Canada’s 10 Most Stunning Nearby Places to Visit this Christmas

It’s officially time to embrace the holiday spirit! While numerous exciting holiday events are happening in and around Calgary, it’s also an opportune moment for some family fun. This month offers various options for planning a festive day trip from Calgary, creating a perfect outing for either family enjoyment or a holiday-themed date.

Throughout the month, towns and smaller cities near Calgary, including Banff and the mountains, host a plethora of holiday and Christmas events. These festivities include enchanting holiday light displays, Santa visits, horse and wagon rides, family photo opportunities, and much more.

Nestled beside Calgary, the Rockies provide a range of outdoor recreational activities, both paid and free. Consider making a day trip to surrounding ski resorts, partake in guided mountain adventures, or opt for cost-free activities like winter hiking, photography, and cross-country skiing.

10 most stunning places to visit near Canada

1. Sylvan Lake

Explore the enchanting winter wonderland of Sylvan Lake this holiday season! As a perennial favorite among Alberta’s winter destinations, Sylvan Lake kicks off the festive season with a dazzling display of lights. The town is bustling with recreational activities and holiday shopping, offering a warm welcome to visitors. Take a break along Lakeshore Drive to discover numerous local dining options and cozy cafes serving up delightful warm drinks.

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by strolling through the captivating Christmas under the Lights event, enjoying a scenic view of the lake alongside festive illuminations.

Don’t forget to pack your skates! Alberta’s winter weather sets the stage for lake skating, and Sylvan Lake’s skating area, conveniently located near the light displays, provides a festive atmosphere with holiday music serenading your exercise routine.


For a change of scenery, escape the main town and head to Jarvis Bay Provincial Park for a delightful afternoon of snowshoeing amid picturesque surroundings.

Elevate your winter experience by booking a private ice fishing hut with Sunsport Recreation. They also offer the option to rent a sauna hut for a truly unique and cozy winter adventure!

2. Sundre

Discover the winter wonderland just a short drive north of Calgary in the charming town of Sundre. The journey, taking approximately 1.5-2 hours, unfolds alongside the picturesque foothills on the iconic Cowboy Trail. The scenery transforms into a breathtaking snowy landscape, setting the stage for a delightful winter escape filled with outdoor adventures, culinary delights, and festive celebrations.

Sundre beckons with a myriad of options for a day trip from Calgary. Outdoor enthusiasts can revel in the winter magic with approximately 25km of cross-country skiing and fat biking trails scattered around town. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced adventurer, there are trails catering to various difficulty levels, ensuring a perfect fit for everyone.


For those seeking a more exhilarating experience, Mountain’s Edge Cycle & Sled offers snowmobile and winter ATV rentals. Embark on a thrilling ride through the rolling hills around Sundre, with the Olds Snowmobile Staging Area providing access to a network of diverse trails.

The town itself boasts a diverse culinary scene, offering around town which give you plenty of options for different difficulty levels. From family-friendly spots to fine dining establishments, and from international cuisine to cozy pubs, Sundre provides a wide selection of dining experiences to satisfy every palate.

As you explore Sundre, you’ll find that the town isn’t just a destination; it’s a winter haven offering a perfect blend of outdoor recreation, culinary delights, and festive cheer. Whether you’re drawn by the snowy trails, winter adventures, or the warmth of local hospitality, Sundre invites you to create lasting memories in the heart of Alberta’s winter magic.

3. Nordegg & Abraham Lake

Embark on a winter journey to the captivating town of Nordegg and the expansive Abraham Lake, nestled in the picturesque landscapes along the David Thompson Highway. This scenic drive takes you beside the stunning Abraham Lake, providing a visual feast as you transition from the white prairies to foothills and, finally, the small mountains enveloping Nordegg.

Begin your exploration in Nordegg, where a quaint shop and café await, offering a cozy stop before venturing into the winter wonderland that surrounds the town. Nordegg is not just a destination; it’s a gateway to outdoor adventures and natural wonders.

