Alberta, Canada, is home to stunning tourist destinations.

Alberta embodies the spirit of adventure! This province offers everything you could desire from a Canadian journey. With its majestic Rockies, perennially snow-capped, vast prairies, and dramatic Badlands, Alberta’s geographical diversity is truly astonishing.

During my three visits to the Princess Province, I’ve had the opportunity to explore numerous remarkable destinations in Alberta. While the famous national parks and cosmopolitan Calgary are well-known, what truly captivates me about this province extends far beyond the mainstream attractions. It’s the variety and the abundance of distinct landscapes.

In a province with so much to offer and so much open space, straying from the well-trodden path is effortless. In addition to the more popular “top five” destinations, I’ve compiled a collection of lesser-visited spots and hidden gems for you to consider adding to your Canada travel wish-list.


Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, but it often goes overlooked by tourists. This is a shame because this city is truly fascinating – and a perfect place to spend a few days before heading to the national parks!

Edmonton, situated in Alberta, Canada, presents a captivating urban landscape adorned with street art and a distinctive green tram that adds to its modern charm. During a visit a few years ago, I had the privilege of spending nearly an entire week exploring this dynamic city, and it was an unforgettable experience.

Edmonton stands out as a vibrant and contemporary metropolis that offers a plethora of attractions to keep visitors thoroughly engaged. The city boasts quirky neighborhoods that exude character and a sense of individuality, each with its own unique charm waiting to be discovered.

One of the highlights of my Edmonton adventure was a scenic tour along the winding river valley, which offers breathtaking vistas and a tranquil escape from the urban hustle and bustle. The picturesque river valley is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, providing opportunities for hiking, cycling, and leisurely walks in a lush natural setting.

Edmonton’s culinary scene is nothing short of extraordinary, with a diverse array of restaurants, cafes, and eateries that cater to every palate. From international cuisines to local delicacies, the city’s dining options are sure to satisfy even the most discerning food enthusiasts.

One of the city’s most unexpected surprises was the presence of a roller coaster inside a shopping mall. This unique and thrilling attraction is a testament to Edmonton’s ability to blend entertainment, shopping, and leisure seamlessly.

Elk Island National Park

Banff and Jasper are not the only national parks in Alberta. Elk Island National Park, located just outside Edmonton, covers an area of 194 square kilometers and features expansive grasslands, meadows, aspen forests, and lakes. In comparison to the more famous parks, it receives far fewer visitors, yet it offers a perfect rural getaway. Camping or indulging in luxury camping (glamping) in such a serene setting is a great way to explore a different side of Alberta.

Despite its name, this park is not actually an island. The number of elk is also much lower than that of bison. In fact, the park has been dedicated to some crucial conservation efforts, which are essential as the species was pushed to the brink of extinction by European settlers in the late 1800s. Whether it’s bison, elk, or even wolves, you’re likely to spot a wealth of wildlife during your journey to Elk Island.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Speaking of bison, there is no better place to delve into Canada’s extensive and complex history with these magnificent creatures than Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

Before the arrival of Europeans, North America was home to around 30 million bison, also known as buffalo. For the indigenous Blackfoot people, these bison herds were indispensable for their daily life and survival. In Alberta, there were several ‘Buffalo Jumps,’ which were clifftop locations where the Blackfoot once conducted massive buffalo hunts.

They would agitate the buffalo into a stampede, driving the entire herd off the edge of a cliff before utilizing every part of the animal. These annual jumps sustained the tribe through the harsh winter months, and remarkably, they had no adverse impact on the bison population.

The Interpretive Centre provides an opportunity to delve deeper into the hunts, the buffalo’s historical significance in Canada, and the culture of the Blackfoot people. It’s a genuinely intriguing site and a must-visit destination in Alberta.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

For those eager to delve into the history of the Blackfoot people, a visit to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a must. Situated beneath the imposing Sweetgrass Mountains in neighboring Montana, this park derives its name from the petroglyphs scattered across the expansive valley.

These petroglyphs, literal writing and drawings etched onto stone, can be discovered throughout the valley, serving as enduring testaments to the presence and creativity of the Blackfoot people over thousands of years.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Taking a deeper plunge into Canada’s history, Dinosaur Provincial Park is arguably one of the less-explored attractions in Alberta. Situated in the heart of the Badlands, this park features a remarkable landscape characterized by meandering rocky gullies, intricate hoodoos, and stratified sandstone formations.

