Two Weeks in Alberta – Part 1

Travel Tuesday was well-timed this week, as I’m in the midst of planning for my sister-in-law and her husband’s visit to Calgary this summer. I’ve said to friends and family many times, “Come visit Alberta, you’ll love it.” I stand by that. But, when you suddenly have two weeks of travel to host, you seriously have to pare down your list.

Two Weeks in Alberta

For those visiting Alberta for two weeks, typically including the Calgary Stampede, here is my suggested itinerary. Play with it as you see fit.

Day 1: Survive Jet Lag – Stay Local

Flying in and out of Calgary is the best option for Alberta trips as you’re closest to the Rocky Mountains. While you’re adjusting to the time change, stay active, walk around and get fresh air. Visit the Calgary Tower (provided it’s a clear day) and take in the gorgeous view of the Rockies. If you’re brave, step onto the glass floor and feel your knees shake. Got a bit of cash to splurge? Make the view last longer with a trip to Sky360, Calgary Tower’s revolving restaurant.

On Day 1 take the time to walk downtown, along Stephen Avenue for the cute little shops and over into Princes Island Park. The river pathways are stunning (above is a winter shot so forgive me!) and will give you a chance to stretch those legs before you collapse from jet lag. 

Day 2: Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

This world heritage site is a good two hour drive from Calgary, but is a great drive through the prairies. For those new to the site, Head Smashed-In is a historical, archeological site that was used as a buffalo hunting ground for hundreds of years. The interpretive centre is well-done with unique artifacts, insight into the Plains People’s hunting culture and a video to help visitors visualize the jump. It can be pretty windy when you go outside, so hold onto your hat. 

Two Weeks in Alberta

You’ll be very near to Fort MacLeod, so if you’re so inclined and still have energy, pop into the Northwest Mountain Police fort for a trip back in time. Hungry on the way back? While I’ve never personally visited the Longview Steakhouse, every single person I’ve known to eat there has raved about it… even the vegetarians.

Two Weeks in Alberta

Day 3: Royal Tyrell Museum & Badlands

Another two hour drive each way, so make sure you keep your driver entertained and caffeinated. The Royal Tyrell Museum is a must. It’s family friendly but can interest folks on all levels. Full-sized dinosaur displays will make your jaw drop.

Two Weeks in AlbertaJust outside of Drumheller you can get a taste of the Canadian Badlands – just see them and you’ll understand why they’re named so. Hoodoos can be found throughout Alberta, but there are a large number in this region.

Two Weeks in Alberta

Head back to Calgary for dinner. Feel like a pizza? We’ve got lots of great options. Famoso pizza has several locations, Una Pizzeria and Cibo offer delectable, mouthwatering options that you can take to sit in or to go.

Day 4/5: Calgary Stampede

You don’t want to overdo the Stampede and try to do everything in one day. Start off on parade day and get yourself downtown nice and early for a spot on the shady side of the street (do you really want to have the sun in your eyes for three hours?).

Stampede1

Stampede 101:

  • Planning to see the chucks or the rodeo? Buy your tickets early!
  • Doing a full day? Layers. It’ll be hot during the day, but it could rain at any point. Bring a good purse with a shoulder strap, if you’re a gal, or a small backpack.
  • Food: absolutely partake in the delights like deep-fried oreos, mini doughnuts, corn dogs, fried pickles or funnel cake. This is not the day to be on a diet. Maybe have a quasi-healthy breakfast to prepare your stomach for the onslaught of food and booze. Helpful tip: go on the rides BEFORE you fill your stomach with greasy food. You’ll thank me later.
  • To save 25% on the midway rides, but these tickets at any Safeway location before you go.
  • Stampede should be synonymous with free pancake breakfast. Find a free breakfast with this handy website.
  • How to dress? Um… do I even need to say it? Throw on a check shirt, jean shorts/skirt and a pair of cowboy boots. Hats are a must, and you can invest in a hat anywhere from $15-100.

Okay, this is probably enough for now! Check back for Part II

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2 Responses to Two Weeks in Alberta – Part 1

  1. diana March 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    Great ideas! Calgary is such a beautiful place.

  2. hellphie April 1, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    I know it’s not at the same time as the Stampede, but I’m heading down in a few weeks for the Calgary Comic Expo. It is one of my favourite events in Calgary!

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