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If you’re planning on visiting Canmore, Alberta then this blog is perfect to help plan your visit and see all of Canmore’s best attractions. This list includes the 55 best things to do in Canmore – most of which can be done in both the winter and the summer!
Canmore is one of Alberta’s best mountainside tourist towns. With a range of fun and exciting things to do in Canmore, it’s a popular destination for both local and international tourists.
But unlike Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, Canmore isn’t actually located within one of Canada’s National Parks – making it cheaper and more accessible for everyone. Sitting on the edge of Banff National Park, Canmore boasts some of Canada’s most impressive mountain peaks and is an outdoor playground for visitors.
For Dan and I, Canmore is one of our favorite towns in all of Canada. It feels less pretentious than Banff and offers the same (if not more) things to do all year round.
We’ve been lucky enough to visit Canmore on several occasions. In fact, we also recently lived in Canmore for a couple of months (I know, lucky us!) Thanks to the countless number of days we’ve spent in this gorgeous mountain town over the last few years, we’ve managed to come up with 55 awesome things to do in Canmore!
Some of the activities in this blog you may have heard of before, and some you likely haven’t – so read until the bottom and check it all out!
- 55 BEST Things to do in Canmore, Alberta
- 1. Hike to Grassi Lakes
- 2. Enjoy burgers and beer at the Grizzly Paw
- 3. Hit the trails at the Nordic Center
- 4. Drive the Smith Dorrien Trail
- 5. Skiing or snowboarding
- 6. Hike Ha Ling Peak
- 7. Shop on Mainstreet (8 Street)
- 8. Go rock climbing
- 9. Go kayaking or canoeing
- 10. Take in the view of the famous Three Sisters
- 11. Enjoy Premium Cocktails at Wild Life Distillery
- 12. Go golfing
- 13. Eat amazing food at Table Food + Drink
- 14. Visit the Canmore Museum
- 15. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway
- 16. Visit Lake Louise
- 17. Visit Moraine Lake
- 18. Day trip to Banff town
- 19. Spend a day at Lake Minnewanka
- 20. Go ice skating
- 21. Join a Canmore Cave Tour
- 22. Enjoy happy-hour drinks and live music at The Drake
- 23. Spot wildlife
- 24. Go whitewater rafting
- 25. Eat ice cream at Scoopin Moose
- 26. Wander the art galleries around Canmore
- 27. Hike Grotto Canyon
- 28. Fish in Grotto Mountain Pond
- 29. Visit the Canmore Mountain Market
- 30. Hike Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop Trail
- 31. Eat a Beaver Tail
- 32. Stop by Canmore Brewing Company
- 33. Walk Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk
- 34. Eat Outside at the Food Trucks
- 35. Drink delicious coffee from a local cafe
- 36. Visit a candy store (or two!)
- 37. Go Stargazing
- 38. Paddleboard at Rundle Forebay Resevoir
- 39. Eat at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.
- 40. Explore Kananaskis Country
- 41. Walk to the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge
- 42. Go mountain biking
- 43. Bicycle the Banff Legacy Trail
- 44. Eat ice cream from an Old School Bus
- 45. Visit the Historic Engine Bridge
- 46. Relax at Quarry Lake
- 47. Ride in a helicopter
- 48. Have lunch at Communitea
- 49. Dog Sledding
- 50. Cross country skiing
- 51. Snowshoeing
- 52. Visit the Canmore Hoodoos
- 53. Drive the Icefields Parkway
- 54. Walk to Johnston Canyon
- 55. Visit Radium and Kootney National
- Where to Stay in Canmore
- Before you go…
55 BEST Things to do in Canmore, Alberta
1. Hike to Grassi Lakes
Grassi Lakes is probably the most popular hike in Canmore, and as such, it is one of Canmore’s main attractions. Only a short 5-minute drive from Canmore town will have you parked at the trailhead ready to explore some of the brightest colored lakes you’ve ever seen!
One of the best things about the hike to Grassi Lakes is how accessible it is. This 4 kilometer-long trail only gains 230 meters in elevation and takes most people about 2 hours to complete there and back. It is a very easy trail that is family-friendly and suitable for all fitness levels. Plus, it’s open all year round!
With that said, if you do want a bit of challenge, I recommend taking the “more difficult” trail to the lakes. When you start hiking Grassi Lakes Trail you’ll come to a sign that says the more difficult route is to the left. This trail is steeper and involves climbing some slippery stairs near a waterfall. To me, this is the most beautiful route and well worth taking if you’re up to it. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for small children.
Once you reach Grassi Lakes after completing the trail, you’ll be met with some pretty spectacular views. On a hot summer day, be sure to pack your swimsuit because you’re going to want to jump in!
If you’re only going to do one hike while in Canmore then be sure to make it Grassi Lakes! It’s definitely one of the very best things to do in Canmore!
Hot Tip: Since Grassi Lakes is one of the most popular things to do in Canmore, be sure to get there early if you want a parking spot! Alberta Parks has recently started ticketing vehicles who park on the road outside of the allocated parking lot. The parking lot is often full by 10 am in the summer on weekends. Arriving in the evening is also a less busy time.
2. Enjoy burgers and beer at the Grizzly Paw
The Grizzly Paw is one of the best places to visit in Canmore if you’re hungry or thirsty. They actually brew their own amazing craft beer right in Canmore – and they have a huge selection! From the Grizzly Paw restaurant on Main Street, you can try a range of their own beers available on tap, as well as a great food menu!
When I visited, I had one of their burgers complete with a side of tasty ginger carrot soup and fries. It was delicious! The food is very affordable too and you can expect to pay about $8 CAD for a pint of local beer and $20 for a burger with a couple of sides.
