Tis the time of year to get a jump on your holiday shopping. Savvy shoppers know how to escape the crowds AND get into the spirit of the season. Their secret? Leaving town. Not only will you snag unique items Calgary chains don’t carry, but these festive outings remind you how lucky we are to live in such a gorgeous destination. Here are some sweet towns and quaint country boutiques around Southern Alberta well worth the drive.

Festive road trip! The best shops in Southern Alberta for holiday shopping

Cattlemunns is a trove of holiday treasures.

Cattlemunns Ranching Gift Shop

About a 15-minutes north of Hanna, Cattlemunns Ranching Gift Shop is a gem of a shop worth sniffing out. They’ve pretty much cornered the market on quaint country Christmas items, and you’ll have to do several laps of the store (and quonset!) to do it justice. I snagged some Nordic looking linens and a few antique wooden containers from China.

A Very Prairie Christmas: Destination Shopping in Alberta

This little shop on the Prairie is an old one-room school house.

Note: Open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., or by appointment. Schedule a girl’s night out here and you’ll want to make it an annual event. Drop by on Saturdays and tuck into freshly baked cinnamon buns.

Check out MerryAboutTown.com to learn more about Sister's

Check out MerryAboutTown.com to learn more about Sister’s

If I had a nickel for every shopaholic who recommended Sisters Roadside Treasures to me, I’d be able to pay off my shopping bill! Located between Rimbey and Bluffton, this mercantile successfully mixes the old with the new inside a hip roof barn. Pick up retro Christmas ornaments, depression glass and great finds for the cottage.  Note: Open Thursday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Afterwards, head to Rimbey for a bite at the Empress Theatre Coffee Shop.

Shopping in Black Diamond

This tiny town is a trove of eclectic shops, galleries and surprisingly good drugstores. Hit up Bohemia for fair trade, local and just plain cool products. (I walked out with a three dresses, each under $50!). Next, nip in to Blue Rock Gallery located next door. Even if you’re not an art collector, you can snag pottery and a locally made adult colouring book by artist Crystal Salamon.

white city bike

This is one way to fix up a fixie.

You’d expect to find a shop like Branch Market & Studio in trendy Inglewood, but prices at this funky up-cycle studio are much lower compared to Calgary. It’s one find after the next in this handmade market that has a knack for transforming everyday objects into pretty pieces.

mountain_pillow

Every cabin needs these pillows!

Don’t think you’re finished! A three-minute drive away is the Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley. Take a tour, try a tasting or snag some of their Christmas spirits.

Christmas booze

Up your cocktail game with this festive spirit.

High River for holiday shopping

If you’re besotted with the french country farmhouse look, you’ll love stepping into Pixie Hollow. The edit here is spot on, the merchandizing is gorgeous and the selection of books, stationary, clothing and quilts is second to none. They also have a fab selection of children’s books, in addition to quality learning toys and games. Stuff those stockings with tasty treats from Sheena’s Sweets and Such.

Pixie Hollow

I could spend an entire day inside Pixie Hollow and still not slay the store.

There aren’t many opportunities in life to dine on a train anymore, so roll into Whistle Stop Cafe for a bite. I’m also partial to The Hitchin Post, a seasonal burger shack that’s worth the calories.

Antiques and more in Nanton

Start your shopping excursion at Because I Said So, a fair trade cafe, where you can browse while sipping speciality coffees. Their selection of indy music and greeting cards is tops, but I’ve got my eye on the buffalo hide bags made in Sundre.

Because I Said So

So much local love is found in Nanton.

Mosey onto Mosaic, flush with funky jewelry, wood carvings and stained glass (hello Tiffany-style lamps!). While you’re there, you can even get a tattoo! Auditorium Hotel Cafe serves up home cooking in a rustic atmosphere, and there’s even a coffee and wine bar in town. The vibe at Fieldstones is fresh, modern and oh-so European.

Cochrane shopping

With a  belief beauty can change your life, the finds inside Heavenly Outhouse are unique, non-toxic and well priced. From bedding to baby, bath and body, expect to snap up gorgeous items you might end up keeping for yourself.

Heavenly Outhouse

Head here for country chic purchases.

Superb soup is found at Coffee Traders, you can go vegan at Thai Onzon and Guy’s Bakery is always fun. St Christopher coffee drink at The Gentry Expresso Bar is approaching cult status and their paninis are pretty rad, too.

Things to do in Drumheller 

Drumheller is the perfect family getaway from Calgary. Divide and conquer with one parent pleasing the troops at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the other hitting the shops. Jungling Works offers a unique mix of home décor and art (especially textiles), Faux Den carries antiques, mining memorabilia and toys, while Dry Canyon Collectibles offers First Nations art, collectibles and gift items.

prairie town

There’s dinosaurs dotted through downtown Drumheller, too!

Got a T-Rex obsessed tyke on your list? The Fossil Shop has fantastic selection of fossils and minerals. As you’d expect, the gift shop at Royal Tyrrell Museum is groaning with dino related toys, books and educational items for purchase.

For a lovely lunch check out Bernie & the Boys Bistro, featured on the Food Network’s You’ve Gotta Eat Here. Sublime Food and Wine has a Red Seal Chef (and an affordable menu for foodies), while Ivy’s Awesome Kitchen & Bistro is tops for those with dietary concerns.

So what did I miss? What are your favourite shops close to Calgary?

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Multi-tasking at Willow Park Village