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19 BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Kelowna

19 BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Kelowna

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So, you’re planning on driving from Edmonton to Kelowna – great choice! It’s a bit of a lesser-known road trip, and the drive from Edmonton to Kelowna is lengthy (it will take under 10 hours without stops!). But, it’s jam-packed with some of the best sights in Canada – think Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Yoho National Park, Canmore, and more!

Yep, there are some seriously well-known tourist destinations between Edmonton, Alberta, and Kelowna, BC, that driving between two of my favorite cities in the country is more likely to turn into a several-days-long road trip! I say, the longer, the better for this gorgeous drive that follows along three of the most popular highways in Western Canada – Highway 2, the Trans-Canada Highway (aka Highway 1), and Highway 97A.

Honestly, you will regret rushing this 891 km (554 miles) drive. It’s such a pretty part of Canada, and as you have already read, you’ll be passing by some of the most iconic sights in Alberta and BC. But, on this list of 19 best stops between Edmonton and Kelowna, I’ve also included some lesser-known destinations like Sicamous, Golden, and Vernon because I just love these off-the-beaten-path spots! And I hope you will too!

You can start this road trip in Edmonton or Kelowna. It’s the same trip both ways and includes all the same stops. In this blog post, I’ve started the road trip in Edmonton, but you can also do it the other way round from Kelowna to Edmonton!

About the Drive from Edmonton to Kelowna

highway with yellow trees and mountains in Banff National Park
The drive goes through Banff National Park!

The drive from Edmonton to Kelowna is 891 km (554 miles) and will take a minimum of 10 hours without stops or traffic. The road trip follows Highway 2 as far as Calgary and the Trans-Canada Highway (or Highway 1) between Calgary and Sicamous, at which point you’ll change onto Highway 97A for the final (approximately 1.5 hours) stretch into Kelowna.

Because it passes through some of the most visited towns in Canada, including Banff, Lake Louise, and Canmore, we recommend allowing at least three full days for this road trip.

It’s rated as an easy drive, and as I said, it follows the busy Highway 2 and Highway 1 for most of the way. These are two of the busiest highways in Western Canada. And you’ll likely be caught in traffic on the approach to Calgary, Banff, and Lake Louise, especially if you’re driving in the summer months or at weekends throughout the year.

Be mindful when driving through the National Parks – Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, and Glacier National Park during the warmer months as wildlife (particularly moose, elk, and deer) may suddenly appear on the road, and you may need to brake quite quickly.

While if you plan to drive between Edmonton and Kelowna in the winter, you will need to have winter or all-season tires on your car or your rental car. Don’t worry too much, as any snow or ice gets cleared very regularly on Highway 1 and Highway 2 and a little less regularly on Highway 97A. But during heavy snowfall, you may be driving in very icy/snowy conditions, especially when driving through the national parks. Thankfully, there are lots of places to pull over along the way if the conditions get too bad!

It’s important to note that until winter 2024, there is significant construction on a section of the road east of Golden. It is called the Kicking Horse Canyon Project, and delays can be up to 30 minutes during the day, and this 5 km (3.1 mi) section is closed at night, so you will need to take an alternative route via Radium Hot Springs. You can read all about the road work here.

You can also take a similarly timed route from Edmonton to Kelowna (it’s 895 km/556 miles in length), which goes via Spruce Grove and Rocky Mountain House, before joining Highway 1 near Lake Louise to take you via Golden and Sicamous to Kelowna. It’s a less-scenic route, though, as it avoids Banff and Canmore.

Another longer alternative from Edmonton to Kelowna follows the Yellowhead Hwy for the most part. It goes via Miette Hot Springs, Jasper National Park, Clearwater, and Kamloops before joining up with Highway 97A at Vernon to take you on the final stretch into Kelowna. This option is 969 km (602 miles) and will take 10.5 hours without stops!

Note: If you plan on stopping in any of the national parks, you’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. There are various types of passes you can buy that range from $10-$145 CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.

Related Read: If you’re itching for another road trip, the drive from Edmonton to Canmore or the road trip from Edmonton to Lake Louise both have some amazing stops! Or if you’re still planning to go to BC, don’t miss the drive from Edmonton to Vancouver!

The BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Kelowna

1. Edmonton

Bailey rides a bike along the Rover Valley in Edmonton Alberta
Biking along the River Valley!
Daniel and Bailey inside the Comic Strip in the West Edmonton Mall
At the Comic Strip in the West Edmonton Mall!

First off, take some time to explore Edmonton before you depart for Kelowna! You’ll be able to enjoy the city’s many outdoor activities and its awesome city park without worrying about the weather, as Edmonton receives a whopping 2,300 hours of sunshine annually!

It is also the second-largest in Alberta (Calgary is the biggest) and has a population of 1.1 million.

Shopaholics will surely have heard of the West Edmonton Mall, or the “West Ed” as locals call it – it’s a shopping paradise with over 800 stores, and it’s the second-largest mall in North America! But the West Ed is not just for shopping. There’s also an indoor skating rink, a water park, roller coasters, restaurants, and two hotels. 

One of our favorite things to do in Edmonton is to explore the scenic River Valley. Accessible from downtown, it boasts 150 kilometers (93 miles) of hiking trails, many of which are transformed in the winter for cross-country skiing. At an impressive 7,300 hectares (18,000 acres), the River Valley is 22 times the size of the famed Central Park in New York! 

