Some of the most impressive scenery in Canada can be found in Alberta. From the majestic snow-capped peaks to the mind-blowing glaciers, there’s no shortage of picturesque natural attractions to visit and behold. Beyond the divine natural landmarks in Alberta, there are also a slew of cultural and heritage attractions for visitors who are eager to soak up anything and everything that the city has to offer.
1.Banff National Park
© Courtesy of peteleclerc - Fotolia.com
Arguably the most visited tourist attraction in the whole province of Alberta, the Banff National Park is an impressive park that showcases the best of Alberta’s natural beauty and wildlife. Abundant in recreational activities to enjoy, the park is home to gorgeous mountain scenery, exciting ski resorts, crystal clear lakes, and a famous tourist town called Banff. For visitors who want to get as close to Alberta’s endemic wildlife as possible, there are opportunities to see wolves, elk, caribous, grizzly and black bears and many more beautiful animals within the park and the main highway. Don’t forget to hike some Banff National Park’s popular trails and to stop by the numerous lookouts that offer breathtaking views of the lakes, glaciers and mountains.
Improvement District No. 9, Alberta, Canada
2.Banff Upper Hot Springs
© Courtesy of C. Strom - Fotolia.com
The tourist town of Banff is like a gift that just keeps giving. As if amazing skiing and a historic hotel wasn’t enough, Banff is also home to the unique Upper Hot Springs. Enjoy utter relaxation in the steamy hot mineral water of the springs, which features a unique signature mix of minerals (sulfate, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium and sodium to name a few), gases and temperature. The springs are considered a heritage experience in and of itself as they’ve been visited by visitors for over a hundred years. Another unique feature of the Banff Upper Hot Springs is its elevation of 1,585 meters above sea-level, which makes it the highest operating hot spring in all of Canada.
1 Mountain Avenue, Banff, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-762-1515
3.Buffalo Nations Museum
© Buffalo Nations Museum
Take a step into a time machine and travel back in time to discover the extraordinary heritage of the First Nations People at the Buffalo Nations Museum. Featuring incredibly interactive exhibits, Buffalo Nations Museum features the history and heritage of the native people of the Canadian Rockies and the Northern Plains. The permanent collection features items like a stunning tipi, fantastic quillwork, ornate costumes and traditional hunting equipment, all of which are meant to help visitors understand what daily life was like before the arrival of European settlers. At its core, the museum aims to display the culturally rich and diverse history of the nation’s native people as well as their resilience throughout the years.
1 Birch Avenue, Banff, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-762-2388
4.The Military Museums
© The Military Museums
Military enthusiasts and history buffs alike are bound to enjoy a visit to the largest tri-service museum in Western Canada and the second largest military museum in the entire country – the Military Museums. Comprised of four founding regimental museums as well as the Army, Naval and Airforce Museums of Alberta, the Military Museums showcases 200 years of the country’s military history. Permanent exhibits on display at the museums are a mixture of artifacts, military vehicles, aircrafts, as well as military artwork. Some must-see features of the museum include the CF-5 Freedom Fighter, the Taurus Armored Recovery Vehicle and the Leopard 1A5 Battle Tank. Make sure to stop by the Founder’s Gallery as well as the Military Museums Library and Archives while you’re at it.
4520 Crowchild Trail SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-410-2340
5.Cantos Music Foundation
© Courtesy of Carlos - Fotolia.com
For music lovers and aspiring musicians, there’s something magical and special about paying a visit to the Cantos Music Foundation. The foundation traces the history of music from present day all the way back to 200 BCE and showcases hundreds of musical artifacts like the one of the first pianos built in North America. To date, the Cantos Music Foundation features about 650 keyboard instrument and also boasts the largest synth collection in Canada as it is home to several generations of vintage electronic musical equipment. Stand out pieces in the vintage synth collection include a wall of Moog synthesizers as well as an exceptionally rare Acrylic Mellotron M4000.
