We love YYC, but when you live here, planning a full day of excitement can be a little tough. Sometimes, you just want to get out there for a few hours and see or do something different! We hope you’ve got a killer playlist, folks because we’re taking a drive! Fuel up and grab some road snacks. Here are the 14 best and most unique day trips you can take from Calgary.
Note: Remember to take precautions and check these spots beforehand to know of proper COVID regulations and practices in the area.
Sylvan Lake has all the makings for a perfect day trip if you’re legitimately looking for a day in a lake town. This popular summer spot is only an hour and a half outside of Calgary. Here you can take a dip or relax in the sun on the beach, grab a bite to eat, browse quaint little shops, hit their iconic ice cream shop, and still be home before dinner!
Where: 5012 48 Avenue Sylvan Lake, Alberta
Distance from Calgary: 159.5 km
Play paleontologist for a day during one of our favourite Calgary day trips! The valley of Drumheller is best known for its Royal Tyrrell Museum, where you can come face to skull with dinosaurs found after over 200 million years and even take a guided hike through the badlands to search for fossils. But that’s not all! The town itself has really run with the whole dino theme, which is really cool. In fact, they have the largest dinosaur in the world! Here, among the cacti and sedimentary rock, it’ll be easy to forget that you’re in Alberta – and to us, that’s a day trip well done.
Where: Directions here
Distance from Calgary: 135.2 km
Love dogs and have a day to spare? We know you do. Have an interactive cuddly afternoon with the biggest and most beautiful breed of pup at the Yamnuska Sanctuary. Get up close and personal with a pack of wolves, listen, learn and tour the sanctuary with an expert guide.
Where: 263156 Range Road 53 Cochrane, Alberta
Distance from Calgary: 50.0 km
What’s up adventure seekers. Hidden in the Alberta Badlands day-trippers will find the unoccupied town of Wayne, Alberta. Delve deep into old mines, check out the Last Chance Saloon – a snapshot of the old west; wander the old hotel and explore the untouched artifacts and buildings left behind by a once-thriving community.
Where: 555 Jewel Street. Rosedale Station, AB
Distance from Calgary: 147.3 km
Like Sylvan, the quaint Town of Nanton has a ton to offer. There’s a really good chance you’ve seen already seen photos of the Paradise Hill sunflower field, and with good reason, but there’s also an incredible, historic, candy shop, a flight museum, train museum and a miniature museum. They also have a beautiful lake, restaurants and beautiful gardens.
Where:1907 21 Avenue P.O. Box 609, Nanton, Alberta
Distance from Calgary: 92.1 km
Kananaskis has something for everyone, and we mean everyone. Need a day away to unwind? Spend a day at the Nordic Spa, picnicking and sightseeing, or hiking. The fresh air will go straight to your head, the sun will warm your skin, and the mems will be one for the books. If you’re more of an adrenaline junky, they also have an incredible heli-tour, an anxiety-inducing cave tour, and a ton of places to go rock climbing. If you’re looking to eat your way through the day, check out one of their many restaurants.
Where: 1 Centennial Dr, Kananaskis
Distance from Calgary: 75.1 km
Ride horseback through Canada’s Rockies, white water raft through rushing mounting rivers, take a wagon ride and get your heart pumping on their ropes course. Rafter Six Ranch will fill your entire day with unique activities and beautiful views.
Where: Rafter Six Ranch, Exshaw, AB
Distance from Calgary: 78.8 km
This unique-to-Alberta experience might give you a case of the spookies. Overlooking Canada’s deadliest rockslide, this interpretive centre makes for an incredibly eye-opening day trip. Learn why, when, and how half of a town and its residents got trapped under hundreds of thousands of rocks, in one of the country’s worst accidents.
When: AB-3, Crowsnest Pass, AB
Distance from Calgary: 217 km
Thanks to the incredible preservation efforts of this 6,000-year-old site, visitors can now see the incredible landscape, wander the exhibits and learn about the cultural significance of Alberta’s Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump to the Plains People. Unfortunately, this is still temporarily closed, so you may have to wait until next summer to hit it up.
Where: 18 km NW of Fort Macleod on Highway 785, Fort Macleod, Alberta
Distance from Calgary: 184 km
This is an Alberta must-visit. On this one-of-a-kind adventure, visitors can walk along an actual glacier, and feel and drink fresh mountain water. Grab a bite to eat, then finish the day with a strut, or a crawl (we don’t judge) across a glass-bottom skywalk on the edge of the cliff and you’ve just had the perfect day trip!
Where: Highway 93, Icefields Pkwy, Improvement District No. 12, AB
Distance from Calgary: 310 km
Running along the Red Deer River, Ya Ha Tinda Ranch is the only federally operated horse ranch in the country. There are around a dozen trails leading from the ranch, but our favourites lead to Hidden Falls and the Scalp Creek Waterslides. Trail riding AND natural waterslides?? It doesn’t get much better than that.
Where: Clearwater County
Distance from Calgary: 182 km
Okay, it’s impossible for us not to mention this incredibly unique spot. Sitting out in Torrington, Alberta is the World Famous Gopher Hole Museum. What’s there? Well, exactly what it sounds like. There are nearly 50 scenes set up featuring stuffed gophers doing very human things like barbecuing, getting married, and more.
Where: 208 1 St SW, Torrington
Distance from Calgary: 119 km
What better way to cool off from the hot Alberta sun with a day spent at a swimming hole? And trust us, folks, there are some gorgeous hidden gems out there. Johnson Lake and Quarry Lake both have some ridiculously gorgeous spots but hit this link to find even more awesome swimming holes near Calgary.
Where: Various Locations
Alright, so this is a bonus because it is unfortunately closed until the 2021 season. That being said, absolutely keep this on your list if you’re looking for weird and wonderful stuff to find in Alberta. This collection of cursed-looking objects is a collaborative project by curators Brendan Griebel and Jude Griebel. Comprised of what they describe as ’emotionally complicated artifacts’ the exhibit speaks directly to the complexities and harsh realities of the human experience.
Where: Outside of Bergen, Alberta
Distance from Calgary: 106 km
There you have it, friends. Our picks for the most unique day trips you can take from Calgary. Where will you be heading first?!