If you’re a fan of cool guided tours, then you can’t go wrong with this 90-minute segway adventure through the River Valley on a segway vehicle! Be sure to zoom onto the Walterdale Bridge and stop for a few moments to admire the epic view of the city from here.

While the segway tour is a great year-round activity if you’re in Edmonton in the summer, why not join an exhilarating speedboat tour here with Black Gold River Tours? Fyi, they also offer a more relaxing cruise option if that’s more your style!

In the afternoon/evening, make time to stop into Edmonton’s Neon Sign Museum! Looking its best in the dark when you’ll get to see the signs light up 104 Street on the south side of Mercer Warehouse and the east side of the TELUS building. There are over 20 neon signs that have been restored and showcase some of the most beloved Edmonton businesses from the past. 

If you’re a foodie, you’re in luck as there are heaps of excellent restaurants in Edmonton. This big city is a major foodie destination, and you’ll be treated to plenty of top-rated restaurants. Jasper Ave and Whyte Ave have many trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes.

2. Leduc  

an exhibit about fossil fuels in the Canadian Energy Museum in Leduc
Ready to learn about fossil fuels? Photo Credit: The Canadian Energy Museum

As you leave behind the bright lights of Edmonton, it’s not long until your next stop (34.8 km/21.6 miles, to be exact!). Leduc is another community along Highway 2. If it’s a nice day, stop into the Telford Lake area to walk around the 8.2-km (5-mile) trail. It’s a fantastic spot for bird-watching and boating. The lake hosts dragon boat competitions in the summer!  

Also, check out the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site. It’s a treasured local landmark in the center of Leduc, the last wooden grain elevator built in the province. 

Oil and energy are very important to this area, and the Canadian Energy Museum in Leduc is a great place to learn more about the industry. Tours here will take you through pipeline safety, information about the oil sands, and renewable energy trends. The museum offers tours from Tuesday-Saturday for $6 CAD per person.  

3. Red Deer  

a winter display in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
There are some cool exhibits in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Photo Credit: Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

Red Deer is the halfway point between Calgary and Edmonton – the two biggest cities in the province, and so, as you can imagine, it’s a very popular road trip stop. However, most drivers only stop here briefly to grab food or fuel. If you’re not in a rush, we highly recommend spending a few hours here, as there are lots of fun things to do in Red Deer. 

If you’re planning a road trip between Edmonton and Kelowna in the summer, be sure to allow some time for the super-fun Discovery Canyon Water Park! This free outdoor waterpark is around a river-fed water pool. Here, you can rent tubes and ride them down the small river or visit the beach, wading pool, and boardwalk. As I mentioned, it’s only open in the summer – from June until the September long weekend.  

Sports fans will surely be keen to check out the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, which is chock-a-block full of archives on some of the best athletes from Alberta. You’ll also find a gallery completely dedicated to hockey (one of Canada’s favorite sports) and a few interactive games. 

A great stop after the Sports Hall of Fame is the Troubled Monk. After all, beer and sports go hand in hand. Here, you can taste some of my favorite Albertan craft beers, such as the Golden Gaetz Golden Ale, the Rebels Red Ale, and the Pesky Pig Pale Ale. What’s also great is that most of the malt they use is sourced locally and grown in Alberta.

4. Gasoline Alley  

woman stand outside of Peters Drive in on Gasoline Alley
It’s never too cold for a Peters’ milkshake!

Gasoline Alley “is exactly what it says on the tin” – a collection of gas stations (and other businesses) not far from Red Deer. So, if you need to stop to fuel up with food or gas, this is the place to do it! 

If you’re hungry, I recommend stopping at Peters’ Drive-In. It’s known for its saucy burgers, thick milkshakes, and friendly service. When they first opened this location in Gasoline Alley back in 2005, the line-up was so long people were waiting three hours for burgers!  

Another great spot is The Donut Mill – look for the giant windmill on top of the building! True to their name, the donuts here are what made them famous. Everything is baked fresh daily with donuts like Orange Creamsicle, Maple Rolo, Chocolate Venetian, Vanilla Lemon, Apple Pie, or the flavor of the month. 

5. Innisfail  

The small town of Innisfail is another worthy stop on your drive from Edmonton to Kelowna. The place has grown enormously in the last number of years, and once upon a time, there was just a small collection of shacks here, and it was a popular stopping point with the stagecoaches of the past! It was the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway that really put Innisfail on the map. 

Interestingly, most of the best things to do in Innisfail involve animals. I reckon no visit to this small town is complete without stopping at the Discovery Wildlife Park, a wildlife facility that houses orphaned wildlife and former zoo animals. You can see wolves, bears, lions, cougars, and more up close here. Learn more about the animals at one of the daily presentations, take your photo with a bear (from a safe distance!), or why not take a wolf for a walk? Discovery Wildlife Park is open from May 1 to Sept 30, and entrance costs approximately $21 CAD.  

Next, stop into the RCMP Dog Training Facility to see the amazing Mountie dogs and their handlers training. This is a must-visit for dog lovers as it’s where all the police dogs for the Mounties (aka Royal Canadian Mounted Police) are trained. You can watch free demonstrations every Wednesday at 2 pm from Victoria Day until Labour Day. 

