Winter in Calgary can be a bit daunting, but if you catch yourself on a clear and sunny day, why not venture outside the city limits to see what you can find? Set out for a winter road trip and take advantage of our On The Road Again offer for a discount on our best available rate and a gas card! Here’s our list of favourite places within a two-hour drive from town, in each of the four directions.
Visit DrumhelleR (North)
Drumheller is a quaint little town centred in the middle of the Canadian Badlands. Home to the densest fossil beds in the world, if you love pre-historic life and stunning geological formations, the Badlands are calling you! Be sure to stop by Horseshoe Canyon – often referred to as Alberta’s Grand Canyon. Sometimes, you may find licensed vendors in the parking lot, selling small ammonite fossils and other unique rocks & minerals.
If you (or your little ones) are crazy about dinosaurs, don’t skip the Royal Tyrell Museum. Widely known as one of the best dinosaur museums in the world, you can wander amongst their towering life-sized models, take a stroll in an underwater Precambrian ocean, and marvel at their indoor conservatory filled with ancient plants and small animals.
Drumheller & the Royal Tyrell Museum are approximately a 1 hour and 30-minute drive from Calgary.
Visit the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park on the Blackfoot Nation (East)
Did you know that, before colonization, the Blackfoot People were the primary custodians of much of the prairies, stretching from what is now the Yukon down into the Dakotas? Having inhabited these lands since time immemorial, they have a distinct culture and multiple unique forms of art that have evolved over thousands of years.
Come hear their stories and view past and present cultural artifacts at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. From the great piistaan (buffalo jumps), to traditional campsites and technologies, to elaborate regalia – you’ll get the opportunity to see and learn about the lengthy history of land and people long before settlers arrived.
The museum also has a gift shop where you can purchase authentic Indigenous art, as well as books, apparel, jewelry and more. The Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park is just under an hour and a half East from Calgary.
Visit the Longview Steakhouse (South)
If you haven’t had Alberta beef, this is a must-do visit while you’re in Calgary. Widely regarded as serving the best steaks in Alberta, the Longview Steakhouse & Country Inn might just be the best place to get a steak in the world.
Raised primarily on wild grasses and barley, Albertan cattle live and thrive on our vast prairies and foothills. Some ranches have been raising them for a hundred years or more, allowing them to perfect their genetics over the years to be perfectly adapted to our land and climate.
What you’ll get is a perfectly cooked steak that is perfectly uncomplicated, allowing you to savour this one-of-a-kind delicacy.
The Longview Steakhouse is just under an hour South of Calgary.
Visit Canmore & Banff (West)
If a Rocky Mountain adventure is what you’re craving, head out the #1 to Canmore, and then Banff. Canmore, which sits just outside Banff National Park, has some spectacular places to eat, stay, and drink! It’s home to the Grizzly Paw Brewery, which makes craft beers and sodas – you may see them offered on numerous Calgary menus.
For an outdoor adventure, visit the Canmore Nordic Centre, which offers cross-country ski tours and a community of outdoor lovers who enjoy various outdoor sports all year round.
Known to have some of the best dining in Canmore, the Crazyweed Kitchen is a great place to indulge in contemporary and traditional faire, a world-class wine menu, and some beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains, all while sitting in their incredibly cozy dining room.
Travelling West down the #1 a bit further, you’ll enter Banff National Park (pass required) and then into Banff proper. Banff can get a little busy, but we promise it’s worth it. Take a stroll down Banff Avenue and enjoy a shopping experience like no other – from unique Canadiana to authentic Indigenous art, to clothing and apparel to a beloved candy store where they make their own fudges in-house.
The Banff Gondola is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where you will see the Rockies (and, during warmer months, bears!), and the town of Banff from incredible heights.
After a long day of adventuring, take a load off at the Banff Upper Hot Springs, fed by natural springs located just South of the town itself. You can also visit the Cave & Basin Hot Springs, which features a cave and pool system and delves into the rich history of the area. Please note that, while once the primary destination for hot spring-seekers, Cave & Basin no longer offers any soaking pools in an attempt to preserve the natural beauty & ecology of the area.
No matter in which direction you’re headed, you are sure to find an unforgettable experience when you take a winter road trip from Calgary to all that lies beyond.
Canmore is about an hour West of Calgary, while Banff is about an hour and a half.