The Grizzly Paw on 8 Street features a large indoor seating area as well as a nice patio with heaters for chilly nights or winter. They also have their actual brewery which you can visit for a drink near the Canmore Shops. This location is within walking distance from many hotels in Canmore.
For more info on craft breweries in the area, check out our blog all about the best breweries in and around Banff!
3. Hit the trails at the Nordic Center
The Canmore Nordic Centre offers a variety of trails for hiking, biking, or even cross country skiing. The area was developed to host cross country skiing events at the 1988 Olympic Games and is now an active training center as well as a recreational area.
You can either bring your own bike or skis and explore the trails for free, or you can rent them from the center.
When we visited the Nordic Centre there were actually professional athletes practicing their Biathalon shooting – it was really interesting to watch!
No matter what you plan on doing, the Nordic Centre is the perfect place to take advantage of tons of trails and have your own outdoor adventure in Canmore.
4. Drive the Smith Dorrien Trail
The Smith Dorrien Trail (also known as Highway 742) is one very scenic road that you really shouldn’t miss while in Canmore. This gravel road climbs its way past the Grassi Lakes car parking lot up into the mountains.
While driving the Smith Dorrien Trail you’ll get spectacular views of Canmore town from up above as well as lakes and even Bighorn sheep (who love to just hang out casually on the side of the road!)
Most people drive the Dorrien Trail to reach other hikes such as Ha Ling Peak (next on this list of the best things to do in Canmore) or the East End of Rundle. But even if you’re not planning on hiking, I do recommend driving this road simply for the views. It’s one of the most scenic places around Canmore and well worth the short 20-minute drive.
In winter, this road can be dangerous or slippery. Be sure to follow road signage and closures before driving it and also be sure to have winter tires.
Hot Tip: The Dorrien Trail is the road that you’ll take to reach the Grassi Lake car parking lot, however, the most beautiful part is further up the road. So, continue on the road up past Grassi Lakes until you reach the first large lake at the very least.
5. Skiing or snowboarding
It’s no secret that one of the best winter activities in Canmore is hitting the slopes! With long and cold winters, there is tons of fresh powder for anybody wanting to ski or snowboard near Canmore.
- Nakiska Ski Area – About a 40-minute drive from Canmore. Nakiska is located in Kannanaskis country and is generally less busy than the other ski resorts (especially true during the week!) Nakiska is also one of the cheapest at about $100 CAD for a day lift ticket. However, it has fewer runs than the others with 71 trails with 59% of those being marked as intermediate.
- Lake Louise Ski Resort – The furthest away from Canmore at about an hour’s drive. This ski resort is well worth the drive though with over 160 named runs in addition to plenty of off-piste ones. The views from here are spectacular too! There is a large chalet with restaurants , shopping, and even hotel rooms at Lake Louise. You’ll also find various mountainside chalets to stop in for a beer or lunch. You’ll pay for this premium ski resort at about $130 CAD for a full day lift ticket (the most expensive out of all of the ski resorts near Canmore.)
- Mt Norquay Ski Resort – Mt Norquay is very close to Banff town or about 30 minutes form Canmore. I love this ski resort for beginners since it us the cheapest and easiest to navigate. It is a smaller resort with limited runs, however, at only $75 CAD for a lift ticket, it is worth it if you are new and just getting your legs on skis or snowboards. There is also snowtubing here which is a super fun activity to try out after a day on the slopes.
- Sunshine Village – Last, but certainly not least, is Sunshine Village. This ski resort is (as the name suggests) a village! You take a huge gondola from the parking lot up to the village where there are several restaurants and faciltities. From here, the runs you can explore seem endless. There are lots of awesome runs for advanced skill levels. Seriously, Dan and I still get lost when we visit. Sunshine is about a 30-minute drive from canmore and you can expect to pay around $125 CAD for a lift ticket.
6. Hike Ha Ling Peak
Along the Smith Dorrien Trail is the car parking lot for another very popular attraction in Canmore – Ha Ling Peak! This peak is the backdrop for Canmore town and also one of the best hiking trails in the area.
Thanks to the Dorrien Trail, you drive up a ton of the mountain’s elevation making summiting this mountain a lot easier than you might think. It still isn’t an easy climb by any means gaining 800 meters in elevation over 7.8 kilometers, but it’s doable to most people with some hiking experience and moderate fitness level.
Ha Ling Peak trail is a high-traffic trail and as such, is well marked and easy to follow. The first half of the trail is switchbacks climbing through the forest, where the second half will have you climbing stairs to the saddle and then scrambling over rocks to the summit.
When we climbed Ha Ling Peak it was a very windy day which made the scramble from the saddle to the summit a little difficult and a little scary. Good hiking boots and hiking poles really came in handy for us. I would recommend only tackling Ha Ling Peak when it is clear weather with little wind if possible.
It takes about 2-3 hours to reach the summit, and then you come back down the same trail you walked up. The way down will take less than half the time the way up did. In total, I would allow 4-5 hours for this hike (it took us just under 4 hours at a pretty fast pace with only one short snack break at the saddle.)
Alternative Hike: For something a little more challenging and a little less busy than Ha Ling Peak you can try East End of Rundle. This hike starts from the same parking lot and offers similar views. However, it is more difficult with sections of scrambling instead of a proper hiking trail.
7. Shop on Mainstreet (8 Street)
Canmore is the cutest town ever and 8 Street is at the center of it all. Whether you’re visiting Canmore in the summer or in the winter, 8 Street is the place to go to explore small boutiques, locally-owned stores, cafes, and restaurants. This is the street to just wander around, buy some souvenirs and locally-made goods, and just enjoy a few hours.