For an unforgettable experience, consider booking a guided tour with Nordegg Adventures. Witness the magic of frozen Siffleur Falls, marvel at Crescent Falls, and be enchanted by the mesmerizing ice bubbles beneath the surface of Abraham Lake.


If you prefer a more independent adventure, venture onto the frozen lake to explore the renowned ice bubbles. Exercise caution, ensuring the ice conditions are safe, and revel in the unique beauty of this natural phenomenon. Along the lake’s shores, numerous roadside stops offer convenient picnic areas and washrooms, providing the perfect setting for a winter outing.

As the day transitions into night, stay a little longer to bask in the clear night sky. Abraham Lake, with its minimal light pollution, becomes an ideal spot for stargazing, offering a celestial display that adds a touch of magic to your winter escapade.

For those seeking a more active pursuit, take a self-guided hike to Siffleur Falls, immersing yourself in the tranquility of the winter landscape. Whether you choose guided adventures or prefer to explore at your own pace, Nordegg and Abraham Lake beckon with their winter charm, promising an unforgettable escape into the heart of Alberta’s natural beauty.

4. Bragg Creek

Nestled at the base of the foothills, a short drive from Calgary, the charming town of Bragg Creek beckons with its natural beauty and a plethora of winter adventures. Conveniently located, especially for those on the west end of the city, Bragg Creek is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a quick escape into the heart of Alberta’s scenic landscapes.

The Elbow River gracefully flows through the town, enhancing the already stunning scenery that surrounds Bragg Creek. Whether you gaze in any direction, the town’s location at the foot of the foothills offers picturesque views that are sure to captivate.

Bragg Creek provides an array of options for those eager to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of winter. Lace up your skates for a leisurely glide in town, or venture just outside for exhilarating skiing and snowshoeing adventures. The surrounding areas boast an extensive trail system for cross-country skiers, offering trails of varying difficulties and lengths that wind through enchanting forests.

After a day filled with outdoor pursuits, Bragg Creek invites you to indulge in its diverse culinary scene. The town boasts a remarkable selection of local food establishments, each offering a unique and inviting atmosphere. For warmth and coziness, consider Mable & Marie’s or the Bragg Creek Café & Baking Company. If you’re in the mood for a family meal, Bragg’s Korner Kitchen and Creekers Bistro are excellent choices. For those opting for take-out or picnic fare, Mountain Bistro & Pizzeria, Rani’s Rasoi, and the Bav & Tav have you covered.

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For a distinctive winter experience, explore the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Bragg Creek on horseback with Moose Mountain Horseback Adventures. They offer winter day-rides around their foothills ranch, just a short drive south of Bragg Creek.

In Bragg Creek, the fusion of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and culinary delights creates an ideal setting for a memorable winter day trip from Calgary. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Bragg Creek welcomes you with open arms and the promise of an unforgettable escape.

5. Turner Valley and Black Diamond

Experience the magic of the holiday season by venturing south to the neighboring towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond in southern Alberta. These two close-knit communities often join forces for major events and celebrations, creating a delightful synergy that enhances your winter day trip.

As you explore Black Diamond and Turner Valley, you’ll discover a treasure trove of holiday delights, including festive shopping opportunities, enchanting winter landscapes, locally owned dining establishments, and captivating holiday lights.


Black Diamond, adorned with festive displays along Government Road, officially illuminates for Christmas, providing a visual spectacle throughout the entire month. Bundle up and take a winter stroll through the charming streets, where the warm glow of holiday lights adds a touch of magic to the snowy surroundings.

Pause during your exploration for a moment of coziness at the local cafes. Whether it’s hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, these establishments offer the perfect respite from the winter chill.

In Turner Valley, your culinary options are just as inviting. Consider stopping by the Chuckwagon Café, the Coyote Moon Cantina, or the Black Sheep Coffee Company for a delicious meal or a warm beverage to keep you energized and satisfied.

Black Diamond boasts its own array of local cafes, including Marv’s Classic Soda Shop and the Westwood, providing you with additional choices for delightful culinary experiences.

