How To Plan An Awesome Road Trip In Alberta, Canada

Photo: Djordje Petrovic - Pexels

Last Updated on October 27, 2021

Road trips have always been a popular activity, but they saw a significant increase in 2021. Harvest Hosts surveyed thousands of respondents who reported planning on traveling more than ever before. However, a major difference in this year’s survey is that travelers’ priorities are shifting – instead of flights, they’re turning to road trips as their primary way to take a vacation.

There are many places to take a road trip, but one of the top spots is Alberta, Canada. Great for long or short trips, Alberta offers a little something for everyone. From two large vibrant cities to spectacular Rocky Mountain national parks, you can loop through the province in just about a week and see the major highlights.

Prepping For Your Trip

Before leaving, make sure that you pack plenty of snacks and water for the trip as some of the landmarks may be spread out. For any road trip, check the car out to avoid any breakdowns. Oil and other essentials like car transmission can be checked by a mechanic before you leave. You may also want to check the weather and road conditions to ensure a smooth and safe time on the road. Don’t forget to pack a first-aid kit and tools so that you’re prepared to deal with any emergency during your road trip. 

Start Your Trip With A Visit To The Calgary Tower

Although adventurous travelers can start and end their trip wherever they prefer, Calgary is a great spot to start the trip. A beautiful city, start off the trip with a view from the Calgary Tower and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. For now, this popular tourist destination only sells tickets for specific time slots, so make sure to purchase your tickets a few days before your visit. You should also wear a mask as it’s required indoors at all times. 

Once you’re at the Observation Deck, make sure to take lots of pictures and enjoy the view of the city and the Rocky Mountains. If you start feeling a bit peckish, head to the Sky 360 restaurant, which revolves once per hour so you get a gorgeous view of the whole city while enjoying innovative and delicious dishes. Feast on their small plates such as Foie Gras Parfait, Aged Cheddar, and Black Truffle Fondue, or Chickpea Fries with a glass of wine. For something a little more filling, make your way down to the 2nd floor and visit Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Order their Prime Time Menu and get a Caesar salad or lobster bisque as your starter, then have a Petit Filet, Ribeye Steak, Barbecue Shrimp, or Garlic Crusted Sea Bass for your entree. Before leaving, stop by the Calgary Tower gift shop for memorabilia and keepsakes.

Make Your Way Around The City

Calgary has a lot of tourist attractions and it’s the perfect place for any road-tripper who’s seeking entertainment. Make sure to get some history in at the Heritage Park Historical Village, where you’ll see what a typical village looks like during the pioneering period. Check out all the exhibits and buildings, and ride the steam engine to get around the park. 

Next, head on over to Prince’s Island Park, which is located on an island in the Bow River. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs after being in a car for hours, and here, you can go walking or biking within the 50-acre green space, or just bask in the natural beauty of the park while having a picnic on the grounds. If you happen to visit Calgary during the summer months, you may be able to watch an outdoor concert or a theatrical performance here. 

Meanwhile, if you want to do a bit of shopping, check out the Eau Claire Market, which is just a few steps away from Prince’s Island Park. Make your way through the stalls selling gifts and specialty merchandise, apparel and accessories, and food and drinks, among others. The market also holds various events that range from music festivals, art exhibits, marathons, night markets, swap meets, and family fun days, so make sure to check their schedule online if you want to watch or participate in any of their events. Once you’ve got your fill of the city, it’s time to head out on the open road. 

West Edmonton Mall

Get Closer To Nature In Alberta

Alberta has a wealth of natural sceneries and destinations where you can get closer to nature. Calgary is in the southern area of the province, so consider heading east to look at the Canadian Badlands, a region known for its dinosaur fossils and fascinating rock formations. After you’ve explored this wilderness, it’s not too much farther to Edmonton, another fun city. You can enjoy the conservatory and art gallery, visit the West Edmonton Mall, and check out the Edmonton Ice Castles before hitting the open road again. 

Next, drive on over to Miette Hot Springs, which is a popular destination with its glacier-fed lake and hot springs. If you’re planning to take a dip in the hot springs, make sure to visit on May 2022 as that’s when the site will be reopened to the public. This attraction is known to be a family-friendly place, making it ideal for those who are road tripping with young children. Once you’re there, consider spending a night to truly soak in all that it has to offer. 

Banff Hot Springs

End Your Trip In Banff

Once you’re done exploring the hot springs, drive to Banff, which is a resort town within the Banff National Park. Spend a day at the park to see local wildlife such as wolves, black bears, and elk, then go paddling at Lake Louise. Next, head into the town of Banff and enjoy a concert or lecture at the modern Banff Centre. You may also want to visit the charming little shops within the area to pick up last-minute souvenirs and gifts. Finish out the trip by riding up Sulfur Mountain or enjoying the hot springs. From there it’s only a short trip back to Calgary.

In all of these areas, you’ll find a wide range of activities to spend as much or as little time as you want in Alberta. Regardless of your time frame though, your road trip will be full of art, culture, nature, and overall fun.