8 Street is also a very scenic street with mountain views everywhere. In the summer, it’s common to see buskers on street corners, and in the winter, Christmas lights are everywhere you look!
8 Street in Canmore is much less busy than Banff Ave in Banff town and also features more locally owned small shops. There is also lots of free parking around so getting there is really easy too!
8. Go rock climbing
Canmore is a rock climbers’ paradise with numerous cliff faces to tackle all only minutes from town. Experienced rock climbers often head to places like Heart Mountain Gorge or Grassi Lakes. Both places offer huge walls for all levels with lots of permanent bolts already installed.
Those who have never rock climbed before should book an organized tour with an experienced guide to show you the ropes – no pun intended! These tours are done all over Canmore on easy walls with an expert guide to help.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to climb on a rainy day or in the winter in Canmore, then you can head to Elevation Place where there is an indoor rock-climbing gym! Here you can also take lessons, or just try it out on your own for a cheap price.
9. Go kayaking or canoeing
Kayaking is one of the best activities to do in Canmore in the summer. There are plenty of lakes and rivers around for you to choose from, with Spring Creek being the most accessible in town.
Spring Creek is the beautiful little stream that runs directly down the middle of downtown Canmore. Spring Creek provides the perfect water playground for those wanting to do a little kayaking. Spring Creek is often flowing very slowly making it a great route for beginners to tackle too. In fact, when we were last in Canmore, we saw two young girls kayaking Spring Creek and having a great time.
If you don’t have a kayak there are rental shops all around Canmore where you can get hourly and daily hires and also info on Spring Creek or other popular places to kayak.
For a unique experience, ditch the kayak and join a canoe tour on the Bow River. This tour only costs $70 CAD and includes a guide who will tell you all about the Bow River, its history, and help you navigate this stunning river.
10. Take in the view of the famous Three Sisters
The Three Sisters Mountain range is iconic in Canmore. Three towering mountain peaks all sit next to each other making that postcard-perfect image you’ve probably seen at least once before.
From downtown Canmore, you will see the Three Sisters with ease, but there are a few specific spots that offer the best views of these mountains.
First of all, you can drive to the area of Spring Creek. There is a campground here that really has amazing views of the Three Sisters. Alternatively, you can drive the Three Sisters Parkway just outside of Canmore, or walk Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk (more info on this further down in this blog.)
There is also a famous photography location (pictured above) where the mountains reflect in a small creek. The location can be found here, but you need to park at the off-leash dog park. Once parked, you need to cross the road and then walk under the train tracks keeping the creek to your left until you reach a trail. The trail will take you straight to the viewpoint and although a little off the beaten path, it is still a pretty well-known spot (especially among photographers!)
Prefer a guided tour? Join this walking tour that promises the most epic views of the Three Sisters! Along the way you’ll learn all about the area from your guide and be supplied with transport back to the start.
11. Enjoy Premium Cocktails at Wild Life Distillery
Everyone knows Canmore has locally brewed craft beer, but did you know that there is also a local distiller making everything from Gin to Vodka to Whisky?! That’s right, you can buy locally made spirits right from the distiller here in Canmore.
Wild Life Distillery has become famous among locals for its premium spirits. You can often find their bottles in small liquor stores around the province, or if you’re in Canmore, you can stop by the distillery and buy directly from the storefront.
However, if you’re more like us and prefer to get cocktails made for you, then you’re in luck too!
There is a small cocktail bar out the front of Wild Life Distillery where they have a menu of unique (and delicious!) cocktails to enjoy made from their own liquor.
When Dan and I visited it seemed like the only other people in the bar were locals. Since the distillery is tucked away in an industrial area it is often missed by tourists. But let me tell you, this little gem is well worth the drive and if you love cocktails as much as we do – you can’t miss it!
12. Go golfing
Golfing is such a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend a day, and Canmore has no shortage of great golf courses! There are a few amazing courses in Canmore, making it the hub for golfing enthusiasts in the Rocky Mountains.
Now, I’m not going to lie. Golf is not my thing. But, I do know a thing or two about golfing in Canmore since all of my best friends are obsessed with golf. They’ve assured me that golfing is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Canmore!
Silvertip Golf Course is their top choice of places to check out. Not only is it a great technical course, but there are stunning panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains from every corner of the course. It’s a quiet and peaceful environment, a golfing experience like no other.
Other golf courses near Canmore include Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club, Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course, Kananaskis Country Golf Course, and The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course.
13. Eat amazing food at Table Food + Drink
This is another local secret in Canmore that’s famous for its incredible weekly specials that are loved by tourists and locals alike. In fact, the restaurant prides itself on its loyal local customers who visit on a regular basis.
Tabe Food + Drink is a contemporary restaurant and bar located in Canmore attached to the Canmore Coast Hotel. They serve everything from charcuterie to steak to local specialties like pasta from Canmore Pasta Co!
We were lucky enough to visit Table Food + Drink on a Tuesday which is their famous roast chicken night! For only $20 CAD we got half a chicken served with tons of sides – more than enough for the both of us. They also do a full chicken that’s enough for 4 people for $30! On other nights of the week, they also have different specials that you can find on their website.
This place is honestly delicious and so affordable we couldn’t resist including it as one of our favorite things to do in Canmore, and believe us, once you go for yourself, you’ll see what I mean.
14. Visit the Canmore Museum
Located right in downtown is the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center. I know what you’re thinking, you’ve come all the way to Canmore to enjoy the great outdoors and the last thing you want to do is visit a museum. Well, while this may be true, you might not always have ideal weather and this is a great activity to do if you’re stuck indoors on a rainy or very cold winter day!
The museum features over 10,000 artifacts representing Canmore’s history including the railway, mining, and community development. Admission is only $5 for an adult and children under 4 are free with family rates available too. There are often rotating exhibits and events on too, so be sure to check their website for the current museum schedule including daily public opening hours.
15. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway
Although not technically in Canmore, the start of the Bow Valley Parkway is only a short 20-minute drive away and is definitely a place you need to visit while staying in Canmore.
The Bow Valley Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in Canada – if not the entire world! It is a 50 kilometer-long stretch of road between Canmore and Lake Louise. You can drive the road just enjoying the amazing mountain and lake views right from your window or stop at one of the many different viewpoints or hikes.
One of my personal favorites places to go on the Bow Valley Parkway is Johnson Canyon. This 5.2-kilometer return walk takes you along the edge of a beautiful canyon with views of waterfalls. In the summer, expect flowing water and lush greenery, but in the winter, expect a winter paradise!
Morant’s Curves (pictured above) is another great quick stop along the drive!
16. Visit Lake Louise
Lake Louise is only a 50-minute drive from Canmore. Lake Louise is easily one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Canada.
Along the drive to Lake Louise, you can actually take the Bow Valley Parkway (mentioned above) for one really scenic drive. My best advice is to plan this for a clear day when the clouds won’t obstruct your view of the mountains.
Once at Lake Louise, there are lots of different things you can do including hikes. My personal favorite is the hike to Lake Agnes Tea House, it’s absolutely stunning! If you aren’t a hiker, don’t worry, just head to the lake foreshore and grab a bite to eat or something to drink from one of the Fairmont’s lakeside restaurants – some of the best restaurants in Lake Louise! Enjoying a meal with a view like this is an especially memorable experience.
17. Visit Moraine Lake
Few destinations in Canada are as famous as Moraine Lake – it is often referred to as the most photographed lake in all of Canada. And to be honest, after visiting for myself I can see why. This lake is bright blue in color and behind it sits the towering Ten Peaks as the most beautiful background you could ever imagine.
Located just a short 15-minute drive from Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is the perfect stop on your day trip to Lake Louise. There are lots of things to do at Moraine Lake including a huge range of hikes (like the Larch Valley Trail or Consolation Lakes) as well as other activities like kayaking.
One thing to know about visiting Moraine Lake is that it is only open during the summer months (generally May/June to October depending on the weather and snowfall.)
The only problem with visiting is that getting parking at Moraine Lake is hard – really hard. You need to get there super early (around 5 am) or late in the day for sunset in order to ensure you get a parking spot. Actually, even then, parking is never guaranteed. Book a tour from Banff if you’re worried about parking or, book the Parks Canada shuttle.
Regardless of how you get there, you should try to make the day trip from Canmore to Lake Moraine. We might be biased since Moraine Lake will always hold a special place in our hearts – it’s where we got engaged! But seriously, this place is so romantic that it should be included in any Banff or Lake Louise honeymoon itinerary.
18. Day trip to Banff town
With so many amazing things to do in Banff, it’s no wonder that a day trip to this cute town is one of the best things to do in Canmore. From downtown Canmore, you can reach downtown Banff in about 20 minutes and here you can explore the busy Banff Ave, relax in the hot springs, ride the Banff gondola, or tackle one of the many hikes in the area.
Banff National Park is huge though and you could easily spend days exploring the entire area. Driving the Icefields Parkway is one of my favorite activities within the park, as is cruising on Lake Minnewanka, and riding the Mt Norquay chairlift (both in the summer and the winter!)
Hotels in Banff are generally more expensive than those in Canmore, and for that reason, it makes sense to stay in Canmore and just day trip to Banff as needed.
Important info: You’ll also need a Parks Canada pass to visit both Banff and Lake Louise. These passes can be bought from a booth on the road as you enter Banff National Park. Expect to pay about $10 CAD per person per day or $20 for a family pass that covers up to 7 people in one vehicle.
19. Spend a day at Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is a beautiful lake located near Banff, about a 30-minute drive from Canmore. It is a popular lake to visit, and one of the top things to do is take a scenic cruise around the lake in the summer months. There are great day-use areas, too, in addition to hiking trails (Stewart Canyon is a fun short hike!).
The winter is also a good time to visit! You can go skating right on the lake and enjoy the magical winter wonderland.
As popular as Lake Minnewanka is, many tourists often miss it. When we lived in Canmore and had visitors we would often take them here. It’s a fun day out and there are plenty of things to do. Plus, the drive to Lake Minnewanka is super scenic too!
20. Go ice skating
Winter in Canmore provides a great opportunity to go ice skating. Around Canmore, there are a few places to go ice skating that include rinks set up by the town of Canmore. These include Rundle Crescent Ice Surface, Larch Outdoor Ice Rink, and the Pond Natural Ice Surface. These are maintained by the town so the ice is really smooth.
However, for a more Canadian experience why not head out to a frozen lake to skate! During my last visit to Canmore, we went ice skating on Gap Lake, Lake Louise, and Vermilion Lakes. Out of the three, the only one that is maintained is Lake Louise and the others are “wild” ice skating lakes. This means they can be covered in snow and you need to make sure the ice is thick enough (usually by mid-December.)
The best part about ice skating is it’s completely free providing you have your own skates. If you don’t, you can rent them in town at Gear Up and even some of the ice rinks.
21. Join a Canmore Cave Tour
Just on the outskirts of Canmore are a couple of caves that are really incredible to explore if you’re up for an adventure!
Now I have to be honest, I haven’t actually done the Canmore Cave tour before, but I have been to these caves. When I was about 15 years old my Dad took me to explore Rats Nest Cave on our own. This was well before tours ran here, and let me tell you, it was really cool!
With a guide on a tour you don’t have to worry about getting lost or having all of the right safety equipment. And for those reasons, I recommend joining a guided tour these days.
