The snow has melted, the sun is shining and you’ve got a car full of gas. So where are you going to go? Well, if you’re starting in Calgary, you can pretty much go in any direction find cool things that you may have never seen before. A lot of people choose going west to the mountains, which is great. Obviously I love the mountains, but if you’re looking for something a little different, here are four different chooses that get you there quick, but leave you with memories to last you a lifetime!
Discovery Wildlife Centre
Time from Calgary: 69 minutes.
At first glance, you might not see anything that makes Innisfail different than any other small highway town in Alberta, but look closer and you’ll see lions, panthers and bears, oh my! Innisfail is home to the Discovery Wildlife Park, a family-run zoo with bears, jaguars, monkeys, ostriches, tigers, wolves and some animals we’re a little more familiar with like raccoons, reindeer and porcupines. If the thought of a zoo makes you nervous, rest easy, the park works closely with lots of Canada’s biggest zoos and all the animals are all either rescues or orphans.
At 90 acres, the Discovery Wildlife Park is actually the same size as the Calgary Zoo. One really amazing experience is getting to meet some of the bears up close. You see the park is also home to a few bears that are trained for movies and commercials. The Park does a really great information session to teach people how to be bear-aware (a must in Alberta) and then lets you get up close and personal.
Really, up close. Yes, this photo is real:
Drive from Calgary: 80 minutes
Pitstop: Aspen Crossing
You don’t have to be a fan of
Star Wars Star Trek to love Vulcan, Alberta. The town was actually named that long before the Spock came around, but since people just started assuming it was named after Star Trek, the town just went with it. And now the town of under a thousand people has become known as the hub for all things Star Trek.
The story goes that Leonard Neemoy found out about the town and worked with the movie studios to allow Vulcan to use the Star Trek font and logos, without having to pay the licensing fees. They are the only place in the world that is allowed doing that.
Many of the town’s streets features murals or monuments dedicated to Star Trek and there’s even a new Trekcetera museum which features costumes and props from all the Star Trek shows, and other movies like Brokeback Mountain and Superman 3.
It’s the most out of this world fun you’ll have right here in Alberta.
Drive from Calgary: 98 minutes
Most Albertans and visitors know about Drumheller, which is basically the epicentre of dinosaurs here in Alberta. But so many people don’t know that just a 15 minutes from the dino city lays an old mining town called Wayne. Alberta. Now when I say getting there is half the fun, I mean it. That’s because to get to Wayne you must cross 11 different bridges. But once you get there, what do you? Not much, but that’s sorta the point. One of the things you’ll definitely see is the Last Chance Saloon, which harkens back to the saloons we’ve seen in countless western movies. This bar is must-visit and make sure you talk to the staff about the building’s amazing history, including the bullet holes that can still be found in the walls. Hey, it’s called Last Chance saloon for a reason.
Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary
Drive from Calgary: 42 minutes.
Pitstop: MacKay’s Ice Cream.
Whenever friends come to visit Alberta, the very first thing I always do with them is take them immediately to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, which actually isn’t near Mount Yamnuska (it used to be.) Now you can find the sanctuary just outside of Cochrane. It features a dozen or so wolfdogs, which all have different levels of wolf DNA content. Some of the dogs are 90% wolf (and boy do they look it) and other have may more dog in them, and boy do they play like it. But the sanctuary is an amazing experience, especially for animal lovers and Instagrammers alike!