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Why Agritourism Should Be Part of Your Next Weekend Getaway in Alberta

Why Agritourism Should Be Part of Your Next Weekend Getaway in Alberta

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When planning a weekend getaway in Alberta, you might be quick to choose somewhere between the mountain towns of Banff or Jasper. But beyond Banff National Park and Lake Louise (the jewel of the Canadian Rockies), Alberta, Canada is home to some incredible rural tourism experiences.

Located directly north of Montana, the wide open prairies and its friendly farmers have come up with some amazing attractions and things to do. The moment you start travelling through Alberta, you quickly realize how breathtaking the changing landscapes are.

While the Rocky Mountains are (obviously) stunning, there’s something inherently beautiful about wide open yellow canola fields under a deep blue sky.

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So if you’re looking for some ideas this summer, here are some reasons why you should consider checking out in agritourism on your next Alberta vacation or weekend getaway.

Have you ever milked a cow?

Or watched a live demonstration of automated robotic milking?

Learned how to put a horseshoe on a Clydesdale?

Had a candid conversation with a farmer one-on-one about what he really thinks of organic?

Made soap from Alpaca hair?

Sampled fresh wine made from the raspberry bushes that grow 30 feet from where you’re standing?

Watched a farrier quench iron to form a horseshoe?

Poked your finger through honeycomb beeswax to taste fresh honey?

Watched grain and barley be harvested that is eventually sold to companies who make beer out of it?

There’s good news, you can experience all of these agricultural practices in Alberta! If you’ve ever wanted the chance to get up close and personal with country living and the rural way of life, Alberta is the place to visit.

Grab your cowboy hat and cowboy boots and you’re ready to go! (but for real – you don’t want to wear sandals when you visit a farm. There’s a reason they call them shit kickers).

Read Next: 27 Things to Do in Alberta That Are Bucket List Worthy

Not only is Alberta home to hundreds of farms and ranches and farmers’ markets, there are many small towns and heritage sites that emanate charming western culture.

Combined with miles of open roads and endless skies, countless opportunities await for an incredible rural tourism holiday. 

Whether you’re looking for some ideas for day trips from Calgary or you’re planning a first time visit to Alberta, engaging in agritourism is a great sustainable tourism practice.

While many travelers are seeking ways to avoid contributing to overtourism, destinations that are off the beaten path or places less traveled are becoming more appealing. What’s more, is that by choosing to visit places that may not exist on Instagram yet, you’re supporting small economies and local businesses. 

From farm stays and country cottages, to wineries and family adventure farms to ultimate road trips and free weekend festivals dedicated to agritourism, Alberta is a hotspot destination for your summer vacation and farm tourism experience.

Below you’ll find festivals and events, farms and agricultural tourism operators aimed at providing that rural and country living experience.

Whether you’re a family and want to visit a couple farms to show the kids where their food comes from, or a die-hard foodie in search of local ingredients, there’s something for everyone.

Wine from Barr Estate Winery

Travelling through Alberta to visit farms, ranches and food producers is one of the best ways to spend a weekend getaway.

Alberta Open Farm Days: Free Weekend Festival

First on the list is an annual event, entering its 8th year in 2021. It’s a province-wide weekend event in which more than 100 farms, ranches and ag-tourism operators open their doors to visitors. They invite their urban and rural neighbors to experience tours, demonstrations and samples about where our food comes from.

It’s a unique opportunity where farmers share local stories, provide on-farm demonstrations and sell locally grown and produced products to interested visitors.

This free and family fun weekend will be held August 14-15, 2021 and also includes farm to fork culinary events if you’re looking to get the full experience.

There are dozens of events happening around the province in which renowned Alberta chefs partner up with farms and local food producers to create extraordinary meals and dining experiences.

All kinds of fun experiences await at the farms you can visit. Things like:

Learn how to become a craft beer brew-master!

Learning how to spin yarn made from Angora Goats!

Be a beekeeper for a day!

Admire majestic elk! 

Get a private tour of a free range longhorn cattle farm!

Additional helpful resources:

You can read a full review of last year’s Alberta Open Farm Days, complete with tips for the best experience.

Head to the Alberta Open Farm Days website for a list of farms to visit. Host farms are usually posted sometime in June!

Agritourism Experiences You Can Enjoy All Summer Long in Alberta

If you can’t make it to this event, don’t fret. There are lots of other great ways you can add to your weekend getaway to experience agritourism in Alberta throughout the summer season.

Edmonton Area:

In the heart of the city you can pay a visit to Northlands Urban Farm. Throughout the summer, they host programs and workshops about sustainable agriculture.

