Make the most of your summer and discover the best things to do in Alberta this summer.
1 Get Airborne, Hinton
Summer’s superhero blockbusters may stir up a desire to soar like Superman or power through the skies like Tony Stark. Would-be crusaders can play out their fantasies till October at Alternative Adventures Zip Line, just off the Yellowhead near Hinton, outside Jasper National Park’s east gates. While other zip lines attach riders to the cable in a seated position, this one puts them into the prone position, flying-style. After strapping into a full-body harness, participants take a running leap off a five-metre-high platform. As soon as their feet leave the edge, the line takes over and the flying begins – roughly 20 seconds of air time hurtling over 366 metres of alpine meadow, with incredible views of the Rockies. Participants can soar solo or tandem.
– Catherine Melnyk
2 Find the Centre of Alberta, Swan Hills
Where’s the centre of Alberta? If you ask an oil-and-gas man, it’s Calgary. A politician would probably say Edmonton. But geographically, it’s a statue of a grizzly cub, 30 kilometres outside the village of Swan Hills. The spot represents the intersection of the north-south and east-west halfway points between the province’s borders. For GPS-ophiles, that’s north 54° 30.000 and west 115° 00.000. A 5-km marked trail through boggy terrain leads to the clearing where the statue resides. – Catherine Melnyk
3 Go Trekkin’, Vulcan
Did you know? Alberta has the only officialStar Trek museum in Canada. Trekcetera Museum, which opened in 2013 summer, is logically located in Vulcan near the town’s replica U.S.S. Enterprise and houses original costumes, props and artifacts from the various television series and movies. – Shauna Rudd
4 Plan a steakout, Bruce
One of rural Alberta’s best chophouses is the Bruce Hotel in the town of Bruce, 125 kilometres southeast of Edmonton. Every Friday, owners Debbie Boyd and Karl Pickup serve succulent steaks to a packed house of around 200 diners, for under $20 a head. “The key to the flavour is we serve fresh meat, not frozen. Our butcher cuts it every morning,” says Boyd. The restaurant serves 16-ounce top sirloins, but those who don’t want to bite off more than they can chew can go for a manageable six-ounce. While it’s true that many high-end steakhouses are prettier, it’s hard to imagine any as charming. Boyd and Pickup’s wedding photo hangs on a wall, along with a framed Johnny Cash and Elvis tour poster. Antique cookie jars, an old typewriter and a vintage clock add to the ambiance. Reservations are required. – Tracy Hyatt
5 Hunt for Ghosts, Red Deer
No less than ten spirits haunt Red Deer’s downtown corridor. Visitors who venture east of Gasoline Alley can tiptoe through a self-guided tour of the town’s Ghost Collection, a series of nine life-size bronze statues commemorating events and characters from Red Deer’s colourful past. One beloved town hero immortalized in bronze is Francis the Pig, who, back in 1990, was destined for the slaughterhouse. But he escaped by jumping a fence and spent five months as a fugitive in local parklands. Other statues depict historic events, such as the great fire of 1904 (which almost consumed the town) and the startup of credit unions in Alberta. A map of the Ghost Collection and other Red Deer Walking tours are available at Tourism Red Deer. — Catherine Melnyk