The synergy between Turner Valley and Black Diamond creates a harmonious blend of holiday cheer and small-town charm. Spend a day exploring these southern Alberta gems, where the combination of festive decorations, inviting cafes, and local delights promises to make your winter day trip a memorable and heartwarming experience.

6. Lethbridge

Escape the chill of Calgary and embark on a delightful day trip to Lethbridge during the holiday season. Situated just a bit further south, Lethbridge often enjoys milder winters, offering a welcoming environment for outdoor holiday activities. Revel in the festive atmosphere as you explore outdoor light displays, partake in downtown shopping and dining, and join in the special holiday festivities at Fort Whoop Up.

A must-visit during your Lethbridge excursion is the annual Winter Light Festival at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. The enchanting outdoor light display transforms the garden into a winter wonderland, creating the perfect setting for a peaceful winter walk. Elevate your experience with their Dome Dining offerings, adding a touch of magic to your holiday outing.

Immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas at Fort Whoop Up. On December 10-11 and 17-18, the fort comes alive with crafts, treats, sleigh rides, blacksmithing demonstrations, and overall festive merriment. It’s a wonderful opportunity for you and your family to enjoy a day filled with holiday cheer and engaging activities.

Lethbridge’s milder winters not only provide a reprieve from the cold but also open up a host of outdoor holiday opportunities. Whether you’re strolling through the Winter Light Festival, exploring downtown delights, or participating in the festivities at Fort Whoop Up, Lethbridge promises a charming and festive escape during the holiday season.

7. Banff

Embrace the enchantment of Christmas in Banff, where the holiday spirit comes alive throughout the entire month of December. Nestled amidst stunning mountain landscapes, Banff offers a magical setting for outdoor winter recreation, charming town strolls, and a variety of festive celebrations.

For those seeking the thrill of winter sports, Banff boasts several options, including downhill ski resorts and National Park trails. Take advantage of the distance between Calgary and Banff by dedicating a full day to the slopes at either Sunshine Village or Mt. Norquay.

As you explore the town, don’t miss the free outdoor light display, “In Search of Christmas Spirit,” at the Cascade of Time Garden. The twinkling lights against the snowy backdrop create a mesmerizing scene that captures the essence of the season.

For a unique and inspiring winter activity, experience “Nightrise” at Banff Gondola. This multimedia adventure blends storytelling and nature, providing a fresh perspective on the beauty that surrounds you.

Indulge in the festive flavors of the season by following the Hot Chocolate Trail, featuring over 20 different businesses each offering their own delightful spin on the classic holiday drink. Whether you prefer it traditional or with a creative twist, the trail promises a warm and satisfying journey.

To add a touch of romance or festive cheer to your day, book a sleigh ride. Enjoy breathtaking views of the town, mountains, and forests as you glide through the winter wonderland, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Banff’s Christmas magic is not just a destination; it’s an immersive experience that combines winter adventure, festive traditions, and the warm glow of holiday lights. Whether you’re carving through the snow on the slopes or sipping hot chocolate on the Hot Chocolate Trail, Banff invites you to savor the spirit of the season in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

8. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Escape the city hustle and immerse yourself in the winter wonderland of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, just an hour’s drive from Calgary. This hidden gem, requiring a Kananaskis Pass for free winter recreation, offers a one-stop-shop for a day trip filled with outdoor adventures and breathtaking snowy landscapes.

As you step into the park, you’ll be greeted by an extensive trail network catering to various winter activities. With a substantial snowfall of over 50cm, the park transforms into a snowy paradise, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to explore its wonders.

For cross-country ski enthusiasts, Peter Lougheed boasts over 20 groomed trails, providing an exhilarating and picturesque experience against the snowy backdrop. The remaining trails throughout the park are mixed-use, accommodating activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, fat biking, or a combination of them all.

Enhance your winter outing by packing a cozy winter picnic. If approaching from the south, consider stopping by local restaurants in Turner Valley and Black Diamond for delicious snacks. Alternatively, if coming from the north, Cochrane offers a variety of food and snack options to fuel your adventure.