And finally, before you hit the road again, visit the DINOS Centre (Discovery Institute of Nature, Origins, and Science). Stretch your legs at this family-friendly center with a game of laser tag in an ancient city with animatronic dinosaurs, blacklight murals, and a river with a waterfall running right through it. You can also play a round of indoor mini-golf here if you have the time. 

6. Nose Creek Regional Park  

snowy pine trees covered is christmas lights
If you’re driving from Edmonton to Kelowna around Christmas, be sure to stop and see the light show!

About an hour after Innisfail, you’ll come to Nose Creek Regional Park. This is a great park for a picnic, with 20 acres of green space and plenty of picnic tables. There’s even a concession area, fire pit, and nature trails.  

In the winter, the park transforms into the Airdrie Festival of Lights. Colorful Christmas light displays fill the area, and it’s the largest free outdoor display that you can walk through in Western Canada!  

If you’re here in the summer and are a fishing fan, you’re in luck, as the Nose Creek pond is stocked with trout for fishing. 

7. CrossIron Mills  

one of the entrances to CrossIron Mills mall on the outskirts of Calgary
One of the many entrances to the mall. Photo Credit: CrossIron Mills

Before you reach “Cowtown” aka Calgary, spend a few hours getting your retail therapy fix at CrossIron Mills. This outlet shopping center holds the title of the largest one-level shopping center in the province. It’s a gigantic 1.4 million square feet!  

Shopaholics will be in heaven here, as there are more than 200 stores with big brand names like Calvin Kelin, Coach, Hugo Boss, Levi’s, Oakley, and Sephora. And specialty stores like Bass Pro Shops and Bed Bath and Beyond. If you’re traveling with little ones, their eyes will widen with excitement when they enter the Toys ‘R’ Us here – the biggest one in Alberta! 

CrossIron Mills is divided into six themed neighborhoods that surround a giant 1,200-seat food court. So, if you’re hungry after all that driving, you will find excellent choices here, with almost every cuisine represented at the large food court. 

8. Calgary 

Street art on a tour in Calgary, Canada
Street art in Calgary – so colorful!
View of Calgary from the Calgary Tower in Canada
What a view from the Calgary Tower!

Calgary is a must-stop, especially if you’re a city lover. The largest city in the province has the bustling feel of a big city with more than 1.4 million residents and lots going on, so you’ll never get bored during your time here. 

The good thing is that even though the winters can be cold, it’s still likely to be sunny here. Calgary has the most days of sunshine of any other Canadian city – approximately 333 days a year! That makes all seasons a great time to visit. But even if you have a rainy or chilly day, Calgary also has plenty of fun indoor activities!

Get the city’s best view from the highest 360-degree observation deck on the globe at the Calgary Tower for only $20 CAD! If you’re feeling brave, you can step onto the glass floor!! You can even eat here at the revolving restaurant Sky 360.  

If you’re here in July, grab a cowboy hat and take in the spectacle that is the Calgary Stampede! The 10-day event features one of the largest rodeos in the world, a midway, a parade, shows, concerts, chuckwagon racing, and more – it’s easily one of the best things to do in Calgary!  

If you find yourself in Calgary in winter, I love skating at the downtown Olympic Plaza skating rink. Built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, which were hosted here – this is where the medal presentations took place. It is the only refrigerated outdoor rink in Calgary, so the ice is always ready to skate on – even on a hot day. You can rent a pair of skates here for $12 CAD or BYO!

If you want to see the city’s top sights in a short timeframe, I recommend this 2-hour city scooter tour. The best part is that it only costs $55 CAD per person, which is drastically cheaper than some of the other Calgary city tours. At each stop, you’ll learn some history from your guide.

An alternative if you’re into street art and beer is this 3-hour craft beer and street art tour. You will explore the streets and learn the stories behind the artist and art you see while stopping for local beer samples! I can’t think of a better way to do two things simultaneously!

To end your time in Calgary on a high, don’t forget to visit the Calgary Zoo. It’s open year-round and has almost 1,000 animals and exhibits, including tigers, giraffes, lemurs, and much more! If you visit in the morning, you’ll catch my favorite attraction – the penguin walk! Every morning at 10 am, the penguins head off on a 15-minute walk through the zoo – it’s such a bucket-list-worthy thing to witness!  

Where to stay in Calgary

Within the central city area, the Wicked Hostels Calgary is a good choice for budget travelers. The hostel is clean, comfortable, and located in a good area. Plus you have the flexibility to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com to snag a great deal.

If you can spend a bit more the Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel and Suites is perfect. The suites have a full kitchen which is perfect for homemade meals which can save you a lot of money.

For luxury travelers, check out the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire. This hotel overlooks the river valley, comes with an indoor pool (with waterslide), hot tub, fitness center, hair salon, and gift shop.

9. Canmore

The Three Sisters are famous in Canmore!

Canmore is the next must-visit place on your road trip from Edmonton to Kelowna. It’s one of my favorite mountain towns in Canada and is a very popular tourist destination, although it’s not as popular as its more famous neighbors – Banff and Lake Louise. Which I actually think is a good thing because you still get to enjoy those epic mountain views from the town, but restaurants and hotels here are, as a whole cheaper than nearby Banff National Park

Canmore is situated on the outskirts of Banff National Park. So as you can guess, lovers of the great outdoors enjoy spending time here as most of the best things to do here involve nature, from hiking to Grassi Lakes or the more challenging Ha Ling Peak to a thrilling caving tour. There are plenty of outdoorsy activities to fill your time here. 