Canmore Cave Tours offers a couple of different tours with different lengths of time and prices. This cave tour is a half-day experience, whereas this longer adventure cave tour takes a full-day and includes rappelling in the cave!
22. Enjoy happy-hour drinks and live music at The Drake
My favorite pub in Canmore is The Drake! It is cheap, lively, and serves delicious food. They often have live music and on weekends they have DJs that really crank up the party.
But to me, the best time to visit The Drake is during happy hour (3 pm to 7 pm) when you can get a pint of local craft beer for only $4.50 CAD! The Drake also has daily food deals such as wing Wednesday where 1 lb of wings will only set you back $5!
The Drake has a huge outdoor patio as well as a large indoor seating area. It is located right in downtown Canmore and one place I highly recommend you check out.
23. Spot wildlife
The Canadian Rockies are famous for their wildlife. From Grizzlies to moose to wild cats like Cougars and Lynx, there are lots of incredible and rare wildlife you can see.
Spotting wildlife can be tricky though. If you don’t know where to look or what to look for, you’re almost guaranteed to miss out. Not to mention, the idea of seeing a bear in the wild can be quite daunting.
That’s why wildlife tours are great. Experts know where wildlife hang out and they also know the proper safety precautions to take. This specific wildlife tour departs from Canmore so you can have a chance at seeing some Canadian animals in their natural habitat.
24. Go whitewater rafting
Like many of the mountain towns around Alberta, whitewater rafting is one of the best things to do in Canmore! In Canmore, you can choose between a variety of whitewater rafting experiences making it perfect for anybody!
For those looking for a bit of excitement, this river rafting tour will have you splashing through rapids. It is suitable for the whole family, but do be warned that you will get wet and probably let out a couple of screams. We actually did this tour with some friends this past summer and had a blast! Even though the rapids were less intense than normal (thanks to the water levels), our guide made it as extreme as possible and we can personally recommend the tour.
Alternatively, you can book this scenic rafting experience which is much calmer and focuses more on enjoying the incredible views!
Dan and I also went on an awesome whitewater rafting trip when we were in Jasper. Read our blog about the best things to do in Jasper for more information!
25. Eat ice cream at Scoopin Moose
The Scoopin Moose is Canmore’s most popular ice cream shop. It’s so popular that in the summer you can often expect to see a line of people waiting down the street!
The Scoopin Moose offers a range of delicious flavors and all ice cream cones are waffle cones that they actually make onsite. Expect to pay about $5 CAD for a single scoop…and expect it to be really good!
Local insight: Canadians don’t just eat ice cream in the summer. In fact, Scoopin Moose proudly advertises that Canadians actually consume more ice cream in the winter! So, if you want to be like us crazy Canadians, then you need to try this ice cream at minus 20 degrees too!
26. Wander the art galleries around Canmore
Canmore has several art galleries spread out around town displaying art from both world-famous artists and locals. If you ever wanted to buy some art, Canmore is the place to do it! Plus, it makes for a great local souvenir.
I wasn’t in the market for purchasing art when I was last in Canmore, but I still checked out the galleries as the work is incredible. You can even get some nice prints of wildlife too!
27. Hike Grotto Canyon
Grotto Canyon Trail is another popular hike near Canmore. It is an 8-kilometer return trail that is fairly easy as it only gains 390 meters in elevation. Along the hike, you’ll see a waterfall, the Grotto Canyon, as well as a cave if you tackle the scramble up to it!
In the winter Grotto Canyon turns into a winter wonderland with frozen waterfalls and ice that covers the entire canyon floor in some places. Personally, I think that the best time to hike Grotto Canyon is actually in the winter. In the summer there are other hikes around Canmore that I would recommend over Grotto. But in the winter, it really is something special as you navigate through the frozen canyon.
You can explore the canyon on your own but there is also a Grotto Canyon ice walk tour you can do!
I highly recommend this tour if you’re visiting in winter. First of all, the tour supplies crampon/ice cleats which are 100% needed. Second of all, there are some really neat pictographs along the trail that you will most definitely miss without the help of your guide.
28. Fish in Grotto Mountain Pond
For those who aren’t keen on hiking, at Grotto Canyon trailhead is at a large lake (Grotto Mountain Lake) that is popular for fishing (in the summer of course!) Drop a line in here for a chance to catch some trout!
You can find the lake or the trailhead for the Grotto Canyon hike on Google maps and it is about a 15-minute drive from Canmore.
Note: Be sure to have the correct fishing license before you fish or you’ll risk a fine!
29. Visit the Canmore Mountain Market
Who doesn’t love a good local market?! Luckily for Dan and I, the last time we were in Canmore we happened to be there on a Thursday when they hold the weekly Canmore Mountain Market.
The Canmore Mountain Market is an outdoor pop-up market featuring locally sourced produce; handcrafted gifts such as clothing and crafts; locally made products including food, meat, sauces, soaps; and of course, lots of food trucks!
The Canmore Mountain Market is normally open each Spring on Thursdays from 10 am to 6 pm and continues until October. Check their website for the latest details regarding opening times.
30. Hike Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop Trail
Heart Mountain Horseshoe Hike is an incredible experience just around the corner from Canmore. I must warn you though, it is a very challenging hike and not for beginners or those afraid of heights in the least bit. With that said, if you can handle the trail, you are rewarded with a very quiet trail (we only saw one either hiker the entire day) with incredible panoramic views.
Dan and I attempted this hike on a clear summer day and the views were outstanding and varied. The downside was that the first part of the hike is about 3 hours of a steep uphill climb that in some parts, requires hikers to actually climb up rocks.
