There are so many things to do in Alberta that it’s hard to know where to start. Alberta is one of the most family-friendly destinations in Canada thanks to its epic landscapes and activity-filled cities. Alberta is a bucket-list destination for families looking for an action-packed holiday. Come with us on a family tour as we explore the 10 best things to do in Alberta, Canada’s most family-friendly province.
Welcome to Alberta
Alberta Canada is home to the vibrant cities of Calgary and Edmonton and the towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. Boasting 5 National parks, snow-capped mountains, spectacular mountain lakes, rolling prairies and desert badlands, Alberta really is the ultimate adventure vacation.
Discover the mountain town charm of Banff
Your first port of call in Alberta should be the charming mountain town of Banff. With its historic charm, incredible landscapes and never-ending list of things to do, Banff is a perfect pit stop on your Alberta family tour. One of this town’s main attractions is the number of outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy here. Whether it’s hiking, horseback riding, biking or sightseeing, Banff’s National Park caters to all ages. You can even take a ride on the Banff Gondola for an unbeatable mountaintop view.
After all that, you’ll have worked up an appetite, so head to the restaurants on Banff Avenue where you can experience the town’s vibrant food scene. Try gravy-smothered poutine or a bison burger and a locally brewed beer from Banff’s local breweries and distilleries.
Tour the sparkling lakes
If there’s one thing Alberta has plenty of it’s lakes – over 600 to be precise. Lakes in Alberta are unlike those in other parts of Canada. Here the lakes are light blue-to-turquoise in colour and set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains – they’re also pretty cold since they’re fed by glaciers. Locals will tell you Alberta lakes are for doing things on, whether that be canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding.
But what lake should you visit? Lake Louise, the most famous lake in Canada, is set in Banff National Park and home to hiking and walking trails and canoeing. As beautiful as Lake Louise is famous, Moraine Lake is surrounded by sheer rock falls and is one of the best lakes for hiking – several hiking trails of various difficulty and lengths are available, and all give you incredible vantage points to admire the breathtaking beauty of Moraine Lake.
Other lakes to visit on your Alberta family tour include Maligne Lake in Jasper, where a boat tour will take you to the famous Spirit Island.
Explore the ice glaciers
Experiencing Alberta’s Glaciers is a must for any Alberta adventure. On the Icefield Parkway, known for being one of the most scenic drives on the planet, sits the majestic Athabasca Glacier. This unique experience allows you to step aboard an Ice Explorer to learn about glaciers and their impact on the environment. Take a sip of melting glacier water and admire the surrounding snowcapped panorama before continuing your journey.
When you do Alberta travel with Trafalgar, you can take your ice glacier experience to the next level – quite literally – when you take a helicopter tour over Mount Assiniboine. Fly over the top of the Athabasca Glacier in a truly unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Cameras at the ready!
Meet a real-life Hockey player
As the country’s favorite sport, it’s impossible to travel to Canada without experiencing the love that is felt for Canadian hockey. If you don’t manage to catch a game yourself, you’ll probably come across the huge community of hockey supporters cheering on their team, or witness the many ice rinks and outdoor arenas that Canadians use to practice their skating or shooting.
When you travel to Alberta with Trafalgar, you can meet a real-life hockey player. You’ll visit the town of Canmore where you’ll meet a real hockey coach, go inside the players’ dressing room, put on the hockey gear, and step out onto the ice to take a shot at scoring your own goal.
GET INSPIRED: Shoot your shot in Canmore on the Canada Rockies tour
Experience small-town heart in big-city Calgary
The largest city in Alberta, they say Calgary has small-town heart in big city bones. Still known locally by its long-held nickname of Cowtown, Calgary has its roots in rodeo and cowboy culture. Witness the Calgary Stampede every July where locals and tourists alike come together for a city-wide Western extravaganza dubbed ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’. There you’ll see rodeos, parades, music concerts, delicious food and more.
Calgary is an active city. It has beautiful parks (including the must-see Canada Olympic Park), a love of sports (hockey, lacrosse, and football), the enormous Calgary Zoo (home to over 270 species of animals) and a plethora of bars and restaurants. Believe us when we say you will not be stuck for things to do in Alberta when you visit Calgary.
GET INSPIRED: Experience the Calgary Stampede with Trafalgar
Walk with dinosaurs in the Canadian Badlands
If you’re enjoying an Alberta family tour, the one place you won’t want to miss is the Canadian Badlands – once home to dinosaurs and now home to Dinosaur Provincial Park. Located in the legendary badlands of South Eastern Alberta, the Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is vast in the volume of fossils and palaeontological treasures you can find here.
Some of the biggest dinosaur relics ever found have been uncovered at Dinosaur Provincial Park. You can explore the badlands yourself or take a guided tour – you can even do a real dig for fossils (be aware – there is a law against pocketing any fossils you find).
Also here is the Royal Tyrrell Museum which houses one of the world’s largest displays of full dinosaur skeletons, and the Pipestone Creek bonebeds, where hundreds of dinosaurs died. Literally awesome stuff.
Watch the Northern Lights
Alberta is home to some of the world’s best dark sky preserves (protected areas of the sky that make a commitment to eliminate light pollution and have no artificial light sources nearby), which means it’s one of the best places to watch the Northern Lights.
If you’re looking for things to do in Alberta in September through to mid-May, take a trip to Jasper National Park and watch the hypnotizing greens, reds, purples and yellows of the aurora borealis. Visit in October to catch the Jasper Dark Sky Festival where, in addition to the colourful night skies, you’ll get to enjoy a multitude of science and astronomy events, too.
Spot the mountain wildlife
One thing an Alberta family tour can give you in abundance is wildlife. The province’s five national parks are home to exactly 587 wildlife species and a sightseeing tour here gives you the opportunity to see grizzlies, black bears, bison, moose, wolves, lynx, and more. It’s an animal lover’s paradise – just make sure to bring your camera.
With 8.2 million hectares of protected space, these incredible animals have plenty of space to roam and you never know just how close you might get to them. Even a stroll through a mountain town could bring you face to face with a moose or herd of elk.
Eat local and try the Alberta beef
With so many things to do in Alberta, you’re going to work up one hell of an appetite. And the good thing is that it’s so easy – and incredibly tasty – to eat local here. The local delicacy is the Alberta beef and, as supporting local farmers and produce makers here is such a big deal, you’ll find locally sourced beef on menus everywhere in the shape of grilled steak, short ribs, and beef tartare or carpaccio.
Of course, there will be other delicious foods on the menu during your Alberta family tour, too. Bison is one of Alberta’s signature seven foods – look for it as burgers and tenderloin, or as a substitute to beef in French Bourguignon. Alberta is the fifth largest honey producer in the world so be sure to try the sweet stuff while you’re here, too. And while we’re talking of sweet foods, another must-try is the Saskatoon berry – little blue berries that are indigenous to Alberta and can be found in jams, butter tarts, pies and jellies. Yum!
Have you visited Alberta? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.