Edmonton is one of Canada’s best summertime cities. Not only does it sport festival after festival, this cultural city has several lovely beaches – despite not anchoring an ocean. You’ll find a few beaches in Edmonton and even more just a short drive from the city limits that are worth the quick road trip.
Beaches in Edmonton
Most beaches in Edmonton lie along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. While river beaches are more pebbly than sandy, Edmonton’s river valley is lush and beautiful, with several sandy spots. If you’re visiting the city in summer, you’ll definitely want to head into the river valley for a refreshing break. Here’s a look at our favourite beaches in Edmonton.
Terwillegar is a gorgeous park for walking, hiking and hanging out with your dog. The beach area is located on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Since it’s a river beach, be mindful of rushing water and occasionally frigid waves.
Terwillegar Park’s beach is rocky, but it’s just fine for sitting and watching the river or for launching boats. It’s particularly rad for cooling off in after a long walk or bike in the park. Just don’t forget to pack your towel.
LRT construction revealed a lovely surprise a few years ago – the emergence of an accidental beach near Cloverdale (where you’ll find this amazing home). Accidental Beach is a long sandbar set along the North Saskatchewan River, but it may not be accessible some years due to water levels, resurfacing and construction in the area. Check with the City of Edmonton for updates.
Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge Sand Bar
The Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge Sand Bar is tops for anyone who loves to walk along the beach or sit out along the river. Located upstream from the Fort Edmonton footbridge, the sand bar stretches down the river.
Many people use this sandbar to walk up the river and then float or swim down. As the sandbar is located along the North Saskatchewan River, use caution. It can be fast and cold.
Beaches near Edmonton
Unlike beaches around Calgary, the beaches near Edmonton aren’t glacier fed. Read: not as freezing cold. Northern and central Alberta sport an abundance of lakes which are way warmer than river beaches. These are our favourite beaches near Edmonton – all easily visited as a day trip.
Quite possibly the most popular beach area for Edmontonians, Pigeon Lake is about an hour’s drive from south Edmonton. It’s an Alberta Provincial Park and has a designated swimming and beach area, but no lifeguards on duty.
The most popular beach at Pigeon Lake is Ma-Me-O Beach. This beach has beautiful white sand, shallow water and is generally quite warm as Alberta lakes go. One of the best parts about visiting Ma-Me-O Beach is getting to take a walk through the cute Village at Pigeon Lake. Don’t miss the local ice cream at Daisy McBean’s.
Half Moon Lake
Located about 30km east of Edmonton, Half Moon Lake is a small lake that’s superb for swimming and cooling off on a hot summer day. The lake has a sandy, shallow beach and many day use amenities including fire pits, picnic areas and washrooms.
This beach is unfortunately not free. It costs $10/adult and $5/child. Check out the resort area if you’re looking for a place to stay near the beach.
Alberta Beach is located on Lac St. Anne, only an hour outside of Edmonton. The beach is in the middle of the town called Alberta Beach. The water in Lac St. Anne is known to be warm and shallow – making it an ideal destination for families. But it also sports a fair amount of algae, so you’ll want to check and see if there’s any water advisories in effect before heading out.
The beach area is quite nice and there’s a lot of amenities on tap, so if you happen to forget something, you’ll be well taken care of. While you’re there, be sure to explore the town of Alberta Beach. Check out Mama’s for dinner or the Cat and Fiddle bakery for a treat.
Sylvan Lake Beach Park
Sylvan Lake is one of the best-known Alberta beaches and the most popular in Central Alberta. Located in the resorty-type town of Sylvan Lake, the beach is equidistant from both Calgary and Edmonton, making it the perfect Alberta beach destination.
The lake has a beautiful sandy beach with good day use options, including a picnic area and beach volleyball courts. With its marina, the lake is also popular for boating and it’s lovely to see sailboats bobbing by.
Since Sylvan Lake is one of the best-known beaches in Alberta, you’ll want to show up early to get a good parking spot and a place to set up your towel on the beach.
Note: Check COVID-19 regulations prior to heading to the beach. At the time of writing, Sylvan Lake is discouraging non-locals from visiting to stop potential outbreaks, but the beach is currently open.
Hastings Lake is about 40km southeast of Edmonton. It was named Kawatikh, which is Cree for ‘lake that does not freeze,’ because it’s fed by an underground spring that keeps it from freezing over, even during bracing Alberta winters.
Several spots around Hastings Lake are protected natural sites as there’s many birds in the area, making it also a good place for watching wildlife. This lake is generally quite quiet as it’s more rustic (with less amenities) than other lakes in the area. However you will be privy to a nice rock and sand beach, picnic area, playground and boat launch.
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Have you ever been to a beach area in or around Edmonton? Where are your favourite spots to chill by the water’s edge?