After reaching the summit, we hiked along the ridgeline for another 2 hours. While this part was easier than the original climb, it was still challenging with steep descents and assents.
The last part of the trail descends very steeply. It took us about 2 hours to get back down the mountain as there was lots of shale and slippery parts that we had to take slowly and carefully.
The entire trail is a loop about 12 kilometers long. The elevation gain is about 950 meters, and while some people claim to complete the entire thing in 6 hours, it took us 7 hours and we’ve heard that some people take longer than 8!
Hot tip: Pack plenty of water as there is nowhere to fill up along the trail, and trust me, you’re going to need it! Bear spray is also essential. A park ranger also told us that a helmet is a good idea for the rock-climbing portion as there have been accidents here with falling rocks (although we didn’t have any problems.)
31. Eat a Beaver Tail
After a long day of hiking, you should definitely reward yourself with something sweet – and a Beaver Tail is just that! As odd as it may seem, in Canmore a “Beaver Tail” isn’t made from the animal at all and is actually more of a donut-style sweet treat.
The pastry is flat and shaped like, you guessed it, a beaver tail! Then, you can choose any spread and toppings you’d like including candy, chocolate, peanut butter, Nutella, ice cream, and pretty much anything you can think of!
You can find the Beaver Tail shop right downtown. Expect to pay about $7 CAD for one, and they are quite large so Dan and I usually just share one.
32. Stop by Canmore Brewing Company
Canmore Brewing Company is Canmore’s most famous brewery. In fact, you can find their beer in liquor stores spread across the country. I absolutely love their Ten Peaks Pale Ale and every time I’m in Canmore I stop by the storefront and pick up a few six-packs to go.
If you aren’t sure which beer you’d like (they have several different flavors) then you can try some at their onsite bar. The bar is open from 1 pm to 7 pm every day except for Tuesdays when they are closed.
Alternatively, you can find Canmore Brewing Company’s beer offered at most bars and restaurants around Canmore.
33. Walk Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk
Right in town is a wooden boardwalk that winds its way along Policeman’s Creek. This is a short 3.9 kilometer-long leisurely stroll that is suitable for anybody. It only takes about an hour and along the way, you’ll have nice views of the creek and surrounding mountains.
While wandering around town I recommend just taking a detour along Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk to enjoy some nature right in the middle of town.
34. Eat Outside at the Food Trucks
Another one of the best things to do in downtown Canmore is to eat at the PD3 Food Trucks. Here you’ll find a section of tacos, sandwiches, burgers, and my favorite, mac and cheese to eat right from a food truck! They are fully licensed and offer a variety of drinks to try too as well as lots of picnic-table style seating.
In the summer sun, this is the perfect place to enjoy a quick and cheap meal right in town. Since it is all outside, they are dog friendly too!
35. Drink delicious coffee from a local cafe
There are some really great coffee shops in Canmore. So many, in fact, that it was hard for me to choose my favorite to mention in this blog.
Good Earth Coffeehouse is a local Canadian coffee shop that started in Calgary and now has over 40 locations across Western Canada – including one on Main Street in Canmore! They serve a variety of drinks and food made with fresh local ingredients.
With that said, locals love Harvest Cafe. Cafe Books is also worth a mention because it is a coffee shop and bookstore all in one!
36. Visit a candy store (or two!)
Candy stores are my kryptonite, and in Canmore, there are actually two that you can visit, Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe and Timothy’s Popcorn & Candy. Both of these candy stores are located right downtown and offer a range of chocolates, caramels, old-school gummy candies, saltwater taffy, jelly beans, and my personal favorite, fudge!
Even if you don’t feel like buying anything, wandering through these candy stores reminiscing about some of your favorite treats as a child is fun! Although, I highly doubt you’ll be able to leave empty-handed and one of those sweet treats will rope you into a purchase!
37. Go Stargazing
Dan and I love stargazing and doing astrophotography. So luckily for us, enjoying the amazing stars is one of the best things to do in Canmore!
For the best view of the stars, you’ll need to get away from town a little bit. We personally love the reflection spot of the Three Sisters (described above in item number 10 on this list), however anywhere towards Banff National Park will work too. Driving up the Smith Dorrien Spray Trail to Whitemans Pond is another one of our favorite spots.
For the best stargazing be sure to choose a clear night with no clouds. You’ll also see more stars when the moon isn’t present or is very tiny (a full bright moon takes away your ability to see all of the stars as it lights up the whole sky.)
38. Paddleboard at Rundle Forebay Resevoir
Rundle Forebay Reservoir is a large body of calm water just up the hill from Canmore town. This is a favorite spot among locals to enjoy both kayaking and standup paddleboards (SUP.) The calm water makes for an ideal spot and the towering mountains around you really set the scene.
If you have your own paddleboard just make your way to the car parking lot on the road called Three Sisters Parkway just across from Olympic Way (entrance to the Nordic Centre.) It’s free to visit this water reserve and from the beach area you can easily set off.
39. Eat at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.
The best bagels in Canada are served up fresh in Canmore (according to my “expert” opinion, anyways.) Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. is my go-to breakfast spot when I’m craving a breakfast bagel. In fact, it’s so popular that they have two locations in Canmore. The first is on 8 Street in the center of town and the other is on Railway Ave.
My favorite bagel is the greek breakfast bagel but they have a huge selection to choose from. You can also buy bagels by the half or full dozen to have later. Regardless, make at least one breakfast stop at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.!
40. Explore Kananaskis Country
If you’re up for a bit of a road trip, head out and explore Kananaskis Country. This is a region of Alberta that encompasses a whole bunch of parks – more than 10, to be exact. There are provincial parks, wildland parks, ecological reserves, and a ton of provincial recreation areas. It’s a beautiful region and worth exploring!