If you’re doing this road trip during the summer, a great thing to do in Canmore is to float down the Bow River in a raft. Along the way, you’ll take in views of the Rocky Mountains and lush forests and even spy on native wildlife (like grizzly bears) too! This rafting tour is a steal at only $45 CAD and is an hour long!

As I mentioned above, one of the most memorable Canmore activities is this Canmore caving adventure tour which takes place in the scary-sounding Rat’s Nest Cave! As part of this challenging tour, you’ll need to rappel down 18 meters (59 feet) and navigate challenging passageways. Tours cost from $180 CAD!

Many hikers descend upon Canmore to test their skills on the super-popular Grassi Lakes hike. The 4 km (2.5 mi) trail is relatively easy and will take around 2 hours to complete. What’s great, too, is that the trailhead is just a 5-minute drive from downtown. The showpiece of this trail is the vibrantly colored Grassi Lakes, which the hike is named after. 

While if you’re up for a more difficult hike, look no further than Ha Ling Peak, another one of the most popular hikes in Canmore. The views along the way and from the summit are out-of-this-world!  

If you plan to stop by Canmore in the winter, then you’ll have to try out the unique sport of cross-country skiing. Canmore is well-known for being the home of the Nordic Centre, where you’ll find some of the best cross-country ski tracks in the country!

And after all that time adventuring through the great outdoors, it’s about time you sit back and relax with a nice cold craft beer, and luckily there are lots of great breweries in Canmore. Or, if you’re more of a coffee fan, stop in for a ‘cuppa joe’ in one of the amazing cafes in Canmore!

Where to stay in Canmore

In case you want to spend a couple of nights in Canmore (and you should!) there are plenty of hotels to choose from.

For budget travelers, I love the Canmore Rocky Mountain Inn. If you don’t mind spending a little more you can certainly get a nice hotel closer to town. The Grande Rockies Resort-Bellstar Hotels & Resorts is still a short walk from town (but it only takes 5 minutes) and the hotel itself is beautiful complete with a pool, hot tub, fitness center, and restaurant and bar.

Related Read: Another super-popular road trip in this region is the short but sweet drive from Canmore to Lake Louise!

10. Banff

Banff Sunshine Village 1
Sunshine Village in Banff is great in all seasons! Photo credit: Banff Sunshine Village
Horseback riding in Banff with Banff Trail Riders
What a view while horseback riding in Banff! Photo credit: Banff Trail Riders

From Canmore, it’s just a 25-minute drive to Banff town. In Banff town, book a hotel for a few nights, as you’ll need time to explore this vibrant mountain town!

Downtown Banff is super-pretty with the looming Cascade Mountain as your backdrop along the main thoroughfare – Banff Ave, and there are plenty of options to eat, drink, and shop on this busy street too. 

Banff is a very popular place to visit in the winter, considering its close proximity to the Sunshine and Norquay ski resorts – both of which are only 15 minutes from town!

The views from Mt Norquay are particularly pretty, so skiing here is like something from a Hallmark movie. And in the summer months, you can ride the sightseeing gondola and stop at the restaurant at the top and enjoy some food with a breathtaking view. 

But Banff is more than just a ski town, and regardless of what time of year you visit, Banff town is an excellent tourist destination with heaps to do. Some of my favorite things to do in Banff include:

Where to stay in Banff:

Lucky for you if you’ve driven from Edmonton to Banff and fancy spending a night to break up the journey – there are lots of hotels to choose from in downtown Banff. My personal favorite is Moose Hotel & Suites which has a great location, is reasonably priced, and has all the amenities you could want including two rooftop hot tubs.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider checking out High Country Inn. It quite possibly could be the most affordable place to stay. Plus, it is located right in town on Banff Ave!

And for a little luxury, the Rimrock Resort Hotel is a must! With an onsite spa, balconies with amazing views, as well as a restaurant and bar this hotel is a must! Plus, it is located a couple of minutes from town in a quieter location.

Alternatively, there are a few other areas to stay around Banff National Park that offer a more remote wilderness escape.

Related Read: Visiting Banff on a tight budget? Check out our blog about the best free things to do in Banff!

11. Lake Louise

Bailey stands on a rock at Lake Louise, Canada
Lake Louise is so quiet in the morning!
Bailey skis at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff National Park
Skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort!

Lake Louise is one of my favorite destinations in all of Canada! The turquoise-hued lake of the same name, mesmerizing mountain backdrop, and awesome hiking and skiing make this very touristy village nestled in the Rockies, one you definitely shouldn’t miss on your drive between Edmonton and Kelowna! 

The best way to see Lake Louise itself is from the water’s edge. As soon as you park up, walk down to the paved pathway surrounding the bright blue lake and take lots of photos!  

