Alberta, Canada is full of natural beauty, history, and culture that will make for an epic family vacation!

The Best Things to do in Alberta Canada
The gorgeous Lake Louise Alberta Canada

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The Best Things to do in Alberta Canada for Families

With iconic mountain landscapes, prairies, good food, friendly locals, rich history and a culture of adventure, Alberta is the perfect Canadian province to visit for families looking to create memories for a lifetime.

Alberta is one of the best vacations for families who are looking to have an active trip full of togetherness and fun.

My husband Paul grew up in Alberta Canada and had a truly idyllic childhood full of outdoor activities, smalltown fun, including bridge jumping and gopher shooting (lol), all set amongst the beautiful Canadian Rockies and prairies of Southern Alberta. We’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to go back and visit Alberta often as a family and its one of our  favorite places in the world.

Last year we  drove to Alaska  and spent a month exploring Alberta. I wanted to share what we learned so that you can be prepared to discover Alberta on your own.

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Where is Alberta Canada?

For a little Canadian geography, you can look at the map below. Alberta is Canada’s 6th largest province in Canada and one of the most beautiful in my opinion! Visiting Alberta is one of the best things to do in Canada.

Things to do in Alberta Canada

Almost the same size as Texas, Alberta is a large province that could take years to discover. Southern Alberta, with the rolling prairies and rich First Nations history, the Rockies with incredible National Parks and the north, home to Alberta’s largest city of Calgary, all offer opportunities for family adventure and fun. 

Prepping for Your Trip to Alberta Canada

Books about Alberta Canada

If you’re planning to spend some time in Alberta, it’s best to do some research. There are some great books that will give you in-depth knowledge about the province and what to do there. It’s especially important to learn more information about Alberta’s amazing National Parks. These are some of our favorite travel books for Alberta:

Lonely Planet: Banff, Jasper, and Glacier
Moon Guide: Canadian Rockies
DK Travel Guide: Canada
 Hiking Glacier and Waterton National Parks

What to Wear in Canada

The question of what to wear in Canada can be tricky because the weather during the summer vs. the winter in Alberta can vary drastically. If you’re visiting Alberta in the winter you’ll need some good snow gear for sure. Temperatures in Alberta can drop well below freezing. The coldest day on record in Alberta was −61.1 °C (−78.0 °F). But don’t worry, it shouldn’t be that cold most of the year! This is some of our favorite cold weather gear for Canada in the winter that we actually own and use!

What to Wear in Canada for Women

Down Jacket | Wool Socks | Snow Boots | Base Layer | Wool Hat

What to Wear in Canada for Men

Down Jacket | Wool Socks | Snow Boots | Base Layer | Wool Hat

What to Wear in Canada for Girls

Down Jacket | Wool Socks | Snow Boots | Base Layer | Wool Hat

What to Wear in Canada for Boys

Down Jacket | Wool Socks | Snow Boots | Base Layer | Wool Hat

What to Wear in Canada for Babies

Down Jacket | Wool Socks | Snow Boots | Base Layer | Wool Hat

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Things to do in Alberta Canada for Families

There are a million things to do in Alberta Canada and it could quite literally take a lifetime or more to see the entire province properly. For most family vacations in Canada, you’ll want to see several Canadian National Parks and as much natural beauty as possible!

Alberta Canada
Take in the Beauty of Alberta’s National Parks

Alberta is famous for its breathtakingly beautiful national parks with rugged mountains and glacially fed lakes. Those pictures that you see of bright blue water are actually real! No filter needed! Here are some of Alberta’s most beloved parks:

  • Banff National Park: This area is home to the most popular Alberta attractions. Full of towering Canadian Rockies, aquamarine glacial lakes and rivers, 996 species of trees, and a thousand miles of trails, Banff National Park is the 3rd oldest national park in the world and not to be missed on a trip to Alberta. Some of the best things to do in Banff are visiting Banff Upper Hot Springs, Lake Louise Alberta, Moraine Lake, Columbia Icefield, the adorable town of Banff and the Indian Trading Post. Learn more about Banff National Park here and here.
    Alberta Canada
  • Icefields Parkway: This 232 km route running through Banff and Jasper will treat you to jaw-dropping views of the Rockies and glacial waters throughout the parks.
  • Jasper National Park: Banff’s less visited big sister, Jasper National Park is just as worthy of a visit as Banff, and maybe more. Here you will find the same magnificent blue waters and stunning mountains, with fewer crowds. Be sure to see Maligne Lake (home to the famous Spirit Island), Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier, and the Glacier Skywalk.
    Alberta Canada Jasper
  • Waterton Lakes National Park: Glacier National Park’s Canadian cousin, holds extraordinary natural wonders in a compact space. Be sure to see The Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lake, Cameron Lake, Red Rock Canyon, Bear’s Hump hike and the little town where you can’t miss Waffleton for gourmet Belgian waffles. While the beauty of Banff and Jasper is undeniable, Waterton is our family’s favorite Canadian National Park. You can learn more about it  here. 
    Waterton Lakes National Park
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Visit the Provincial Parks in Alberta Canada

While Alberta is well known for its incredible National Parks, it has a multitude of beautiful Provincial parks that are well worth a visit. Some local favorites are Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.

