural habitat – and best of all, what memories will you and your girls make along the way?
11. Heritage Park
Girl power! Celebrate the women who came before in Calgary’s Heritage Park, a living history museum. Watch an engaging play about the first settlers of the area (and be thankful for modern conveniences!). Tour a beautiful representation of Nellie McCLung’s home and hear stories of the Famous 5 Canadian Women, a group of women who fought for rights and freedoms for women, resulting in monumental advancements in women’s rights and changing Canadian history. While you’re there, join the ladies for tea and lively discussion. Then, hear the living legacy of Nellie’s life as a suffragist with a 15 minute radio play. Discover what life was like for Jane Howse, Métis wife of the famous Sam Livingston and mother to 14 children.
12. Camping Trips
Keep your girls weekend away under budget with a camping trip. Pitch a tent at one of Alberta’s great campgrounds – including numerous provincial and national parks. There’s nothing like waking up to fresh mountain air, watching the stars peek out from above the forest canopy, keeping an eye out for northern lights, and cooking your meals over an open fire (with gooey s’mores for dessert!). Rough it in the backcountry, pull out the trailer or RV, or keep it glam with comfort camping or yurts, available at more and more campgrounds each year.
13. Mountains for Less Money
Take a trip to the mountains, but don’t get caught up among all the tourists. Stay in Canmore, instead! Outdoor adventure is in Canmore’s backyard, with world-class skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and more available everywhere you go. From cafes to fine dining, it’s time to treat yourself! On Saturdays, join Canmore Food Tours for an easy 2 km walk with tastings at seven local restaurants, exploring the food and cultural scenes of the Rocky Mountain’s hidden gem. And don’t forget the vibrant night life for an evening out on the town with your girls! Many hotels have packages available with different attractions and tours, so make sure to check there before booking anything else.
14. Farmer’s Markets
Get on board with the Shop Local movement that’s sweeping the province by touring around different Farmer’s Markets and discovering what your fellow Albertans can provide. Baked goods like grandma used to make, freshly-picked berries, farm-to-table veggies, handmade crafts and jewellery – the list goes on and on. Pick up an ear or two of the famous corn at Taber Farmer’s Market, see why people flock to Crossfield Farmer’s Market, or take the day to wander St. Albert’s Farmer’s Market, Western Canada’s largest outdoor market with 250 vendors. Edmonton’s Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market is a bustling that’s indoors, so check it out year round. As Christmas approaches, find handmade treasures at markets, such as Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival in Sylvan Lake or the Lacombe Christmas Faire in Lacombe.
15. Music Festivals
Get your groove going to the beat at a variety of music festivals! Music in the Plaza in Calgary, the Beaumont Blues & Roots Festival, Vegreville’s VeggFest, Badlands Amphitheatre Concert Series, and so many more… There are concerts and festivals of all genres across the province at any time of year. One of the biggest, of course, is Big Valley Jamboree in August. Camp out with your girlfriends and take in some of the biggest names in country music, local vendors, and great food trucks. Or why not head to Hinton for the annual Wild Mountain Music Festival! Find your festival and pitch your tent for open air music with the best ladies in your life.
15. Amusement Parks
When you’re paused at the top of a roller coaster, just waiting for the plunge, there’s no one better to be clinging to your arm than your best friend. When it comes to theme parks, Galaxyland Amusement Park, in West Edmonton Mall, with so many games and rides, you won’t know where to turn first. Calgary’s Calaway Park has endless experiences in the largest outdoor family amusement park in Western Canada. It has 32 rides, a 3D theatre, live entertainment, and plenty of games to test your skill.
There’s no shortage of weekend getaways in Alberta – but there’s no better trip than one with your girlfriends by your side! Where will you go next?