It's the most wonderful time of the year! Whether you love winter or spend your days hiding inside and counting down the minutes until summer, you have to admit that there's something so special about this time of year. It brings people together - family, friends, and couples, among others!

I've heard a lot of people complaining that there isn't much to do in the winter, apart from skiing and snowboarding. While they're not entirely wrong (we do have a pretty awesome selection of ski resorts), they're not entirely right either! There are so many unique and beautiful spots to visit in Alberta, and checking them out in the winter makes them even better!

If you need some adventure in your life, check out this list of twelve spontaneous day trips you need to take from Calgary:

Sunshine Ski Resort

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 45 minutes

@nielshendrikksembedded via  

While I'm part of the population that prefers summer, I know plenty of Albertans who wait all year long for winter to roll around so they can head out to Sunshine and hit the slopes! If you're a skiing or snowboarding connoisseur, or even if you've never been on a board before, Sunshine is a great spot for people of all levels of expertise!

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@alisonvasjutaembedded via  

Royal Tyrell Museum

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 40 minutes

@seanmcmurphyembedded via  

Can't handle the cold this winter? Bundle up, hit the road, and pop into the astounding Royal Tyrell Museum! Widely noted as one of the best paleontology museums in Western Canada, this Royal Tyrell is something that all Albertans (or tourists visiting the province) should check out AT LEAST once. Bring your friends, family, or make an adventurous date out of your trip!

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Lake Louise

Distance from Calgary: 2 hours

@mddyelrckembedded via  

Sure, you could go skating at Olympic Plaza for the millionth time... Or you could try something new and head out for a skate on the stunning Lake Louise - there really is no better view or refreshing feeling than the Rocky Mountains all around you! If you're really up for an adventure, be sure to lace up your boots and get in a hike while you're in the area; there's no shortage of trails around!

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Banff National Park

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 15 minutes

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Of course, Banff made the list - where else are you going to go?! With this beautiful little town full of the friendliest locals and tourists being so close to Calgary, you'd be crazy not to head here whenever you're in the mood for an adventure. There's something so relaxing about Banff, and need we even mention that they've got a seriously killer selection of restaurants? Don't forget to grab yourself a Beaver Tail for dessert!

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Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia

Distance from Calgary: 3 hours

@pursuingprettyembedded via  

Although Alberta has no shortage of beautiful spots to visit, sometimes what you really need is to get out of the province - even if it's just for a day or two! Luckily for us Calgarians, the stunning village of Radium Hot Springs is just a few hours away! This is the best time of year for kicking back and relaxing in the Hot Springs while you breathe in that fresh mountain air.

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Drumheller

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 30 minutes

@epenembedded via  

It seems that so many people forget about the wonderful spot that is Drumheller. Although it definitely is more accessible in the spring, summer, and fall, there's nothing wrong with heading there during the wintertime either! Seeing as it's right in the prairie, you're bound to catch sight of some seriously stunning sunsets if you time your visit right! If you bring a date, they'll definitely be impressed.

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Aspen Crossing

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour

@jamiebarberrrembedded via  

Unless we're taking the C-Train, none of us are really taking trains too often anymore! If you want to switch things up, and take in the beauty of the prairies in a unique way, may we suggest that you head to Aspen Crossing? Hop on the train with your friends, family, or loved one and enjoy a delicious dinner and some fun live entertainment - it's an experience you won't soon forget!

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Canmore

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 15 minutes

@viktorianorthembedded via  

The quaint little town of Canmore is not too far from Banff, but it's definitely worth visiting as well if you find yourself in the area this winter! Canmore is the ultimate spot for outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, hiking, skating, and sledding! If you consider yourself the outdoorsy type, you'll definitely have a great time!

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Johnston Canyon

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 50 minutes

@beautifulpixels1embedded via  

Johnston Canyon may be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Alberta - but just look at how astounding it is, are you even surprised? If you can tolerate the crowds, we highly recommend you head to the Canyon and conquer the Icewalk. Be sure to bring your camera, you're basically guaranteed some of the most amazing shots you'll ever take!

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Edmonton

Distance from Calgary: 3 hours

@official_wemembedded via  

Not done your Christmas shopping yet? Or looking for a place to spend all those gift cards you got as presents? Be sure to visit West Edmonton Mall! Once the holidays are over, this place will definitely be a lot less hectic, meaning you can spend your day shopping, totally stress-free! While you're in the city, we also recommend you spend some time exploring Whyte Ave and check out the holiday lights at the Edmonton Valley Zoo!