859 A Street SE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 405-543-5126
6.Cascades of Time Gardens
© Courtesy of eunikas - Fotolia.com
A small patch of paradise just a short walk away from downtown Banff, the Cascades of Time Gardens is an idea little spot in town to avoid the crowded street of Banff Avenue. Pristine and beautifully maintained, the garden is terraced into the hillside and features rock steps and winding pathways that lead guests through magnificent trees and manicured flower beds. Sitting shelters and gazebos dot the pathways, providing guests with relaxing spots to sit and rest or to enjoy some shade when the sun is a bit too much to handle. Although the flowers are at their peak between May and September, the Cascades of Time Gardens is a fantastic place to visit all year round.
317 Cave Avenue, Banff, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 407-762-1550
7.Fish Creek Provincial Park
© Courtesy of RicardoOL - Fotolia.com
Known for being Canada’s largest urban park, the Fish Creek Provincial Park stretches roughly 12 miles long and encompasses a good deal of the city’s south side. The park provides all of its visitors with tons of great recreational activities regardless of fitness level and also offers free use of picnic areas, fire pits, and washrooms. Must-visit parts of Fish Creek Provincial Park include Sikome Lake, the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Center, the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Center, and the park’s upscale sit-down restaurant called The Ranch. Meanwhile, recreational activities to enjoy include fishing, cycling, roller blading, and trekking around paved trails.
13931 Woodpath Road SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-297-7827
8.Fort Edmonton Park
© Courtesy of Vibe Images - Fotolia.com
Looking for a time machine to take you to Edmonton’s early history? Make your way to Fort Edmonton Park which features one of the best living history experiences in Alberta. The park features 158 acres of wooded parkland and is located right along the beautiful Edmonton river valley, so make sure to set aside a full day to fully enjoy everything that the park has to offer. Guests can enjoy old fashioned games, hop onto thrilling rides, take a horse ride or hop onto an authentic steam train for a relaxing ride around the park. The park’s character staff is another great feature and guarantees all visitors a memorable visit as well as awesome factoids and tidbits that will put a smile on every history lover’s face.
7000 143 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 780-496-7381
9.Frank Slide Interpretive Center
© Frank Slide Interpretive Center
Located in southern Alberta, the Frank Slide Interpretive Center tells and shows visitors the story of Canada’s Deadliest Rockslide. Overlooking the site of the rockslide at the incredible Crowsnest Pass, the Frank Slide Interpretive Center features a guided visit wherein you’ll hear all about what happened when Turtle Mountain fell. Gripping accounts of the night’s events are told alongside interactive displays. There’s no doubt that the engaging storytelling of the Frank Slide Interpretive Center will keep you hanging onto every word while award-winning shows at the center will keep you at the edge of your seats.
Highway 3, Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-562-7388
10.Jasper National Park
© Courtesy of hpbfotos - Fotolia.com
Encompassing 10,878 square kilometers of beautiful and pristine land, the Jasper National Park is the largest national park in Canada. The park features an abundance of awe-inspiring lakes, mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and forests, making it perfect for avid explorers and fans of the great outdoors. Visitors who are looking for more of a remote experience will love a trip to Jasper National Park, as it has less visitors than its cousin, the Banff National Park. Key areas to stop by at the park include the Maligne Lake and Canyon, the Angel Glacier, and Mount Edith Cavell. Those headed to the park during the winter season should make it a point to stop by the Marmot Basin Ski Resort to enjoy heart pumping trails.
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
© Courtesy of ronniechua - Fotolia.com
Feast your eyes on the spectacular and magical views of six gorgeous mountain ranges aboard the Banff Gondola. Rides on the gondola pass over the lovely Bow Valley and pass by the summit of Sulphur Mountain. That’s not all there is to the Banff Gondola either! There’s a state-of-the-art facility at the Gondola to explore, while those who want to learn more about the Banff National Park can do so as they take a walk along the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk. For those who want to enjoy the view for as long as possible, there are also two restaurants at the Banff Gondola that serves delicious offerings that will leave you wanting more.
