Summer is on its way out, but we still have some time to enjoy the long, warm days.
We live in a gorgeous province that is jammed full of awesome things to do and beautiful sights to see — all you need to do is get yourself out there.
Below is a list of things you have got to put on your summer to-do list before the season is out.
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Swim in a lake or river
Now you might think, “what good is this now, since summer is almost over?” Turns out, the best time for swimming in Alberta is from August to early September because that is when our waters have finally warmed up under the sun.
Here’s a list of lakes and rivers to check out and do just that.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park
About a two-hour drive from Calgary, Kinbrook Island Provincial Park is just south of Brooks and is on the shore of Lake Newell.
The park offers beautiful beach areas and is a great place to swim, canoe, or fish.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park also offers camping in the summer, offering powered sites for $33 per night and unserviced sites for $26.
Hours: Always open
An artificial lake in south Calgary within Fish Creek Provincial Park, Sikome Lake is a great place to have fun on a summer weekend.
The beach is beautiful and the water is great, though keep in mind that there is no lifeguard on duty.
Vending machines for food and drinks are available and if you’re lucky you might even be there on a day when food trucks make an appearance.
Hours: 10 am to 7 pm
Tickets: Adult day pass $5, Family day pass (two adults and children “living in the same residence”) $10
Sandy Beach Park
Along the Elbow River in Calgary’s southwest, Sandy Beach Park is home to picnic areas, fire pits, playground areas, washrooms, and of course, river access.
Despite the name, Sandy Beach Park is not sandy in the least. Still, the shallow and slow-moving part of the river that runs through the park makes it one of the best places to relax in the water in the entire city.
Hours: 5 am to 11 pm
Go on a hike
When it comes to hiking, Alberta has some of the best spots in the world.
There are the trails in the beautiful Rocky Mountains as well as countless breathtaking hikes on the prairie and in the badlands.
From Jasper to Dinosaur Provincial Park, there are more than enough hikes to fill every weekend left in the summer. Here are a few trail suggestions to put on the calendar this month.
Johnston Canyon, Banff
This hike is actually two different trails, one 1.2 kilometres, while the other is 2.4 kilometres.
It’s hugely popular due to a series of catwalks and a tunnel that brings hikers deep into the canyon itself.
The views are absolutely gorgeous and the sights of the beautiful waterfalls plunging into deep pools are more than worth the hike it takes to see them.
Tunnel Mountain, Banff
An easy and popular hike, Tunnel Mountain is well-maintained and affords you a fantastic view of the Banff townsite, Bow Valley, and Mount Rundle.
This hike generally takes 2 or 3 hours to complete and is about 4.5 kilometres long.
Plain of Six Glaciers, Banff
This one is more of a challenge than the first two, at 14 kilometres long and with an average completion time of seven hours.
The start of the trail is likely crowded since the trailhead is near Chateau Lake Louise, but the higher up you get, the fewer people you’ll run into.
Not only is the hike absolutely stunning, but there is a teahouse about five and a half kilometres up.
Although longer and more challenging than the previous two hikes, the Plain of Six Glaciers trail is considered a moderate hike and can be completed by people of average fitness.
Larch Valley, Banff
Another moderate hike, this seven-hour long, 12-kilometre hike rewards hikers with a meadow at the top of the pass, and views of the surrounding mountains.
Badlands Trail, Dinosaur Provincial Park
This one is nice and easy.
About one and a half kilometres long and with an average completion time of 30 minutes, this hike doubles as an interpretive trail.
As you walk along this hike you’ll find lots of signs providing information about the area, environment, and why the land is so rich in dinosaur bones.
Visit a new town
Alberta is home to lots of small towns that have their own attractions, events, and spots worth visiting this summer. Some are very near Calgary and you can spend the afternoon there before coming back, others are a whole day trip in themselves.
Just 18 kilometres south of Calgary, Okotoks is a great town to visit this summer.