@taraankembedded via  

Frank Slide Interpretive Centre

Distance from Calgary: 2 hours and 15 minutes

@bookfairies_albertaembedded via  

If you have yet to visit Frank Slide, there's no time like the present to plan a visit and learn all about the most deadly rock slide in Canadian history. You definitely get a somber feeling when visiting this place, but it's a totally unique and informative experience that you'll never forget.

@raina_rainbowsembedded via  

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 55 minutes

@tourism_nerdembedded via  

This is another amazing spot that tends to be overlooked when planning road trips in Alberta. Head-Smashed-In has been declared a World Heritage Site, meaning that people from all across the world are coming to see it. It only makes sense that as someone who lives in Alberta, you check it out too!

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Sundre

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 20 minutes

@tomoliver9187embedded via  

If you want to try something totally out of the box, a trip out to Sundre may be exactly what you need! This small town is one of the best places to enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset while you get away from your hometown for the day. While here, you can also visit the Sundre Pioneer Museum to learn a bit more about the town.

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Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 15 minutes

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This beautiful park is located on Siksika First Nation territory and is chalked full of interesting Alberta history and stories. It was actually the signing place of the historic Treaty 7, and is home to a super cool museum that you can explore on your own, or with a tour guide.

@pboneembedded via  

Grotto Creek Canyon

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 15 minutes

@sierramennisembedded via  

Next time you're in Canmore, and in the mood for a hike, why not try the Grotto Creek Canyon trail?! It provides you with some seriously memorable views, and a trail that's not too easy, but not too difficult if you're new to the hiking scene.

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Rat's Nest Cave Tour

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 5 minutes

@rarachieembedded via  

How often in your life are you given the opportunity to explore a cave?! Probably not every day, that's for sure! Thanks to the awesome Canmore Cave Tours, you can take guided tours of some seriously amazing caves that are just a short drive away from Calgary!

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Olds Botanical Garden

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour

@mr_bo_diddelyembedded via  

Luckily for us, winter in Alberta this year has been much tamer than it usually is. Since we don't know how much longer the sunshine will last, there's no time like the present to check out the Old's Botanic Garden! It's more lowkey than other Botanic Gardens in the province, but it's equally as beautiful and calming.

@malisonembedded via  

Bowden

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour

@ruddibruce2018embedded via  

Most people choose to visit Bowden in the summer for it's iconic sunflower maze, but there's no reason you can't pop by in the winter too! This cozy small town is home to plenty of tasty diners and coffee shops where you can chat with friendly locals and find out what else Bowden has to offer!

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Sylvan Lake

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 45 minutes

@harwindersidhu66embedded via  

Tired of having all your skate dates at Olympic Plaza? Step outside the box and head to Sylvan Lake to go for a skate! Whether you're just learning how to maneuver around the ice, or you're a puck playing pro, there's no shortage of spots for you to lace up and get your skate on!

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Ellis Bird Farm

Distance from Calgary: 2 hours

@laylabadaylaembedded via  

Maybe it's just me, but I find something so calming about doing some nature watching - and lucky for us, there's no shortage of spots to do some nature watching here in Alberta. The Ellis Bird Farm is a pretty lowkey spot, so you don't need to worry about being surrounded by tourists, and the two hour drive from Calgary gives you plenty of time to blast your music and enjoy some time on the road.

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The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 40 minutes

@opinembedded via  

Calling all sports fans! If you've lived in Calgary for long enough, there's no way that you haven't visited Winsport at least once. If you're tired of the same old thing, why not head to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer? It's a great spot to celebrate all the amazing athletic talent our province has!

@tegen03embedded via  

Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 40 minutes

@kellyabisbeeembedded via  

The coal mining industry used to be seriously major in Alberta, and although it's no longer quite as relevant, it's still interesting to learn a bit more about the history of how things used to be. The Atlas Coal Mine is about an hour and 40 minutes away from Calgary, so you can be there and back in no time!

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Vulcan

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour and 20 minutes

@mrs_g_tothembedded via  

To a lot of people, Vulcan may be just another small town in Alberta. For sci-fi nerds, however, it's so much more than that. Vulcan takes a lot of pride in its name, as it's considered the hometown of Spock from Star Trek. If you consider yourself a bit of a nerd, you'll definitely enjoy your time in Vulcan.

@ikkebrembedded via  

Eau Claire Distillery

Distance from Calgary: 1 hour

@thewhiskytamerembedded via  

Christmas might be over, but that doesn't mean you need to quit your drinking. Sometimes, after a stressful week at work or school, what you need is a shot... or four. If you want to get out of YYC and try something new, make the drive out to Eau Claire Distillery to try some drinks, and see the super cool process that goes into making them!

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