10 must-visit day trip destinations near Calgary

Jul 26 2021, 1:35 pm

COVID-19 continues to present a risk to public health. While restrictions have been lifted across Alberta, it is recommended to continue practicing health and safety measures, including frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask on public transit, at City facilities, and in healthcare settings, and staying home if you are sick.

Sometimes you want to take a road trip and check out some new sights, but still sleep in your own bed at the end of the night surrounded by the comforts of home. Luckily, that’s easy to do when you live in Calgary, with tons of unique day trip destinations, cool little towns, and fun attractions within a couple of hours of the city.

From dinosaur bones, epic donuts, and a gopher museum to a historic working ranch, local distillery, and a stunning waterfall, there are a number of road trip hot spots in Alberta that you’re going to want to visit.

Here are 10 must-visit day trip destinations outside of Calgary that won’t disappoint.

World Famous Gopher Hole Museum

This weird and wonderful museum in Torrington depicts stuffed gophers dressed as humans in various scenes and activities. The World Famous Gopher Hole Museum has been displaying these creatures since 1996 and is perfect for some unique content for the ‘gram – we’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s cute or creepy (or a bit of both).

Distance from Calgary: 115 km (approximately a one hour and 10-minute drive)

Address: 208 1st Street SW, Torrington, Alberta
Phone: 403-631-2133
Cost: By donation

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Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site

Learn about Blackfoot culture at this UNESCO World Heritage Site near Fort MacLeod, where Indigenous peoples used to hunt buffalo by running them off cliffs in the Alberta foothills. A museum and interpretive centre allows for learning about history in a fun way, and visitors can also explore the surrounding grounds, offering stunning views.

Afterwards, pay a visit to the town of Fort MacLeod, where you can explore the NWMP Fort Museum, Empress Theatre, a charming main street, and a 9-hole golf course that was the first to be built between Winnipeg and the west coast.

Distance from Calgary: 182 km (approximately a one hour and 45-minute drive)

Address: Secondary Highway #785, Fort MacLeod, Alberta
Phone: 403-553-2731
Cost: $15 for adults

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Aspen Crossing

 

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Aspen Crossing celebrates the beauty and history of the Alberta prairies and the railway. The destination offers train excursions, including a speakeasy, wine and cheese rides, twilight tours, champagne brunches, and others, along with opportunities to explore the venue’s stunning grounds. There are also a number of dining options, and, if you’re up for it, you can even book an overnight stay in a caboose cabin!

Distance from Calgary: 89 km (approximately a 55-minute drive)

Address: Alberta Highway 24, Mossleigh, Alberta
Phone: 403-534-2129
Cost: Train excursions from $99, with separate pricing for dining and accommodation options

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Big Rock – Okotoks Erratic

 

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Check out this glacial erratic, aptly named the “Big Rock,” which seems to rise out of nowhere in the middle of the Alberta prairies. While you’re in the area, pay a visit to the towns of Okotoks and High River for boutique shopping and awesome local eateries, filming locations for the TV show Heartland, and tons of parks and trails to explore.

Distance from Calgary: 54 km (approximately a 40-minute drive)

Address: Alberta Highway 7, Black Diamond, Alberta
Cost: Free

Dinosaur Provincial Park

 

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Not to be confused with Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park is about an hour and 40-minute drive from Alberta’s other well-known dinosaur hotspot. In Dinosaur Provincial Park, visitors can explore the otherworldly terrain with self-guided and guides hikes, pick up some neat facts at the Visitor Centre, and learn about paleontology and research projects.

Distance from Calgary: 218 km (approximately a two hour and 15-minute drive)

Address: Accessed from Township Road 210A, 48 km northeast of Brooks and 18 km from the village of Patricia, Alberta
Phone: 403-378-4342
Cost: $4 for adult admission to the Visitor Centre

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Bar U Ranch National Historic Site

 

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Bar U Ranch is a preserved site that was one of the leading ranching operations in Canada for over 70 years. Today, guests can explore the Bar U’s grounds, try their hand at cowboy skills, learn about old-school ranching ways, wander through rustic and authentic buildings, or sit around a campfire and listen to historic tales. As an added bonus, the foothills and the Rocky Mountains provide a stunning backdrop at this iconic spot.

Distance from Calgary: 108 km (approximately a one hour and 10-minute drive)

Address: Township Road 17B and, Township Road 17A, Longview, Alberta
Phone: 403-395-3044
Cost: $11.90 for an adult day pass

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Lundbreck Falls

Located 20 minutes outside the town of Pincher Creek, Lundbreck Falls offers picture-perfect views, a spectacular bridge, and a great spot to take a refreshing dip this summer (just don’t get too close to the rushing waterfalls). While you’re in the area, be sure to hit up Oldman River Brewing for a pint!

Distance from Calgary: 199 km (approximately a two-hour drive)

Address: Range Road 24B, Lundbreck, Alberta
Phone: 403-627-1165
Cost: Free

Red Deer’s Donut Mill

 

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More than just a dessert shop, you can grab lunch at the Donut Mills deli (although you don’t want to miss their main feature either, with doughnut options such as vanilla lemon, orange creamsicle, apple pie, maple rolo, and monthly specials). Snap some photos of the eatery’s life-size windmill exterior, and then explore the rest of Red Deer, where you can check out the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum, the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery, and paddle boating at Beaver Ponds.

Distance from Calgary: 140 km (approximately a one hour and 25-minute drive)

Address: 123 Leva Avenue, Red Deer County, Alberta
Phone: 403-347-8904
Cost: Varies by purchase

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Eau Claire Distillery

Eau Claire Distillery is located in the town of Turner Valley, and it’s a leading Canadian distiller of handcrafted whisky, gin, and vodka spirits. Make sure you bring a designated driver along on this trip, as you’ll definitely want to sample some of the distillery’s offerings. The venue has runs Prohibition Experiences every Friday and Saturday at 11 am, where you’ll travel back in time to experience the furtive age of prohibition in Alberta.

Afterwards, explore the area a little further in some of Alberta’s “Cool Little Towns,” such as Marv’s Classic Soda Shop, Bertie’s General Store, and Cool Hand Luc’s Treasure Shop in Black Diamond, The Candy Store and Museum of Miniatures in Nanton, and the Chuckwagon Cafe next to the Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley.

Distance from Calgary: 62 km (approximately a 55-minute drive)

Address: 113 Sunset Boulevard SW, Turner Valley, Alberta
Phone: 403-933-5408
Cost: Varies by purchase or experience

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Drumheller

 

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Drumheller offers a huge variety of options to explore, so you may want to plan to visit more than once. From checking out the views from inside the mouth of the “World’s Largest Dinosaur” to grabbing a pint at Valley Brewing, and visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the Star Mine Suspension Bridge, or The Little Church, there are endless options in the Alberta Badlands. Just outside of town, you’ll find some iconic hoodoo formations to photograph, or you can drive over the 11 Bridges of Wayne and hit up the Last Chance Saloon.

Distance from Calgary: 134 km (approximately a one hour and 30-minute drive)

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Elle McLeanElle McLean

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