The town’s namesake is the Okotoks Erratic, a huge rock pushed away from the Rocky Mountains by glaciers during the last Ice Age. The area around the glacier erratic is an interpretive trail with information about the glacier from a scientific standpoint as well as the First Nations cultural view.
Okotoks is also home to Sheep River Provincial Park, tons of gift and specialty shops, and stunning art galleries. There’s something for everyone in Okotoks, making it a great place to get away from the city.
With a population of just over 2,000, it’s very easy to overlook the Alberta small town about 75 kilometres south of Calgary.
It might be small, but this town a has a lot to offer visitors.
Between the Bomber Command Museum of Canada, the Museum of Miniatures, and a huge number of antique stores, Nanton has a lot to offer those who are curious about Alberta’s heritage and history.
A town of rich historical and cultural significance, Drumheller is the home to some of the best dinosaur fossils in the world.
The Royal Tyrrel Museum is the envy of the world when it comes to dinosaurs. Drumheller is also home to the World’s Largest Dinosaur, a 26 metre high fibreglass and steel Tyrannosaurus rex with a viewing area in the mouth.
It’s not just dinosaurs in Drumheller. The Atlas Coal Mine is a museum of a site that was active in the 1930s offering guided tours and a train ride.
The drive might be 135 kilometres, but it’s well worth the day trip.
Just 128 kilometres southeast of Calgary — halfway between Calgary and Lethbridge, basically — is the town of Vulcan.
Taking advantage of a naming coincidence, the town built a Star Trek-themed tourist station offering tourist information, Star Trek memorabilia, photo opportunities, and a chance to play a virtual reality game called The Vulcan Space Adventure.
Nearby is a replica of the Starship Enterprise on a pedestal with plaques written in English and various alien languages. There’s also space-themed murals and signs scattered around Vulcan.
Take a free fall adventure
Take the best parts of skydiving and bungee jumping and you end up with the WinSport Free Fall Adventure.
You stand on a platform 80 feet off the ground, you stop off and free fall for 36 feet before being slowed down by a magnetic braking component that gently lowers you to the ground.
This gives you the experience of skydiving with the rope and harness security of bungee jumping without all that uncontrollable bouncing around.
Where: 88 Canada Olympic Road SW
Hours: Monday to Friday, 12 pm to 7 pm. Saturday to Sunday, 10 am to 7 pm.
Tickets: 1 Jump, $24.99. 2 Jumps, $34.99
Go for a summer bobsled ride
The bobsleigh track made famous by Team Jamaica during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games is available for use in the summer.
An expert pilot guides a group of four through a track that hits speeds of 80 kilometres per hour and puts riders under the force of two G’s.
Where: 88 Canada Olympic Road SW
Hours: 11 am to 5 pm
Tickets: $74.99 per person
Ride North America’s fastest zipline
This trip isn’t just one biplane ride, it’s a whole hour of biplane adventures.
You start on a trainer line where you get a feel for the biplane and you’ll learn how to ride it. You then get driven across the park to the ski jump tower where you get to have the highest view available in Calgary before you zip down the fastest zipline in North America.
After that, you ride the Plaza biplane that takes you back down to the base.
Where: 88 Canada Olympic Road SW
Hours: Monday to Friday, 12 pm to 7 pm. Saturday to Sunday, 10 am to 7 pm
Tickets: $79.99 per person.
Visit Cobb’s Adventure Park
Rides and games are everywhere here, with activities including a kangaroo petting zoo, a climbing wall, archery tag, and black light mini golf.
Last but not least, there is a huge corn maze to navigate that makes the shape of a kangaroo.
Where: 1500 84 Street NE
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm
Tickets: General, $14. Kangaroo Kombo $18
Go for a ride at Calaway Park
Calgary’s very own theme park, Calaway Park, is home to 32 family-friendly rides, lots of games, and many delicious food options.
Paying for admission gets you unlimited access to the rides, live shows, stilt walkers, jugglers, and clowns. There’s also lots of free parking.
Where: 245033 Range Rd 33
Hours: 10 to 7 pm
So, Calgary…. what are you waiting for?