Alberta is a province rich in natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and exciting attractions. During the summer months, the region comes to life, offering countless opportunities for outdoor adventures and cultural experiences. From the majestic Rocky Mountains to the rolling prairies, Alberta has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best activities and attractions that make Alberta a summer wonderland for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
Fun things to do in Alberta in summer
- Explore Banff National Park
Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park, is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Alberta in the summer. Home to stunning turquoise lakes, rugged mountain peaks, and lush forests, the park offers endless opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and photography. Don’t miss iconic sites such as Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the picturesque town of Banff.
- Wander the Streets of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta’s largest city, is a vibrant urban center with plenty of attractions for visitors to enjoy. Stroll through the downtown area to discover public art installations, explore the historic Stephen Avenue, and sample local cuisine at one of the city’s many food trucks. Be sure to visit the Calgary Tower for panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape.
- Attend the Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede, held annually in July, is a world-renowned event celebrating Alberta’s western heritage. With ten days of rodeo competitions, live music, and carnival rides, the Stampede is a fun-filled experience for visitors of all ages. Don’t forget to sample some of the unique and delicious food offerings at the midway, such as deep-fried Oreos and poutine.
- Drive the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is a scenic highway that stretches 232 kilometers (144 miles) through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, connecting Banff and Jasper National Parks. The drive offers breathtaking views of towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and ancient glaciers. Be sure to stop at the Columbia Icefield, where you can take a guided tour onto the Athabasca Glacier.
- Discover the Beauty of Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park, located in the northern part of the Canadian Rockies, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With over 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of hiking trails, the park offers a wide range of treks for all skill levels. Popular attractions include Maligne Lake, Mount Edith Cavell, and the Miette Hot Springs, where you can soak in the naturally heated mineral pools.
- Visit Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum
Drumheller, also known as the “Dinosaur Capital of the World,” is a unique destination that transports visitors back in time to the prehistoric era. The Royal Tyrrell Museum, located in the heart of the Alberta Badlands, houses one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils and offers interactive exhibits for all ages. Don’t miss the chance to explore the surrounding badlands landscape, where you can hike through hoodoos and even uncover your own fossils.
- Experience the Edmonton Fringe Festival
The Edmonton Fringe Festival, held annually in August, is the largest and oldest fringe theatre festival in North America. With more than 1,600 performances over 11 days, the festival offers a diverse range of theatre experiences, from comedy to drama and everything in between. In addition to the ticketed shows, there are numerous free outdoor performances, street performers, and food vendors to enjoy.
- Take a Scenic Float Down the Bow River
Floating down the Bow River is a popular summer activity in both Calgary and Canmore, offering a leisurely and scenic way to experience the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Rent a raft, kayak, or canoe, and spend an afternoon drifting along the gentle river currents, taking in the stunning mountain views and spotting local wildlife along the way. This relaxing activity is perfect for families and groups, as well as solo travelers looking for a peaceful retreat.
- Explore Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park, located just east of Edmonton, is a pristine natural sanctuary and an important refuge for bison, elk, and more than 250 bird species. The park offers a range of activities, including hiking, wildlife watching, and stargazing. In the summer, you can also rent canoes or kayaks to explore the park’s many lakes and waterways.
- Attend the GlobalFest International Fireworks Festival
The GlobalFest International Fireworks Festival is an annual event held in Calgary that celebrates multiculturalism and artistic excellence. The festival features nightly fireworks displays choreographed to music, as well as live performances, food vendors, and cultural pavilions representing countries from around the world. The event takes place over several days in August, making it a perfect addition to any summer itinerary.
- Cycle the Highwood Pass
The Highwood Pass, located in Kananaskis Country, is the highest paved road in Canada, reaching an elevation of 2,206 meters (7,238 feet). The pass is a popular destination for road cyclists, offering challenging climbs and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The road is closed to motor vehicles from December to June, making the summer months the ideal time to tackle this epic ride.
- Relax at Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake, located just west of Red Deer, is a popular summer destination for Albertans and visitors alike. The picturesque lake offers a range of water-based activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. The town of Sylvan Lake features a beautiful waterfront promenade, as well as shops, restaurants, and an amusement park, ensuring a fun-filled day for the whole family.
- Experience Lethbridge’s Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The beautifully landscaped garden features traditional Japanese architecture, stone lanterns, and a peaceful pond teeming with koi fish. Guided tours and cultural events, such as tea ceremonies and taiko drumming performances, provide an immersive experience in Japanese culture and traditions.
- Take a Scenic Flightseeing Tour
For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a flightseeing tour over Alberta’s diverse landscapes. Several companies offer helicopter or small airplane tours that provide bird’s-eye views of the Canadian Rockies, the Alberta Badlands, or the sprawling prairies. While this activity may be more costly than others on this list, it is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you with lasting memories.
Alberta is a veritable playground for summer adventures, with activities and attractions to suit every taste and interest. From the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the national parks to the vibrant cultural events and festivals, there is no shortage of fun and excitement to be had in this diverse province. So pack your bags, gather your friends and family, and get ready to discover the best that Alberta has to offer during the sun-soaked summer months!
“Proud thinker. Tv fanatic. Communicator. Evil student. Food junkie. Passionate coffee geek. Award-winning alcohol advocate.”