Are you driving from Edmonton, Alberta, to Richmond, British Columbia? You’re in luck—there are plenty of exciting destinations that you’ll find on the way! From outdoor recreation and natural beauty to fascinating history and relics of the past, the attractions and points of interest that dot the road from Edmonton to Richmond are sure to surprise, delight, and amaze you. These are just a few of our favorites….
Red Deer, Alberta, is close to two hours south of Edmonton, and it’s an ideal place to take a break from the car and stretch your legs for a bit. Some of Red Deer’s most popular attractions are the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum, Bower Ponds, and Country Cupboard. But, whether you’re looking to get some fresh air, grab a bite to eat, or do a little of both, Heritage Ranch is always a fun stop to make when visiting Red Deer.
Locally owned and operated, Heritage Ranch encompasses over 200 acres of land, and it’s best known for its horseback rides, which include scenic trail rides and kid-friendly pony rides. If you’re in the mood for some thrill-seeking, then you can play a game “Ranch Tracker,” which entails being dropped off somewhere on the ranch and having to capture a series of flags without getting caught by the ranch tracker. Also on the property, you’ll find Westlake Grill, a casual yet refined restaurant that serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. The menu features mostly organic, locally-sourced ingredients, and the dishes change seasonally.
About three hours south of Edmonton, you’ll find Calgary, a bustling metropolis that’s lined with skyscrapers but still retains ample green space. The biggest attractions in Calgary include the Calgary Zoo, the Glenbow Museum, Heritage Park Historical Village, Devonian Gardens, and Stephen Avenue Walk. That being said, no visit to Calgary is complete without a trip to the Calgary Tower, where you can stand on a glass-floored observation deck that’s over 600 feet up in the air.
Located in Downtown Calgary, the Calgary Tower offers panoramic views of the city and its surrounding area. Originally built in 1968 and named the Husky Tower, the Calgary Tower is a long-established city monument and has been welcoming visitors to Calgary for more than 50 years. The tower houses two restaurants: one at the bottom, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and one at the top, Sky 360 Restaurant and Lounge. A gift shop and theater room can also be found inside of the tower—which also has free WiFi so that you don’t have to wait to Instagram a photo from the top (how convenient, right?). Admission is $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $9 for children ages 4 to 12.
Banff, Alberta, is slightly over four hours southwest of Edmonton, and it’s a quaint, charming town that you don’t want to miss as you’re driving to Richmond. A couple of Banff’s noteworthy attractions include the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Cascade Gardens, the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site, and the Canada House Gallery. Of course, the main reason to come to Banff can’t be found in the town itself but in the surrounding area—it’s a little place called Banff National Park, the oldest national park in all of Canada.
Established in 1885, Banff National Park spans over 4,000 square miles and is the flagship park of Canada’s national parks system. Hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, boating, kayaking and canoeing, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, fishing, and nature viewing are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed in the park. And with lakes, mountains, hot springs, canyons, and vistas, the terrain in the park is as diverse as it is beautiful. Some of the animals that call Banff National Park home include elk, bighorn sheep, pika, hoary marmots, and grizzly bears (don’t forget to carry bear spray while you’re in the park!
Around seven hours southwest of Edmonton and about six hours northeast of Richmond, Revelstoke, British Columbia, makes for a convenient halfway stopping point during this long drive through the Great White North. A small, friendly town, Revelstoke is surrounded by scenic wilderness, including Mount Revelstoke National Park. Places in town that are worth checking out include the Revelstoke Railway Museum, Centennial Park, and the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre. In the park, some major points of interest are the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Eva Lake, and the Summit Trail. Another can’t-miss spot in Mount Revelstoke National Park is Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail, about 25 minutes northeast of Downtown Revelstoke.
At around a quarter-mile, Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail is a short, stunning walk that will take you directly through the heart of an old-growth forest where some of the cedars are thought to have been there for more than a half-millennium. Physically easy but breathtaking nonetheless, Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail is the perfect place to admire Canada’s unforgettable scenery, and because the walk is so manageable, it’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy. An added bonus, interpretive signs enhance the trail with information about the area and its many ecosystems.