While some day use areas in the park may be closed for the winter, approximately half remain open, allowing you to choose from a range of accessible locations for your winter escapade.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park stands as a haven for those seeking a day of free winter recreation in the heart of nature. Whether you’re gliding through groomed ski trails, embarking on a snowshoeing expedition, or enjoying a winter picnic surrounded by serene landscapes, the park promises a tranquil and invigorating retreat from the everyday.

9. Drumheller

Embark on a winter adventure to Drumheller from Calgary and witness the magic of the Alberta badlands covered in a blanket of snow. This day trip promises not only scenic stops along the way but also a delightful array of winter views and holiday festivities once you reach Drumheller.

As you make your journey, pause at Horseshoe Canyon for a breathtaking viewpoint, offering a preview of the enchanting landscapes that await you. In Drumheller, elevate your perspective by visiting the top of the World’s Largest Dinosaur for a panoramic view of the snowy surroundings.

Upon arriving in town, immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with numerous celebrations and light displays. Drumheller’s annual Lightfest, running until December 11, transforms the Badlands Amphitheatre into a dazzling spectacle. Each weekend showcases a different theme, adding to the festive charm.

Extend your experience by venturing away from town to Midland Provincial Park for some spectacular stargazing. The vast skies around Drumheller offer breathtaking views any time of the year, creating a perfect setting for celestial wonders.

The holiday magic continues with Christmas in the Coulee at the Atlas Coal Mine. This second light display transforms the historic Coal Mine into a bright and festive winter wonderland, adding to the town’s allure.

For a charming outdoor event, mark your calendar for December 10th and visit Pearl & Heart’s 2nd annual Winterfest. The celebration promises festive food and drinks, shopping, games, and activities, creating a lively atmosphere for all.

Drumheller, with its snow-covered badlands, holiday celebrations, and captivating light displays, invites you to experience the warmth and wonder of winter in the heart of Alberta. Whether you’re gazing at the stars, exploring the town’s festivities, or enjoying the outdoor Winterfest, Drumheller promises a memorable winter day trip filled with joy and enchantment.


10. High River

Escape the hustle of the city with a quick day trip to High River, a charming spot just a stone’s throw away from Calgary. This convenient destination offers a perfect blend of holiday fun, family-friendly activities, and local charm that makes it an ideal getaway during the festive season.

High River’s holiday magic comes alive around George Lane Memorial Park, a central location in town. Here, you can immerse yourself in the warmth of holiday lights while exploring local stores, all within walking distance of the parking lot. The park serves as the hub for Light up High River, an event that encourages the entire town to go all out in decorating their homes and businesses. Begin your winter walk at George Lane Park, where numerous displays create a festive atmosphere, and continue your journey to explore the beautifully adorned residential lights. Before December 18th, don’t forget to cast your vote for your favorite displays in different categories, adding an interactive element to your holiday stroll.

For those seeking a more tranquil experience, High River offers picturesque nature walks around areas like Frank Lake or the Highwood River. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a scenic photography walk, these natural settings provide the perfect backdrop for a leisurely day outdoors.

High River’s proximity to Calgary and its festive holiday atmosphere make it an excellent choice for a quick and enjoyable day trip. Whether you’re strolling through the historic downtown, admiring the river views, or casting your vote for the best holiday displays, High River promises a delightful escape into the heart of holiday cheer.


  • Best Time to Experience the Northern Lights in Whitehorse? The prime time is between September and April, with clearer skies and increased visibility.
  • Are Outdoor Activities Available in Jasper during Winter? Yes, Jasper offers a host of winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
  • What Makes Niagara Falls Special During Christmas? The Falls light up in vibrant colors, adding a magical touch to the festive season.
  • How Cold Does it Get in Quebec City in December? Temperatures can range from -5°C to -15°C, so pack warmly for the winter chill.
  • Is Whistler Only for Skiing Enthusiasts? Not at all! Whistler has a vibrant holiday scene suitable for all, regardless of skiing preferences.
  • Are There Family-Friendly Events in Ottawa? Absolutely! Ottawa hosts numerous family-friendly events, including light displays and markets.

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