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Posted by Cochrane Tourism Association – June 2024

Cochrane is a charming southern Alberta town where cowboy culture meets alpine adventure. It’s situated in the rolling foothills of the Canadian Rockies just 20 minutes west of Calgary, and it’s one of the top small towns in Alberta to add to your travel itinerary for the region.

Whether you’re looking for towns near Banff or towns near Calgary to round out your trip with something completely different, we’ve planned the perfect three days in Cochrane. Welcome to our little slice of heaven.

Your 3-day Cochrane itinerary

Day 1: Unwind and ease into adventure

Your first day is all about experiencing the laid-back vibe small towns in Alberta like Cochrane are known for — a lovely change from the busyness of Banff and Calgary.

In the morning, head to the Cochrane Golf Club to play 9 holes or warm up at the practice putting green, hitting nets, or 18-hole mini golf course. Beginners will feel right at home here, and you can even bring the family dog along.

Next, spend your afternoon at The Cave Sauna & Day Spa, where you can recharge in the infrared cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam room, or Finnish dry sauna — just to name a few. Feeling brave? Try the ice well or the bucket splash before heading into the relaxation room. Or, opt for a therapeutic massage.

Dinner is calling! Meet Chef G and his family, serving up authentic flavours of Nepal at Aama Nepalese Cuisine. The restaurant is named in honour of Chef G’s late mother (“aama” means mother in Nepali). Their entire menu is delicious, but we’re especially partial to the steamed yak momos (Nepalese dumplings).

After a full day, venture back to your accommodations outside of town at The Crossing at Ghost River. This all-inclusive boutique inn not only has charming antique-furnished rooms, but its beautiful forest views are the real show-stopper. Or, stay at the Super 8 or Ramada by Wyndham centrally located in Cochrane.

Day 2: Outdoor fun from the acreage to the lake

Start your day at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, located on 160 acres just 15 minutes west of town by car. You’ll not only learn about the sanctuary’s 57 resident wolfdogs — you’ll get to meet them, too. An interactive tour inside a wolfdog enclosure can give you a close-up look at these incredible animals, or you can explore and view the enclosures from the outside on a self-guided tour.

As the day heats up, it’s time to head to the lake. Just 20 minutes west of town, you’ll find Ghost Lake. Cochrane is one of the few small towns in Alberta that’s this close to a large lake with stunning mountain views.

Rent a stand-up paddleboard from GhostekNorth, or join one of their guided activities like SUP yoga or hydrofoiling (a type of surfing that lifts your surfboard above the water). Just want to relax? We’re all for that, too. Bring your picnic blanket and some food, and enjoy the sun and fresh air.

For dinner tonight, head to Fence & Post in Cochrane’s Historic Downtown. This casual yet upscale restaurant puts a focus on premium local products and fresh ingredients, so you’ll truly get a taste of Alberta here. We recommend the garlic balloon appetizer (mozzarella stuffed with garlic cream), wedge salad, or slow-cooked Elk Osso Bucco.

Day 3: Wander the local market and trails

Get a dose of nature right in town today at the Cochrane Ranche, a 136-acre park steeped in western culture and Indigenous history. Pack for a picnic and stop by the Butchery BlockTwo Pharmacy, or the Cochrane Farmers’ Market (Saturdays from June to October) for your snack haul first.

Once at the park, you’ll find a quaint museum inside a 110-year-old building, a reconstructed corral, and an interpretive trail highlighting the park’s natural and human history. Hotspots for photos include the famous “Men of Vision” statue and the top of the park where you’ll be treated to panoramic mountain views. And don’t miss the Grandfather Tree walk where you’ll see a beautiful white spruce with a large tangle of roots that’s estimated to be over 300 years old.

*Good Guest tip: The Grandfather Tree is suffering from soil erosion, please enjoy it from afar and skip climbing it!

Next, venture back into Historic Downtown to browse the local boutiques that line Main Street. You also can’t miss stopping off at MacKay’s Ice Cream, which has been scooping locally made, premium ice cream to customers from around the world since 1948 — a business that spans three generations. MacKay’s is a wildly popular spot, so be prepared for a lineup (yes, it’s worth the wait).

Get to know one of the best small towns in Alberta

When you’re looking for towns near Banff or towns near Calgary to explore, Cochrane — located right in the middle of the two — is the perfect stop. Here, you’ll find that feeling of balance you can only get from having a bit of peace and quiet, but still lots to see and do. We can’t wait to show you around.
Want to extend your stay? Download the Explore Cochrane app to discover more activities, restaurants, and attractions.

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