7 Hidden Gems in Alberta you Should Visit this Summer
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
When most people think of the top travel destinations in Alberta they often think of Calgary, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Though those locations are absolutely stunning, Alberta has a lot of other beautiful places for you to discover.
That is why I wanted to share the 7 Hidden Gems in Alberta that you should try to visit this Summer!
Best for: Theatre in the Country
Have you ever heard of Rosebud? No, I'm not talking about the flower, but the hamlet located in rural Alberta. It is located 1.5-hours northeast of Calgary and 3.5-hours south of Edmonton.
I was first introduced to Rosebud on a road trip that I was doing with work. We went to Rosebud to see how they operate a successful performing arts theatre in a small town and I was totally impressed by this cute little hamlet. Most travellers come to Rosebud to see a play at the Rosebud Theatre, which is Alberta's only rural professional theatre. There is a reason that out of almost 300 Google Reviews the theatre has a rating of 4.8/5 stars. Add on the buffet option and find a cute bed & breakfast nearby to make this a fun weekend getaway.
For information about other things to see and do around Rosebud visit: http://bit.ly/RosebudAttractions
2. Waterton Lakes National Park
Best for: Mountain views without the Crowds
I have a very special place in my heart for Waterton Lakes National Park. This beautiful mountain town has everything an outdoorsy person like me would like - pristine lakes, great hiking trails, wildlife galore (every time I have been to Waterton I have seen a bear), and not too many tourists. Overshadowed by Banff and Jasper, Waterton receives fewer visitors and I am 100% okay with that.
This hidden gem is located in Southern Alberta, 3-hours from Calgary and 6-hours from Edmonton. It really is worth the drive! Make sure to visit the Prince of Wales Hotel for the views, Cameron Falls to see a beautiful waterfall right near the village, and if you are feeling up to it, try hiking Crypt Lake Trail.
For more information about Waterton visit: http://bit.ly/WatertonParkActivities
Note: Waterton experienced a horrific wildfire in 2018. Some areas of the park are still closed due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage. Visit http://bit.ly/WatertonInfrastructure for park closure information.
3. Village at Pigeon Lake
Best for: Summer fun for the Whole Family
The Village at Pigeon Lake is a charming little place filled with boutique country stores, tasty restaurants, and a cozy hotel. This hidden gem has a little bit of everything for the whole family! For those who like to golf, Black Bull Golf Resort is located right across from the Village and if you prefer some summer beach time, Ma-Me-O Beach is only a 5-minute drive away. There is plenty of camping options available nearby and Pigeon Lake is also a great place to go swimming, paddleboarding, or boating.
Throughout the summer, the Village hosts several family fun weekend events including a Kids Pizza Party (July 20), Kids Pirate Party & Treasure Hunt (Aug. 3), Show & Shine Car Show (Aug. 24), and more!
Located only 1-hour south of Edmonton and 2.5-hours north of Calgary, the Village at Pigeon Lake is a great day trip destination.
For more information about The Village at Pigeon Lake click here: http://bit.ly/VillageAtPigeonLake
Best for: Unique Landscapes and Dinosaurs
Drumheller is awesome! The Canadian badlands are steeped in history and the landscape is just mind-blowing. The unique, desert-like landscape feels more like you are on the moon versus in central Alberta and there is also so much to do in and around Drumheller making it the perfect weekend getaway spot for couples or the whole family.
Learn about dinosaurs at the impressive Royal Tyrrell Museum, go hiking in Horseshoe Canyon, be amazed by the famous Hoodoos, take a selfie with (or inside) the World's Largest Dinosaur, or face your fear of heights by crossing the 117 meter Star Mine Suspension Bridge.
Drumheller is located only 1.5-hours from Calgary and just 3-hours from Edmonton. As a bonus, Rosebud is only 20-minutes away so you can see two hidden gems in one trip!
Visit https://www.canadianbadlands.com/ and http://bit.ly/TravelToDrumheller for more information about things to see and do in Drumheller.
A big thank you to Lisa Payette for allowing me to share her stunning photo of Drumheller with you all. Follow Lisa's adventures this summer on Instagram at @iamsograteful18.
5. Gull Lake
Best for: Camping, Beaches & Ice Cream
You've probably heard of Gull Lake, but have you ever been to it? Gull Lake is a lovely summer village located 1-hour & 45 mins north of Calgary and just 1.5-hours south of Edmonton. The village is primarily made up of summer cottages and lake homes, however, the lake and surrounding area are just lovely!
There are a lot of campground options available around the lake like Aspen Beach Lakeview Campground, Summerland Leisure Park, and Wilson's Beach Campground. Grab an ice cream at one of the local beaches or give fishing a try! If you are feeling up to it, there is a 6km paved path from Summerland Leisure Park to the town of Bentley that you can walk or bike. I highly recommend taking a stroll/ride into Bentley to shop at the cute little country stores. And don't forget to check out the Farmers Market in Bentley which is held every Saturday this Summer from 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Bentley Curling Rink.
For more information about Gull Lake visit http://bit.ly/GullLakeActivities and for information about Bentley visit http://bit.ly/TownofBentley.
A big thank you to Yasmin Vink for allowing me to share this cute photo of her two kids running on the beach at Gull Lake. For really cool DIY Signs or fun summer inspiration follow Yasmin on Instagram at @yasminvink.
6. William A. Switzer Provincial Park
Best for: Lake Activities
William A. Switzer Provincial Park is located only 30-minutes from Hinton and just an hour from Jasper. This Provincial Park is best for those that enjoy being outdoors as there are a ton of hiking, biking, and water activities (kayaking, canoeing, SUP, fishing) available.
If you enjoy camping, then you are in luck! Choose to stay at either Gregg Lake Campground or Jarvis Lake Campground. Jarvis Lake Campground has two beach options available making it a great place to go for a swim in the crystal clear, but chilly glacier-fed water. William A. Switzer is a pretty wild place, so make sure to clean up your picnic/campsite and place all food/garbage in your vehicle so you don't get any surprise visitors.
Located 5.5-hours northwest of Calgary and just over 3-hours west of Edmonton, William A. Switzer Provincial Park is a bit of a drive, but worth it if you are looking to immerse yourself in nature.
For more information visit http://bit.ly/WilliamASwitzerPP.
7. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Best for: First Nations History & Breathtaking Prairie Landscapes
I must confess that I have never been to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, but I included it on this list because I am hoping to make my way there this Summer! Located in Southern Alberta, Writing-on-Stone or Áísínai’pi is a sacred place for Indigenous Blackfoot People. Come to Writing-On-Stone to learn more about the First Nations people, their history and culture, and to be awestruck by the prairies beauty. This unique Provincial Park has recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site making it the sixth World Heritage Site in Alberta.
When you come to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park make sure to check out the remarkably well-preserved pictographs and petroglyphs, explore the hoodoos and learn about all the wildlife that lives in this hot, dry area (bobcats, rattlesnakes, pronghorn sheep, etc.). Writing-on-Stone is also a great place to go camping, hiking, tubing/kayaking down the Milk River, and for stargazing at night.
Though Writing on Stone is a bit of a journey being 3.5 hours south of Calgary and 6.5 hours from Edmonton, I think that it is 100% worth the drive.
For more information visit http://bit.ly/WritingOnStonePP.
Thank you to the very talented Calgary based photographer @Trinigrapher for allowing me to share this beautiful night shot of Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. To see more stunning photos follow @trinigrapher on Instagram.
Do you have a favourite Hidden Gem in Alberta? Please share in the comments below so I can add it to my "Must-Visit" list this Summer.
Sharing my thoughts, passion, and tips with you. All opinions are my own.