Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is a bustling city known for its vibrant arts scene, sprawling river valley, and rich cultural history. However, for those looking to escape the city and explore the surrounding areas, there is no shortage of fantastic weekend getaways within a few hours’ drive. In this article, we’ll introduce the top 10 weekend getaways from Edmonton, offering a diverse range of experiences, from natural wonders and outdoor adventures to cultural attractions and relaxing retreats.
Weekend getaways from Edmonton in 2023
1. Jasper National Park, Alberta
Approximately a 3.5-hour drive from Edmonton, Jasper National Park is the perfect weekend getaway for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. As part of the Canadian Rockies, the park boasts breathtaking mountain scenery, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife. Highlights include Maligne Lake, Athabasca Falls, and the scenic Icefields Parkway. Outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing are popular among visitors, and the charming town of Jasper offers a variety of dining and accommodation options.
2. Drumheller, Alberta
Located about a 3-hour drive southeast of Edmonton, Drumheller is a unique destination known for its striking badlands landscape and rich dinosaur history. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, where you can learn about the region’s prehistoric past and view one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils. Explore the Hoodoo Trail, wander through the Horsethief Canyon, or climb the World’s Largest Dinosaur for a panoramic view of the town. Drumheller offers a fascinating getaway for families and history buffs alike.
3. Canmore, Alberta
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is a picturesque mountain town located about a 4-hour drive from Edmonton. Surrounded by stunning peaks and pristine wilderness, Canmore offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. Visit the Canmore Nordic Centre for cross-country skiing or mountain biking trails, or explore the nearby Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. The charming downtown area features a variety of restaurants, shops, and galleries for visitors to enjoy.
4. Calgary, Alberta
Just a 3-hour drive south of Edmonton, Calgary is a vibrant city with a rich western heritage and a thriving arts and culture scene. Visit the famous Calgary Stampede in July, explore the Glenbow Museum, or take a trip up the Calgary Tower for panoramic city views. Families will love the Calgary Zoo, TELUS Spark Science Centre, and Heritage Park Historical Village. Calgary also serves as a gateway to the Canadian Rockies, making it a convenient base for further exploration.
5. Elk Island National Park, Alberta
Located just a 45-minute drive east of Edmonton, Elk Island National Park offers a peaceful retreat from city life. As a conservation area for plains bison, elk, and moose, the park provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Enjoy a scenic hike through aspen woodlands, paddle the Astotin Lake, or stargaze in this designated Dark Sky Preserve. With a variety of camping and picnic facilities, Elk Island National Park is perfect for a relaxing weekend escape.
6. Sylvan Lake, Alberta
Sylvan Lake, situated about a 1.5-hour drive south of Edmonton, is a popular summer destination for its beautiful lake, sandy beaches, and family-friendly activities. Spend the weekend swimming, boating, or lounging on the beach, or visit the nearby Jarvis Bay Provincial Park for hiking and picnicking. The town of Sylvan Lake offers a variety of restaurants, shops, and accommodations, as well as attractions like the Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash water park and the Lakeside Go-Karts and Mini-Golf.
7. Whitecourt, Alberta
Whitecourt, located about a 2-hour drive northwest of Edmonton, is a great weekend getaway for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Known as the “Snowmobile Capital of Alberta,” Whitecourt offers a variety of recreational activities year-round, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and snowmobiling. Visit the nearby Hard Luck Canyon, explore the Whitecourt River Slides, or take a scenic walk along the Whitecourt Rotary Park trails. The town also features a variety of restaurants, accommodations, and amenities to suit your needs.
8. Cold Lake, Alberta
Cold Lake, approximately a 3-hour drive northeast of Edmonton, is a picturesque destination offering a variety of outdoor activities and stunning lake views. Known for its clear blue waters and sandy beaches, Cold Lake is an ideal spot for swimming, fishing, and boating. Visit Kinosoo Beach, hike the Cold Lake Provincial Park trails, or take a scenic drive along the lakeshore. The town of Cold Lake offers a range of dining and accommodation options, making it a great weekend escape for relaxation and outdoor adventure.
9. Camrose, Alberta
Just over an hour’s drive southeast of Edmonton, Camrose is a charming small city with a rich history and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Visit the Camrose and District Centennial Museum, take in a show at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, or explore the historic downtown area’s unique shops and restaurants. The nearby Camrose County Nature Conservation Centre offers a peaceful retreat for birdwatching, hiking, and picnicking, making Camrose an appealing weekend getaway for those seeking a mix of culture and relaxation.
10. Red Deer, Alberta
Located about halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, Red Deer is an ideal weekend getaway for families and outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s extensive park system, including the Waskasoo Park and the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, provides plenty of opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Visit the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, the Sunnybrook Farm Museum, or enjoy a round of golf at one of the city’s many courses. With its variety of attractions, Red Deer offers a balanced mix of outdoor activities and urban amenities for a refreshing weekend escape.
The area surrounding Edmonton is brimming with weekend getaways, offering a diverse range of experiences for all tastes and interests. From exploring the majestic Canadian Rockies to relaxing in picturesque lakeside towns, the options are endless. The top 10 weekend getaways listed in this article provide a well-rounded selection of destinations, ensuring the perfect escape for those looking to recharge and experience the beauty and culture of Alberta and beyond.
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