From my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta I regularly make road trips to explore all areas of the province!
Alberta’s other big city, Calgary, is a frequent stop. The mountains—Jasper, Canmore, and Banff—are also regulars on not only my road trip list, but likely for most Albertans too.
But I love visiting smaller Alberta towns and places that don’t necessarily get as much promotion. There’s often a lot of character, charm, and lots to see, do and eat in these smaller spots (see my older blog post trips to Grande Cache, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, just to name a few).
Now I’m happy to check off Sundre on my list of perhaps lesser-travelled areas of Alberta, and hopefully put it on your radar! I got to explore Sundre for a few days this summer with my friend Rachel!
If you head to Sundre, Alberta, here’s my Travel Guide for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay.
Note: my visit to the Town of Sundre was hosted by Tourism Sundre. This does not impact opinions stated in the post. I loved exploring this west-central Alberta town and seeing what it has to offer visitors!
Thank you to the Town of Sundre for inviting me to experience this gorgeous region of Alberta.
Travel Guide: What to Do and Where to Eat in Sundre, Alberta
Where is Sundre, Alberta?
The Town of Sundre is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Olds, Alberta approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes drive (253 km) south west of Edmonton, and just 1 hour and 20 minutes drive (115 km) north west of Calgary.
From Edmonton you’d simply take the Queen Elizabeth II Highway south (as if you were driving to Calgary) but make a turn west before you get to YYC. From Calgary, vice versa, as if you were headed to Edmonton.
Sundre is considered Alberta’s camping country, with approximately 2,000 campsites (including both overnight camping and owned condo campsites) within about 10 minutes of the town, plus a bunch more camping opportunities in Alberta’s West Country, just west of Sundre.
Read more about Alberta’s West Country in my other blog post!
Sundre is a small town surrounded by lots of natural green space, and is a gateway to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We were told during our trip that Sundre actually gets a fair bit of tourists from Calgary most weekends and especially long weekends, since it’s so close to that city, but it’s certainly not a place that comes up in Edmonton often (UNTIL NOW!!! lol)
What to Do in Sundre, Alberta
My friend Rachel and I explored Sundre for three nights / two full days and felt we made a pretty great dent.
A lot of our adventures were outdoors (that’s the general theme in Sundre!) and as we visited in early June, so it felt like the perfect way to kick off the summer season.
1. Visit the Bergen International Sculpture Park
Sundre area is home to what’s called the Bergen International Sculpture Park—well sort of, lol. There was a big sculpture park just a few minutes out side of town for many years, featuring sculptures from artists around the world, but in 2019 some of the sculptures were moved to Highway 27 through Olds, Alberta (on your way to Sundre) so this park is a two-part stop—on your way in (or out) of town and then once in town.
We really liked the sculptures along the highway, and they come with placards to describe the artist and the art work, however a trip to the remaining sculptures in the original park (literally on the owner’s home property) is also definitely worth the visit—especially if you’re lucky enough to meet the Sculpture Park cat who came out to greet us, and who we affectionately named Bergen (also goes by Bergie or Burger, lol!)
We had a really lovely time at the Sculpture Park, taking a few photos and reading about some artists, but primarily cuddling with Bergen the Sculpture Park Cat who was JUST SO FRIENDLY (and chonky)!!!!
You can read more about the different sculptures on the owner’s blog
The history of the Sculpture Park is just really cool too, that a resident interested in art, who attended a sculpture symposium, wanted to bring that kind of artwork to a small town in Alberta and then just DID IT.
Finding the Bergen Sculpture Park
You can’t miss the sculptures along the highway on your drive in to Sundre. There’s lots of side street parking to pull into and walk to visit the individual sculptures. The original Bergen Sculpture Park just outside of Sundre is on Google Maps but be careful because you might miss drive right past it at first (we did lol).
There is a makeshift sign when you’re less than a kilometre away, but the sculptures aren’t visible from the main road. The Google Maps pin is pretty accurate, you just have to turn into the homeowner’s property (and there’s two properties next to each other).
2. Learn about the Wild Horses of Alberta
Sundre region is home to the most wild horses in the province, and with that, the Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS), an entirely volunteer-run organization dedicated to rescuing, gentling, and rehoming wild horses, as well as educating Albertans about the province’s wild horses, and working with government to achieve wild horse population management solutions.
We actually didn’t realize that there was such a thing as wild horse culls in the province until we visited WHOAS. Culls are a means to manage apparent horse overpopulation. The last big ‘cull’ was in 2015, and at that time, the Wild Horses of Alberta Society was able to step in and rescue about 75% of the wild horses.
WHOAS estimates there’s approximately 900 wild horses across Alberta with the majority of the wild horse population hanging out in and around the Sundre / west-central Alberta region. Literally, you can just drive west of Sundre and you’ll find wild horses in fields and grazing along the highways all over the place!
