Want to partake in a unique-to-the-province experience without laying out a ton of cash? The price is right when it comes to these 10 free things to do in Alberta.
SEE CUTTING-EDGE ART
Every Sunday—plus Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and the first Friday of each month—admission is free at Lethbridge’s Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Curators fill SAAG’s walls and corridors with works by contemporary artists, past and present, who push the boundaries of art in all its forms. Here, you’ll find pieces by Matisse and Renoir, in addition to modern masterpieces by Nakamura and folk art by local creators.
GET SPOOKED AT A GHOST TOWN
Download a ghost town map of the province and hit the highway. You can stroll silent streets, long since abandoned after one of Alberta’s many boom towns went bust.
CROSS A RIVER ON A RAFT
On the North Dinosaur Trail (Highway 838) near Drumheller, you’ll stumble upon a quirk of history: For more than a century, the road has spanned the Red Deer River not with a bridge, but the Bleriot Ferry. Named for Andre Bleriot, who built the 105-metre crossing’s first timber raft, it’s now a cable-towed deck for up to 13 mid-size cars.
TOUR A DISTILLERY
Got a hankering for some craft gin, vodka or even sugar beet “rum”? Make your way to Nisku to the Big Rig Craft Distillery, where you can take a free tour—with a tasting or two along the way.
PEEK BEHIND THE POLITICAL CURTAINS
There’s more to politics than kissing babies and making speeches. Get an up-close look at the inner workings of the political machine—or at least see where it all happens—with a free tour of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton. Open 362 days a year, daily tours take place hourly.
STAND IN THE CENTRE OF THE PROVINCE
A statue of a stoic grizzly marks the centre of Alberta, where north-south and east-west points intersect. Located about 30 kilometres outside the village of Swan Hills, the exact coordinates are N 54° latitude and W 115° longitude. A five-kilometre trail through boggy terrain leads to the clearing where the statue sits.
TEST YOUR GRAIN BRAIN
Tour Calgary’s Grain Academy Museum to learn everything there is know about the grains that have powered Canada’s western provinces.
OGLE THE “BANFF MERMAN”
Check out the odd and slightly terrifying taxidermy of a supposed merman, on display at Banff’s famous Indian Trading Post.
EMBARK ON A MISSION TO VULCAN
You won’t spot Spock, but a visit to the Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station will yield plenty of photo ops and some intergalactic memorabilia. The self-dubbed “Star Trek Capital of Canada” also boasts the Trekcetera Museum, a shrine sure to amaze Trekkies of any age.
COMMUNE WITH SPIRITS AT UNION CEMETERY
Scare up some Halloween fun with a self-guided tour of one of Calgary’s most historic graveyards and its dearly departed residents. Notable graves include those of cowboy John Ware, cattle baron William Roper Hull and A.E. Cross, one of the founders of the Calgary Stampede.