This is Dinosaur Country: Alberta’s Badlands were once inhabited by approximately 35 dinosaur species, and the 73 km² provincial park stands as one of the most fossil-rich sites globally. Visitors can embark on guided hikes or bus tours to explore this dramatic landscape, where they can spot fossils and dinosaur bones scattered across the terrain.


In another corner of the Badlands, you’ll find the quaint town of Drumheller, home to the world’s largest dinosaur. A 26-meter high model of a T-rex looms over the visitor center parking lot, offering visitors a truly unique welcome.

Just outside of town, you’ll discover the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. Even if you only have a passing interest in dinosaurs, the collection of fossils here is truly astounding. Plus, with hiking trails starting right at the museum’s doorstep, you can easily immerse yourself in the spectacular scenery.

Fort Whoop-Up

Located just outside the city of Lethbridge, Fort Whoop-Up is a meticulously reconstructed replica of a 19th-century trading fort. While officially a fur trading post, the fort also played a role in the illicit whisky trade. It provides a wonderfully interactive glimpse into Alberta’s relatively recent history, offering insights into the challenges and lifestyle of early settlers on the frontier.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Last but certainly not least on this compilation of less-traveled destinations in Alberta is Waterton Lakes National Park. This, without a doubt, stands as my personal favorite discovery in the province. Nestled in a serene corner of southwestern Alberta, right on the USA-Canada border, Waterton Lakes possesses the charm of Banff and Jasper’s stunning younger sibling.

While smaller in size compared to its more renowned counterparts, the park exudes a greater sense of seclusion. It’s a well-kept secret among locals, and Waterton truly embodies the essence of being ‘off the beaten path’ when contrasted with the more widely recognized national parks. However, the Rockies remain just as majestic, the breathtaking landscapes remain just as awe-inspiring, and the vividly blue glacial lakes are equally enchanting.

The absence of large crowds also increases the likelihood of wildlife sightings. Deer casually stroll through the town’s streets, and I had to slow down for a wolf crossing the road while driving! During a boat tour of Upper Waterton Lake, we had the privilege of spotting a mother and baby moose. I even had a sighting of a black bear while hiking the Bertha Lake trail!

This petite and welcoming national park is ideal for family vacations in Canada, especially if your children are wildlife enthusiasts!

Top 4 Places to Explore in Alberta

Banff National Park

Banff stands as one of the two most renowned National Parks in Alberta. It’s a destination that attracts a significant portion of visitors to the province, and its allure is readily apparent. With its shimmering glacial lakes, lush evergreen forests, and snow-draped mountains, Banff epitomizes Mother Nature at her most splendid.

The park spans 6,641 square kilometers along the eastern slopes of the renowned Rocky Mountains. During the winter, tourists flock to the mountain resorts for skiing and snowboarding in the Rockies, while the summer entices with sunny weather and breathtaking landscapes.

However, during the spring and autumn seasons, there are still plenty of attractions to draw visitors, and this is also a less crowded time to explore as you’ll encounter far fewer tourists in the park. In both shoulder seasons, you can revel in abundant wildlife, awe-inspiring hiking trails, and breathtakingly beautiful spots. These periods are among the best times to visit popular destinations like Lake Louise!

Jasper National Park

Another highly sought-after destination in Alberta is Jasper National Park. Encompassing 11,000 square kilometers, it stands as the largest National Park in the Rockies, offering a plethora of awe-inspiring sights. Picture dramatic canyons, thundering waterfalls, and majestic glaciers.

Similar to Banff, Jasper experiences peak visitation during the summer and the winter ski season. However, throughout the year, there are countless fantastic adventures to embark upon. Once more, spring and autumn seasons tend to be less crowded and still provide a wealth of adventurous opportunities. Whether it’s glacier hiking, canoeing or kayaking on the breathtaking lakes, or engaging in climbing and canyoning, Jasper National Park offers adventure and stunning scenery for all levels of enthusiasts.


Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and often serves as the initial destination for travelers arriving at the International Airport. While it’s renowned for the iconic Calgary Stampede, the city offers a plethora of attractions beyond its cowboy culture. Despite being a popular destination in Alberta, Calgary has numerous hidden gems to explore, making it possible to have a unique and ‘off the beaten path’ experience.

Trendy neighborhoods, vibrant street art, award-winning modern architecture, craft breweries, exceptional cuisine, and numerous lush outdoor spaces… and that’s just the beginning!

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