To get there, head to Highway 40 out of Canmore. You can check out attractions like Troll Falls, or Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to hang out at Lower and Upper Lakes.
If you’re not into hiking consider visiting the Kananaskis Nordic Spa – a beautiful day spa set in one of the most idyllic locations.
Note: It is now required to hold a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to explore this region. The pass costs $15 CAD per vehicle for a day, or opt for the annual pass for $90 that covers two vehicles. You must purchase the pass online beforehand or at the visitor center before yo park at any attractions.
41. Walk to the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge
While we’re on the top of Kananaskis Country, I thought that I should mention one of the newest attractions in the area – the Blackshale Suspension Bridge. This is an engineering masterpiece and is only accessible by a short hike.
The Blackshale Suspension Bridge hike is fairly easy and suitable for most fitness levels. It is a 6.1km trail with 333 meters of elevation gain. The hike starts in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in the Kananaskis, about 90km from Canmore.
It’s worth making a little day trip out to this area because it’s a beautiful drive and you’ll love checking out this unique suspension bridge!
42. Go mountain biking
Calling all adrenaline-seekers! Mountain biking is the thing to do if you’re looking for a fun and exciting adventure. Mountain Biking is really the “Canmore thing to do” (just ask the locals who all seem to love the sport.) It’s extremely popular and there are a lot of great places to go, ranging from beginner-friendly to more technically challenging routes.
If you don’t know where to start then I recommend heading to the Nordic Centre. They have plenty of mountain biking trails, over 100 kilometers of trail to be exact! Once you get there, you can purchase a detailed trail map for only $2.
If you don’t have your own bike, you can get one in town for approximately $40 CAD/day. There are plenty of gear rental shops all around Canmore that can help you out.
43. Bicycle the Banff Legacy Trail
If mountain biking is a little too extreme for you, consider going on a leisurely bicycle ride on a paved path instead. Bicycling is one of the best ways to get outside and explore a new area! The Banff Legacy Trail is a great option to do just that.
This trail connects Canmore and Banff together, so you can go for an adventure and enjoy exploring both of these amazing communities. The trail was built to honor the 125th anniversary of Banff National Park in 2010.
The trail itself is 22.3km long (one way) and includes both paved pathways and park trails. There are plenty of picnic areas, rest stops, and amazing viewpoints along the way. There is only 30m of elevation, so it is relatively flat and easy to cycle.
Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen though, this trail doesn;t have a lot of shade!
Hot Tip: If you only want to cycle the trail one way, you can catch the public bus back from Banff to Canmore. These buses all have bike racks for exactly this reason!
44. Eat ice cream from an Old School Bus
No vacation is complete without an ice cream stop… or a few! Well, the Old School Bus Ice Cream is the most fun and unique spot to fulfill those sugary cravings!
As the name suggests, this ice cream joint is located in an old yellow school bus, bringing back those nostalgic childhood memories. They have an extensive list of both ice cream and shaved ice flavors.
There can be a bit of a line at this location, but it is so worth it! Where else in the world can you say you visited an ice cream shop inside of a school bus?!
45. Visit the Historic Engine Bridge
Ready for some history with your nature? The Canmore Engine Bridge is an old bridge that supported a railway line back in Canmore’s coal mining days. The bridge was believed to have been built back in 1880, but rebuilt after a fire in 1919 to the structure it is today.
It’s an easy walk to do and you are rewarded with absolutely epic mountain views from all around. The quickest way to access the bridge is by starting at Main Street, which you will walk along until you reach the Bow River. Walk along the Bow River (keeping it on your left) until you reach the bridge. You can continue across the bridge and back along the other side of the river to complete the Bow River Loop (one of the best easy hikes in Canmore.)
If you are really into history, then consider joining this walking tour. It visits the Engine Bridge along with other beautiful sites. Along the way, your guide will provide information about the history of Canmore. All of this for less than #30 CAD!
46. Relax at Quarry Lake
A beach day is always needed, right? Quarry Lake is a beautiful beach area, perfect for spending the day swimming, paddleboarding, or picnicking. It’s located close to Canmore – you can actually walk or bike there from town. There is a picnic area and on-site bathrooms, so it’s a great place to spend the day.
Quarry Lake is also open during the winter months – you might not want to go for a swim, but you can enjoy a short and easy walk around the lake still! Just don’t walk on the ice, it is always very thin.
47. Ride in a helicopter
Ready for an epic adventure in an epic location? A helicopter ride is simply the best way to experience the dramatic scenery of the mountains in and around Canmore. Alpine Helicopters in Canmore offers a variety of scenic helicopter tours in the area. Choose your destination and length of flight, and off you go!
This once-in-a-lifetime experience isn’t cheap and starts at around $200 CAD per person, however, this is one Canmore bucket-list activity! I truly believe everybody should ride in a helicopter at least once in their life, and Canmore is the perfect place to do it.
48. Have lunch at Communitea
I always love supporting local businesses, and Communitea is a local business with some heart in Canmore! They are committed to providing delicious and nutritious food to the community and support TreeEra which plants trees to support environmental conservation, which is such a good cause!
You absolutely must check out Communitea for lunch, and I highly, highly recommend the Pad Thai – it is the best Pad Thai I’ve had outside of Thailand! If you’re looking for a refreshing drink, the green tea and mint iced tea is my favorite!
49. Dog Sledding
Dog sledding is an iconic Canadian winter activity, and you can do it right from Canmore! Located in Spray Provincial Park just on the outskirts of Canmore, you can choose between a range of dog sledding tours and experiences!
Howling Dogs Tours is who we went with and we loved the tour! When searching for a company the most important factor was that they were ethical and the dogs were treated well. Howling Dogs Tours stands out when compared to others. In fact, the majority of their dogs are adopted – which I love! If you want to read about how they care for the dogs, you can check it out on their website.