If you visit Lake Louise in the winter, the lake completely freezes over and becomes the ultimate skating rink. It’s free to skate on, so make sure to bring your skates or rent a pair.  Of course, during the colder months, you can’t miss out on the snowy fun to be had at Lake Louise Ski Resort! It’s one of the biggest ski resorts in North America, boasting 4,200 acres across four mountains. There’s something for everyone, from beginners to experts, with gentle slopes and wide-open bowls. 

The gorgeous Moraine Lake is the only lake in Alberta that rivals the beauty of Lake Louise! It holds a special place in my heart because Dan proposed to me here. The backdrop of this lake is the famous Ten Peaks – these mountains soar high above the lake, creating a stunning backdrop. The best view is from the Rockpile (a huge pile of rocks), that works as a makeshift viewing platform of the lake. You can’t drive here anymore though as personal vehicles aren’t allowed on the road to the lake, so check out the Moraine Lake shuttle options so you don’t miss out!

On the other hand, if you do this road trip during the summer, you just must hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House! This popular trail is a 7 km (4.3 mi) round-trip and will take most people 3 hours to complete. It’s rated as moderate due to the steep elevation gain of 400 meters (1,313 feet), so a reasonable fitness level is advised!

The views along the way of Lake Louise are astounding, but the best part of this hike is the historic Tea House, which was built way back in 1901. Refuel here with tea, coffee, sandwiches, and other baked goods. As mentioned, the Tea House is only open in the summer, from June to September.

Some other awesome activities available in Lake Louise in the summer are going canoeing on the lake, hiking the lakefront trail, and cycling one of the many biking trails in the area! These are just a few of the best things to do in Lake Louise.

Note: From May until October, you’ll be required to pay $36.75 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise lakefront (2024 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 3 am until 7 pm daily.  

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

There are lots of different places to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Lake Louise.

If you decide you want to stay in Lake Louise, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best budget option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. You can also easily book a room on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list!

12. Yoho National Park/Field

Canoeing on Emerald Lake!

Yoho National Park is the smallest National Park within the Canadian Rockies. Still, despite its compact size, it’s filled with incredible beauty – think huge waterfalls, bright blue lakes, and unique rock formations.

The most famous resident in Yoho National Park is Emerald Lake, which gets its name thanks to its dark blue/greenish water. This unique color is caused by sunlight reflecting on the lake’s surface.

One of my favorite things to do at Emerald Lake in the summer is to go canoeing on the lake, or if you’re keen on some exercise, why not walk the easy one-hour loop trail around the lake? On this trail, you may be lucky to see wildlife like bald eagles, bears, moose, and elk.

If you’re visiting the lake in the winter, you can rent snowshoes from Emerald Lake Lodge and go snowshoeing there. So fun!

In fact, if time allows, I highly recommend spending the night at the luxurious Emerald Lake Lodge, right on the edge of the lake.

Another cool spot within Yoho National Park is the Natural Bridge, built over the Kicking Horse River. This historic rock formation was once a waterfall, but due to the erosive effects of the fast-moving water over time, it has become what you see today. You can easily walk to the Natural Bridge from the car park on Emerald Lake Road. It’s a 3 km (1.5 mi) trail and will take most people 30 minutes to complete.

The closest town to Yoho National Park is Field. Here, you can fuel up, grab groceries, or even base yourself in a hotel for a night or two.

Related Read: Emerald Lake is also one of the best stops on the drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise – read more about this epic road trip!

13. Golden

View of the Golden Suspension bridge with views of the mountains
View of the Golden Suspension Bridge!

The small town of Golden, BC, is home to just 4,000 people, making it one of the smallest tourist towns on this list. But, despite its small size, it has heaps of great things to do, from seeing wolves up close at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre to taking in the magnificent views from the newly opened Golden Skybridge!

Being born and raised in Alberta (next door to BC) I’ve been blessed to spend lots of time in Golden over the years. So, to help you choose what to do in your limited time here, I’ve created the below epic list of things to do in Golden – 

  • Explore downtown Golden – Downtown Golden is a quaint, historically-rich town, and it’s so photogenic! If you’re hungry, head straight to 9th Avenue, which has a lot of cafes and restaurants. And if you need to buy some souvenirs, there are a few great stores on this street too. If you have time, learn more about Golden at the Visitor Centre or Golden Museum.
  • Walk the Golden Skybridge – The Golden Skybridge is the newest attraction in town and is also Canada’s highest suspension bridge! Suspended 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, you’ll feel on top of the world strolling over it and taking in the views of the Columbia Valley. P.S There’s also a zipline experience, ropes course, and canyon swing that fits two people so you can enjoy the adrenaline rush with a friend!
  • Visit the Wolf Centre – You definitely don’t want to run into these magnificent creatures in the wild, so the Northern Lights Wolf Centre is an excellent spot to see them up close and learn all about them. 
  • Hit the slopes at Kicking Horse Resort – Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a popular ski resort in Alberta, and it’s known for the large amounts of annual snowfall it receives. Plus, the challenging terrain here will be a thrill for even the most experienced skiers. It’s a must-do if you’re in Golden in the winter months.
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is such an adrenaline rush. With grade 3-4 rapids, it’s one of the best rafting rivers in the country. There are a number of tours that you can join, such as this full-day tour. For $109 CAD, you will have 5 hours on the river. All equipment, an expert guide, and a buffet lunch are included in the price. 

