Trip and Wellness

11 Best Things to Do in Canmore, Alberta

11 Best Things to Do in Canmore, Alberta

For many years, Canmore played second fiddle to the world-famous town of Banff, just up the road. Well, those days are over. This thriving mountain town is an attraction in itself, ideally situated next to some of Alberta’s best outdoor activity areas. In Canmore, you’ll find an abundance of things to do, ensuring that you’ll run out of energy before you run out of activities.

Views of the Three Sisters and Ha Ling Peak greet you from almost any vantage point in town. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a patio on a sunny summer day after exploring and soaking up the view with good friends.

If you are staying in Canmore, one of the most popular activities is a day trip to explore the sights of Banff National Park and make a stop at Lake Louise. This is almost mandatory if you haven’t been to the area before, but you’ll enjoy escaping the crowds and returning to Canmore at the end of the day.

Canmore is an exceptionally walkable town, as almost all the main tourist attractions are easily accessible on foot. It is just over an hour from Calgary and is reached via the Trans-Canada Highway. Plan your sightseeing and adventures with our list of the best things to do in Canmore.

1. Stroll Down 8th Street

Stroll Down 8th Street

The prime starting point in Canmore is 8th Street, the bustling retail hub of the town. Here, you’ll encounter a delightful array of restaurants, galleries, diverse shops, and other noteworthy attractions.

Embark on your leisurely walk down 8th Street, commencing at the bridge spanning Policeman’s Creek. This spot hosts one of Canmore’s more distinctive public art pieces: a massive head partially submerged in the sand, practically begging for a couple of selfies. As you continue down the street, you’ll come across the Northwest Mounted Police Barracks.

Further along, discover numerous restaurants, many featuring inviting patios that might entice you to turn your brief stroll along the main thoroughfare into a leisurely afternoon, especially if you decide to indulge in a meal. In the summer, you’ll also encounter a cluster of trendy food trucks with ample outdoor seating.

Feel free to explore beyond 8th Street—adjacent roads branching off the main strip are home to intriguing shops and restaurants as well.

2. Canmore Museum

Canmore Museum

The rich history of Canmore unfolds vividly at the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center. Housed within the sleek and attractive Civic Center, this local museum offers valuable insights into the evolution of Canmore throughout the years.

Make sure to explore the enduring exhibit titled “From Coal to Community,” a compelling journey through nearly a century of the town’s development. Another captivating feature is “Inside the Mine: A Virtual Reality Experience,” allowing you to venture deep into a mine without the need for getting wet or dirty.

There is a modest admission fee to access the museum, and it is open from Thursday to Sunday during regular business hours.

3. Walk the Policeman’s Creek Trail

Walk the Policeman's Creek Trail

The Policeman’s Creek trail ranks among the top walking trails in Canmore. Spanning 3.9 kilometers, the trail closely follows the creek for a significant portion. An intriguing feature is the spring, where the creek bubbles up from deep within the earth.

Several other trails diverge from the main route, including one leading to Spring Creek and another to the Bow River. The vistas along the way are particularly spectacular on clear days, with Ha Long Peak and the Three Sisters dominating the skyline.

Policeman’s Creek is well-suited for families, offering a wide and level trail that easily accommodates those pushing strollers. One of the most accessible points is near the Big Head sculpture.

4. Hike to Grassi Lakes

Hike to Grassi Lakes

Exciting news regarding the hike! The trail underwent closure and significant upgrades during the summer of 2022. These new improvements are anticipated to enhance this already incredible hike.

The unbelievably clear and subtly green Grassi Lakes are a must-visit when exploring Canmore. The 3.8-kilometer trail was initially crafted by Lawrence Grassi, thus lending its name to the hike.

This hike is a rare gem with both an easy and a more challenging route, and interestingly, both routes are nearly the same distance. The trail splits about 200 meters from the trailhead.

For families with small children or those with mobility issues, the recommended choice is the easier route to the right, known as Grassi Lake Upper. This path follows an old road, offering a wide and accessible trail for everyone.

For others seeking a slightly more challenging but significantly more intriguing option, the Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail branches off to the left. Along this route, you’ll encounter informative signposts about Lawrence Grassi and the trail itself. Eventually, this path opens up from the trees, providing fantastic views of the lakes with Canmore in the distance.

5. Rat’s Nest Cave

Rat's Nest Cave

If you’ve ever aspired to try your hand at spelunking, Canmore is an excellent starting point. The nearby Rat’s Nest Cave is situated beneath Grotto Mountain, preserved in its natural state. Devoid of walkways or bright lights, this cave exploration offers an intimate and hands-on experience. You’re bound to get a bit dirty, but by the end of the day, you might find yourself captivated by the adventure.