It’s really quite a sight. Like how you might come across elk in Banff or Jasper National Parks, in the Sundre area, there are a ton of wild horses! The wild horses of Sundre region are amazing!
When we visited the Wild Horses of Alberta Society, there were two young horses (yearlings) Dave and Diamond, who they had rescued and were getting ready to adopt out to a horse lover from B.C. When you visit, there may not be any horses on site (which is a good thing—showing that horses have been rescued, gentled and re-homed!) Fran and Bob of WHOAS are very kind, and clearly so passionate about horses.
If you want to visit the Wild Horses of Alberta Society and learn more about what they do, they’re happy to meet you, just contact them in advance of your visit!
3. Golf at Sundre Golf Club!
Another popular activity to do in Sundre is golfing! Rachel and I had actually both never been golfing before (mini golf a few times, but that’s it lol) so we were excited to hit the green at the Sundre Golf Club.
This 6778 yard par 72, 18-hole course is gorgeous and includes a renovated clubhouse, pro shop and a great restaurant. The course includes water features, lots of rolling green, and trees. You can do 9 holes or 18, or if you’re like us, play just a few holes and then spend the afternoon riding around on the golf cart (lol).
Be sure to grab a bite at the Sundre Golf Club before or after your tee time! (More on that below).
4. Explore Main Street shops + photograph some Instagrammable Walls
I firmly believe every place you visit has Instagrammable Walls, Sundre included!
Rachel and I found and photographed a couple Instagrammable Walls right along the main street in Sundre while we were browsing shops, including a nature camping scene by artist Melanie Sealy on the side of the Cowboy Trail Liquor Store and a great blue-teal wall at the Backwoods Bakery & Cafe.
I liked popping into the Suds and Sundries shop (a laundromat, consignment store and AND gift shop) where we bought some jewelry from Redeemed with Purpose, a local jewelry maker with an incredible cause—she donates 50% of proceeds to charitable organizations that fight against human trafficking!
And there’s also a really cute Sundre Flower Shoppe located on the main road, in a historic A-frame building, that also sells teas, gifts and some home decor.
Most of the restaurants in Sundre are also off this main road so it’s pretty much the place to be for eats!
5. Visit Snake Hill Recreation Area and explore along the Red Deer River
Sundre is home to approximately 25 kilometres of maintained walking, biking, cross-country skiing trails.
The majority of those trails are located on Snake Hill Recreation Area, located just off Centre St. and 3 Ave. (ish). Rachel and I took the easy hike along this area, and passed a few other hikers and bikers too.
The Snake Hill Recreation Area is a gorgeous, scenic spot in Sundre!
You can also explore along the Red Deer River in a few areas in Sundre. We parked at the Cowboy Trail Liquor Store and explored the rocks and under the main bridge into the main strip of town, but also took some photos under a secondary, smaller bridge along the river, and you can also visit the banks of Bearberry Creek or walk along the Red Deer river valley north of the main street too.
6. See Sundre Pioneer Village Museum and its World of Wildlife Exhibit
If you’re interested in small town history, Sundre is home to the Pioneer Village Museum, which invites you to celebrate ‘The Way We Were’ and includes eight heritage buildings like an old church, school, and blacksmith shop, and an indoor gallery featuring rodeo, lumberjack, Metis, war and pioneer life displays.
The Museum is also home to the ‘World of Wildlife’ exhibit, an indoor exhibit featuring 170 taxidermy birds and animals from around the world, including an elephant and giraffe. This collection was created by a local Sundre man named Chester Mjolsness who loved to travel the world and from small town Alberta, I can understand the appeal of this display.
Rachel and I struggled a bit with this exhibit, especially with some of the more exotic animals (as they were acquired as a result of hunting), but after chatting with the museum manager, we learned that some of the animals are actually cast molds (like the elephant), that many of the animals had initially died on the side of the road first, and that there’s different reasons for hunting that go beyond sport (for instance some hunting is apparently legal by region and the end result may be used as food for villagers). I don’t fully agree, and depending on your views, this exhibit may not be for you, but the displays are actually quite incredible to look at up close, and feature stunning detail. It’s also fairly highly rated if you are interested in checking it out (though it’s fully optional and completely understood if you just stick to the historic pioneering displays).
7. Go horseback riding and whitewater rafting in Alberta’s West Country
Often, people who visit Sundre will also go west, deeper into the backcountry, for their adventures. There you’ll find pristine forest, Rocky Mountains, rivers and scenery as far as the eye can see.
Horseback riding is a popular pastime in Alberta’s West Country, particularly through Sunset Guiding & Backcountry Retreat, a lovely company that does daily guided horseback riding as well as cabin accommodations.