Kamloops, British Columbia, is just under four hours northeast of Richmond, and while it might be a small town, there’s still a variety of things to do, including Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops Heritage Railway, British Columbia Wildlife Park, and the Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park. And, like most of the other places on this list, Kamloops is a social hub in the midst of fairly rural territory, so there are lots of opportunities to engage in some outdoor recreation while you’re passing through the area. For instance, the nearby Kamloops Lake is great for fishing, boating, and other water activities, as well as hiking and shoreline exploration. But, if you’re looking to see something truly extraordinary, you’re in luck—because Kamloops holds a one-of-a-kind sight curated by Mother Nature herself: Balancing Rock.
As its name suggests, Balancing Rock is a large boulder that’s situated on top of a clay formation known as a “hoodoo.” The landscape in this part of British Columbia seems almost otherworldly, with hoodoos, spires, and ridges creating a strikingly distinct patchwork of terrain—and Balancing Rock is the crown jewel of it all. Though the scenery is gorgeous during any time of the year, the best time to hike around Balancing Rock is the spring and summer after any snow melts. (Snow can also make it difficult to drive in the area, so—as always—exercise caution during your travels!)
Hope, British Columbia, is a little less than two hours east of Richmond, and some of the attractions that you’ll find in and around this modest yet endearing town include the Hope Arts Gallery, the Hope Friendship Garden, and Flood Falls. And just east of Hope, you can take a walk through history when you hike through the Othello Tunnels in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Built in the early 1900s, the Othello Tunnels were once utilized by the Canadian Pacific Railway to connect the southern coast of British Columbia with the Kootenays on the southeastern side of the province. (In theory, this might seem like a pretty straightforward task… But don’t forget that the Railway had to cut through the solid granite of the Coquihalla Gorge—and that this took place over 100 years ago!)
Today, the now-abandoned tunnels have been restored to serve as an ongoing testament both to the area’s heritage and the engineering feat that was required by the Railway to build them. Part of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, the Othello Tunnels are a leading attraction in Kamloops, and they’ve even been featured in a couple of films, namely, Rambo: First Blood (1982), Shoot to Kill (1988), Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995), and Fire with Fire (2012).
The Greater Vancouver Zoo might only be around 50 minutes east of Richmond—but as the largest zoo in British Columbia, needless to say, it’s still well worth a stop. With 120 acres and 140 species of animals, the Greater Vancouver Zoo is a fun, family-friendly attraction that’s dedicated to conservation, education, and community outreach. The zoo’s inhabitants come from all over the world—ranging from the African savanna to the lowlands of China.
Big cats like cheetahs, lions, and tigers can be found at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, as can other fan favorites like giraffes, zebras, hippos, monkeys, flamingos, and alligators. You can also encounter less commonly seen species like capybara, peccaries, nilgai, coatis, miniature horses, and more. During the warmer months (the beginning of April to the end of September), the zoo is open from 9 am to 7 pm; while during the colder months (the beginning of October to the end of March), it’s open from 9 am to 4 pm. (Discounted rates on admission occur during the winter season, so if you’re looking to save on tickets, you might have to brave the cold in exchange!)
One of the largest cities in British Columbia, Richmond is an entertaining, dynamic travel destination with a long list of things to see and do. Among its top attractions are the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, Garry Point Park, the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, and the Richmond Olympic Oval. Plus, Vancouver is only about 40 minutes north of Richmond. (Some of the best places to go in Vancouver are Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium, the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology, and the Vancouver Lookout.) While you’re in Richmond, don’t forget to try out a few of the restaurants that are part of the city’s famous Dumpling Trail, which featured on CNN Travel’s list “12 of the world's most enticing food and drink trails.” Basically, whatever you do in Richmond, one thing’s for sure: You’re going to leave wanting to come back!