The summer months are the perfect time to get outta town. If you’re itching to hit the road, there are plenty of incredible places right here in Alberta to visit with your family, and all of the ones in this list are less than three hours away from Calgary!
Whether you’re looking for a day trip or want to escape the city for a while, we’ve got 11 unique Alberta road trips to take from Calgary with your family.
Big Hill Springs Provincial Park
Cochrane, AB (55 km from Calgary)
For a scenic, family-friendly hike that’s close to town, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park is a great place to visit. With shallow creeks, a little waterfall, lots of trees and picnic tables to rest at, it’s a perfect, easy place to visit for a day trip (or even just an afternoon)!
(80 km from Calgary)
Once your kids hear the words “The Candy Store in Nanton”, they won’t want to go anywhere else. The nostalgic store, filled with thousands of candies, delicious ice cream and antiques and collectables is sure to be a highlight, but it’s not the only thing that Nanton has to offer. The Grain Elevator Discovery Centre and The Bomber Command Museum and Visitor Information Centre are also fun to check out (don’t miss the World War II Lancaster Bomber, which is one of only a few left in the world). Every weekend during the summer, Nanton hosts a Nite Rodeo which is only $5 per car or $2 per person (kids under 12 are free). There’s also the Nanton Lion’s Campground, located along Mosquito Creek.
Little Bow Provincial Park
Champion, AB (153 km from Calgary)
After you’re finished visiting Nanton, head out a little further and make a stop at Little Bow Provincial Park, where you can camp, swim, sail or surf in the reservoir, or enjoy other activities on the water like canoeing, water skiing and fishing. There’s also a floating dock in the water that’s tons of fun to jump off of.
Kananaskis, AB (110 km from Calgary)
What could be cuter than a family-friendly hike with Troll Dolls hiding throughout the forest? Kids will love hunting for little friends along the way, and everyone in the family will enjoy dipping their toes into the pools at the bottom of the waterfall at the top. Parents with young kids have said that this is a perfect hike for families, and bringing a stroller on the hike to the lower falls is totally doable.
The Gopher Hole Museum
Torrington, AB (137 km from Calgary)
Sure, you can see gophers in just about any part of Calgary with a little bit of open prairie, but are they wearing cowboy hats and driving covered wagons suits or playing trumpets? The Torrington Gopher Hole Museum is dedicated totally to silly dioramas of stuffed gophers doing all kinds of activities that people like to do. Admission is only $2.00 per person over 14 (anyone under 14 is $0.50) and the museum is open from 10 am – 5 pm every day between June 1 and September 30.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum
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Drumheller, AB (153 km from Calgary)
Since kids (and adults, if we’re being honest) tend to be fascinated by the prehistoric world of dinosaurs, exploring this incredibly popular dino museum is sure to be a hit with everyone in the family. Visit the skeleton of our very own Albertosaurus, in addition to tons of other incredible fossils from different species of dinosaurs. Take a hike to hunt for fossils and go on a dinosaur dig, cast your very own fossil, visit with scientists, explore the badlands and more! Admission for kids 6 and under is free; youth 7-17 are $10, adults are $19, and seniors are $14.
*If your family loves exploring Alberta’s historical sites, you might want to consider purchasing an Alberta History Annual Pass (alberta.ca). This gets you and your family into a variety of sites in Alberta including Frank Slide, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Leitch Collieries, Royal Tyrrell Museum and more. Prices for this pass are $50 for adults, $40 for seniors, $30 for youth, or $120 for a family pass.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
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Fort MacLeod, AB (172 km from Calgary)
The United Nations have named Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump as a World Heritage Site due to its important cultural and historical significance as it preserves and interprets over 6.000 years of Plains Buffalo culture. Take part in one of the drop-in public programs throughout the day, where you can hear stories of how the Plains peoples used the drive lanes to hunt buffalo in the past. Don’t forget to visit the 5 levels of indoor exhibits filled with information about buffalo hunting, archeology, the creation story, and more! Admission for children under 6 is free, youth aged 7-17 are $10, adults are $15, and seniors are $13.
(188 km from Calgary)
If you’re visiting Drumheller (or even if you aren’t), make a stop in Rowley, Alberta, a self-proclaimed ghost town (although 8 people currently live there). On the last Saturday of the month, the town hosts pizza night with live music, and during the rest of the month, visitors are welcome to explore the old buildings and take free guided tours. It’s also the perfect place to get some unique family photos.
Crowsnest Pass, AB (196 km from Calgary)
After visiting with my family a kid, I was totally mesmerized by the story of Frank Slide and the myth of the baby girl who survived Canada’s most deadly rockslide. As an adult, I’ve learned that over 90 of the 600 residents were killed by this terrible natural disaster (so there was definitely more than one survivor), but the history and visits to the site are still just as captivating. While you can stop to see the rubble covering what was once a large part of the town of Frank for free, there is also an Interpretive Centre that’s well worth a visit. The Interpretive Centre is open daily from 9 am – 6 pm and costs $9 for youth 7-17, $13 for adults 18-64, and $11 for seniors 65 and older. Kids under 6 are free. Be sure to stop and visit the Leitch Collieries (the ruins of an early 1900s coal mining company) on the way!
Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Park, AB (260 km from Calgary)
If crystal clear lakes, sparkling waterfalls and a gorgeous mountain backdrop are your cup of tea, then a trip to Waterton definitely needs to be added to your summer to-do list. While you’re there, get a photo in one of the five sets of Adirondack Chairs located at 5 different scenic spots in the park, go for a hike on over 200 km of trails, check out the interpretive programs (including guided walks, street theatre, Blackfoot drumming and dancing, interactive yoga, fishing, Blackfoot storytelling, and more) and set up camp to give yourself time to do it all!
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Milk River, AB (327 km from Calgary)
Earlier this month, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park was designated as Alberta’s 6th UNESCO World Heritage Site (and the 20th in Canada). This breathtaking park filled with hoodoos contains thousands of rock carvings and paintings made by Canada’s early Indigenous peoples. Each day, visitors can enjoy various one-hour, free shows which include storytelling, drumming, dancing, games, activities and wildlife presentations. Visitors to the park can set up their own tent or RV or enjoy “Comfort Camping” in one of the park’s canvas wall tents (although reservations for these are almost full for this summer, consider booking for next year!)
Will you and your family visit one of the spots on our list (or do you have one that’s already your favourite?) Do you have another road trip destination that should have made the list? We’d love to hear them in the comments!