Summer days on the beach can be found in all corners of the province.
Life is good. It’s a hot summer day and I am walking along a waterfront promenade with an ice-cream cone in one hand and a beach towel in the other. Sailboats and a wooden lighthouse are in the distance, and I can see people relaxing on colourful floaties in the water just off the sandy beach. It’s a perfect day to be in Sylvan Lake.
Summer days at the lake are about as Canadian as maple syrup, Caesar cocktails and ice hockey. In Alberta, there are plenty of places to chill out and experience life at the lake. Here are a few of the best beach towns and swimming spots.
Devonshire Beach – Lesser Slave Lake
On the shores of Lesser Slave Lake, beautiful Devonshire Beach is one of the nicest white sand beaches in Alberta. The beach is 1.5 km (0.9 mi) long and it sits on the edge of a 1,200 sq km (463 sq mi) lake. When you stand on the beach and gaze out at the seemingly endless expanse of water, it feels like you’re at the ocean. The water just off the beach is shallow and ideal for swimming, and the sand is perfect for building sandcastles. Every year in July, there’s a sandcastle sculpting competition with family-friendly activities and entertainment.
Kinosoo Beach – Cold Lake
Kinosoo Beach in Cold Lake, is a great spot to spread your beach towel. Named one of Canada’s top 25 beaches by Canadian Geographic Magazine, this long sandy beach has a lot going on in summer. There’s a free splash park, a zipline, beach volleyball courts, a playground and a concession. The swimming area is roped off for safety and you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and other equipment nearby.
The name “Wabamun” comes from a Cree word that means “looking glass” and this aptly named lake lies less than an hour’s drive west of Edmonton. The beach at Wabamun Lake Provincial Park is wide and sandy with a grassy picnic area behind it. The swimming area is shallow and there’s a playground, a boat launch, a dock, and a campground. The tiny Village of Wabamun is close to the beach and that means restaurants, an art gallery and other shops are a short stroll away.
The Village at Pigeon Lake
Just over an hour’s drive southwest of Edmonton, The Village at Pigeon Lake has everything you want in a resort town – including two great beaches. Ma-Me-O Beach is a five-minute drive from the village and the beach at Pigeon Lake Provincial Park is less than 15 minutes away. Both beaches are wide and sandy with nice swimming areas, playgrounds, concessions, picnic areas and washrooms. Good hiking trails are in the area, but you’re going to want to stroll through the village. There’s a country inn, a spa, a hair salon, restaurants, clothing stores and fun little shops to explore. The Village hosts events regularly in the summer and throughout the year.
A beautiful five-acre day use area provides direct access to the beach at Sylvan Lake Provincial Park. You’ll find a sandy beach, a playground, washrooms, a beach ambassador’s hut, picnic areas, chairs, and plenty of greenspace where you can relax and watch the sunset over the water. In summer, buskers and beach vendors add a festive vibe to the park. Everything you need for a great beach vacation can be found along Lakeshore Drive in the Town of Sylvan Lake. Take a stroll along the 1.6 km (1-mi) long waterfront promenade, get some ice cream at The Big Moo, play a round of mini-golf, rent a boat, browse the shops and enjoy a cool drink on an outdoor restaurant patio. Sylvan Lake even has a wooden lighthouse!
Sikome Lake/Sikome Aquatic Facility
Located in south Calgary’s Fish Creek Provincial Park, Sikome Aquatic Facility is a manmade lake with a wide sandy beach. The lake is shallow and warm and there are change rooms, playgrounds, picnic tables, a concession stand and a beach shop at the lake. A beach wheelchair is available for loan. The water in the lake is chlorinated and the day use area is staffed with beach safety ambassadors, but no lifeguards. You must purchase a day pass or a season pass to use the facility.