Just north of Edmonton, a must-visit for any family is Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm. Farm fresh produce, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and farm to fork dinner events make up great summer and fall events here!

Or how about this new concept in Alberta, the roadside farm stand? Northline Farms has been operating a roadside fresh produce stand. A self-serve system where you can purchase fresh vegetables! Leave your coins and take some goodies away. 

Central Alberta

For some unique day trips from Calgary, head to Historic Markerville, a small hamlet originally founded in 1888. Now home to only 42 residents, it’s mostly an open-air heritage museum.

Here you’ll find a few buildings, including a heritage home, community hall and lutheran church. But the Creamery Museum is the main attraction and provides historical insight into the butter making production of the early 1900s.

Pay a visit to the Chinook Honey Company in Okotoks. Here you can learn everything you’d ever want to know about beekeeping and honey production, Alberta-made mead (honey wine) and natural health remedies and body care using honey products.

Southern Alberta

The Great Canadian Barn Dance is a unique family campground and RV park perfect for a summer staycation. With Waterton Lakes National Park nearby, live country music and a western dinner every Saturday evening in the summer, you can’t go wrong here!

Province-Wide Fun

Keep an eye out for great events hosted by Alberta Milk. Most notably, they usually host a Breakfast on the Dairy event every summer. Enjoy a chance to get out of the city and enjoy fresh breakfast on a local dairy farm. A perfect idea for a mini-staycation!

You can even shop directly at farms themselves, as many farms and ranches have small storefronts on site, or an online store. Check out this list for all the details to find a farm near you.

You Might Also Like: 15 Unique Staycation Ideas in Canada

Rural Alberta Road Trips

Road trips are a great way to experience Alberta’s countryside and the adorable small towns found along the way. Checkout out the Cowboy Trail which runs along Highway 22. Sweeping views of ranches and the Rocky Mountains will keep you captivated the entire way.

Be sure to stop in the western-themed town of Bragg Creek. This charming hamlet lies in the foothills of the Rockies and is worth a stop for the great coffee and antique shops!

For another glimpse into Alberta’s past, a drive through Alberta’s Boomtown Trail is sure to meet your needs. Many stops along the way include Indigenous sites, old mining towns and sites and quirky small towns.

Here are 6 more road trip ideas in Alberta to check out!

Unique Weekend Getaway Accommodations in Alberta

To truly experience the perfect way to explore all that rural Alberta has to offer, make a weekend out of it and stay on a rural property! From cozy cabins, to farm stays to tiny homes, there are some pretty unique places to stay in Alberta. 

Country Cabins to Rent in Alberta

Try this 100-year old cabin not too far from Calgary. Located at the foot of the rocky mountains, you can combine a rural Alberta rural trip and a romantic getaway all in one. After a day of exploring ranches near Calgary, curl up by the wood-burning fireplace in a cabin that was once used in the fur trade. 

In central Alberta, try a peaceful getaway in a secluded cabin in the middle of the woodlands.

Or visit Nordegg, Alberta which is the gateway to the rocky mountains and still a less-visited hidden gem among tourists. Rent this quintessential log cabin for a fun weekend getaway. 

Cozy Tiny Homes

Stay a night or two in this tiny home in the middle of the woods with a view of the river right out your front door. If you’re visiting the western-themed town of Bragg Creek nearby, this would be a great spot for some rest and relaxation. 

To really feel like you’re in the wild west, these tiny homes are the perfect choice. They’re in the middle of ranch country and only minutes away from Waterton Lakes National Park. 

For quaint and cozy country charm, the Prairie Rose Cottage comes in at number one. It’s located on a rural property with sweeping views of the prairies. 

Between Edmonton and Jasper you can stay at this off grid cabin nestled in between pine trees. 

Ranch and Farm Stays

You can even stay on a working ranch that has been featured in several wildlife documentaries. Check out the glacier view cottage. 

Another guest ranch that’s not too far from Calgary (perfect for a weekend trip) is this vintage farmhouse where you can watch the horses roam out your back patio while sipping your morning coffee. 

If the Cowboy Trail has piqued your interest, stay in a town that still feels like small town rural Alberta. Head to Cochrane and try this charming tiny house that boasts rustic luxury

New to Airbnb? Read my top 12 tips for booking an Airbnb (or similar) rental so that you know exactly what you’re getting. And even if you have used Airbnb before, you might be surprised to learn how to save a little extra money without a discount code. 

Alberta’s large geographic spread makes it a great destination for a rural road trip or a farm-focused staycation. Spend an unforgettable weekend getaway in Alberta getting to know your rural neighbors! 

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