Presented By Travel Alberta

“Honey, I’m coming for a visit.”

The one sentence that every Albertan dreads.

No, not because we don’t want our parents to visit, but because it means we have to come up with something to do with them, because as much as we’d like it, our folks probably aren’t coming just  to do our laundry and cook us dinner…are they?  No, no they’re not. They’re coming to see us, sure, but they also want to see what all the Alberta fuss is about. After all, their kids moved to this province, so we must love it, right?

Without any data to back up my claim, I’m willing to guess that Albertans deal with parental visits more than other province.

Having dealt with almost ten years of parental visits, I’ve come up with some suggestions on how to make their trip as memorable (and bearable for them and you) as possible.


Show Them Something They Don’t Have Back Home:

People come to Alberta likely looking to experience some of our amazing wildlife, but there are lots of ways of doing so without sending your mom to look for bears in a forest by herself. I’ve written about the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary a few different times and have always brought my family there when they come to visit. There’s simply no experience like it.

Same goes for the bear encounters at the Discovery Wildlife Centre in Innisfail and the Penguin Plunge at the Calgary Zoo. Both give you up close and personal experiences with these amazing animals and will give your families memories for a lifetime.

If your dad or mom are into fishing, then heading up north to experience Get Hooked Fishing Adventures is a must!  There’s a variety of options for any skill level and if sitting on a boat for hours on end doesn’t strengthen your relationship with your parents, nothing will!

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Splurge on an amazing hotel!

After years of driving you and your siblings to endless rehearsals and practices for every sport and activity imaginable, then being forced to cram your family into a small roadside hotel, it’s time to say thanks. And my parents always want me to thank them with nice hotels. Aren’t they lucky? Luckily Alberta is packed with beautiful hotels, offering up our parents unique opportunities and stunning vistas.

Some of my favourite hotels include the perfectly serene Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff:

The Prairie Creek Inn near Rocky Mountain House is likely the nicest bed and breakfast in Alberta:

And if your parents are like mine, a lake view room at the Chateau Lake Louise will always be a dream come true for them.

Some other great parent-friendly hotels worth checking out include The Juniper (best view in Banff), Hotel Arts (boutique bliss), Matrix Hotel in Edmonton (modern comfort), The Delta Kananaskis (two-story rooms perfect for sharing):

And any room in Waterton. Seriously, it’s seemingly impossible to get a room in Waterton these days, but if you can, your parents will thank you forever.

Go On an Adventure!

If you’re parents are up for an adventure, but one that involves a little relaxing and a lot of delicious food, then I have some ideas.

Banff Trail Riders offers up some truly amazing adventures, and offer up a ton of different opportunities depending on your skill level. Last year, I did the an over night trek and stayed at the amazing Sundance Lodge, a back country lodge so luxurious, you’ll forget you’re in the back country.

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Or if you didn’t want to do the overnight thing, they offer trips that can last everything from an hour to seven. Or check out the cowboy cook out, which combines the horseback tour with a BBQ feast of steak, home-made baked beans, salad and baked potatoes, all along the shores of the Bow River. It’s truly unforgettable.

Another idea is to hit the slopes, yes even in the summer time. After all, you can never go wrong skiing at any number of Alberta’s ski resorts, but in the summer months, Lake Louise is definitely still worth checking out. Their summer gondola and chairlift is experience is a tons of fun and offers up a great opportunity to spot some bears…right below your feet.   Once you make it to the top, enjoy lunch at the Whitehorn Bisto with what I consider to be one of the nicest patios in all of Canada. With views of the actual Lake Louise, dine on some mouth-watering cheese fondue atop the rocky mountains. What more could you ask for! I recently took my mom to the summer chairlift and we had quite the experience!


My parents always loved driving, so they definitely instilled in me the important of a good road trip. Something that’s planned, but not too planned. Have some things that you want to see, but leave plenty of time to turn left instead of right. Know where you’re going, but be okay with taking longer to get there. Not only will you discover you didn’t even know existed, you’ll have plenty of time to talk to your family and sometimes the best things about road trips are the stories that come out of them. One of my favourite road trips I did with my mom was around the Fort Macleod area! From there you can visit the Head-Smashed In Buffalo Jump, which is a simply stunning UNESCO Heritage Site. In the tiny town of Fort Macleod you’ll find the fascinating Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police, the historic Empress Theatre and some of the best chinese food you’ve ever had. I can’t explain but, but rural Alberta is known for its chinese food and the Silver Grill Restaurant lives up to it’s reputation.


Obviously there are thousands of things to do with your parents, and those are just a few of my favourite! What do you like to do when your parents come to visit?

Mike Morrison


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