Wednesday, May 26, 2010

10 Hands-on culinary and agricultural experiences in Alberta

See just a few of our suggestions below (in no particular order):

Alberta is not necessarily known as the culinary capital of Canada, but during the last few years, the province is focussing more on its natural landscape and habitat and recognising our potential in the culinary world. Take a look at some of our hands-on culinary experiences that are available and include some of them in your clients itineraries.

1. Visit a winery!
Whilst Alberta is not usually known for its vineyards, there are two wineries that are starting to make a name for themselves: Field Stone Fruit Winery in Strathmore was Alberta’s first cottage winery and en Sante Winery in Brosseau is Alberta's first and only organic-fruit cottage winery.

2. Visit a Honey Producer!
Did you know that Canada is the world’s sixth largest producer of honey and that Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta produce 80% of Canada’s honey crop? And it’s not just honey. Visit one of our honey operations such as Lola Canola in Bon Accord to find out about beeswax, bee pollen and even honey wine.

3. Drop by one of our microbreweries!
Alberta is now home to a good number of microbreweries and brewpubs including Alley Kat in Edmonton, Wild Rose in Calgary and Grizzly Paw Brewing Company in Canmore to name just a few!

4. Experience chocolate tasting!
The perfect experience for chocophiles! At Kerstin’s Chocolates in Edmonton you will learn about the history of chocolate, and how it is made from beans into bars. Then enjoy tasting a series of dark and milk chocolates from around the world!

5. Enjoy a coffee tasting!
Spend 2-3 hours at Transcend Coffee in Edmonton and you will be introduced to the world of speciality coffee, find out about different brewing methods and taste coffees from around the world!

6. Get lost in a corn maze!
Don’t underestimate the fun involved in finding your way through a 15 acre, 9 foot high corn maze! Alberta has over ten corn mazes and even a sunflower maze in Bowden!

7. Attend a culinary festival!
Alberta benefits from hosting numerous food and drink related festivals throughout the year. A few honourable mentions include: Sorrentino’s Garlic Festival (which happens at 7 venues and is Canada’s largest), International Beer Fest (Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer), A Taste of Edmonton, Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival and the Calgary Greek Festival.

8. Pick some fruit!
It goes without saying that Alberta has endless opportunities to pick fruit. Choose from Saskatoon berries, rhubarb, raspberries, apples, chokeberries, currants, sour cherries, gooseberries and strawberries to name just a few!

9. Visit a ranch!
Ranching families first settled in Alberta in the 1880s, attracted by its moderate climate, wide variety of wildlife species and broad ecological diversity. The families soon transformed much of the rolling grasslands into cattle country. During your visit why not stay at a guest or working ranch and experience the cowboy life for yourself!

10. Go to a Farmers’ Market!
Without doubt, farmers’ markets are becoming big business in Alberta! We are lucky enough to have over 100 approved farmers’ markets and close the 3000 vendors across the province! To find a market near you take a look at the Alberta Farmers’ Market profile.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Need a reason to visit Alberta? Look no further ...

See below for just a few reasons why you should vacation in Alberta (in no particular order):

1. Banff National Park! Canada's first National Park. The park now consists of 6,641 square kilometres of unparalleled mountain scenery nestled in the heart of the magnificent Canadian Rockies!

2. Jasper National Park! The largest national park in the Canadian Rockies with 10,878 square kilometres of mountain wilderness. Jasper is the wildest of the mountain parks, and contains a superb backcountry trail system as well as the world famous Columbia Icefields.

3. Columbia Icefields! Located on the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Columbia Icefields is one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle. Covering an area of nearly 325 square kilometres, the icefields sometimes reaches a depth of 300-360 metres.

4. West Edmonton Mall - This mall is currently ranked as the fifth largest in the world, covers over 6 million square feet and features well over 800 stores. With an indoor waterpark, amusement park and ice rink, the West Edmonton Mall is a must see on everyone's visit to Alberta!

5. The Calgary Stampede! Billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Canada. Visitors will enjoy a festival, exhibition, and rodeo, with countless different exhibits taking place all over the city.

6. Dinosaurs! A haven for dinosaur enthusiasts, palaeontologists and kids of all ages. Alberta is home to one of the largest dinosaur finds in the world! Be sure to add the Dinosaur Provincial Park and Drumheller to your itineraries!

7. Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump! An UNESCO World Heritage Site this place is a must see for anyone wanting to explore Native American culture. The museum is built into the side of a cliff that was used by the plains Indians for thousands of years as a Buffalo trap. Large herds of Buffalo were lured and stampeded to jump over the side of the cliff every season.

8. Waterton Lakes National Park! Perhaps one of the lesser known National Parks be assured that you will NOT be disappointed with a visit to this one. The scenery is a stunning contrast of rugged, windswept mountains rising out of gentle prairie grassland. Visit Waterton Lakes National Park for more info.

9. Our two big cities! Edmonton the capital of Alberta is fast becoming known as a vibrant, fun and attractive urban centre. Calgary is an energetic, corporate city located just three hours by car from Edmonton and less than an hour away from the Rocky Mountains. See for yourself the delights of Edmonton's blue and gold and Calgary's red mile and see which side of our friendly rivalry you fall on!

10. The people! Albertans, like all Canadians are really very nice! Any visitor travelling in Alberta loves meeting the friendly, enthusiastic and positive locals. What a great bonus to vacationing in Alberta!