Your essential guide of the very best and coolest things to do around Alberta, including some great ways to celebrate Father’s Day.
SPOT PANDAS AT THE CALGARY ZOO
Four giant pandas take up residence at the Calgary Zoo this summer. The zoo’s $14.5-million Panda Passage habitat is symbolic of friendly Canada-China relations, offering a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Albertans to see these icons of the global conservation movement in person. Two cuddly cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, are the big draw for 2018. But don’t wait to see them; they’ll be repatriated to China next year while the zookeepers in Calgary focus on helping the cubs’ mother, Er Shun, conceive another baby panda or two. AMA members save 20% on admission to the Calgary Zoo.
TASTE A BIT OF WATERON
June 1 and 2 mark the last weekend of the Taste of Waterton food festival. A trip to the land where the prairies meet the peaks gives foodies the chance to nosh at chef’s table dinners, soak in the vibes at Thirsty Bear Socialhouse and more. The pie cruise is always a highlight, what with its triple treat of sailing (on Waterton Lake), stunning views and slices of pie from local eateries.
EXPLORE DINOSAUR PROVINCIAL PARK
If you’re really, really, really into dinosaurs, paleontology and geology, Dinosaur Provincial Park is the place to be. The 80-square-kilometre park has one of the world’s richest deposits of fossils. If you’ve never been there or don’t care for the long drive, hop aboard a Prairie Sprinter bus for a day tour of the park. Your guide will show you all the best lookout spots, followed by a tour of private preserve area with a park interpreter, before returning to Calgary. The tour offers lots of time for fossil hunting and hiking along the Cottonwood Trail.
RIDE THE RAILS ABOVE THE NORTH SASKATCHEWAN
Not sure what to do on Father’s Day? Spend a grand day out high above the North Saskatchewan River aboard a streetcar. The Edmonton Radial Railway Society offers trips on a historic streetcar line between the Strathcona Streetcar Barn & Museum and Jasper Plaza at 109 Street and 100 Avenue. And if it’s been awhile since you’ve boarded the streetcar, there’s lots of new things to keep your eye out for, such as the new Waterdale Bridge.
GOLF AGAIN IN KANANASKIS COUNTRY
Five years after flooding ravaged the Kananaskis Country Golf Course, the 36-hole course is open. The Mount Kidd and Mount Lorette layout have been restored and fine-tuned to be more forgiving to the average player. Mount Lorette’s tricky opening tee shot, for example, now has a more generous landing area, and bunkers have been minimized across both courses. Non-golfers can also find enjoyment: Pop in for a bite to eat on the expanded clubhouse patio, or just stop to admire the transformed landscape that’s overcome immense destruction.
GET JAZZED IN SOUTHERN ALBERTA
June marks jazz-festival season across Canada. The big one is Montreal International Jazz Festival but what few know is that many of the touring artists play smaller jazz festivals across the country. Alberta welcomes Holly Cole at the Lethbridge Jazz & Blues Festival (June 16) on the Enmax Centre Stage. Take in other artists from June 8 to 16 across Lethbridge at the Galt Gardens, Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens and Owl Acoustic Lounge. The Medicine Hat Jazz Fest (June 17 to 24) brings Frisson and Holland’s Yuri Honing quartet to Alberta’s sunniest city, while Lynn Olagundoye plays at the always popular Hangar 7 party at the Medicine Hat Airport.
RELAX AT A NORDIC SPA
For an immensely relaxing thermal spa treatment that’s a lot cheaper than a trip to Scandinavia, head to the newly opened Kananaskis Nordic Spa. The healing power of thermotherapy is key here. A cycle of hot soaks in heated outdoor pools, cold plunges and relaxation periods stimulate circulation and boosts the immune system, among other healings. You can also indulge with a relaxing massage, aromatherapy, deep tissue and hot stone treatments. The spa is located at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge (formerly a Delta property), which underwent a $26-million renovation.
SEE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S PHOTO ARK IN PENTICTON
From June 23 to September 3, B.C.’s Liquidity Winery is filling its property not only with exceptional chardonnays and pinot noirs, but amazing animal portraits by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. More than 50 images will be on display (and free to view) in Liquidity’s airy tasting room, bistro and outdoors on the vineyard grounds as part of Photo Ark. The exhibition is a component of National Geographic and Sartore’s broader, multi-year effort to document every species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. AMA members save 10% on dining at the winery’s bistro.