Alberta's Rocky Mountains are an incredibly special place. Canmore is kind of the gateway to these mountains. The town has long had a mutual relationship with the Rockies, first as a coal-mining community, and now as a home base for those looking to immerse themselves in natural beauty. The recent boom in tourism has led to all kinds of great hotels and restaurants opening up in the area, enhancing the experience of visiting Banff and the other national parks in the Rockies. Though it's a charming and famously friendly little place that can feel quite remote (it's bordered by Banff National Park and surrounded by wildlife reserves), Canmore is bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway, and less than 4 hours from Edmonton. Plus, there's loads to see and do along the way!
It's the capital city of Alberta, buzzing with things to do, places to see, and people to meet. It's famous for its beautiful river valley park system, which offers over 100 kilometres of recreational trails, wildlife viewing, and city views. It also is filled with parks for all different types of people. Edmonton offers annual festivals, national sports teams active year-round, and wonderful winter recreational opportunities, making it a destination that must be added to your bucket list. We promise you won't regret a single second.
Bright lights, big city! Take a walk down memory lane at Edmonton Neon Sign Museum. You'll find bright, neon signs that used to be on storefronts, theatres, and railroads, together now on one street for your viewing pleasure! Every sign has a story, which will likely make you feel nostalgic. It's an outdoor attraction that's free and open year-round, and definitely worth a stop.
Experience life in the past at Fort Edmonton Park. You'll find this place right in the middle of Edmonton's scenic river valley, making it even more crucial you stop here. Your imagination will run wild at Ford Edmonton Park as you're transported back in time by more than 150 years. It's a place that's fun for the whole family and is a perfect place to create lasting memories with your loved ones.
Next up on your Alberta road trip: Pigeon Lake. People definitely get their use out of this lake, and you should, too! This recreational area is great for fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and more. It's a great place to sit back and relax after a long day, which is exactly what you should do.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Discovery Wildlife Park is not your average zoo. Why? Oh, because you can get up close and personal with the animals, take a picture with bears, walk with wolves. Ya know, very casual. But seriously, this place will teach you about the animals and let you interact with them (with trainers present; don't worry). The animals all come to Discovery as orphans from the wild, closed zoos, and a few unwanted pets. I'm not crying; you're crying.
When in Alberta, eat like the Albertans do! Er... something like that. Anyways, what we're trying to say is that Model Milk offers locally-sourced grub, and deserves a spot on your list of places to visit. It's located in a converted dairy, which you don't see very often. If you only go for the atmosphere and to check out the space, you won't be disappointed. But why not grab some oysters, trout, brisket, or apple pie (shall I keep going?) while you're there? It'll be well worth it.
Take a step back in time at Canada's largest living history museum! Heritage Park Historical Village has more than 200 exhibits and attractions, with something to entertain everyone in the family! It offers the perfect balance of historical fact, adventure, discovery and fun. This isn't your typical museum, that's for sure. You'll find interactive exhibits, costumed interpreters, working antiques and a whole lot more. You'll feel like you stepped back into the 1800s. See how the West was-- once!
If you've never heard of Banff National Park, well... you've got some learning to do. Banff is Canada's oldest national park, and is one of the world's top destinations. If you've seen pictures, you'll know why. This jaw-dropping place is something you'd see in your dreams, seriously. It has valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, and rivers. It's the total package. It was founded in 1883 when three railway workers discovered a hot spring, and the rest is history. It's been mesmerizing and attracting people ever since!
A day spent hiking and sightseeing will leave you with a big appetite, and Grizzly House Restaurant is here for you! Most people who visit say it has a special atmosphere, and the specialty of the house is pretty unique, too. What is their specialty, you ask? Fondue. Oh, and hot stone cooking. Yum. Grizzly House has been in business for over 50 years, so the owners are definitely doing something right.
Take a break from the crowds and get off the beaten path by paying a visit to Cascades of Time Gardens. If you want to see this place covered (and I mean covered) in flowers, you'll have to visit in late May-early September. But no matter when you go, it's truly a hidden gem. There are bridges, walkways, gazebos (where you can sit and rest your legs), ponds, and fountains where you can, and should, take some time to relax.
Wanting to experience a little piece of luxurious living? Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel will show ya. I'm willing to bet you won't find a hotel with better views, anywhere. Besides having insane scenery right outside your window, the hospitality you'll get here is top-notch. Amenities? Also top-notch. It's Canada's "Castle in the Rockies," and when you stay here, you'll feel like royalty. If you're in the Banff area, there's nowhere else you should lay your head.
Not wanting to come down from Sulphur Mountain? We definitely don't blame you, and we have another place for you to check out while you're up here. All you have to do is take the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk and you'll be at the Cosmic Ray Station. This National Historic Site was home to whole lotta research back in the day and played a crucial role in improving weather forecasting. Today, you'll find a building here with some of the old gear and a tribute to what the station used to be. It also offers (as I'm sure you could guess) amazing views of Banff.
Banff Gondola will take you soaring to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Mountaintop views without having to hike? Sign me up! You'll take an 8-minute ride in a... you guessed it, gondola. Aside from getting to experience some pretty unbeatable views (did we mention they have a 360-degree rooftop observation deck?), you can also check out the theatre, interpretive centre, hiking trails, and gift shops, and get a delish bite to eat at the mountaintop restaurant. Ready to feel on top of the world?
If you're looking for a place that's jaw-droppingly gorgeous year-round, you've officially found it. Canmore will blow your mind, no matter what time of year you visit. There are loads of things to see and do here, and it's the perfect home base for exploring some of the most incredible places in the world. During peak season, aka summer months, you can expect to see most people hiking, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, golfing... basically just soaking in the views and enjoying time outdoors. In the colder winter months, Canmore still draws a ton of people looking for that perfect winter escape. Canmore was home to the Winter Olympic Games in 1988, and has been a vibrant community and popular destination for outdoor lovers ever since.
You could spend a week, a month, or years in Alberta and never get bored. It's home to some of the most beautiful places in the world, and if your whole trip was spent enjoying the views that Banff National Park offers, you wouldn't be disappointed. If being outdoorsy isn't your thing, there's still tons of attractions, events, restaurants, and so much more to explore. Find your travel buddy, grab your camera, and head out the door. Alberta is waiting!
In the Canadian Dream, it's our experiences that make us richer. That's why we're encouraging all Canadians to get out and experience everything that Canada has to offer. You don't have to go far. Incredible, engaging experiences are all around us, all you have to do is start exploring.