Life

My Alberta Roadtrip – Calgary, Drumheller, Sylvan Lake

Mike and I were both smart and took one week off before school started this year! We decided to take our first vacation of the summer right here in Alberta. (Does that count as a staycation? Or would that still be a vacation since we aren’t THAT close to home but pretty close…)

Calgary.

On Monday we took off to Calgary. This was my first time ever visiting Calgary which is shocking for many people to hear — an Edmontonian living mere hours away from Calgary for 21 years of her life, never having actually set foot in the city? Strange. I just preferred to travel further away in prior years I guess! ;) Our main vacation event in Calgary was to visit the Calgary Zoo, which we had heard is lightyears better than Edmonton’s Valley Zoo. And so it was! What a great zoo! It is HUGE — we had the best walking workout of our lives. The zoo is gigantic and the animals there — so many and so varied.

First time I’ve ever seen a giraffe or a hippo up close! A camel, bears, even peacocks! The peacocks were just walking around the grounds like they owned the place, it was great. They weren’t caged or anything. Which was somewhat a problem because a saw a few kids on more than one occasion chasing them and trying to touch them when there are signs up all over the place saying leave the wild birds alone, they like to make the zoo grounds their home.

We also checked out the dinosaur section of the zoo but we didn’t really want to spend too much time or too much picture-taking-energy there because the next day of our Alberta roadtrip would feature a trip to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller where there are REAL dinosaurs galore! Anyway, after our several hours looking around the awesome, super-spacious zoo, we checked into the hotel, took a brief break and then headed to the new outlet mall just outside Calgary — Cross Iron Mills!

I had heard about this mall a couple weeks before when another reporter at the Sun showed me her new cross-body Coach bag, saying it had only cost her $80. I was amazed at the price and asked her if she goes down anytime soon to get me one as well. It just so happened that she took a trip down to Calgary/Cross Iron Mills again just a week before I went on my vacation – so she got me the bag and then I realized, hey! I’ll be down in that area, I can check out this much-talked about outlet mall for myself now. It’s a very nice mall — it’s split into certain sections/themes for whatever reason, but each section “start” has a really cool ceiling! I was only able to take pictures of three of the ceilings because I didn’t realize there were cool ceilings until near the end of our trip there.

We spent a lot of time at the mall. I bought a lot of clothes at great prices!! — that had been my intention, to back-to-school shop at Cross Iron Mills. So I considered it quite the success. (I bought my new favourite pink dress for only $15! Suh-weet). We checked out the food court which was also very nice — had some korean BBQ and then headed out.

Safe to say our day in Calgary left our feet extremely sore — my heels were slightly blistered too!

Onto Tuesday!

Drumheller.

Mike drove from Edmonton to Calgary so on Tuesday we decided to give me a hand at long-time highway driving. I drove us to Drumheller and it went very smoothly. I even discovered the wonders of Cruise Control!! This was not my first time in Drumheller but the last time I was here I was probably about five years old and with no memory of it (I only know because my parents told me they took the family there years ago) — I was very eager to visit! I love dinosaurs! I don’t remember if I tweeted about Mike and my day trip to Jurassic Forest in Gibbons, Alberta but we visited in July and checked out all of the cool FAKE dinos there which was satisfying enough but to see all of the REAL dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller (which is the world’s largest dinosaur museum by the way! Woo hoo!) — WOW! So cool. So fun! I asked Mike multiple times, “This is real???” I really can’t stress how cool that museum is. And big.

I was so sad when we had looped through all of the prehistoric time periods and were out at the gift shop. We got the coolest pictures though! Mammoths, T-Rex’s, crazy gigantic prehistoric sea creatures! SO COOL!

I recommend the museum to anyone — people who aren’t even interested in dinosaurs. A trip through the Tyrell Museum will turn you into a dino fan. Have I said ‘so cool’ yet?? I want to go back! We were planning on taking a walk throughout the Badlands as well but after our major walking day in Calgary the day before we decided to opt out of the badlands walk and just explore Drumheller a bit more before heading to Sylvan Lake. While exploring the rest of Drumheller we came across the World’s Largest Dinosaur!!

A giant dinosaur attached to the tourism/chamber of commerce information building of Drumheller, it cost us $3 each to head up the many, many stairs and sit at the top of the dinosaur in it’s mouth. Well worth the money!

Sylvan Lake.

We had really wanted to spend a day at Wild Rapids the outdoor waterpark in Sylvan Lake but unfortunately the weather did not co-operate with us. We didn’t do much in Sylvan Lake — the motel we stayed at was right across from the lake which was nice so the weather co-operated long enough for us to wade around in there for a bit. We checked out the ice cream shop (made me feel like I was in California or something! Heading to a beachside ice cream shop after wading around in water!), we checked out a restaurant (Fireside Restaurant & Lounge, nice place and good food!) We played some pool there after our meal. We walked around and tried to check out a bowling recreation centre but it was closed for renos. Then we spent the rest of the night very quietly watching TV. Overall it was a pleasant Sylvan Lake trip — we’re planning to go again next summer when the outdoor water park will actually be open — but to make up for not going to Wild Rapids we ended up heading to West Edmonton Mall’s indoor World Water Park!!

West Edmonton Mall World Water Park.

We considered this still a part of our vacation even though we were back in Edmonton. I hadn’t been to the waterpark since elementary school. I don’t like to go swimming that much because I can’t wear my glasses and I don’t wear contacts so I’m virtually helpless and blind in the water. But I wanted to risk it this time for the sake of all those cool water slides!!! I went on every non-kiddie waterslide the indoor water park had to offer and it was FUN. Mike and I also went on the two-people/three-people tube slide rides. Also super fun. We spent quite a bit of time in the wave pool (I caught a LOT of probably-pee-laced water in my mouth) and we went in the last 3 hours of opening so the admission rate was reduced. Not reduced all that much — regular price is $38 per adult, the reduced hours price is $28 per adult — still very steep, but I definitely recommend anyone who wants to take a trip to the waterpark to go during the last three hours because we didn’t even spend the full three hours there, $38 would have been such a waste for 2 hours of water splashing. I don’t see us going back there anytime in the near future but it was fun to experience and I’m glad I conquered all of the slides — tropical typhoon was the COOLEST! After we went to change I ran back in to snap a couple photos with my phone. ;)

Thus Ending the Alberta Roadtrip.

And that brought our Alberta roadtrip to an end. It was a lot of fun and I think it was pretty cheap? We didn’t really tally how much we spent afterwards — we probably should — but it was nice to be pretty close to home and find cool things to do. It was a nice, short, vacation (staycation?) and next time we will plan for something out-of-province… or out-of-country! ;)

Here’s some more photos from our trip:

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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