The optimal way to explore the cave is through Canmore Caves on either the Canmore Caving Adventure Tour or the Explorer Tour. These tours vary in duration from 4.5 to six hours, requiring a moderate level of physical fitness as participants engage in bouldering, scrambling, and a fair amount of scooching.

Highlights of the visit encompass rare pictographs, a descent down the “Laundry Chute,” and navigating through the “Challenge Squeeze.”

Tours are available year-round, regardless of weather conditions. It’s advisable to make reservations well in advance.

6. Nordic Center

Nordic Center

Canmore is privileged to host Canada’s leading cross-country and mountain biking center. Located just a short distance from downtown Canmore toward Spray Lakes, this expansive 4.5-square-kilometer (1.7-square-mile) facility offers a plethora of activity-based choices.

During the summer, the Nordic Center boasts over 100 kilometers of enjoyable, flowing mountain bike trails catering to various skill levels. In addition to the trails, the mountain bike skills park challenges your abilities and courage with its technical features.

The facility also offers an orienteering course, a disc golf course, and a roller skiing/biathlon course. For those without sports equipment, trail running and hiking are viable alternatives.

In the winter, the center transforms into a cross-country and biathlon ski center, featuring over 65 kilometers of groomed trails, including one illuminated at night.

7. Visit the North West Mounted Police Barracks

North West Mounted Police Barracks

Combining a visit to 8th Street and the Big Head sculpture with the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Barracks offers a fascinating glimpse into 1917, allowing you to experience the law enforcement atmosphere of that era.

Contrasting with Canmore’s current tranquility, the town was once a rugged coal mining outpost. The NWMP presence was essential to maintain order and curb illegal liquor bootlegging.

As Canmore’s third oldest building, the NWMP Barracks features original gardens planted by the corporal’s wife. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers lead available tours, and the building is open from mid-May to late September.

8. Elevation Place

Elevation Place

If the mountain weather is not cooperating and you are seeking an indoor activity for your family, visit Elevation Place.

This state-of-the-art fitness facility offers everything your family needs to expend excess energy. Kids can enjoy hours of fun in the large pool, complete with a waterslide.

For those looking for something different, consider trying the climbing wall. Rentals and instruction are provided, ensuring even non-climbers can be on the wall in no time.

If mom and dad need some time for a workout on their own, the facility is equipped with the latest cardio equipment, and the bonus is that babysitting services are available.

9. Paddle the Bow River

Paddle the Bow River

The Bow River passes through Canmore, making the town an ideal hub for river-related activities. Popular options include canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding (SUPing). A boat launch is located a short distance from downtown, where various outfitters provide equipment rentals.

Given the river’s swift flow and chilly water, this activity is recommended for experienced paddlers. For a more relaxed experience on calm waters, consider exploring the Canmore Reservoir or joining a raft tour with one of the local operators.

10. Canmore Mountain Market

Canmore Mountain Market

For the most vibrant produce and top-notch baked goods in the Bow Valley, visit the Canmore Mountain Market every Thursday. With over 20 years of operation, this market is the perfect spot to explore more than 60 vendors or enjoy a cup of coffee and a delightful treat with friends.

In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, the market features vendors offering clothing, home décor, jewelry, and various unique crafts.

The Canmore Mountain Market is held in the parking lot of the Canmore Recreation Center and runs from May to October.

11. Spring Creek Area

Spring Creek Area

The latest addition to Canmore is Spring Creek, a lively community with walking trails, restaurants, and intriguing retail establishments. Currently, around 50 percent of the development is complete, and the final neighborhood promises to be truly spectacular.

To access this new development, take a leisurely stroll down the Policeman’s Creek Trail and cross the first bridge on your right. Spring Creek is, or will be, a hub for stunning mountain homes, condos, shops, galleries, and more. If you’re driving, simply turn onto Spring Creek Drive off 8th Street.


Q: Are there any pet-friendly hiking trails in Canmore?

A: Yes, Canmore offers several pet-friendly hiking trails, allowing you to explore the outdoors with your furry friends.

Q: What is the best time to witness wildlife in Canmore?

A: Wildlife is often more active during the early morning and late evening, making these times ideal for spotting animals in their natural habitat.

Q: Are there guided tours available for exploring Canmore?

A: Absolutely! Canmore offers a variety of guided tours, from hiking excursions to cultural walks, providing informative and entertaining experiences.

Q: Can I experience winter sports in Canmore even if I’m a beginner?

A: Certainly! Canmore has beginner-friendly options for winter sports, including skiing and snowshoeing, with instructors available for lessons.

Q: How can I get to Canmore from the nearest airport?

A: The most convenient way is to rent a car, but there are also shuttle services available from Calgary International Airport to Canmore. Plan your transportation in advance for a smooth journey.