Alberta winters are incredibly long and cold so Albertans have to make the most of the short summers. Luckily, with over 600 freshwater lakes in the province, it’s easy to do that. Heading out to the lakes or beaches in Alberta is one of the best weekend (or even weekday) activities.
With so many different landscapes in just this one province, you can really go anywhere to have an adventure. Maybe you want to step back in time and hit up one of the Alberta beaches in the badlands- you may even uncover some dino bones!
Or you might want to head to the Rocky Mountains to enjoy the refreshingly cool, turquoise lakes that will leave you feeling more alive than ever.
Whatever summer beach activity you desire, the beautiful beaches in Alberta offer plenty of options for everyone.
Most Popular Beaches In Alberta
Halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, you will find the magical town of Sylvan Lake. This is a two-in-one stop that will have you at two of the most popular beaches in Alberta. If you head to the Lakeview area of town, you will find the “little beach” and the “big” beach over on Ferndale.
Both beaches offer swimming areas and places to launch boats or hop in on your kayak or paddleboard. There are lots of options for renting water toys at Sylvan so if you don’t have a boat or jetski, they’ll have you covered.
The Sylvan Lake boardwalk is a lively place to explore and features many fun restaurants, shops, and bars.
While the beach gets packed quickly, there are a lot of grassy areas to set up camp for the day. Make sure to bring a beach mat to stake your claim though or people might move in on your prime beach territory.
There are many campgrounds in and around Sylvan Lake so book a reservation and make a weekend getaway out of your trip! If you’d rather stay the night in a bed, make sure you check out the highly-rated Best Western Plus Chateau Inn for all your sleeping needs.
Top Beaches In Alberta Near Calgary
Quarry Lake is just outside of Calgary in the mountain town of Canmore. It is a beautiful, calm, crystal-clear lake that is warm enough in the summer for swimming and paddleboarding. There are small cliffs to jump off and the water is great for snorkeling so make sure to bring your gear to see nature’s wonders!
Quarry Lake Park has many trails to explore the nearby forests and picnic sites spread around the park. Canmore is a fun mountain town to roam around when you’re done at the lake. Make sure you swing by and check out the Big Head Sculpture near the bridge on Main Street!
This is one of the best Alberta beaches to enjoy the scenery at but the mountain air and long day playing will leave you pretty tired. The Coast Hotel in Canmore is a great place to recharge so you can do it all again the next day!
This family-friendly man-made beach is one of the busiest beaches in Alberta. Located within Calgary city limits, there is a charge for passes ranging from $2-$10 but it is worth every penny. You will find volleyball courts, changerooms, hot showers, concessions, and more.
The clean, regularly treated waters draw a huge crowd on hot days so you should get there early to snag a shady spot under a tree. If you’d rather set up in the sand, make sure you bring a convenient beach tent because the shady areas are at the back of the beach.
The Wingate by Wyndham Calgary South is a short drive away, pet friendly, and has all the amenities you need.
If you haven’t heard of the most breathtaking of all of the lakes in Alberta, you must go here. Moraine Lake is a non-negotiable, must-see and you should come here now. Instagram pictures do not do it justice and we highly recommend you go see this turquoise wonder with your own eyes.
Even in the summer, the temperature is too cold for swimming but if you’re down with the Wim Hof method, you might last a few minutes. There are plenty of places to hike around the lake or you could have a coffee and just enjoy the view.
The best way to see the lake is to rent a canoe and paddle across the pristine waters, you will feel like you’re in a Disney movie.
The Baker Creek by Basecamp cabins is the best place to stay to continue your Disney day. The wood cabins offer an authentic Rocky Mountain feel and there is nothing better than feeling cozy by the fire in the woods. Once you’re all rested up you might want to head out for a hike to check out the Valley of the 10 Peaks.
TRAVELING AROUND CALGARY?
If you want to beach-hop around the area, check out more of the beautiful Calgary beaches near the city. But also don’t forget that there are plenty of famous landmarks in Calgary that are worth checking out.
Top Beaches In Alberta Near Edmonton
The Village at Pigeon Lake / Ma-Me-O Beach
Pigeon Lake, is another two for the price of one beach stop just an hour south of Edmonton. You will come across Ma Me O Beach and right next door, the Village at Pigeon Lake. Both of these Alberta beaches are great places to spend a day with the family. They both offer playgrounds, picnic areas, camping, and fishing.