Where to stay in Golden

So now that you know about all of the amazing things to do in Golden, you’re going to need somewhere to stay a few nights. There’s just so much to explore in the area you might as well book a great hotel and enjoy a few days in one of Canada’s most underrated mountain towns.

Best Western Mountainview Inn is a great choice if you’re looking for something in town. This hotel is clean and comfortable and has everything you could want including an indoor pool and an included breakfast. The reviews are great and the price is modest.

For a more private stay that is only half a mile from town and a rate that won’t break the bank look into Glenogle Mountain Lodge and Spa. Not only does it have exceptional views of the mountains, a hot tub, and a billiard table but it is also quiet – except for the stream that flows past the property.

Related Read: If you aren’t quite ready to leave Golden just yet, check out the best places to stay in Golden.

14. Glacier National Park

the monument at the summit of Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park
This monument is at the summit of Rogers Pass, the highest point you’ll drive through in Glacier National Park.

This road trip takes you right through the middle of Glacier National Park as you drive away from Golden and towards Kelowna. The road through Glacier National Park is called “Rogers Pass,” and it passes by beautiful ancient forests with old cedars and alpine meadows. And you may observe plenty of wildlife along the way, too, such as mountain goats and bears. 

Make sure to visit the park’s Rogers Pass National Historic Site or hike along Canada’s first coast-to-coast railway route, which is now decommissioned. The visitor center also has abundant historical information about the area and the wildlife you can find there.

You’ll also have the opportunity to check out some amazing hikes, like the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is a series of boardwalks through the forest. Or, visit Bear Creek Falls, which is just 20 minutes in duration and provides beautiful waterfall views. 

15. Revelstoke

Sitting on a viewpoint in Mount Revelstoke National park
Mount Revelstoke National Park is stunning!

Another one of my favorite mountain towns in Canada – the scenic Revelstoke is the next stop on your drive between Edmonton and Kelowna. Arguably one of the best places to visit in British Columbia, it offers bright blue lakes, giant mountains, glaciers, lush forests, and excellent restaurants and hotels. 

As with many mountain towns in Canada, the great outdoors are the focal point of lots of activities in Revelstoke, from hiking to whitewater rafting to skiing. Nature lovers will be spoiled for choice here!

Below you’ll find what I believe to be the best things to do in Revelstoke (there’s something for everyone in ‘Revy’ as the locals call it) –

  • Explore Mount Revelstoke National Park – Just outside of Revelstoke is a beautiful national park jam-packed with scenic hikes. Ensure you drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway for epic views, and then do one of the trails from the parking lot at the top. We love the hike to Edith Lake.
  • Whitewater rafting – There are two epic spots to enjoy the thrill of whitewater rafting in Revelstoke – the Illecillewaet River and the calmer Colombia River. The whitewater rafting adventure on the Illecillewaet River starts from $141 CAD. In contrast, the river float tour on the Colombia River costs around $77 CAD!
  • In the summer, ride the Revelstoke Mountain Resort gondola – The gondola offers some of the best views in the region and costs just $35 CAD. There are two gondolas at the resort. The first takes you to the top of the Pipe Mountain Coaster – a gravity-fed roller coaster on the mountain that’s great for kids and adults! The second gondola gives you the most breathtaking panoramic views of the valley!
  • Visit hot springs – Some of BC’s best hot springs are in the Revelstoke area. Whether you’re visiting on a cool summer morning or looking to warm up in the winter there are both wild and paid hot springs to check out. Some of our favs are Halfway Hot Springs (which are free and in the forest!) and Crazy Creek Resort.
  • Hit the slopes in winter – Revelstoke, BC, is famous for the number of awesome things to do in the winter. One of the best is skiing/snowboarding, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort is famed for its giant annual snowfall and steep mountainous terrain!

Where to stay in Revelstoke

Stoke Hotel is a very good budget option that includes breakfast. It’s located right in town and has really good reviews!

Another option is Coast Hillcrest Hotel is a highly rated hotel that offers guests a comfortable stay at a reasonable price. They have an onsite fitness center, sauna, and hot tub, as well as a restaurant. The location is central and the large selection of room types means there is something suitable for everyone including families.

For more ideas check our guide to the best places to stay in Revelstoke.

16. Sicamous

A house boat on the Shuswap Lake in Sicamous, BC
A houseboat on the lake in Sicamous!

When you reach the small town of Sicamous, aka the houseboat capital of Canada, you’ll know you’re on the home stretch to Kelowna, as the two towns are just 1.5 hours apart. 

On your way from Revelstoke, stop at The Enchanted Forest before getting to Sicamous, especially if you’re traveling with kids, as it is home to the tallest treehouse in BC and offers the opportunity to rowboat through beaver ponds. There’s also a castle as well as fairytale figurines dotted throughout the park that the kids can take photos with. Right next door is the Skytrek Adventure Park which has zip lines, a treetop obstacle course, climbing walls, and a jungle gym. Both these attractions are only open in the summer months!

As I said, this is the houseboat capital of the country, and houseboating on Shuswap Lake is a bucket-list-worthy way to spend a few nights if you’re not in a rush to reach Kelowna. But note that the houseboating season only runs from June to October. 

But houseboating isn’t the only fun thing to do in Sicamous. If you’re here in the winter, be sure to try out snowmobiling, as this area has been voted as having the best snowmobiling in Western Canada. 

