Although winter may not be my favourite season, there definitely is something about it that's undeniably beautiful. There's something so refreshing about waking up to streets covered in snow - especially when those streets are right below the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Now that the semester is done for most of us, you probably have some free time to spare over the coming weeks. Perhaps you want to spend it binge watching Netflix, or perhaps you're feeling a bit more adventurous, and want to hit up some of these magical Alberta towns:
When winter rolls around, Pincher Creek becomes like something straight out of a fairytale. This small town has a population of about 3,000, but every single person around will make you feel totally welcome and fill you in on all the great things to do nearby. Castle Mountain Resort, the Lebel Mansion, and Cenotaph Park are all noteworthy landmarks worth visiting.
Waterton Lakes National Park is one of those few places that maintains it's beauty all year round. If you're one for hiking, you'll love the amazing selection of paths and trails that surround you in Waterton. On the other hand, if you're less into exploring nature, and more into photographing it, this is a great spot to practice your skills!
Yet another cozy town to check out this winter in Alberta is Bon Accord. This spot is just 40km north of Edmonton, so it makes for a quick and easy day trip out of the hustle and bustle of the big city. If you plan your trip just right, you might be lucky enough to take in those beautiful Northern Lights. If not, there's still plenty of fun things to do and see nearby.
If there ever was a spot that fit the description of "magical", it would have to be Lake Louise. Located right alongside the Rocky Mountains, I personally can't think of a better spot for Albertans to visit this winter. There's so much to do and see here, from outdoor activities like skiing and skating to exploring the town itself and meeting locals!
If you want to get away from your hometown, but not feel like you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, may we suggest you check out Fort Macleod? It's located not too far from Lethbridge, so you have plenty of options to explore nearby! While in town, be sure to check out all the sparkling Christmas lights around, or catch a film at the Empress Theatre.
Although summer will always be my favourite season, there's nothing that compares to the beautiful sunsets we get here in Alberta during the winter. If you're looking for the perfect place to take in some great views, look no further than Peace River. While here, be sure to head to the Sagitawa Lookout, Strong Creek Park, and Misery Mountain Ski Area.
It may be right outside of Calgary, but Okotoks has definitely made a name for itself as somewhere worth visiting in it's own right. The town has plenty of shops where you can finish up your Christmas shopping, as well as lots of beautiful parks and landmarks that are beautifully decorated for the holiday season.
Yet another beautiful mountain town that's perfect for visiting during the holidays would have to be Canmore. It's located not too far from Banff, so you can hit both towns in one day, or make a weekend trip of it and spend a day or two exploring each spot! There's plenty of places to go hiking or snowboarding nearby, or you can just kick back and relax during your time as a tourist.
While the photo above may look unbearably cold, it also looks insanely beautiful. Legal, Alberta is another tiny town that's just a short drive north of Edmonton. With a population that's sitting under 2,000, you'll feel right at home during your visit.
Although Edmonton may not be a small Alberta town, they sure do know how to decorate for the holidays. All around the city you'll find gorgeous Christmas lights strung on every surface, making the perfect Instagram photo opportunity for you and your best friends, or your bae! Edmonton is also known to have frequent winter themed events and festivals, like the infamous Ice Castles, so be sure to watch out for those!
Just a short drive away from Calgary, Turner Valley is a great spot to visit to get away from the city for the day. If horseback riding is your thing, or is at least something you've always wanted to try, you can do just that in Turner Valley! It's also the perfect spot to grab a drink, with the infamous Eau Claire Distillery being located in town.
A lot of people tend to associate Canada with beavers, and why wouldn't they?! They're practically a national symbol, and the small town of Beaverlodge is doing the most to further that association. If you visit this town, one thing you'll see for sure is a giant landmark of a beaver statue, welcoming you to this friendly spot. It's also a great spot for skiing, ice fishing, skating, curling, and sledding, among other things.
Located just south of Calgary, Nanton has a population of just over 2,000, which gives it that perfect, cozy, small-town vibe if you want to get away from it all for a day. While visiting, be sure to drop into the Nanton Candy Store, the Museum of Miniatures, and as well as the town's historic main street. It may seem pretty lowkey, but there's more than one way to enjoy your time spent in Nanton!
As glad as I am that I don't live in Medicine Hat anymore, this city will always have a special place in my heart. Although it's not as lively as the big cities of Calgary or Edmonton, Medicine Hat definitely does it's best to keep up and look particularly cute during the winter. If you head downtown, you'll find plenty of pretty Christmas lights stung all about, making excellent photo opportunities.
Jasper is yet another one of those cute little mountain towns that looks like it came straight out of your favourite holiday movie. This little town is located north of Edmonton, so it's quite the trek for anyone in southern Alberta, but trust me when I tell you that it's worth it. While in Jasper, be sure to check out the relaxing Miette Hot Springs where you can soak while you enjoy those stunning mountain views.
High River is a great place to be in the winter, particularly if you love the great outdoors. There are plenty of trails around for hiking and exploring, as well as some parks that are great for birdwatching and scoping out other animals! The town is also known for it's cozy and welcoming cafes where you can grab a tasty bite to eat and mingle with friendly locals during your visit.
If I had never been to Banff, and you showed me a picture of it, I would be convinced that it doesn't really exist. Banff is one of those places that's too pretty to be real, and when you visit there, you really do feel like you're walking in a winter wonderland. There's so much to do and see during your visit, including the hot springs, the many candy shops, and of course, the gondola!
If you're in Calgary or the surrounding area, and you just want to get away for a couple hours, we suggest you head out to Cochrane. There's something a bit more country about this area, so it definitely meets all those Western Alberta stereotypes people love to throw around. There are plenty of beautiful parks for you to explore and indulge in while in town, as well as some local galleries and museums that give you a chance to support the local talent.
Conversely, if you're in Edmonton and only have a few short hours to plan a getaway, why not check out Lacombe? This lowkey city is right between Edmonton and Red Deer, so it's the perfect halfway point on your journey to either! While in the city, be sure to pop by some of the many historical buildings and see what sorts of new and interesting information you can pick up on.
The small town of Athabasca can be found in northern Alberta, and has all the charm you could want in a winter getaway. There are plenty of beautiful walking and hiking trails set up along the Athabasca River, as well as the stunning Athabasca University campus nearby for you to explore.
Don't wait until next summer to take a lake trip - do it right now! Don't forget to wear extra layers though, and you definitely don't need to bring a swimsuit. Slave Lake is a great place for camping out in the winter, particularly if you enjoy hanging out outside with a fire, and listening to the animals around you.
Calgary is another city that goes above and beyond when it comes to the holidays. With tons of stunning light displays available for you to enjoy all around the city, as well as regular activities for you to take on with your family and friends, we can guarantee that you'll never be bored in the city during winter!
Edmonton getting to be too much for a day? Make the quick drive out to Sherwood Park and see what they have to offer for the holiday season! You're bound to find a great selection of skating rinks, Christmas markets, and holiday lights spread out around town.
Perhaps the most perfect place to go camping this holiday season would have to be Bragg Creek. The photo above looks totally romantic - there's no way your s/o wouldn't swoon if you took them out here for a date night! Bragg Creek is home to plenty of hiking trails, so don't forget your boots if you're down to explore!