By Allison Hopkins

Take a day trip east of Edmonton to explore two unique Alberta treasures; Elk Island National Park and Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village.

Stop at the visitor centre to pick up a map of Elk Island including a list of trails. With three trails under 4 km and a 300m living waters boardwalk the park offers family friendly hiking. Play at the sandy beach and playground of Astonin Lake, swimming is not recommended due to swimmer’s itch. Paddle in Astonin Lake by bringing your own canoe, kayak or paddle board or renting from Astonin Lake Recreation area. Don’t forget to drive down Bison Loop Road and stop to watch the Bison!

  • FREE park admission to Elk Island National Park to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
  • Enjoy an ice cream at the Elk Island Golf Course or a picnic with fire pits at one of the four picnic areas (wood provided).
  • Pick up a discovery kit in July and August from the Astonin theatre located next to the playground including a geocache kit, pond discover kit and a backpack kit.
  • Check out a park program in July and August including Bison Backstage on Saturdays and Sunday 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Pre-register at the visitor centre.
  • Haskin Canoe rents canoes, kayaks or standup paddlebaords; check webpage for operating hours.

After visiting Elk Island National Park take a short drive to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village and walk around the open air museum. With thirty-five restored and relocated buildings including churches, a school house, grain elevator and blacksmith shop to explore.

  • Kids 6 and under are free admission! Family of four is forty dollars or FREE with Experience Alberta History Annual Pass.
  • Bring along rubber boots if it has rained lately as the paths can get muddy.
  • Pack a stroller or wagon to help those little feet explore the area.
  • Be aware only water is allowed in the village.
  • Picnic tables and fire pits (no wood provided) along with a food concession offering Ukrainian food (summer only) are located before the entrance to the village.
  • FREE wagon rides Thursday to Monday during summer months.
  • Opening day Saturday of the May long weekend.

Check out the webpage for special events like Ukrainian Day and Harvest of the Past Day. As the Ukrainian Village is a seasonal attraction and some services at Elk Island National Park are also seasonal, please always check their websites before heading out!

Allison Hopkins is a tea loving, wannabe blogger, passionate planner of adventures and crappy house cleaner of 2. 

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