Foodies MUST stop into the hard-to-miss D Dutchmen Dairy (it’s a bright red building) for fresh milk, ice cream, and cheese. Everything is produced on-site at this small family-owned farm!

Interestingly, the milk is sold in glass containers to keep it cooler for longer, and you can purchase egg nog here at Christmas! They also have 62 different ice cream flavors, and as it’s been called BC’s Best Ice Cream – this is a must-visit if you have kids (or adults!) who have a sweet tooth!

Related Read: If you want another stop between Sicamous and Vernon, check out all the activities in Armstrong, BC! There are some cute shops and cafes to visit!

17. Vernon

Bailey walks downtown Vernon
Downtown Vernon in summer!

Next stop and the second to last stop before you reach Kelowna is the small town of Vernon. Exceptionally scenic, it’s bordered by three different lakes and has impressive mountains as a backdrop and rolling grassland hills. 

Allow at least a few hours in Vernon. These are a few of our favorite things to do in Vernon – 

  • Downtown Vernon – Wander around some unique shops and restaurants, and cafes along 30th Avenue. There’s everything from toy stores to a great little fish and chips shop here, and in the summer, you may stumble upon an outdoor market!  
  • Davison Orchards – The café at Davison Orchards has outstanding homemade sandwiches (try the grilled cheese!), ice cream made with real fruit, and 100% pure apple juice from apples picked in their orchards. There’s also an animal barn here and tractor rides for kids. 
  • Visit a winery – There are over 100 different wineries in the Okanagan Valley area, so there is no shortage of options! We always prefer going on an organized tour instead of driving ourselves. That way we have a designated driver, and a wine expert on hand! Several different wine tours have the option to depart from Vernon. However, some of the top ones are the West Kelowna Tour and the East Kelowna Tour. They both visit 4 different wineries, last around 5 hours, and include lots of samples!
  • Silver Star Mountain Resort – This is a great destination in all seasons. In the winter, hit the slopes here for skiing and snowboarding fun. Then in the summer, take the gondola up to the top of the mountain for stellar views of Vernon and Kalamalka Lake.
  • Hike Rattlesnake Point – This is one of my favorite hikes in the area. It’s a pretty easy one and good for all skill levels. You can reach the viewpoint from a few different connecting trails, but the best place to start is at the Jade and Juniper parking lots, off of Kidston Road, leaving Vernon. This will take you on a 4 km trail (2.5 mi), climbing just 70 meters (230 feet) to reach the view from Rattlesnake Point at the tip of Kalamalka Lake – absolutely stunning!

18. Lake Country

Daniel leans on the railing at the Arrowleaf Winery in Lake Country near Vernon, BC
Arrowleaf Winery is located in Lake Country and is a great place to stop along the scenic drive!

Under a half-hour from Vernon is Lake Country, a delightful small community in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Aptly named, it is surrounded by three lakes as well as rolling farmland, orchards, and wineries. 

Seeing as there are so many awesome wineries in the vicinity, it makes sense that one of the best things to do in Lake Country involves excellent wine and great food. One of our favorite lunch spots here is Grey Monk Estate Winery which offers great views! For food, we adored their Baked Brie BLT, and their sparkling wine is delicious. If you’re a wine lover, you can book a wine tasting in the Estate Room, which costs $20 CAD per person. 

If you’d prefer a more in-depth wine tour, then consider this Lake Country Wine Tour that stops at Gray Monk Estate Winery and 4 other wineries. It is 5 hours long and costs $239 CAD, and all tastings are included! 

Top Tip – If you plan on drinking wine, be sure to book a nice hotel in Lake Country for the night

But Lake Country isn’t all about wine. You can also shop for fresh produce at the Farmers’ Market on Friday afternoons, go hiking, relax on one of the local beaches, such as Kaloya Park, or rent a boat to explore Wood Lake.

19. Kelowna

Bailey and I take a photo together at a winery in Kelowna on our wine tour
Check out those views in the Kelowna wine region!

Woohoo! You’ve reached your final stop, and what a place it is – the beautiful city of Kelowna! Situated in the heart of the Okanagan Valley and packed to the brim with breathtaking outdoor areas like beaches, lakes, and wineries. So, ensure you take the time to explore this city with so much on offer! 

While you’re here, these are just a few of the best activities in Kelowna to try:  

