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Your guide to Sylvan Lake
All About Sylvan Lake
Halfway between Calgary and Edmonton, the small resort town of Sylvan Lake is best known for the nine-mile-long freshwater lake from which it gets its name. People funnel into this beautiful patch of central Alberta three hours northeast of Banff National Park to swim in its shallow waters and fish for walleye and northern pike.
The landscape surrounding the lake is no slouch, either, with miles of wooded terrain perfect for hiking and biking that bursts with color come spring wildflower season. In town, Sylvan Lake celebrates its past. You can eat ice cream out of a 1933 gas station or visit the old 1921 boarding house that’s now a bar and grill. Plaques mark heritage sites throughout town, including one at the Sylvan Lake Waterslides, the first water slide installed on the beach of Sylvan Lake in the 1920s.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake is busiest in summer, but there's plenty to do at any time of year. Summers tend to be warm, spring and fall are variable, and winter is cold and snowy. In summer, swimming, boating, and hiking are among the most popular activities, and there's always a party for Canada Day on July 1st. September is a great time for hiking some of the nearby nature trails with cool, crisp air and spectacular fall foliage.
If you're here in September, check out the Flannel and Feast event, which celebrates lumberjack culture. Winter arrives with lots of snow and a full range of activities, including ice-fishing, snow biking, snowshoeing, and ice slides. Spring comes gradually in this part of Canada with snow often lasting into May. Depending on the weather, this might be a good time to explore provincial parks or some of the many indoor activities.
Top things to do in Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake Boardwalk
The Sylvan Lake Boardwalk stretches along the lakefront from one end of town to the other. It’s home to snack shacks, beachside gift shops and ice cream parlors, and boating gear rental stores. There’s also a grassy park with picnic benches galore, a great vantage point for taking in the sunset.
Sylvan Lake's shoreline is populated with an abundance of poplar and birch trees, which shimmer in the sunlight in summer and glow golden in the fall. The paved CP Trail takes you on an easy walk across town, shaded by the tree canopy most of the way.
Sylvan Lake Lighthouse
You can't visit Sylvan Lake without paying your respect to the lighthouse. The little red and white lighthouse at the center of the waterfront is the ultimate symbol of this community's spirit. The original lighthouse had to be demolished but was rebuilt and now lights up every evening. It’s a true landmark of Sylvan Lake and a great photo opportunity.