100 Mountain Avenue, Banff, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-762-7475
12.Banff Springs Hotel
© Courtesy of Yuguesh Fagoonee - Fotolia.com
Not a lot of people can say that they’ve spent a night or two in a Scottish Baronial style castle in the Rockies. Join their ranks when you plan a visit to the Banff Springs Hotel. Built sometime in between 1887 and 1888, the Banff Springs Hotel boasts of spectacular grandeur that draws visitors from near and far no matter what time of the year. The hotel has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site and features an 11-story tower armed with 300 rooms as well as two large wings that were later added and completed in 1928. Top draws at the hotel also include internationally renowned skiing trails and a grand spa called the Solace Spa.
405 Spray Avenue, Banff, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-762-2211
13.Waterton Lakes National Park
© Courtesy of evenfh - Fotolia.com
Also known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the Waterton Lakes National Park links the province of Alberta with the American state of Montana. The park is nestled within the Rocky Mountains and is a stunning display of North American natural beauty at its finest. The Canadian side of the park features the gorgeous royal blue waters of Waterton Lake as well as a National Historic Site of Canada called the Prince of Wales Hotel. Visitors to the park can indulge in water sports at the lake, take a sightseeing tour, or set off on an adventure on one of the many breathtaking alpine trails that wind through the park.
Alberta 5, Waterton Park, Alberta, Canada
© Courtesy of Marco - Fotolia.com
Take an adrenaline pumping walk along a cliff-edge walkway when you visit the Glacier Skywalk at the marvelous Sunwapta Valley. Soaring 280 meters above the valley floor below, the Glacier Skywalk features a 1-kilometer long glass platform, which gives visitors the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of Alberta’s stunning natural beauty. The Glacier Skywalk Experience also showcases fossils, wildlife and spectacular waterfalls, all of which come together in a memorable experience that lets guests connect with nature in a new and meaningful way. Situated in the popular destination town of Banff, the award-winning Glacier Skywalk can be booked as part of an Ultimate Explorer Package.
Icefields Parkway, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 866-606-6700
© Glenbow Museum
Whether it’s a new visiting exhibit or a hands-on learning experience for students and adults alike, there’s definitely always something new to experience and enjoy at the Glenbow Museum. Home to a diverse collection of human creativity and history from within the Canadian border and beyond, the Glenbow features spectacular permanent exhibitions like the New Sun Gallery of Aboriginal Art and Culture, a collection of historical art called “Picturing the Northwest,” and Warriors: A Global Journey Through Five Centuries. Guided tours are also available for visitors who really want to soak up as much information as possible, while programs and events take place regularly and are announced through the museum’s website.
130 9th Avenue SE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-268-4101
16.Heritage Park Historical Village
© Heritage Park Historical Village
Sprawled across 127 gorgeous acres of thriving parkland, the Heritage Park Historical Village is the largest living history museum in Canada. Over 200 exhibits are open for exploration at the village, all of which showcase interactive features through hundreds of functioning antiques, historic buildings as well as costumed staff and interpreters. Every effort made at Heritage Park comes together in a perfect blend of historical fact, discovery, fun and adventure, making the park a must-visit for history lovers and entertainment seekers at the same time. The park is divided into four areas: Heritage Town Square, the 1900s Living Historical Village, the 1880s Pre-Railway Settlement and the 1860s Fur Trading Fort and First Nations Encampment.
1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-268-8500
17.Hoodoos of Drumheller Valley
© Courtesy of jpiks1 - Fotolia.com
The Hoo-what of the where now? Now we’re well aware that this attraction has a unique and unusual name, but it’s actually the perfect name for a destination as distinctive and exceptional as this one. Located in Alberta’s badlands, the Hoodoos of Drumheller Valley are a collection of beautiful but oddly shaped rock-formations that tower over you at roughly 20-feet. The hoodoos, which are interestingly also sometimes called fairy chimneys, were naturally formed over millions of years by water and wind, and are made of soft sandstone. Snap gorgeous Instagram-worthy photos with your friends and family while you marvel at the astonishing things that nature and time can accomplish at the Hoodoos of Drumheller Valley.