Our tour was their cheapest and it involved a 2-hour (10 kilometers) ride. That will cost you $225 CAD for adults and $115 for kids, but seriously, it’s totally worth it!
50. Cross country skiing
Canmore is world-famous for its Nordic Centre where some of Canada’s best cross country ski trails are located.
The Nordic Centre in Canmore was actually where cross country ski events were held for the 1988 Olympic Games, and since then, they’ve maintained the facility for recreational and training uses. That’s right, you can go cross country skiing here and maybe even see some professionals practicing for the next Olympic games too!
The Nordic Centre is located right in Canmore just along Three Sisters Parkway. You can find the location easily on Google maps and there is a large parking lot once you get there. It’s open daily in the winter.
Cross Country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre is not only a fun winter activity but if you have your own gear, it’s cheap too! The day-use pass for cross country skiing only costs $18 CAD for an adult! But don’t worry if you need to rent gear, you can at the Nordic Centre too.
Another popular winter activity in Canmore is, of course, snowshoeing! Rent snowshoes for the day from any of the rental shops in Canmore and then head out onto a trail to explore. Expect to pay around $20 CAD for a day rental.
I personally recommend the Horshoe Loop Trail. This 5-kilometer loop starts at Cougar Creek. It goes through the forest with a couple of beautiful viewpoints on the way. It’s an easy trail perfect for snowshoeing.
52. Visit the Canmore Hoodoos
Did you know that Canmore has its own hoodoos? You can actually see them right from the highway, but for a better look, you should walk right up to them.
Drive up to Benchlands Terrace and park at the end of the residential street there. From here you’ll see the trail and hoodoos. The view is awesome and little hiking is required!
53. Drive the Icefields Parkway
Rated as one of the top 10 most scenic drives in the world by National Geographic, the Icefields Parkway is a 230 kilometer-long stretch of highway that connects Lake Louise with Jasper. Along this drive, you’ll be met with towering mountains, tons of waterfalls, and even the Columbia Icefield!
Although the drive really should only take around 3 hours, I would give yourself an entire day in order to stop as much as you’d like! Use our Icefields Parkway itinerary to plan your epic one-day adventure.
The drive starts about an hour from Canmore, it’s the perfect route to travel if you want to make your way from Banff to Jasper.
54. Walk to Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is one of the best hikes in Banff National Park and it is located only about a 40-minute drive from Canmore town. This epic hike takes visitors through a gorgeous canyon displaying unique rock formations, waterfalls, and bright blue water!
You have two options when it comes to hiking Johnston Canyon. You can either hike just to the Lower Falls and then turn around or continue to the Upper Falls. The hike to the Upper Falls adds an extra 2.5 kilometers to your hike. How far you go will depend on how much time you have to spare as both trails are fairly flat and easy.
One of the best things about Johnston Canyon is that it is accessible all year round. In the summer expect rushing water and beautiful waterfalls. But in the winter, expect a frozen winter wonderland. You can even book a guided ice walk here too!
55. Visit Radium and Kootney National
Not only is Canmore amazing, but the entire surrounding region is worth some exploration! I highly recommend taking a bit of a road trip towards Kootney National Park and Radium Hot Springs. The national park is about 60km away from Canmore, and the park itself is very large. Put on some good tunes and enjoy the hour-long scenic drive throughout the park. You can get out to snap some pics and go on short walks and hikes.
After a day of driving, you can stop by the Radium Hot Springs for a soak and indulge in some pure relaxation. The town of Radium Hot Springs also has tons of things to do, so spend some time checking out the quaint town, shops, cafes, and natural beauty all around! If you have time, I even recommend spending the night in Radium – there are plenty of hotels to choose from that are significantly cheaper than those in Canmore.
Where to Stay in Canmore
The truth is that there are so many hotels in Canmore that it can 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 Canmore and have been able to narrow it down to our absolute favorites!
Here are the best places to stay in Canmore including our personal top choice, a budget option, and one for those looking for absolute luxury!
Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre – Our Top Choice
Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre is our absolute favorite place to stay in Canmore. It is affordable without sacrificing any of the comforts you’ll need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay – suitable for almost all travelers and budgets. They have an onsite pool, hot tub, and fitness center along with a delicious bar and restaurant (Table Food + Drink.)
Coast Canmore Hotel is located right in the heart of downtown Canmore walking distance from 8 Street (Main Street in Canmore), and just across the road from the Canmore Shops where you have a selection of restaurants, cafes, and takeaway places.
Oh, and did I mention the views from the hotel windows are breathtaking!
Canmore Downtown Hostel – Budget Backpackers Option
If you’re a budget backpacker and looking for a hostel then Canmore Downtown Hostel is your best choice! These guys offer clean and comfortable facilities, dorm beds as well as private rooms, and a social atmosphere perfect for meeting other backpackers.
Copperstone Resort – Luxury Escape
If money isn’t an issue, then Copperstone Resort may be the luxurious option you’re looking for. It is located a 10-minute drive outside of Canmore that makes for a peaceful escape from the town. There is an outdoor hot tub and many of the rooms are full suites with kitchens and multiple bedrooms. However, rooms here don’t come cheap and are often up to twice the price of most hotels in Canmore.
You can check the prices and book Copperstone Resort on Booking.com.
Renting a Car in Alberta
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 the best attractions within them requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.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 Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
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!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect ice conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Before you go…
I hope this blog on the best things to do in Canmore, Alberta has helped you plan your visit to the area! If you have any questions, please leave them below so we can get back to you.
Be sure to also check out the rest of our Canada-related blog articles and some of our most popular below: