Jasper is one of those magical places you never forget.
Remember when the holidays were more about sharing your time, your food and perhaps a few festive drinks with loved ones? Sure, it was still commercial when we were kids, but is wasn’t as bad. Back then, there was more focus on the gathering of people and creating festive cheer. This Christmas, why not consider giving the gift of travel? You know the buzz always wears off your latest purchase, but the memories made through shared experiences stay in your heart and mind forever. Here are some unforgettable Alberta experiences to share with loved ones.
Best foodie gifts
Edmonton has been flexing their culinary chops for the past few years, and if you haven’t sussed out the city’s latest hot spots, you’re missing out. Give the foodie in your life a taste of this city’s sizzling food scene with a tour of its hottest restaurants. Where to begin? If you were buying for me (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), I’d want to hit up Meat (order by the pound!), Corso 32 and Rostizado, homestyle Mexican from the talented group that brought us Tres Carnales.
You could present your Tres Carnales gift certificate with a bottle of tequila…
String those gift certificates together on a gorgeous cooking accoutrement from Edmonton’s Duchess Provisions and while you’re there, pick up a little something for yourself at their luscious Bake Shop.
Don’t send Insgrammers into Duchess Provisions or they’ll never leave.
Cooking classes are another great option. Roll up your sleeves and take a class with Sorrentinos in Edmonton or in Calgary at The Cookbook Co. For something really special, arrange for an overnight at Paintbox Lodge, a boutique hotel in Canmore with kitchen party style demonstration classes.
It’s like live theatre cooking at The Box.
Bonus points for arranging your stay duringCanmore Uncorked, a food festival with special set-price menus at local restaurants and a must attend long table dinner.
Alfresco dining in Canmore is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Travel gifts for outdoor adventurers
Can you imagine the peace you’d feel nestling into a lodge deep in the heart of the backcountry? On many a Calgarian’s bucket list is skiing the 11 km from Lake Lousie to Skoki Lodge. This National Historic Site is where Kate and Wills slipped away to during their Alberta tour in 2011. If it’s good enough for the royals…
Does it get any more romantic than this? I don’t think so….
What to buy the cheeky, wise guy in your family? Set at Heritage Ranch outside of Red Deer, Ranchtracker lets them play fugitive on the run. If you’ve ever watched the popular television show Mantracker, you know how this goes down. You’re dropped in the woods and you have to beat the man in the saddle. It’s particularly rad in warmer weather when you can wear camouflage outfits, but there’s bush to hide in year round.
Trying to outwit Ranchtracker is something to tick off the bucket list.
And did you know Skydiving Calgary operates a skydiving school out of the Innisfail Airport? First timers can make like James Bond and try tandem skydiving from April through October.
Travel gifts for couples
Bed and breakfast away from the crowds at Prairie Creek Inn. This romantic country inn delivers quiet comfort and warmth by duvet loads. Set snuggly in the heart of Central Alberta, it’s the perfect hideaway for folks wanting to rekindle their spark or simply reconnect with nature.
Cosy up inside this sweet Canadiana suite and you may never want to leave.
Fall out of bed and meander through the boreal forest or nosh on a romantic picnic beside Prairie Creek that borders the property (guys will love that its a prime fishing spot). In winter: snowshoe, cross country ski or take it up a notch dog sledding and ice climbing. Or just say you did and relax with a beautiful bottle of wine in front of the wood burning fire. I won’t tell.
And the food at Prairie Creek Inn ain’t bad, either.
Travel gifts for children and families
You’re spoiled for choice in Alberta when it comes to alfresco adventures with the family. If there’s one thing kids love, it’s freaking out their parents. Harness their dreams mushing through the woods on a dog sledding tour. Most operators let children 10-years and older drive the team, while those younger can ride in tandem with the guide. Anyone including babes, tots and grandparents are welcome cozy up in the sled and enjoy the ride.
Snowy Owl Sled Dogs Tours is fun for the whole family.
Keen to hit the slopes? Skiing doesn’t have to be a pricy activity, if you choose your resort and package well. Castle Mountain in Southern Alberta is quiet resort, well suited for families with a variety of lessons and childcare for littles 18-months and older. While minutes from Banff, Norquay boasts a popular ski school, hourly tickets for those not sure if they can commit to a full day and an adrenaline pumping tube park.
Don’t ski? Not a problem at Mount Norquay!
Cool travel experiences for anyone
One of the world’s largest dark sky preserves is found in Jasper National Park. Each October the tiny town hosts the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, which reveals the night sky in ways you’ve never considered before. Besides star and aurora gazing, guests can schmooze with Co. Chris Hadfield, try a night sky photography workshop or take in a concert by the light of the moon with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Watch the night sky light up in Jasper National Park.
Whatever adventure you choose, take that opportunity to unplug from the toils of modern life. It’s only when we’re able to disconnect from that whirlwind, we’re poised to find the greatest connections of all. Wishing you and your family a holiday season filled with unhurried time and magical moments.
Thanks to Travel Alberta for providing me with the inspiration for this post. As always, my opinions and crap grammar are my own.
I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.