Sunset Guiding offers day horseback riding trips, whether for an hour or up to nine, you can do simpler loops (we did a simpler loop of about two hours that overlooked Cline Lake) or you can go for four hours to see wild horses, six hours to Dormer Lake, seven hours to Ya Ha Tinda Ranch and National Park, or nine hours to an ice lake. Children as young as 4 can ride and if you do a ride over four hours it includes a bagged lunch. Your horseback riding guides are super friendly (the team I mentioned above!) and are happy to answer all your questions about horseback riding and the backcountry.
This was such a peaceful ride with breathtaking views, I couldn’t recommend it more!
Learn more about Sunset Guiding & Backcountry Retreat
Your Weekend in West Country should also include a white water rafting tour with Mukwah Rafting!
Mukwah Rafting has been offering thrilling whitewater rafting tours of the Upper Red Deer River since 1982. It is located just a few minutes from Sunset Guiding, which is why pairing outdoor activities at both spots makes a ton of sense!
My experience with Mukwah was my third time whitewater rafting—and I’m happy to report my most favourite experience to date! I’ve previously white water rafted on. the Athabasca River in Jasper and the Sulphur River in Grande Cache. Both experiences (don’t get me wrong) were fun and provided breathtaking, scenic mountain views, but the Upper Red Deer River raft through Mukwah had the most white water rapids so it made the whole tour pretty exciting the entire time.
Not only were there a bunch of rapids, but Mukwah’s Full Jaunty 4.5-hour tour also includes an extremely thrilling cliff jumping spot if you’re brave enough to jump!! This was one of the most simultaneously exciting and terrifying things I’ve ever done and I would highly recommend it.
(AND, if you do go… let me know if they’ve named one of the rapids Bergen or Bergie, after the Sculpture Park cat we visited. We had suggested the name and the guides joked they’d go with it, lol).
A caution for your visit to the West Country: there is NO service (no Wi-Fi + your data won’t work!)
So make sure your maps are loaded before you head out. Sunset Guiding has Wi-Fi in a very specific spot on their grounds, but other than that, you’ll really be forced to disconnect (which is honestly kind of nice).
Learn more about Mukwah Rafting Tours
And be sure to watch my quick horseback riding and whitewater rafting video blog too!
Where to Eat in Sundre, Alberta
I’m always delighted when small town eats deliver on big flavour!
For our visit to Sundre, we dined at a few spots I’d recommend you give a try during your visit:
1. Original T’s
Original T’s restaurant has been a mainstay in Sundre for over 25 years. Originally called ‘Trendies’, the restaurant was sold a few years ago but then bought back by the original owners under the new name Original T’s (original Trendies!)
It’s a family-friendly restaurant with a nice little patio and a pretty varied menu. The very friendly chef/owner Chris was checking in on all the tables during our visit which I thought was really nice—very personable!
Rachel’s aunt lives in Sundre and before even mentioning where we’d be eating, had actually recommended we try Original T’s and in particular, the Almond Crusted Sole. Rachel ended up ordering perfectly coked sole which came with a delicious mushroom leek sauce with vegetables. Chef Chris recommended to me the Phyllo-Wrapped Salmon, which included spinach and red peppers, topped with a creamy dill sauce.
It also happened to be Wing Wednesday when we went to Original T’s, so we shared a great plate of salt and pepper wings! Our meal at Original T’s was my favourite of our Sundre trip! Highly recommend.
2. Cedar’s Pub
Just down the road from Original T’s is a newer restaurant called Cedar’s Pub. This pub is part of the Original T’s family, and includes a backyard alley patio too! This is a pretty casual spot and we were pretty full after our delicious dinner at Original T’s but grabbed a few drinks from Cedar’s Pub and caught the end of the Stanley Cup Finals during our visit.
Cedar Pub’s menu is primarily focused on a nice selection of thin crust pizzas and burgers. If we had been hungrier we definitely would’ve tried more dishes but we opted to share just the Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wontons in a blue cheese ranch dressing. This was also quite good, but we thought overly sauced lol.
3. Kodiak BBQ & Deli
Due to our schedule, we weren’t able to try Kodiak BBQ’s BBQ menu BUT we can confirm their breakfast french toast is amazing (super light, very fluffy, perfectly sweet with an even spread of egg!)
For its BBQ items, Kodiak BBQ uses two 22-foot smokers for their meats. Depending on the day you’ll find different cuts, like pulled pork, ribs, slow smoked beef or BBQ chicken. You can also take home BBQ by the pound! We hope on a return Sundre visit to try the BBQ!!
If your schedule allows, make sure Kodiak BBQ is a lunch stop.
4. Sundre Golf Club
Another great spot for patio eats in Sundre is the Sundre Golf Club!