  • Take a walk – It sounds simple, but walking the Kelowna waterfront is so fun. You can visit the marina, waterpark, playground, Hot Sands Beach, and see the famous statue of Ogopogo! There’s also a Waterfront Boardwalk that’s especially nice at sunset. Downtown Kelowna is full of beautiful cafes and stores to wander into as well.
  • Go skiing – If you’re in Kelowna in the winter, the local ski resort is Big White, and I love it there. It has 119 trails, all with great views of the panoramic snow-topped peaks. The ski season here goes from November to April. 
  • Go biking – Considering its size, the number of bike-friendly trails here is impressive! If you don’t have a bike with you, you can rent these e-bikes from Lakeside Eco Sport. The price starts at $39 CAD for 2 hours. If you prefer guided tours, then check out this Bicycle Tour on Historical Kettle Valley Railway. It stretches from Myra Canyon to Penticton, and the beautiful route passes Okanagan Lake and Chute Lake. You’ll see wildlife and wildflowers, cross bridges, go through tunnels, and learn about the history of the railway. End the 74 km (46 mi) cycle at a winery for a complimentary wine tasting! I really think the value of this 7-hour tour matches the $225 CAD price tag.
  • Sailing Cruise on Okanagan Lake – One of the most fun ways to enjoy the beauty of the lake is to go out on a boat! Booking this private cruise means that you can enjoy the peace and calm of this setting without interruption. You’ll let the wind carry you past downtown Kelowna, Hot Sands Beach, City Park, and the Floating Bridge. If you’re keen to learn how to drive a boat, your captain will teach you, which is a nice touch! The price for two people starts at $320 CAD, and it gets cheaper the more people you bring along.
  • Pick fruit – I just love picking fresh fruit on a warm day. It’s such a Kelowna thing to do! There are a bunch of U-pick farms around the town where you can pick fruit and berries. We picked three pounds of raspberries for just $7 CAD (not counting the ones I ate that didn’t make it into my bucket.)  
  • Take a wine tour – An obvious choice considering Kelowna’s warm climate and abundant vineyards is taking a wine tour. I’ve done wine tours throughout Kelowna, and every winery is special. The wine region here is famous for Gewürztraminer and Riesling, but there are also some amazing Rosé and Pinot Noir that you can find at most of the wineries in and around Kelowna. If you’re more of a beer fan, check out the many different craft breweries in Kelowna too!

Related Read: If you’re after another epic Alberta to BC road trip, we love the drive from Edmonton to Kamloops!

Where to Stay in Kelowna

The truth is that there are so many hotels in Kelowna that it can be hard to know which one to choose for your stay. Well luckily for you, Dan and I have stayed in a lot of different hotels in Kelowna and have been able to narrow it down to our absolute favorites!

Here are the best places to stay in Kelowna including our personal top choice, a few budget options, mid-range options, as well as some luxury options for those of you looking to spoil yourselves!

Coast Capri Hotel Kelowna – Our Top Choice

pool view room at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna
Cheers to a pool view room!
balcony at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna
My sister and I just enjoying the view (Dan’s behind the camera!)

We’ve stayed at our fair share of hotels in Kelowna, but last time we stayed at the Coast Capri Hotel and loved it! Our pool-view room was perfect with a huge balcony, two large queen beds, and even a desk area so that we could get some work done (when we weren’t busy down by the pool, of course!).

One of the best things about the Coast Capri Hotel is that it’s affordable without sacrificing any of the comforts you’ll need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay – suitable for almost all travelers and budgets. The location is central and the amenities are top-notch.

If you’re visiting in the summer be sure to go to the pool where you can order food and drinks to enjoy poolside – we even had cocktails in the pool one night!

You can book this hotel on Booking.com. Be sure to book as far in advance as possible because these guys are often fully booked!

Luxury – $$$

Hillcrest Farm Market B&B – If you don’t mind staying a little out of the city then you may just fall in love with the family-run Hillcrest. It’s located 8 km (26 mi) from the city center but is beautifully located. It’s around $250 CAD per night but includes an awesome breakfast downstairs at the cafe! Most of the rooms have private balconies, a fireplace, and mountain views. There is also a cherry farm on the property which has a unique story behind it.

Delta Hotels – This is the best high-budget hotel in Kelowna. It does come at a hefty price of $420 CAD a night but it’s superbly located. It has both an indoor and outdoor pool as well as an onsite casino! If you can afford it, treat yourself!

Mid-range – $$

Days Inn by Wyndham Kelowna – This hotel is located a few minutes from town and although it’s not fancy it was just renovated and costs $152 CAD for a queen room with a sofa. The property also provides toiletries and a complimentary continental breakfast each morning. Outside there is a pool to enjoy in the summer and it’s also reviewed as a clean hotel with friendly staff.

Dilworth Inn – I’ve personally stayed at the Dilworth Inn. This place is a great medium-budget option that’s a little out of the city center but very close to the farmers market and other great amenities. They also have an indoor pool, spa, and sauna! Some of the queen rooms even have kitchenettes and cost $175 CAD a night so you can save more money and eat in your room.

Budget – $

Samesun Kelowna – This is easily your best budget option and one of the only options for backpackers. A dorm bed in a mixed room costs $41 CAD whereas a private room with a shared bathroom costs $108 CAD. The reviews are really good and the property is quite modern, plus, there is a large common kitchen and indoor and outdoor lounge spaces. The location is perfect if you want to be close to downtown and they include a free breakfast that includes fruit and pancake mix.

You can book a room on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Read our honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a photo together at another winery in Kelwona
Thanks for reading!

Whew, congratulations on getting to the end! As you have read, there are heaps of incredible and famous stops on the drive between Edmonton and Kelowna. You’ll need serious self-restraint to complete this drive in only 10 hours because that means no stopping and you’ll be passing some of the best towns in Canada (Lake Louise and Banff to name just two!).

So, allow at least three full days to truly experience this bucket-list-worthy road trip – one of the best in North America in my opinion! If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy some of my other posts about Canada road trips. Some of my favorites include:

13 BEST Stops on the Drive from Kamloops to Edmonton

21 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Edmonton

12 Best Stops on the Drive from Kelowna to Vernon