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Five fun day trips just a short drive from Edmonton

Visit websites for the places you plan to visit
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A bull bison takes a dirt bath along the Bison Loop at Elk Island National Park on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. The dirt sure makes them dirty but helps keep the biting insects away. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

Get out of town!

After months of isolating at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, it's time to take a day trip. Travel in any direction from Edmonton and you'll find all kinds of great places to see and fun things to do.

According to Shelley Grollmuss, vice-president of destination development with Travel Alberta, a day trip is anything that takes you at least 40 km from home and back again the same day.

"It depends on how many activities you want to incorporate. Generally, the rule is the more activities that you want to build in, the longer duration your stay typically would be when you're travelling." 

If there's too much to see in one day, you could tag on an overnight stay and be home the next day, she added.

There are things you can do to ensure your day trip goes smoothly, leaving you with lots of memorable moments.

Grollmuss recommended starting by checking out for places to go, things to do, and travel offers that might inspire you to take a trip somewhere different than perhaps you were initially planning.

Visit websites for the places you plan to visit to find out what their protocols are for keeping visitors and staff safe from the pandemic. Engage in local social media channels too, Grollmus said. 

"People love making recommendations nowadays on favourite spots to visit and stops along the way, especially for natural attractions and things like that." 

As you plan your trip, give yourself a little extra time.  

"You want to be able to explore some things that might come up spontaneously along the road, or stops you may want to make, or you may choose to spend a little extra time somewhere than you had originally thought," Grollmuss said. "So giving yourself extra time and allowing for that is important."

Here are Grollmuss's recommendations for five day trips from Edmonton:

1) Edmonton Corn Maze

The Edmonton Corn Maze is a thirty-minute drive southwest of Edmonton in Parkland County. It's the 20th year for the maze. This year's design acknowledges the challenges of COVID-19 by including the words STRONGER TOGETHER. Takes about an hour to wind your way through the pathways.

2) Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

The village, a 40-minute drive east of Edmonton, is an open-air museum where history is brought to life by costumed interpreters portraying the lives of actual pioneers who helped settle east central Alberta from 1890 to 1930. While enroute  stop and check out some of the 40 historical churches scattered throughout the countryside of Lamont County.

3) Elk Island National Park

Just a 35-minute drive east of the city, the park is a great place for families and wildlife watchers to see some of the free roaming bison, as well as elk, deer and moose. It's home to the densest population of ungulates (hoofed animals) in Canada and more than 250 bird species. Hike or bike the 80 km of trails or rent a canoe to paddle around some of the islands on Astotin Lake. The park is a Dark Sky Preserve so bring along a blanket to gaze at the starry sky.

4) Reynolds-Alberta Museum

This museum, an hour's drive south of Edmonton in the city of Wetaskiwin, celebrates all kinds of antique cars, planes, and machinery. Among the things to see are a pink Buick convertible, a gigantic Oil Pull tractor, and an indoor drive-in, and you can watch restoration shop experts at work. Pre-booked timed-entry admission tickets. Grab lunch nearby at Huckleberry's Cafe. House specialties include Dill Pickle Soup and Huckleberry Pie (huckleberries are similar to blueberries). Or drive 45 minutes west of Wetaskiwin to the Village at Pigeon Lake and lunch at the ECO Cafe. Explore the adjacent gift shops or walk off the calories on 12 km of trails around the lake. 

5) Jurassic Forest

Forty minutes north of Edmonton, near the town of Gibbons, this attraction features 40 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs including a T-Rex, Triceratops and Edmontonsaurus in their natural habit, a boreal forest. They're easily viewed from wooden trails that are wheelchair accessible. Complete the visit with 18 holes of mini golf.

Chris Zdeb is a freelance writer and regular contributor to This story was funded by the Facebook Journalism Project Supporting Local News 

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