I know, I know. Things are unstable here in Alberta. The economy is slow, things are uncertain, oil oil oil blah blah blah. Not to make light, because I know this is a very real problem and people I know are affected. But for some, it’s less a matter of losing their jobs and more a matter of making smart choices with their dollars. As we head into summer, you might be wondering what you’re going to do with your kids or how you’re going to vacation without breaking the bank. The answer? Canmore.
Canmore is only a short, hour long drive from Calgary and if you’re coming from Edmonton then you can double duty vacation in Canmore AND Calgary. Yes, it’s close but it still feels like you’re going away. Away into the mountains!
It doesn’t cost anything to hike and explore and putter around looking for birds, squirrels and other wildlife. Kids can tire themselves out sucking up the fresh mountain air and picking up rocks and drawing pictures of what they see. We stayed at the Grande Rockies Resort and the beauty of this is that it’s a full two bedroom suite. Think two bedrooms, two bathrooms (with steam showers!), full kitchen and even a balcony with bbq! There’s so much money to be saved by bringing in some groceries and staying out of the restaurants. The kids loved that they had their own room and I loved that they’re finally old enough to handle staying in a bed together (and they slept!)
A 5 min walk from the resort is Elevation Place. You’ll love this center and spend many hours there. From the incredible pool with waterslide to the coffee shop or rock climbing walls, there’s something for everyone in the family to do (even a library.) Get a punch pass if you plan visit often during your stay in Canmore.
We went for a hike up to Grassi Lakes. It was marked as ‘easy’ because it had a nice wide and flat path -some hikers even pushed their strollers up -but it was still a challenge for me. I huffed and puffed and took a break at the half-way bench. Still, the whole family made it to the top (even Rob with his lung issue and the 4 year old reluctant walker) But what a reward once we made it up, it was an incredibly beautiful spot.
Now, you’re bound to be sick of making meals at one point or another, you are on holidays after all. Canmore has no shortage of outstanding restaurants to choose from. The Habitat restaurant in the Grande Rockies was fantastic. They had a kids menu with fab portion sizes and the adult fare was outstanding too. Just look at this perfect eggs benny! I had the vegetarian option on tomato and spinach. This restaurant also had loads of gluten free options and the menu was well marked. We had dinner and drinks here too and were not disappointed.
We also enjoyed Crazy Weed . Nate wasn’t thrilled that there were no french fries to be had but his mountain climber’s hunger took over and he came around. It’s not really a kids restaurant, no kids menu, but both our munchkins enjoyed the Vietnamese meatballs so much that we had to order a second plate! Rob had duck over sweet potato and it was a beautiful dish as well. I’d recommend this restaurant for date night foodies or if you have teens or adventurous eaters.
For lunch, you won’t go wrong at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. The kids loved watching pizzas go in and out of the big wood burning oven and there were lots of gluten free options here too. I had a gluten free bbq chicken pizza that was amazing and the kicker is that you can pick up frozen pizza to take back to the suite and bake it there. Because sometimes, when on vacation, you just want to hang out in your pjs. Right?
I’m embarrassed to say that this was our first time really exploring Canmore considering it’s so close. The kids already want to go back for another hike so we’re going to do a day trip back to the area over the summer. Plus, there was a fantastic antique store there that I need to keep my eye on. It’s called Antique Junction and it’s in the same shopping center as Safeway. There were so many cute desks in there – you name it…they had it. I’m officially adding it to my hunting grounds. Browsing an antique store is also one of those things that costs little but brings me great pleasure. I don’t always buy, but I do always enjoy snooping around!
If you’re finding yourself wanting to save money on a summer vacation, but still want to get out of the city then Canmore is your answer. There’s something about being in the mountains that is just so calming. Feeling like you’ve really gotten away from daily life without splurging on airfare is a special thing. We are going to take advantage of the beauty in our backyard more often now that we know what Canmore has to offer.
**Thank you to the Grande Rockies Resort for hosting our family and facilitating this post.