Fun Summer Road Trips

It’s practically a summer requirement to make a playlist, hop in a car, grab some snacks and hit the road for an adventure.

Photography Paul Swanson

Edmonton Skydive

70 minutes from Edmonton

Westlock isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think bucket-list adventure, but it should be for any adrenaline junkie. It’s home to Edmonton Skydive, the only centre of its kind north of Edmonton. This place is great for novice (and nervous) jumpers because they specialize in tandem jumps. You’ll experience the thrill of jumping out of a plane 14,000 feet above the ground and freefalling at speeds of up to 200km/h. The sky’s the limit.

Directions: South of Highway 16 on Range Road 260

Jurassic Forest

40 minutes from Edmonton

Gibbons may not be the obvious stomping grounds for a Triceratops or Stegosaurus, but venture through Jurassic Forest and you’ll see plenty of prehistoric creatures. Mini paleontologists will be thrilled with 40-plus tail-thrashing and roaring animatronic dinosaurs found along the two-kilometre walking trail. Let the younger ones dig for fossils, send your teens on a scavenger hunt on the north trail and delight in knowing that once again you planned the perfect family outing.

Directions: West of Highway 28, close to Goose Hummock Golf Course

Kraay Family Farm

85 minutes from Edmonton

One sure sign of a successful family outing is when the little ones are asleep in the back seat on the drive home. The formula: Plenty of fresh air and physical activity. And that’s exactly the point of going to Kraay Family Farm near Lacombe. Kids can run, jump and do all sorts of things at the 40-plus attractions that include a petting zoo, mini-golf and an obstacle course. Animal lovers will have plenty of run-ins with goats, piglets, chickens and ducks at the petting zoo. In the fall, head back to the farm to get lost in the gigantic corn maze.

Directions: South of Highway 12 on Range Road 273

Steak Dinners at the Bruce Hotel

80 minutes from Edmonton

You may not be able to tell from the outside, but the nondescript Bruce Hotel is a bona fide carnivore destination. Every Friday and Saturday night, owners Deb Boyd and Karl Pickup cook up one of the best steak dinners in Alberta. For $25-$45, diners get a steak grilled to perfection and unlimited quantities of savoury hot dishes and salads from the buffet. Regulars know to save room for dessert so they can end their meals on sweet notes.

Directions: Highway 14, past the railway tracks on Main Street in Bruce

Blue Suede Music Festival

55 minutes from Edmonton

Get ready to be all shook up in the town of Busby. Every August, this northern hamlet celebrates Elvis Presley with its Blue Suede Music Festival. Join more than a 4,500 hard-core fans for two days to listen to world-class performers, have your photo taken with Elvis impersonators and belt out your favourite Elvis tune at open-mic karaoke. This year’s festival is scheduled for August 24-26.

Directions: North of Highway 651

Bison Backstage Tour

35 minutes from Edmonton

For an unforgettable, close encounter with Elk Island National Park’s wood and plains bison, take a guided VIP backstage tour. A Parks Canada guide will lead you through a series of chutes, corrals and alleys designed to give you lots of photo opportunities and safe sightings of these 2,000-lb. ungulates. Visitors will also learn about Elk Island’s role in the conservation of this endangered species.

Directions: North of Yellowhead Trail

Constable Chelsey Robinson Park

55 minutes from Edmonton

Everyone loves a day at the beach, but that’s the problem; everyone loves a day at the beach. Dodge the
hordes of sun-worshippers at the Accidental Beach and head west to Constable Chelsey Robinson Park in Parkland County. This secluded spot along banks of the North
Saskatchewan River is heavenly with its clean, shallow waters and treed shoreline. Oh and don’t forget to pack your lawn chairs, a good book and a picnic lunch.

Directions: South of Hansen’s Corner Community Hall on Range Road 23

Lakeside Go-Karts & Mini-Golf

90 minutes from Edmonton

There’s nothing better than go karting around a curvy racetrack at top speeds, a la Mario Kart in 4D. Lakeside Go-Karts & Mini-Golf in Sylvan Lake is the best bet if you’re looking to get some serious karting done. Speed demons can race in single karts and parents and their young ones can ride in double-seated carts. Once you’ve finished racing your rivals, swing a few rounds of mini-golf.

Directions: Lakeshore Drive across from the Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club

Tubing on the Pembina River

70 minutes from Edmonton

What better way to take advantage of Alberta’s gorgeous waterways than actually getting on the water in an inner tube. The granddaddy of tubing rivers is the Pembina. Float down the Pembina from Entwistle to Pembina River Provincial Park like you don’t have a care in the world. The water is shallow and slow moving, so give yourself about three hours to leisurely bob along. Tube, life jacket and storage rentals, as well as pickup service, are available from Pembina River Tubing.

Directions: South past Entwistle Campgroup on Range Road 74A

Cilantro and Chive

90 minutes from Edmonton

The town of Lacombe has become a superlative craft beer destination with Blindman Brewing and Cilantro and Chive restaurant. Named as the top pub/restaurant of the year at the inaugural Alberta Beer Awards, the restaurant has more than 100 craft brews available, most from Western Canada and the American Pacific Northwest. With labels from Ponoka to Whistler to Victoria, it’s a veritable road trip without leaving Alberta.

Directions: South of Edmonton on Hwy 2, take exit 431

Footloose Caboose

50 minutes from Edmonton

For weekend brunch in a different setting, enter Footloose Caboose Lodge into your GPS and make your way to the Tofield area. As the name suggests, you’ll be dining in a railcar – the Mount Lefroy built by Canadian Pacific at the turn of the 20th century. The All Aboard Breakfast, featuring eggs done as you like, pan fried potatoes, bacon or ham, and toast, is a mandatory first-timer dish.

Directions: Township Road 502, just west of Range Road 204

Beaumont Blues & Roots Festival

35 minutes from Edmonton

Could Beaumont be the next hot music festival destination? The folks from the Beaumont Blues & Roots Festival think so. For a festival you’ve probably never heard of, this year the three-day event boasts a varied lineup of big name headliners, including Serena Ryder, Sam Roberts Band and the Command Sisters. And with only 3,000 tickets available, it’s an intimate and exclusive festival. There’s also much to explore at the artisan village, with retail vendors and food trucks.

Directions: Limited parking available, so park at Beaumont Aqua-Fit Centre and walk 10-15 minutes to Four Seasons Park

Alberta Central Railway Museum

70 minutes from Edmonton

A fantastic day out for the whole family, head to the Alberta Central Railway Museum in Wetaskiwin County. There, you can get up close to 100 years of train history, exploring the museum’s collection of vintage cabooses, locomotives, freight and passengers cars. The museum is modelled after a Canadian Pacific Railway train station, so you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you enter the waiting room to board a 1926 passenger coach. There’s even a telegraph office where you can put yourself in an operator’s shoes.

Directions: North of Angus Ridge Community Hall on Range Road 234

Ellis Bird Farm

90 minutes from Edmonton

Your friends may laugh at you for taking up an old man’s hobby, but tell them that Cond Nast Traveler identified bird watching as “2017’s unlikeliest craze.” Grab your binoculars and take flight to Ellis Bird Farm near Joffre. It’s not all woodpeckers, sparrows and chickadees out here. This conservatory attracts flocks of bluebirds thanks to the world’s largest collection of bluebird nesting boxes. Scattered throughout the property are native flowerbeds, water gardens and a butterfly garden linked by a network of walking trails.

Directions: Range Road 260, east of the Dow Chemical Canada plant

Big Stuff

Alberta is home to many “World’s Largest” things thanks to its roadside attractions

Bow Island – Pinto McBean

Mundare – Ukrainian Sausage

Beaverlodge – Beaver

Donalda – Oil Lamp

Falher – Bee

Vegreville – Pysanka/Easter Egg

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