An Ideal 3 Day Canmore Itinerary for the Summer

Whether you’re visiting Canmore for a weekend getaway from Calgary, it’s your first time in the Rockies, or you’re just looking to mix it up from Banff, our charming mountain town offers quite a lot for visitors. Outdoor adventures are endless. Whether you want to go hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, climbing, or even shopping, you can find it in Canmore.

Best of all, the views around town are extraordinary. There aren’t many places in the world where visitors regularly feel inclined to take a photo walking out of the local supermarket. Summer has a great vibe with many sunny patios and a wide range of restaurants for a town of its size. We may be biased, but Canmore gives Banff a run for its money.

Of course, we live in Canmore, so we’re always out exploring in the summer. However, if it were my first time visiting, this is exactly how I would plan a three-day Canmore itinerary in the summer.

Day 1

Stroll Around Downtown Canmore

Downtown Canmore In The Fall

So you’ve just arrived in Canmore and checked into your hotel. It’s time to head out onto Main Street and enjoy Downtown Canmore. Walking down 8th Street (Main Street) and exploring all the restaurants, shops, and views is a highlight for many in the summer. Either end of the street offers sweeping mountain views of the local peaks.

While on Main Street, pop into Stonewaters, Project A, and Alberta’s Own Marketplace for unique souvenirs and local crafts. If you’re into art, the Jason Carter Gallery across the street is our favorite gallery to visit. It features the art of local artist Jason Carter, whose work has been featured nationally and is on display for all international visitors arriving at the Calgary Airport.

Good news! 8th Street is pedestrian-only during the summer months. Main Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from May 13 to Oct. 18, 2024; this is when pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the beauty!

Grab a Coffee at Eclipse

Eclipse coffee in canmore

Eclipse is located on 8th Street and is our favorite place in Canmore to grab a coffee. Here, you will find artisan roasts made in-house and a wide range of specialty coffees. Expect the usual espresso drinks, ranging from a flat white to a latte and a nice pour-over for true coffee aficionados.

There’s space to drink your coffee inside, but Eclipse has a wonderful outdoor patio to enjoy in the summer. If you’re after a more classic coffee shop, check out Beamers, which has been serving locals for nearly three decades.

Walk Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

Natasha walking Policeman's Creek Boardwalk

Take your coffee and head to the start of the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk, which is right across the street from the Drake Hotel and the Big Head Statue. This is an easy walk in Canmore on an elevated boardwalk that anyone of any age can enjoy.

It only takes 10 minutes or so to walk along the boardwalk from Main Street to Spring Creek. Cross the bridge over the creek towards the Malcolm Hotel and continue walking toward Main Street. This is a nice loop walk for views, and we love to do it with coffee.

Grab Lunch at The Tavern

The Summer Patio Of The Tavern

The Tavern isn’t on Main Street, so visitors often overlook it, but we promise they serve up some of the best lunch food and have a beautiful patio. The Tavern is one of our favorite restaurants in Canmore. We love it for its low-key atmosphere, delicious pub food, and rotating craft beers. If you’re looking for the best burger in Canmore and possibly all the Canadian Rockies, try the Bison Burger.

Cross the Canmore Engine Bridge

Natasha Looks Out To Engine Bridge In Canmore On Bow River

Continue your day in Canmore and work off that burger by walking to the Canmore Engine Bridge. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1891 on a railroad spur line to serve the coal mines, the Canmore Engine Bridge is now somewhat of an icon in Canmore and part of the Bow River Loop Trail, a beautiful walk in Canmore.

The Engine Bridge was already a popular place to head for a nice walk, but with the popularity of The Last of Us HBO show, it’s now one of the most iconic places in Alberta. Walk across the bridge and take in the views of Ha Ling Peak and Mount Rundle. You may even see Canmore’s resident elk hanging around the Bow River if you’re lucky!

If you want a longer walk, keep walking the Bow River Loop. Eventually, you’ll come to the Canmore Pedestrian Bridge over the Bow River, which offers magnificent views of the iconic Three Sisters Mountains.

Afternoon Hike to Grassi Lakes

Natasha Sits Along The First Grassi Lake
Grassi Lakes in the summer

Now that you’ve worked off your burger and enjoyed Downtown Canmore, it’s time to venture further. However, it’s not too far away, as you may already be a bit tired from the day. Get in the car and drive to the Grassi Lakes trailhead up the Smith Dorrien Trail Road.

Grassi Lakes is a simple and rewarding hike that ends with two sparkling lakes. The lakes are about 30-45 minutes from the trailhead. You’ll know you are there when you reach the first lake. We recommend staying around Grassi Lakes for about one hour to enjoy the nature and spectacular views over Canmore.

