Recreation and leisure

Breathtaking natural vistas, fascinating museums and historic sites, colourful arts venues and recreation facilities are just some of the ways a visitor to Alberta can spend leisure time.

Parks

There's a provincial park or recreation area within an hour’s drive of every Alberta community and Alberta's protected areas provide access to some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world.

  • Dinosaur Provincial Park, like no place else on earth, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a forested oasis in a sea of grass. Bypassed by retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age, the Cypress Hills are the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador.
  • Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, a national historic site, is rich in natural and cultural history. This park is a sacred landscape that has special spiritual significance for the Blackfoot people who hunted and travelled the Great Plains for generations.
  • Kananaskis Country, protected by the province, is a unique multi-use recreation area covering over 4000 square kilometres of foothills, mountains and streams. Visitors explore Kananaskis Country through a multitude of activities, including picnicking, wildlife watching, camping, hiking, boating, fishing, biking, horseback riding, golfing, skiing or snowmobiling.
  • Jasper National Park is the largest and most northerly of the four Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. A visit to the Columbia Icefields, located between Jasper and Banff, allows visitors to walk out onto a living glacier.
  • Banff National Park is a world-famous tourist destination. The townsite, surrounded by wilderness, offers a wide range of amenities. It is not unusual to see elk, or even the occasional bear, on the streets.
  • Waterton Lakes National Park, located on Alberta’s border with the United States, serves as a symbol of Canada’s rich relationship with the United States and provides breathtaking landscapes.

Residents of both Alberta’s largest cities, Edmonton and Calgary, can also enjoy the beauty of parks. Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River valley is the longest expanse of continuous urban parkland in North America. This river valley park system features 27,394 acres of parkland, includes 60 kilometres of bicycle paths and 400 kilometres of trails.

Calgary is home to two major natural parks. Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and it protects 2800 acres of natural woodland, including a lake with a beach and many hiking and biking trails. Nose Hill Park covers over 2700 acres and it offers natural grassland, a spectacular city view and excellent hiking.

United Nations World Heritage Sites

Alberta is home to five of Canada’s fifteen United Nations World Heritage Sites. They are: Dinosaur Provincial Park (fossil beds), Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (aboriginal culture), Wood Buffalo National Park (wildlife), the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (natural splendor), and the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (natural and cultural significance).

Recreational activities

With 600 lakes, 245 rivers and over 78,000 square kilometres of parks, Alberta has an abundance of recreational opportunities and over 2300 hours of sunshine each year to enjoy them. Alberta’s network of recreation and protected areas has something for everyone, no matter the season.
On any given day, in any given season, thousands of Albertans and visitors enjoy their spectacular surroundings by:

  • skiing
  • golfing
  • hiking
  • fishing
  • photography
  • canoeing
  • skating
  • swimming
  • camping
  • boating
  • rock climbing
  • and archaeological expeditions in the badlands, home of the dinosaurs.

Both Edmonton and Calgary offer numerous sport and recreational opportunities. Each city has professional teams in football, hockey and baseball. In addition, Alberta has world-class sporting facilities, a legacy of Calgary hosting the XVth Winter Olympiad, and Edmonton hosting the 1978 Commonwealth Games and 2001 IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

Sports

Students are encouraged to participate in sports at school, and everyone is encouraged to join teams and use community recreation centres such as swimming pools and ice arenas.

There are over one hundred provincial sport and recreation associations in Alberta.

Culture and the arts

Alberta is a place of diverse peoples – with culture an important part of our healthy and balanced society. The province enjoys a rich heritage shaped by people from all over the world. Throughout Alberta you’ll find a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, filled with cuisine, music and festivals of dozens of ethnicities.

We are committed to creating a society where you feel welcome and can participate in all aspects of life while maintaining your traditions.

Alberta has many opportunities for people to enjoy activities such as:

  • Museums
  • Ballets
  • Zoos
  • Symphonies
  • Theatres
  • Art galleries
  • Historical sites
  • Libraries
  • Operas.

Throughout the summer months, there are:

  • Rodeos
  • Fairs
  • Farmers' markets
  • Outdoor and indoor concerts
  • Numerous celebrations and festivals such as the Calgary Stampede and Edmonton's Heritage Days.

A variety of information and resources are available from the Government of Alberta.

  • Alberta Culture and Tourism: Information on athletic games and events, sports and recreational programs, parks, public use areas and facilities and active living.
  • Travel Alberta: Provides a wealth of information on various tourist destinations in Alberta, maps, vacation guides and packages, events, dining and shopping, cities and towns, accommodations, outdoor activities, and more.