AB-10 Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
18.Lake Minnewanka Cruise
© Courtesy of mluppi - Fotolia.com
Cruise through sparkling blue waters and take in magnificent views of the Rocky Mountains aboard the Lake Minnewanka Cruise. This 1-hour cruise through the largest lake in Banff begins at the west end of Lake Minnewanka and sails under the towering peaks of the Rockies to give visitors a view unlike any other. Take in the beauty of the mountains’ forested slopes as well as the rocky shorelines of the lake, which is home to marvelous Canadian wildlife and adorned with stunning waterfalls. Every element of the cruise is spectacular and delivers a picture-perfect escapade through the iconic Lake Minnewanka. For those who want to enjoy a specialty cruise, Wine and Cheese cruises are available as well as Family Cruises tailor fit for junior adventurers.
Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, Improvement District No. 9, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 403-762-3473
© Courtesy of Willy - Fotolia.com
One of Banff, Alberta’s most iconic natural landmarks is undoubtedly Maligne Canyon. Not only is it a miraculous sight to behold, it’s also distinguished and celebrated for being the deepest canyon in the Rockies. The canyon is positioned right at the gateway to Jasper’s Maligne Valley and received its name because of the dark and almost haunting atmosphere that it possesses. Intrepid travelers can traverse all of the 6 bridges that were built across the canyon to explore everything that the landmark has to offer. Take in every crash and hum of the water as you navigate the canyon after which you can pay a visit to the Maligne Canyon Restaurant and Gift Shop to rest and recuperate from your adventure.
Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 888-773-8888
© Courtesy of Hans Debruyne - Fotolia.com
It would be a mistake to assume that the Medicine Lake is just like every other mountain lake in the province. In the summer, the lake is full, sometimes even overflowing, but when fall rolls around, the lake mysteriously drains and empties much like a bathtub that’s had its plug pulled out. This yearly phenomenon happens through sinkholes that sit on the bottom of the lake. The water flows in streams through a cave system under the lake, trickling through the limestone rock system, before coming up again at Maligne Canyon 16 kilometers away. Named a Rocky Mountains Parks World Heritage Site by the United Nations, Medicine Lake is a must-visit for nature lovers visiting Alberta.
Maligne Valley, Improvement District No. 12, Alberta, Canada
© Reynolds-Alberta Museum
A museum dedicated to celebrating the machines that have changed lives all over the world, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum showcases incredible exhibits and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Internationally acclaimed and award-winning, the museum lets visitors actually try using or stepping into some of the machines on display. For example, guests are more than welcome to climb into the eye catching pink Buick convertible on display as well as a huge Oil Pull tractor in their collection. The in-house restoration shop also allows curious visitors to get an up close look at the work that the museum exports are doing. For those looking to add extra activities and experiences to their visit, there is a rotating menu of programs and tours to try.
6462 40th Avenue, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 780-312-2065
22.Royal Tyrrell Museum
© Courtesy of TreePhoto - Fotolia.com
Located in the epicenter of the Canadian Badlands, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is one of Alberta’s top attractions and is known around the globe for its mind blowing collection of over 130,000 fossils. Apart from being a world class museum, the Royal Tyrrell is also a center for paleontological research and was established in 1985. The museum’s exhibit space spans over 4,400 square meters and is home to permanent exhibits that celebrate the 3.9-billion-year-history of earth’s wildlife. There’s no doubt that the most popular exhibit in the exhibit is the Dinosaur Hall, which features over 40 eye-catching mounted dinosaur skeletons including those of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Stegosaurus, a Triceratops and an Albertosaurus. Other amazing exhibits include the Lords of the Land Gallery, the Cretaceous Garden, and the Age of Mammals Gallery.