We had the best service at the Sundre Golf Club and really tasty chef’s homemade soup of the day which was a hearty and flavourful bacon, corn and potato soup (with lots of bacon and potato chunks!)
The Sundre Golf Club does a well-priced $12 soup and sandwich combo deal. We shared their Thai Chicken Bites with sweet chili sauce (generously portioned and generously sauced). Rachel tried their Chicken Avocado Burger and I was feeling a Sundre Summer Salad with Sauteed Prawns. Both were lighter options so we wouldn’t feel too bogged down on the golf course.
The patio at the Sundre Golf Club is also considered to have one of the best patio views in Sundre, overlooking the the gorgeous green!
5. Backwoods Bakery & Cafe
We thought the Backwoods Bakery & Cafe in Sundre was really cute! You can get a variety of drinks, sandwiches, desserts and ice cream at this locally-owned spot. The Matcha Moo green tea was lovely!
6. Twisted Pantry Bistro
We also really enjoyed our dinner at the Twisted Pantry Bistro. This is located in the same building as the Osaka Japanese Restaurant (which was also a food contender but we couldn’t squeeze it in!) Excellent garlic fries (gigantic portion!) and BBQ chicken flat bread (toppings held up great on a crispy thin crust). We’re told Twisted Pantry also makes a mean charcuterie. Lots for us to try on a return visit!
7. Greenwood Distillers
Finally, a drink spot I wanted to mention—though we didn’t actually get a chance to visit due to timing—is Greenwood Distillers, a locally-owned distillery co-owned by a couple Edmontonians may recognize—Owen and Bronwyn Petersen who used to run the Prairie Mill in Edmonton.
The couple are now co-owners of the distillery with Dallas and Daniel Groom (Sundre locals!) Greenwood makes seasonal spirits and high quality gins, made with foraged botanicals wherever possible.
There are a few stockists in Sundre, Calgary and Edmonton who carry Greenwood Distillers but the actual Sundre shop is only open Saturdays. If your trip does not coincide, they do open for private bookings, just ask in advance!
Where to Stay in Sundre, Alberta
For our visit to Sundre, Rachel and I stayed the first couple nights at the lovely Mountain View Inn & Suites, conveniently located right after you drive into town. Our room was super spacious, complete with fridge (very important for all of our food leftovers lol), a sitting area, and access to a pool and hot tub.
It’s a really nice hotel!
Mountain View Inn & Suites also offers complimentary hot breakfast (sausages! pancakes! french toast! potatoes! bacon!), something I’m always excited about when choosing a place to stay. It was great to be able to fill up (for free) and take some juice, tea and baked goods for the road for our adventures in Sundre.
The hotel is also linked up with the Sundre Golf Club so you can book weekday or weekend Stay and Play packages too, if you’re interested in golfing! And the hotel also provides complimentary clubs too!
But as I mentioned, Sundre is camping country!
So there are a lot of campgrounds and RV parking spots for you if your visit to the Sundre region is more camping focused.
The Tall Timber RV Leisure Park has been a popular campground in town since 1979. In addition to its RV parking spots, there’s also an indoor swimming pool, ice cream shop and snack bars, and playgrounds for famillies. And it’s really close to the Red Deer River (for fishing, kayaking or rafting!) and minutes from the Sundre Golf Club. You can also camp and park your RV at Sunset Guiding & Backcountry Retreat or Mukwah!
From Olds / QE II, Sundre, Alberta is the last town you hit before you head west into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. It’s certainly an understated spot to visit in Alberta, and hopefully a place you’ll consider as you’re planning your next road trip.
There’s so much fresh mountain air and endless outdoor activities you could try—from horseback riding to white water rafting, hiking, fishing, camping and more. And so many wild horses! Plus, great food too.
I’ll always remember my visit to Sundre as being packed with adventure and have been excitedly telling people all about Alberta’s West Country since I’ve gotten back from my trip.
Thank you to Tourism Sundre for arranging a great trip for Rachel and I!
If you’ve been to Sundre, or have other tips or suggestions about things to do in the area, leave a comment!
And feel free to share this Travel Guide!
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Disclaimer: I partnered with Tourism Sundre to explore and promote activities you could do and places you could eat in and around the Town of Sundre. My accommodations, dining and activities were complimentary. This does not impact opinions stated in this post. I had a wonderful visit to Sundre and area and happily recommend it for your Alberta travels!
Sundre is a big rodeo town, too! There is the Sundre Pro Rodeo in June and the Bulls and Wagons in August.
Probably the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten is at the old Sundre Hotel.
There is also a community theatre that have excellent productions during the year.
The Sundre Farmers Market is wonderful, too. Lots of fresh produce, baking and crafty goodness!!! May-September every Friday 5-7:30pm.
There is also a wonderful lodge driving west of Sundre called Schott’s