For a day, a weekend or all summer long,
there are lots of family adventures to be had right here in alberta
Summer is finally here and with it the long anticipated break from school. So, are your kids bored yet?
The current economic climate has many families opting to stay closer to home this summer, but that doesn’t mean families can’t enjoy some adventure. Summer is ideal for spending time together as a family and daytrips are a great way to keep kids busy and engaged during the school break.
Alberta has an abundance of family-friendly adventures that can be enjoyed as daytrips or as part of a short family getaway. Spending tourism dollars here at home helps to bolster our local economy, but there are bigger reasons to have an Alberta adventure with your kids. One of the best things you can do for your kids is to get out and make memories together. The adventures and experiences you share will help bind you together and give you things to talk about for years to come. Here are a few ideas for fun family adventures to enjoy this summer.
• Canmore Caverns — A five-minute drive from Canmore and a 30-minute scenic hike gets you to the entrance of the Rat’s Nest Cave, which was named a Provincial Historic Site in 1986.
This wild cave was carved by the melt waters of ancient glaciers on Grotto Mountain and is well decorated with stalactites and stalagmites and other fascinating formations.
A guided family caving experience with Canmore Caverns will take between 4-6 hours including instruction, gearing up, hiking up to the cave, and the experience inside the cave itself. More Info: www.canadianrockies.net/wildcavetours/; 877-317-1178; Cost: $99 per person
• Encana Badlands Family Science Camp — Fossil casting, learning to identify fossils, dino games and sleeping in a real tepee are just some of the highlights of the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s four-day Encana Badlands Family Science Camp.
“It’s like going to summer camp with your kids,” says Leanna Mohan, marketing and media coordinator for the museum. “It’s a hassle-free getaway, because there are people to cook and do the dishes and even start the fire. You also get to meet other families from around the world, because there are a total of about 40 campers in each session.” The camps are scheduled for July 8-11 and July 11-14 this year.
More Info: www.tyrrellmuseum.com; 403-820-6245; Cost: $195 per child and $230 per adult (15+)
• Ride the Wind Guest Ranch — If you have always dreamed of being a cowboy or a cowgirl, an Alberta Ranch Vacation will let you live the dream. There are several guest ranches around the province that welcome families and this vacation lets kids can get an idea what a working ranch is really like by helping out with chores and riding horses.
Ride the Wind Guest Ranch near Rocky Mountain House even has a cowgirl/cowboy certificate program.
A stay at the ranch includes private cabin accommodations, all meals, riding and other activities.
More Info: www.ridethewindranch.com; 403-845-5997; Cost: $227.50 per child and $350 per adult for 2 nights all-inclusive accommodations and 2 days of riding.
• Great Canadian Barn Dance — There was a time when kicking up your heels at a country dance was a regular social event on the Canadian prairies and even though such events are not commonplace today, the days of enjoying this type of wholesome fun are not quite a thing of the past.
At the Great Canadian Barn Dance near the tiny village of Hill Spring in southwest Alberta, there is a barn dance every Friday and Saturday evening during the summer months.
The experience includes a roast beef dinner, live entertainment, complimentary dance lessons, horse-drawn hayrides and a lively dance to enjoy. You can even stay overnight in a cabin or at the RV Park onsite.
There are lots of local teens who attend the dance every weekend as “barn boosters” to make sure that everyone is having a good time.
More Info: gcbd.ca; 866-626-3407; Cost: $170 for a family hoedown package for a family of four including two nights RV site rental, 4 dinners, 4 barn dance admissions, and 4 pancake breakfast tickets.
• Park gopping — A family camping trip is always an adventure and planning one will be a little easier this year. The Alberta government just introduced a new campsite reservation system that allows campers to book campsites over the Internet at 25 different provincial campgrounds.
The new reservation system allows you to choose a campsite based on individual preferences, such as campsite size, proximity to washrooms and even firepit location. Campers can get a 360-degree panoramic view on the website of campsites and campgrounds. To book provincial campsites visit: www.Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca. For reservations at National Park campsites, visit: www.pccamping.ca/parkscanada/.
• Jump in a lake — Alberta may be a landlocked province, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great beaches to explore.
Whether you are enjoying the Alberta Open Sandsculpture Championships at Slave Lake (July 18), being a beach bum at one of the lakes in Lac La Biche area, or you are enjoying the beach and outdoor waterpark at Sylvan Lake, every kid loves spending a day near the water.
More Info: www1.travelalberta.com; albertabeachbum.com; www.slavelake.ca; www.sylvanlaketourism.com.
• Alberta Prairie Railway — From the comfort of a seat aboard the Alberta Prairie Railway Steam Train that travels from Stettler to Big Valley, you can spot white picket-fenced farmyards, old abandoned barns, oil wells, grazing cattle, and on most days – train robbers.
It’s the train robbers that make the biggest impression. Located in Stettler, Alberta Prairie Railway offers exciting one-day adventures onboard a real steam or diesel-powered train.
More Info: www.absteamtrain.com; 403-742-2811; cost: Fares start at $35 for children and $85 for adults and include a meal with the six-hour excursion.
• Ride some white water — Alberta has no shortage of rapids and raging waterways, from mild to wild and a family rafting trip is always an adventure. Rivers such as the Highwood, Kananaskis, Red Deer and Jasper provide rafting thrills for all skill levels.
If you’re based in Calgary or Edmonton, The Red Deer River is ideal for day trips or weekend outings. The Kananaskis is also a good choice for beginners or families. If you’re nervous to tackle white water, start with a guided family float trip.
More Info: www.discoveralberta.com/ToursActivitiesAdventures/Rafting/
Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. If you have a travel story you would like to share or know someone with an interesting travel story that we might interview, please email: DOGO@telusplanet.net or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, Alta., T4R 1M9.