Road tripping from residence

Isabella Ng - 17 May 2021

Good weather is right around the corner, despite all the turbulence we’ve had recently—seriously, sun, rain, snow, hail, then sun again? Alberta, please make up your mind!

Summer vacation is the perfect time for a spontaneous road trip or discovering someplace new. Whether you’re looking for a solo or group trip, a day trip or a week-long getaway, look no further! I, a native Albertan, will highlight some of the best places in Alberta, from nature spots, to restaurants, and accomodation. I’ve also asked a few friends for some personalized and legit recommendations.

Even better, you can travel to these places and back to campus in a day, if you want to. So sit down with a planner and enjoy a collection of my own photos and places! Remember to follow provincial COVID-19 guidelines while traveling.


Waterton Lakes National Park

550 km from campus (5.5 hours by car)

If you have the time and capacity, Waterton Lakes National Park is so worth the drive! Located right near the Alberta-Montana border, the park has so much to offer for all levels of activity. Try out some horseback riding, paddleboarding, golfing, kayaking and more.

If you’re looking for some more leisurely activities, why not visit the local spas, theatres, and restaurants? There’s also tons of culture and Canadian history to take in—just have a look around! Another cool thing to check out is the Waterton Lake boat tour that takes you through the mountains and across the border into the US, too!

Canmore & Kananaskis

380 km from campus (4 hours by car)

Walk along the beautiful streets of Canmore and Kananaskis for a clear view of the Rockies. If art is your thing, why not visit Crock a Doodle for an authentic in-studio paint experience in Canmore? Currently, capacity is restricted but you’re still able to paint pieces then have them professionally glazed and kiln-fired into a keepsake that you can treasure forever! If you’re planning a day-trip, they also have take-home pottery kits available!

Another thing to put on your to-do list is the High Rockies Trail, which runs from Goat Creek in Banff to Elk Pass on the Alberta-British Columbia border. The scenery is gorgeous, going through forests, lakesides, and flower fields.

Pro tip: Look up where trail access points are and plan your day accordingly so you’re prepared, Once you’re finished, make sure to stop at Old School Bus Ice Cream a refreshing, cold treat!

Sylvan Lake

160 km from campus (2 hours by car)

One of my favourite spots in Alberta is Sylvan Lake, a cute little lakeside town just a couple hours outside of Edmonton. You can swim or boat in the lake, enjoy the refreshing view by the lakeside, or stroll along the quaint community. While you’re there, you have to check out The Big Moo, famous for their ice cream that comes in cones, sandwiches, sundaes and more! After that, kick up your feet in a room at the Chateau Suites with a gorgeous view of the waterfront.

Jasper National Park

367 km from campus (4 hours by car)

Enjoy Jasper, a park with an abundance of mountains, glacier lakes, and vast forests. One friend of mine shared that a refreshing swim in Lake Annette is a summer necessity, as well as kayaking on Maligne Canyon.

If you’re up for a long, scenic ride through the Rockies, take up the challenge of biking the Jasper to Banff highway (about a 16 hour ride). It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime must for avid bikers!


400 km from campus (4 hours by car)

A popular student destination, Banff National Park is teeming with beautiful scenery and ways to stay active this summer! A must-see is Lake Louise, famous for its beautiful views, hiking trails (like the famous Tea House Hike), and paddling experiences.

If you’re looking to stay overnight in luxury, try the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. For a more authentic mountain experience, check out Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. While in Banff, you MUST try out Beaver Tails, a Canadian staple.

Another cool activity to take advantage of are the heli-hikes—a helicopter ride for the best views that drops you off in the alpine to trek through some secluded wilderness!


280 km from campus (3 hours by car)

If you’re a fan of dinosaurs, the town of Drumheller is perfect for you! It’s known as the dinosaur capital of the world, and rightfully so—just check out Royal Tyrrell Museum (once it opens again) or take a picture from inside the mouth of the World’s Largest Dinosaur (86 feet high!). You can also explore the hoodoos and old coal mines outside!


300 km from campus (3 hours by car)

Located in west-central Alberta just north of Banff is Nordegg, home to one of the oldest golf courses in Alberta. You can also visit Abraham Lake for a serene fishing experience or hunt in some world-class terrain. Additionally, one of the most beautiful views in Alberta, Crescent Falls, lies just 27 km outside Nordegg. It’s just a beginner’s hike away, too!

Red Deer

150 km from campus (1.3 hours by car)

Located on the way from Edmonton to Calgary, Red Deer is another place you have to stop at. If you’re a sushi lover, make sure to grab a bite at Shiso Sushi—I’ve stopped there every time I visit the city! You’ll probably also stop in Gasoline Alley on Highway 2 where you can try milkshakes from Peter’s Drive-In or donuts from the Donut Mill. (Why not both?)


300 km from campus (3 hours by car)

Besides being the city with the highest population in Alberta, Calgary so much food to offer. For all of my ice cream lovers, Village Ice Cream is the place to go, with tons of original flavours and a great atmosphere! As well, if you love the milkshakes from Peter’s Drive-In in Edmonton or Red Deer, you have to try the original spot in Calgary. If you’ve seen those mochi donuts popular on Instagram, look no further than Amaido Cafe in Southeast Calgary.

Looking for more adventure? Check out the downhill go-karting at Calgary Olympic Park (if COVID allows) or Chestermere Lake (just east of the city) for your fishing, boating, and swimming needs!

If you want a great photo-op in the city, check out the Devonian Gardens in the CORE Shopping Centre or the view from the top of the Calgary Tower, both located in right downtown. Lastly, don’t miss out on the drive-in movies at the TELUS Spark Science Centre starting in May!


37 km from campus (30 minutes by car)

Just a little ways out of Edmonton, Devon is home to the beautiful University of Alberta Botanic Garden! It’s a great photo op and also an excuse to spend some time outside and take in one of the four gardens! They have reduced admission rates for students ($9.50) as well as regular events like yoga and dog days throughout the summer. Last year, they offered free admission towards the end of fall so keep your eyes open for that, especially if the weather is nice! While in Devon, make sure to check out Frickin’ Delights Donuts for some colourful, tasty pastries!


0 km from campus

There’s tons to see in Alberta’s capital city if you want to stay local or don’t have a car of your own. Take a ride on those electric scooters you see everywhere and zip down to Whyte Ave! The fun doesn’t end there though! Travel a little further down 82 Ave then to Ritchie to try my favourite ice cream shop: Kind Ice Cream! If coffee and donuts are more of your thing, check out Doughnut Party and Transcend Coffee right across the street!

If you’re looking to learn something, try out the TELUS World of Science by Coronation Park. Currently, they aren’t able to welcome guests back but hopefully it’ll open up in the summer, just in time for their new Expedition: Dinosaur exhibit!