1500 N Dinosaur Trail, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 888-440-4240
23.Canmore Cave Tours
© Courtesy of tuomaslehtinen - Fotolia.com
Offering tours since 1992, the Canmore Cave Tours specializes in leading guests through unforgettable and extraordinary tours at the Rat’s Nest Cave. Tours are all operated out of Canmore, which is offers guests the chance to soak up what the lifestyle is like at a mountain community. The energetic town is home to the Rat’s Nest Cave, which was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1987. Tours in this cave, which is one of the longest in Canada at 4 kilometers, allow eager visitors to see ancient pictographs, stunning cave formations, and even 7000-year-old bones. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may even catch a glimpse at one of North America’s smallest mammals, the pigmy shrew.
129 Boy Meadows Crescent, Canmore, Ablerta, Canada, Phone: 877-317-1178
24.University of Alberta Botanic Gardens
© Courtesy of helga_sm - Fotolia.com
Home to an incredible 80 acres of display gardens in addition to 110 acres of natural areas and ecological preserves, the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens is the largest garden of its kind in the province. The diversity of nature in the garden is unparalleled in by any other garden in the area and are a treat for the eyes no matter what time of the year thanks in part to the meticulous year-round maintenance as well as the marvel of changing foliage and colors. Some of the key places to visit at the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens include the Tropical Plant and Butterfly Greenhouse, the Kurimoto Japanese Garden, the Bromeliad Greenhouse and the Native People’s Garden.
51227 AB-60, Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada, Phone: 780-492-3050
25.Wood Buffalo National Park
© Courtesy of HIROSHI UEDA - Fotolia.com
Dedicated to preserving Canada’s last wood bison, the Wood Buffalo National Park is the world’s largest dark sky preserve and was established in 1922. The park is arguably one of the most successful preservation efforts in the world for both plant and animal species, and encompasses huge segments of sedge meadows and pristine, undisturbed grasslands. Wood Buffalo National Park is home to the largest remaining heard of wood bison, an endangered species with less than 1,000 wild animals left by the time the 1900s rolled around. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the nation’s largest park and is also home to the world’s largest inland delta, which is located at the banks of the Peace and Athabasca rivers.
Improvement District No. 24, Alberta, Canada
25 Best Things to Do in Alberta, Canada
- Banff National Park, Photo: Courtesy of peteleclerc - Fotolia.com
- Banff Upper Hot Springs, Photo: Courtesy of C. Strom - Fotolia.com
- Buffalo Nations Museum, Photo: Buffalo Nations Museum
- The Military Museums, Photo: The Military Museums
- Cantos Music Foundation, Photo: Courtesy of Carlos - Fotolia.com
- Cascades of Time Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of eunikas - Fotolia.com
- Fish Creek Provincial Park, Photo: Courtesy of RicardoOL - Fotolia.com
- Fort Edmonton Park, Photo: Courtesy of Vibe Images - Fotolia.com
- Frank Slide Interpretive Center, Photo: Frank Slide Interpretive Center
- Jasper National Park, Photo: Courtesy of hpbfotos - Fotolia.com
- Banff Gondola, Photo: Courtesy of ronniechua - Fotolia.com
- Banff Springs Hotel, Photo: Courtesy of Yuguesh Fagoonee - Fotolia.com
- Waterton Lakes National Park, Photo: Courtesy of evenfh - Fotolia.com
- Glacier Skywalk, Photo: Courtesy of Marco - Fotolia.com
- Glenbow Museum, Photo: Glenbow Museum
- Heritage Park Historical Village, Photo: Heritage Park Historical Village
- Hoodoos of Drumheller Valley, Photo: Courtesy of jpiks1 - Fotolia.com
- Lake Minnewanka Cruise, Photo: Courtesy of mluppi - Fotolia.com
- Maligne Canyon, Photo: Courtesy of Willy - Fotolia.com
- Medicine Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Hans Debruyne - Fotolia.com
- Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Photo: Reynolds-Alberta Museum
- Royal Tyrrell Museum, Photo: Courtesy of TreePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Canmore Cave Tours, Photo: Courtesy of tuomaslehtinen - Fotolia.com
- University of Alberta Botanic Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of helga_sm - Fotolia.com
- Wood Buffalo National Park, Photo: Courtesy of HIROSHI UEDA - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Jinuk - Fotolia.com