If you come on the right weekend in the summer, you might be lucky enough to catch the Pigeon Lake Music Festival. Listening to music on the lake with a warm country breeze blowing on you will have you appreciating the simple things in life. It is one of the most popular beaches in Edmonton.
While you’re in Pigeon Lake, you might as well check out the best hotel in town, the Village Creek Country Inn. Sure, it’s the only hotel in town but its cute cozy, laid back yet newly renovated style will make you feel right at home.
One hour west of Edmonton, you will find the glassy Wabamun Lake – Wabamun is Cree for “mirror so it’s aptly named! This lake has a real wilderness feel to it and you might even see some wildlife if you keep your eyes open.
Dogs are allowed here but make sure to keep them on a leash or staked down with a dog leash stake so they can roam close by.
Wabamun is known for being one of the top beaches in Alberta for recreation and it’s a prime fishing and boating destination. Don’t worry though, it still has a lot of sand and a good old-fashioned swimming hole.
The Village of Wabamun is a charming place and the Wabamun Museum will take you back with its collection of artifacts and exhibits.
The Shoreside Inn and Suites is a great spot to rest if you don’t feel like heading back to the city. You can grab some pizza from The Yellow Submarine and head back to the lake to eat it and watch the sunset.
Gull Lake is one of the best Alberta beaches for fishing. You will find walleye, pike, yellow perch, and whitefish all in one lake! You can get there by driving an hour and twenty minutes south of Edmonton and following the signs when you get to Lacombe.
It’s a huge lake that offers plenty of room for boating, windsurfing, sailing, and swimming. There are several beaches around the lake so you could tour around and hit them all up! The waters are warm and shallow and you can splash or float around for hours.
The Best Western Lacombe Inn and Suites is just 10 minutes away from Gull Lake. There are tons of cute restaurants in this old-style town and you can grab some delicious ice cream for dessert at The Cone.
Known to the locals as one of the best campgrounds and beaches in Alberta, Long Lake is 120 km northwest of Edmonton.
The surrounding forests give it a majestic feel and since it’s a big lake, it never really feels crowded. It’s a great camping spot to relax and enjoy Canadian nature.
This little paradise has some of the best sand for sandcastle building and a long stretch of clear blue waters. There are also restrooms, playgrounds, and tons of day-use BBQ and picnic sites.
In the nearby town of Boyle, you’ll be able to stay at the Twilight Country Motel where you can catch a good night’s rest. If you’re driving back to Edmonton, make sure to look up “The World’s Biggest Landmarks” along the way so you can snap some fun photos.
TRAVELING AROUND EDMONTON?
Don’t miss these iconic landmarks in Edmonton that will offer you a blend of culture and nature.
Top Beaches In Alberta Near Lethbridge
A very close contender to Moraine Lake for the top lakes in Alberta award is Waterton Lakes. Located in Waterton Lakes National Park, you will quickly see why it is a national treasure. It is where the Rockies meet the prairies with a bunch of lakes in between.
Upper Waterton Lakes is the place to be if you want to take a dip, sail, kayak, or scuba dive in the picturesque waters. For those who need a little faster ride, the marina at Middle Waterton Lake is where you’ll find the boat launch.
Don’t let the cold water deceive you and make sure to apply sunscreen because the hot Alberta sun will burn you in no time.
Since Waterton is a UNESCO heritage site, you will definitely need more than a day to explore everything it has to offer. The Waterton Lakes Lodge is less than 4 km from the town center and is a great mountain hotel to accommodate you for the night.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park
If you’re out by Dinosaur Provincial Park and have had enough of the desert-like climate and getting poked by cacti, you can find relief nearby! Just drive south and you’ll come across Kinbrook Island Provincial Park.
Alternatively, if you’re heading in from Calgary, just drive northeast for 1.5 hours to get to one of the best provincial beaches in Alberta.
The park offers many activities for families including hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, and lots of sandy areas for sandcastle building so make sure to bring beach toys. If you’d rather be in the warm waters of Lake Newell, you can swim, waterski, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or just chill out with your feet in the water.
