Pack a cooler, load up the family, and head out on a day trip to discover all that Alberta has to offer Calgary staycationers.
New this year, thanks to COVID-19, don't forget to bring along hand sanitizer and face masks.
"Everyone (in the tourism biz) is making safety a top priority and working with the government safety regulations to protect the well-being of their own employees as well as customers," said Shelley Grollmuss, vice president of destination development with Travel Alberta.
"Check out business websites for some of the safety procedures and protocols that are in place, in particular, are masks a requirement? Do you need to wear a mask in a particular community or business if you're indoors? It might vary depending on the type of experience you're going to be doing."
Do a litle more planning ahead and be prepared for those types of things, she advised.
As for your destination, one of the amazing things about Alberta, whether you're going to the Rockies, the Prairies, or into the Badlands, you can really have such a different experience a day trip from home.
And your daytripping doen't have to end on Labour Day (Sept. 7).
Traditionally, a lot of tourism businesses stay open to Thanksgiving (Oct. 12) which means there's lots of time for lots of road trips, Grollmuss said.
"You can still go out to the mountains and go visit museums and all kinds of stuff into the fall, which is a beautiful time in our province."
Here are five day trips from Calgary that Grollmuss recommends:
1) Dinosaur Provincial Park
Two-hour drive east of Calgary. Located in the heart of the Badlands. Contains some of the world's most unique dinosaur fossils dating back more than 70 million years. Either going to or from the park stop at Lake Newell, 14 km south of the city of Brooks, to swim, canoe, sail or fish in its clear warm waters. For lunch check out the homestyle cooking at the Little Teapot Cafe & Bakery in the village of Rosemary, 30 km northwest of Brooks. Or the Patricia Hotel in the hamlet of Patricia, 21 km northeast of Brooks, and its famous Steak Pit where diners can grill their own steak or burger.
Ninety-minute drive northeast of Calgary. Home of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Takes about two hours to explore all the galleries. Timed tickets must be pre-booked. Add a visit to the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, an inactive coal mine that operated in the former hamlet of East Coulee (now part of Drumheller) from 1936 to 1979. A really unique experience. Tickets must be pre-booked. Grab a bite at Bernie & The Boys Bistro, which features beef burgers and over 75 different flavoured milkshakes. Takeout only at this time. If you're hankering for pie, stop by the Pie Shoppe in the Rosebud Country Inn in the hamlet of Rosebud, 25 km southwest of Drumheller.
3) Foothills County
Fifteen minutes south of Calgary. A tasty day trip combines a visit to the Saskatoon Farm with a stop at the nearby Chinook Honey Company & Chinook Arch Meadery in the town of Okotoks. The family owned and operated Farm features a cafe offering all kinds of things made from Saskatoon berries, a lush garden centre, homegrown produce, and an amazing home decor market. To or from the Farm stop at the Chinook Honey Company and Arch Meadery (Alberta's first honey winery), and learn about bees and beekeeping. Sample the variety of honeys produced there as well as a whole host of honey-made products. There is also a selection of meads, an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey and water, to taste and purchase to take home.
4) Granary Road
A great family outing, fun for toddlers to pre-teens, 15 minutes south of Calgary. The 36-acre interactive Play & Learn Park features 11 larger-than-life exhibits including an Ant Farm Adventure, Bee Hive Honeycomb, and Orchard Tree House to climb and explore. New this year, toy duck races with ducks propelled by air. There's also a farmer's market.
5) Central Alberta
First stop, PaSu Farm, a working sheep farm in Mountain View County overlooking a panoramic view of rolling hills and farmland, 45 minutes northwest of Calgary. There's a restaurant and an amazing boutique featuring sheep skins and wool clothing. Bowden SunMaze at Eagle Creek Farms, an hour north of the city, is open now until late September. How can you not smile navigating a field of 100,000 smiling sunflowers? Pre-purchased tickets recommended. Nearby, Discovery Wildlife Park in the town of Innisfail provides a forever home for wildlife in need. Visitors can take a Behind the Scenes cat tour, Walk With a Wolf, and take in daily animal presentation, including one on bear safety. New this year a drive-through option. Time to stop for ice cream at the Markerville Creamery Museum, in the hamlet of Markerville, 90 minutes from Calgary. The Creamery was built in 1902 and operated until 1972. Its ice storage area was transformed into coffee shop and nameed Kaffistofa (Icelandic for coffee store).
Chris Zdeb is a freelance writer and regular contributor to AlbertaPrimeTimes.com. This story was funded by the Facebook Journalism Project Supporting Local News