You’ll notice that when you get to the trailhead, there are two trails—an easy and a hard one. The easy one is pretty flat and easygoing, while the hard one is a rootier trail with stairs and steeper sections. Both trails are easy, so don’t let the “hard” rating deter you.

Spend The Evening On The Canmore Lakes

Natasah Paddles Along The Canmore Resevoir In The Evening
Paddleboarding on the Rundle Forebay Reservoir

If you still have enough energy, you have two options for a tranquil spot to stop at on your way back to town. From Grassi Lakes, you’ll pass two small bodies of water. The Canmore Reservoir and Quarry Lake are great evening spots. They’re a five-minute walk from their parking lots, too, so it shouldn’t take too much energy. If you have a paddleboard or kayak, you can take it to one of the lakes for a nice evening paddle with tremendous views.

Evening Dinner Recommendation: The Roaring Rolls for amazing Indian or Rocket Pie for the best pizza in Canmore!

Day 2

Rocky Mountain Bagel

Rocky Mountain Bagel Front Sign And Patio At 8th Street Location

Start your day off well-rested and with a delicious breakfast in Canmore. I love a good bagel, and if you’re like me, there is no place better to start your mornings than the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. It’s a bit of an institution in town and now has two locations, with its most popular one on Main Street.

Head here in the morning and pick from their range of fresh bagels for a sandwich, or opt for one of their homemade cream cheese spreads. You can’t go wrong with their jalapeno cheddar and rosemary sea salt bagels.

Go For A Bike Ride

Natasha Biking At The Canmore Nordic Center
Biking at the Canmore Nordic Center

Rebound Cycle offers bike rentals for everything from gravel to mountain and e-bikes. If you’re after a mountain bike, you can head to Trail Sports at the Canmore Nordic Centre. We recommend the Three Sisters Pathway, which runs along the Bow River, for a leisurely bike ride.

For cyclists, we love the Legacy Trail, a paved path that runs parallel to the TransCanada and connects Banff and Canmore. The trail to Banff is over 20 km long (one way), so it’s no short ride, but it’s well worth the effort. Once you get to Banff, pick a patio and grab a meal. Our favorite patios are Touloulous, Three Bears Brewery, and Anejo.

You can ride back to Canmore or hop on the Roam Bus (Route 3), which has limited bike racks to return to Canmore. We would not advise relying on the bike racks on the bus as locals use the service, and it’s pretty limited. Use it as a backup.

If you’re looking to mountain bike, head to the Canmore Nordic Centre, which has trails for every skill level. The trails are free to access if you hold a valid Kananaskis Conservancy Pass and are among some of the best in the Rockies.

Play A Game Of Disc Golf

At the Three Sisters Disc Golf Course

If you’ve spent all day in the saddle, you’re probably looking for something more relaxing for the second half of your day. For that, we recommend disc golf. There are a few disc golf courses around the valley, but two of the best are the Three Sisters Mountain Village disc golf course and the Nordic Center.

This is a fun activity when you are tired of hiking and want to spend the day with a nice cold drink (or hot tea). You can rent a disc golf set at Trail Sports or buy one at Switching Gear, Sports Expert, or Canadian Tire.

Catch Sunset On A Lake

Natasha Looks Over Quarry Lake At Sunset
Sunset on Quarry Lake

Head to whatever lake you didn’t enjoy previously tonight. The two lakes near Canmore are Quarry Lake and the Canmore Reservoir. However, if you don’t mind driving further, we recommend climbing Smith Dorrien Road and setting your GPS for Goat Pond. Bring some drinks and enjoy the tranquility here (remember to Leave No Trace!).

Day 3

Breakfast at Le Fournil

Le Fournil Bakery Exterior

Start your day early again and head to Le Fournil. This French-inspired bakery offers wonderful pastries, bread, and desserts. If you love a good croissant and coffee in the morning, this is a fantastic option—I don’t even think a French person would disagree!

Drive up the Smith Dorrien Road

Natasha paddleboarding on Goat pond
Paddling on Goat Pond

Prepare for a road trip along the Smith Dorrien into Kananaskis Country, one of the most scenic drives in the Rockies. If you’ve followed our previous suggestions, you’ve been on portions of this road already, though today, you’re going on a longer road trip. The full Smith Dorrien Road (Highway 742) is 70 km long, from Canmore to Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40).

We recommend starting the drive in Canmore (above Grassi Lakes) and doing the whole drive as a loop. You’ll pass Whiteman’s Pond, Goat Pond, Spray Lakes, and the idyllic Mount Engadine Lodge along the road. If you’re feeling peckish, look into tea at Mount Engadine, which they serve in the afternoon every day.