Follow the Fossil Trail and See Fossils in Alberta’s Badlands

Alberta Canada Drumheller Town of DinosaursHome to the richest source of dinosaur fossils in the world, Alberta’s Fossil Trail spans 1,553 miles from southeast to northwest. Be sure to visit the best Alberta fossil sites like the Royal Tyrrell Museum and see one of the world’s largest displays of full dinosaur skeletons and the town of Drumheller, which proudly calls itself the “Town of the Dinosaurs.”  The amount of fossils found in Alberta is incredible. Don’t miss these paleontological goodies if you’ve got a dinosaur lover in the family!  fossils in Alberta’s badlands

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Experience the Best Skiing in Canada

The Canadian Rockies of Alberta get about 75 inches of snowfall a year! The only thing to do with that much snow, besides freeze, is to play in it! Alberta is home to many world-class ski resorts. Some favorites are Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Mount Norquay, and Nakiska. With a ski season from November to May, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in the snow! Skiing is one of the things to do in Canada in winter and will keep everyone active during the cold winter months. 

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump at Fort Macleod

In southern Alberta, this sacred ridge of land, once used as a hunting ground by the aboriginal people is now UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hunters would gather herds of buffalo and drive them over the cliff. Kids will enjoy learning about this fascinating history in a unique way.

Embrace Your Inner-Cowboy/girl at the Calgary Stampede

Calgary StampedeOne of the largest rodeos in the world and considered by many as “the best,” the Calgary Stampede happens every year for ten days in July and includes sheep shearing demonstrations, horsemanship, and agricultural programs. They call this the greatest outdoor show on Earth! 

Visit the City of Calgary

Alberta’s most populous city, Calgary is packed full of family fun and adventure. Don’t miss these top attractions:

  • Calgary Zoo: Ranking as one of the best zoos in the country, you’ll find animals from all over the world and kids will especially love the Penguin Plunge!
  • Calgary Tower: Head to the top of Calgary Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city.
  • TELUS Spark Science Center: With hands-on activities for all ages, even toddlers, this science center will provide hours (or days) of learning and fun. It’s been voted one of the most fun places for kids in Calgary.

Visit the Northern City of Edmonton

Edmonton Mall

While Edmonton is often neglected in favor of Calgary, Alberta’s capital city has a lot to offer for families including these top attractions:

  • West Edmonton Mall: North America’s largest shopping center has more to offer than just stores. An ice rink, two mini-golf courses, bumper boats, billiards, bowling, an indoor water park, and the world’s largest indoor amusement park can provide days of entertainment for the family.
  • Jurassic Forest Learning Center: Located in 40 acres of natural, old growth forest, this educational facility aims to teach about the forest and dinosaurs. Walk along two kilometers of walkways with life-like, robotic dinosaurs that kids will get a kick out of!
  • TELUS World of Science: Another science center that is worth a visit with interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater.

Getting Around Alberta

There are many tour companies that will take you to the main attractions and traveling by rail can be an extraordinary journey, but you may need a car if you want to explore all the beautiful nature that Alberta has to offer. You can find great rates on  car rentals here. 

Alberta Canada Waterton Lakes National Park

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Alberta Canada Itinerary

As I mentioned before, Alberta is huge! You won’t be able to see the entire province, but you can follow this simple itinerary to see the best of Alberta.

  • Day 1-2: Calgary
  • Day 3: Drumheller
  • Day 4-5: Banff National Park
  • Day 6-7: Icefields Parkway & Jasper National Park
  • Day 8-9: Waterton National Park
  • Bonus: If you have an extra few days head to Edmonton (3 hours from Calgary)

Where to Stay in Alberta Canada

There are some incredible places to stay in Alberta. Whether you’re looking for a taste of city living, a luxury hotel, or a cozy cabin in the woods, Alberta has something for everyone. Here are some of our favorite places to stay in Alberta.

Where to Stay in Calgary

Calgary has some beautiful properties and really swanky apartments. Here are some great and  affordable Airbnbs  for families in downtown Calgary. We stayed in  this gorgeous penthouse  in Calgary and highly recommend it.

Alberta Canada Calgary Airbnbs

Where to Stay in Banff National Park

There are some amazing places to stay in Banff National Park, like the luxurious  Fairmont Banff Springs,  but you can also stay in a cozy cabin near Banff National Park. These are some of our favorite  affordable Airbnbs near Banff. We stayed in  this place  that had a hot tub and it was great!

Where to Stay in Waterton Lakes National Park

If you’re looking for something really special, stay at the  Prince of Wales Hotel  right in the center of Waterton Lakes National Park. You’ll be greeted by the most spectacular views and they even have afternoon tea! There are also some other  great hotels in Waterton National Park. 

Self-catering lodging in Waterton can be a little tricky. Since it’s so much less popular than Banff there is less of a supply, potentially making things more expensive. It’s best to book early while there are more options. If you can get a house inside the park  like this one,  it’s best. But there are plenty of options for  affordable Airbnbs outside Waterton.

Alberta Canada Waterton

I hope you have an amazing time in Alberta! It’s a great province with so much to explore. This post barely scratches the surface of the many things to do in Alberta. But whatever you choose to do you’re sure to fall in love with the natural beauty of this amazing place.

If you need help planning your trip to Alberta, feel free to get in touch. I do free travel planning to help you create amazing memories with your family! You can reach me via email, Facebook, or Instagram. 

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xo
Vanessa