As a young child growing up on the Prairies, I still remember the yearly excitement as summer holidays drew near and it was time to begin planning a summer road trip. Where would we go? What items should we pack? Will we visit our favorite cousins living in the country?
Residing in the city, we loved to explore and experience a bit of a slower, more laid-back summer lifestyle while enjoying the natural scenery fly by in our car. We three girls sat in the back seat with mom and dad up-front. We played games, sang songs, followed along in the map and of course stopped for tasty treats along the way. The never-ending stunning Prairie sky, amazing scenery and great opportunities to see some wildlife were all part of our travel discoveries.
This summer, traveling through Alberta can steer you to charming communities, heritage sites, scenic vistas, lakes and rivers, and much more – while creating lasting memories for the whole family. Before you hit the roads, here are a few suggestions from Alberta Motor Association (AMA) to make the experience even more memorable.
Plan the trip as a family:
Involve the kids in helping with the navigation. Mark the starting point and destination.
Have children use the map to give you directions.
Have younger children look for special landmarks along the way.
Take breaks along your route:
Stop for historical markers, viewpoints and points of interest.
Have a picnic; go for a swim.
Find a playground and let the kids run around. Play tag and join them – you’ll perk up as well.
20 minutes every two hours is probably adequate.
Pack soft toys, a special blanket and a pillow.
Bring books and sing-along CDs.
Bring travel-size board games for the trip, like Yahtzee and Scrabble.
Play games like I Spy, geography or other word games.
Create challenges to see who can spot the most animals or different licence plates.
Pack a pad of unlined paper for drawing and coloring.
Road trip essentials:
Keep safety in mind with proper car seats and belts, First-Aid kit, etc.
Have a pack of baby wipes for cleanup, cool-down.
4 Brings snacks that are easy to clean, like juice boxes, dried fruit, nuts and crackers.
Some Alberta destinations
After the family has reviewed these road trip travel tips, here are two rural locations – an easy driving distance from Calgary – that you might want to add to your summer’s itinerary:
Bow Island – The Town of Bow Island is well known for its 18-foot high child-friendly statue of the mascot, “Pinto MacBean” – located adjacent to Hwy. No. 3 – who greets everyone coming into town. In 1992, Pinto MacBean was created to promote tourism by highlighting the importance of the dry, edible bean industry to the area.
Bow Island and District Agriculture Society will be holding its 25th annual Pivot Country Fair, July 16 to 18. For those looking for family activities, look for the seasonal Bow Island Swimming Pool, three local parks: Jubilee Park, Funshine Park and Centennial Park – suitable for camping. Bow Island enjoys a slower, more laid-back lifestyle. The town is 320 kilometres southwest of Calgary.
Vulcan – Another town to check out is Vulcan. 2013 is the town’s 100 Centennial Celebrations August 2 to 5. There are many exciting events to enjoy this summer: a lively parade, historical and agricultural displays, Star Trek photo booth, dazzling fireworks, a barbecue, a Spaceship, live music, antique cars, fashion show of historic clothing and much more fun and merriment. Children can take part in activities such as a cuddly petting zoo, games, creative crafts and face painting. Vulcan is located one hour between Lethbridge and Calgary on Hwy. 23.
For more information on summer road trips:
Bev is a writer and photographer who loves to photograph the scenic Prairie sky and explore her family’s pioneer heritage.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2023 Calgary’s Child