Ever since we bought a place at Gull Lake, we’ve spent the summers there. Now that we’ve moved here full time, I’m trying to get to know the area more. It’s amazing how many things we still haven’t seen. Here is my go-to list of Central Alberta Tourist Attractions (updated for 2019) that come highly recommended for a visit in the summer. (Click on the name to go to more information).
Have we done all of them or will we do all of them this summer? Doubtful but at least we have a great list of things to try. So know that I have NOT tried everything on this list but if I haven’t it comes recommended by someone I know and trust (though I do realize that things can change over time).
See something I missed? Please, please, please let me know in the comments!
Things to Do in Alberta – General
- Small town rodeos and fairs – Most have rodeo parades too where they actually throw CANDY. Take that Calgary Stampede Parade! Check out Westerner Days in Red Deer (July 17-21), Ponoka Stampede (June 25 – July 1), Rimbey Rodeo (July 12-14), Bentley Rodeo (Aug 9 & 10), Lacombe Days (July 25-28) and many, many more!
- Visit a small town movie theatre – Last year we visited the theatre in Lacombe. It is much cheaper than the city and has a more intimate feel. It’s great for one of those rainy summer days where you need to find something to do to get out of the house.
- Visit a local U-pick – Check out this website that lists local U-picks, what they offer and when. We love visiting the Saskatoon Orchard near us and all the Saskatoon pies and Saskatoon muffins we make after. Yum!
- Visit local farmers markets and greenhouse stores – Central Alberta has TONS of local growers. Some of our favourite markets are the Red Deer Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, Lacombe Farmers Market on Friday mornings, Bentley Farmers Market on Saturday afternoon and Rimbey Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Most open on May long weekend and run through September long weekend (but check each market to make sure).
- Visit kitschy roadside attractions – Who knew Alberta had so many! Check out this great post about Alberta roadside attractions by Calgary Playground Review. Not all of the attractions in her posts are in Central Alberta but some are. It’s a fun way to see the province and get some great pictures.
- Visit great playgrounds through Central Alberta – While you are driving around, these are great to visit if the kids get antsy.
Things to Do in the Lacombe Area
- Ellis Bird Farm near Lacombe- We visit Ellis Bird Farm each and every year. We love it so. Definitely ask for the scavenger hunt upon arrival and if you are going to be there at lunchtime, make reservations at the tea house!
- Sweet Capone’s in Lacombe – This gem of a bakery is worth the drive whether from Calgary or from Edmonton. They make cannoli in-house and it is AMAZING. They’ve also expanded to serve authentic Italian sandwiches paninis and panzarotti. Trust me when I say you will NOT be disappointed but you will end up driving to Lacombe much more often.
- Cilantro & Chive in Lacombe – This is our favourite restaurant to visit when we are at the lake. Cilantro & Chive focuses on fresh and delicious food featuring local producers. They also have EXCELLENT cocktails and feature tons of Alberta craft beers on tap. The picture above is of their Caesar flight with original, garlic, hot pepper and bacon Caesar’s. They also do great Moscow Mules. Thinking this sounds like an adults-only place? Not so! They also have an excellent kid’s menu. Evan highly recommends their housemade mac and cheese. Reservations are highly recommended if you plan to drop in.
- Take in the horse racing at The Track On 2 in Lacombe – Open to all ages and they have a restaurant on-site.
- Visit Flying Cross Ranch – Learn to ride or for one of their summer events (like Baby Animal Days on June 1 & 2).
Alberta Tourist Attractions – Edmonton Area
- Snow Valley Aerial Park in Edmonton – I know, I know, I wasn’t including Calgary and Edmonton BUT this aerial park is perfect for some of my more adventurous readers! It is open for the season from May 18 – September 1st. Read about Raising Edmonton’s experience at Snow Valley Aerial Park.
- Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village – We visited the Ukrainian Cultural Village last year and had a blast. Many of the volunteer interpreters speak Ukrainian and they ALL do an amazing job staying in character to teach you about the lives of Ukrainians who settled in Alberta. You also MUST eat Ukrainian food at their cafe when you visit.
Things to do in the Red Deer Area
- Discovery Canyon near Red Deer – How did I never know about this place? After being closed for renovations a few years ago, Discovery Canyon reopened and it is FREEEEEEEEEE. Tubing and two sandy beaches mean we will definitely be visiting. Often.
- Paddle Boats at Bower Ponds in Red Deer – Rent paddle boats for $10/hour for some water paddle boating fun! You can also rent kayaks, canoes, water balls and more for even more water fun.
- Donut Mill in Red Deer Gasoline Alley – Yummy donuts in all shapes and flavours are the perfect pick me up when you are exploring Central Alberta. Their location on Gasoline Alley in Red Deer makes them super convenient too.
Other Tourist Attractions in Alberta
- Whitecourt Rotary Park in Whitecourt – River slides and a splash park! Free entry but bring your own tube. They don’t have tube rentals available.
- Ride the Stettler Steam Train in Stettler – Take a step back in time on the Stettler Steam train. Embark on a 4 to 6 hour trip through the prairies and learn how people travelled when Canada was new. Looking for more adventure? Book on one of their murder mystery trips! Read all about Mikes Bloggity Blog’s experience.
- Royal Terrell Museum in Drumheller – A world-class museum in little ol’ Drumheller. They have new(ish) Grounds for Discovery exhibit open that highlights the fossils that have been found during industrial work in Alberta. This is one of Evan’s most favourite museums to visit.
- Manluck Centre in Wetaskawin – Another great aquatic centre and this one has a WaveRider! The daily rate for a family is $22 with the wave rider at $10 per ride.
- Ice Cream at the Big Moo in Sylvan Lake – Over 80 flavours of hand dipped ice cream plus grill favourites!
- Blackfalds Outdoor Aquatic Centre – formerly known as McKay Ranch, the outdoor aquatic centre is open for the Summer season from May 17 – September 2, 2019. Water slides and pools oh my. It’s open from mid-May through September 4th. Families get in for just $20 which is a great price for a day out.
- Visit the RCMP Police Dog Training Centre in Innisfail for a Public Demonstration – They last approximately 45 minutes, are FREE and you get to see dogs. Win, win, win!
So what did I miss? What is on YOUR summer bucket list for Central Alberta tourist attractions? Share with your friends who will be in Central Alberta this summer too!
Live in Central Alberta? You will love these other great posts featuring our favourite part of Alberta!