There are plenty of hikes on this route. Longer ones include Tent Ridge and Smutwood Peak (long day hikes that must be planned), while shorter, easier Kananaskis hikes include Chester Lake and the Blackshale Suspension Bridge.

After driving for a bit, you’ll eventually reach Kananaskis Lakes, where you can enjoy the shoreline and have a picnic (bring supplies). These beautiful blue lakes rival some of the best in Banff. When you connect to the Kananaskis Trail, you’re in for even more beauty as you loop around more sights.

You’ll eventually pass Barrier Lake and then back to the TransCanada Highway, where you can get on and head back to Canmore. We recommend this whole drive as a full-day outing, though if you drive straight through without stops, the drive will take less than three hours. Below are some of the highlights.

Enjoy a Hike

Natasha Sits Along Rawson Lake After Hike
At Rawson Lake

There are plenty of hikes on the Smith Dorrien Trail to enjoy. As mentioned above, a few of our favorites are Smutwood Peak, Tent Ridge, Burstall Pass, Chester Lake, Rawson Lake, Sarrail Ridge, and Barrier Lake Lookout.

Walk the Blackshale Suspension Bridge

Natasha Walks Along blackshale suspension bridge
Walking the Blackshale Suspension Bridge

Not many people know about the Blackshale Suspension Bridge. We didn’t even after a year of living in the Rockies! However, it’s a wonderful, very short, and easy hike in Kananaskis near Kananaskis Lakes that will take you high above the trees on a scenic bridge.

Stop at Kananaskis Lakes

natasha picnicing at kananaskis lakes
Picnicking on Kananaskis Lakes

Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes are some of the most beautiful lakes in the Rockies. Here, you can bring a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe and get out on the water. If you don’t have a watercraft, you can bring a blanket and enjoy the shoes—perhaps go for a swim!

Optional If Time Permits: Dog Carting Tour

You’ve likely heard of dog sledding before, which happens in the winter. These dogs love to run and work, but what do they do in the summer? I will introduce you to dog carting, which Snowy Owl runs at Boundary Ranch in Kananaskis. These 1.5-hour experiences run daily in the summer at 8:30 AM & 10:00 AM (Friday-Monday).

Dog carting is exactly what it sounds like, where husky hero sled dogs can lead you through the forest. This experience is new, but we expect it to be a hit. We haven’t done it yet, so I can’t personally vouch. Please call ahead to reserve.

Dinner in Downtown Canmore

The Entrance To 4296

It’s your last night in Canmore, so put on your best mountain attire and enjoy a nice dinner downtown. Canmore has many nice restaurants, but one of our favorites is 4296. Reservations are highly recommended here, as space is limited.

Once there, you can choose a delicious cocktail from their extensive list before enjoying a three-course meal of Brulee Halloumi, Peave Burrata, and Honey Hot Fried Chicken.

Visiting Banff

Banff Ave In The Summer Evening With Cascade In Background

This itinerary focuses on visiting Canmore, but we realize that many people will visit Banff and Canmore, especially if you’re on a full trip to the Canadian Rockies. We recommend visiting Banff on any trip to the Rockies (this is called TheBanffBlog, after all), though we wanted to focus this article solely on Canmore.

If it’s your first time, we recommend spending 3 days in Canmore, 3 days in Banff, and hopefully a few more days in Jasper—depending on how much time you have. We have a full Banff itinerary if you want more ideas!

Getting to and Around Canmore

This Canmore summer itinerary focuses on those with their own form of transportation. If you don’t have a vehicle in Canmore, you can use the Roam Transit to get around to a few places.

However, without a car, you won’t be able to drive into Kananaskis or get on Smith Dorrien Road, though you can easily get around to all the town center locations. If traveling without a car, the best way to get from YYC to Canmore is with the Banff Airporter.

Parking in Canmore

Paid parking is now virtually everywhere in downtown Canmore and at Quarry Lake. It is heavily enforced, and the Bylaw will issue tickets. We recommend downloading the Blinkay App to pay easily. See the rates here.

Where to Stay in Canmore

the malcolm

The Malcolm: The Malcolm Hotel is the nicest hotel in Canmore. It sits right along Policemen’s boardwalk, just far enough away from the hustle of Downtown. It’s a fantastic place to stay and have a unique experience in Canmore.

lamphouse hotel

The Lamphouse Hotel is on Main Street, just steps away from everything you could want in Canmore, including the start of the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk. It has very comfortable rooms in a convenient location.

pocaterra inn

Pocaterra Inn is a great choice for families with children as they have a waterslide! This is sure to keep kids entertained while adults can relax. Bonus: It’s one of the more affordable places in Canmore.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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