If camping is your thing, you will not regret getting a spot at the Kinbrook Island Campsite. For those of you who are done with the outdoors, head over to the cute little town of Brooks and rest easy at the Canalta Brooks.
Other Popular Sandy Beaches In Alberta
You will find Kinosoo Beach in Cold Lake – three hours northeast of Edmonton, near the Saskatchewan border. This is one of the best Alberta beaches with barely any crowds since it’s so far away from the city. It has a splash park, volleyball courts, picnic sites, concession stands, and water sports rentals.
The beach itself has a roped-off swimming area that has a zip line right into the water, it’s pretty cool! This summertime hub is a must-see as it made Canadian Geographic’s Top 25 Beaches list and many different events are happening in the grandstand during the summer.
If the weather’s not great, you’ll still see a bunch of storm watchers outside because Alberta’s thunderstorms can be truly epic!
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Cold Lake is a great choice to spend the night. This lake is truly one of a kind and one day is not enough, especially after you’ve come all this way.
Shaw’s Point Resort
On the west shore of Lesser Slave Lake, you’ll find Shaw’s Point, one of the nicest sandy beaches in Alberta. It’s close to the town of High Prairie if you’re looking to get a real Alberta experience at the local rodeo. If not, the beach is where it’s at!
Waterskiing, windsurfing and cheap boat rentals really make this beach day come alive. Shaw’s Point is not only a beach but an entire resort so you’ll have a tough time deciding what to do to keep you busy.
Your best bet for a hotel is to head the half hour back to High Prairie as they offer more options for restaurants and accommodations. The Peavine Inn and Suites is a beautiful hotel to spend the night at if you don’t feel like camping at the Resort or can’t get one of the cabins.
On the opposite end of Lesser Slave Lake, you’ll find another beautiful Alberta beach, Devonshire. It’s a vast, ocean-like, blue lake that is warm to swim in and the sands are so smooth. The natural setting makes the lake so much better and also the lack of crowds.
If you swing by the Marten River Campground booth, you can pick up a beach wheelchair and take it with you to Devonshire Beach. Once you’re there, head over to the viewing platform and you’ll see a ramp that leads down to the beach. This easy accessibility makes it a fun time for all!
Since you won’t be able to just spend a day at Devonshire Beach, your best bet is to stay in Slave Lake at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. This town is known for a huge wildfire from 2011 that took out a good portion of the town. Even Prince William and Kate Middleton stopped by to offer support to the residents!
Annette Lake is another one of the Alberta beaches located in the mountains. This scenic beach lies near the amazing tourist town of Jasper and while the waters are cold, the views are unbelievable. The lake offers plenty else to do besides swim, you can canoe, kayak or just light a fire and sit by the shore.
If you want to do some Jasper Park beach hopping, Lake Edith, Beauvert Lake, Mildred Lake, and Pyramid Lake are all close by.
Jasper is known as a dark sky preserve so the stars under the campfire are like nothing else. From September until May, you may even catch the Northern Lights or they’re around in the summer if you’re up late enough!
There’s so much to see and explore around Jasper that you have no other choice but to stay to take it all in. Rooms at the Pine Bungalows are amazing and they offer everything from standard hotel rooms to riverfront cabins.
One of the best lakes in Alberta for cliff jumping off natural platforms is Horseshoe Lake. The platforms range from 10 to 80 feet tall! You can get there by heading south of Jasper, past Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway.
If jumping off the cliffs isn’t your idea of fun, it’s ok to just enter the water normally for a dip or float around and get your tan on. Since you’re already pretty close, you might as well hop over to the Columbia Icefield and check out one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the world!
After swimming in the mountain waters all day, you can warm up in the hot tub over at the Mount Robson Inn. It’s downtown Jasper so you can roam the streets of the town and check out the great restaurants and cool shops.
Enjoying The Beaches Of Alberta
Alberta is truly a great place to enjoy nature, scenery, and beaches. Whether you’re looking for a party beach, a quiet paradise, or somewhere to jump off incredibly high cliffs, one of the many beaches in Alberta will suit your needs.
Our list covers only a fraction of what’s out there so be sure to do more research to find other great ones near where you’ll be visiting.