Fort McMurray — A 1-Day Trip in Fort McMurray, Alberta!
Fort McMurray is located in Northeast Alberta at the centre of the Athabasca oil sands. The city is heavily influenced by the mining and oil industry. I was in Fort McMurray for a few days, but we mostly home cooked and stayed in (read all the way to the end for our home cooked meals!). We spread out our activities over the days, but they can also all be jammed into one busy day per below. If for any reason, you ever find yourself in Fort McMurray, here is a perfect 1 day itinerary!
We started our day with brunch at Surekha’s on the Snye. It is a cute restaurant just off the Snye River, which runs along Fort McMurray’s riverfront. We ordered the wild turkey sandwich (with a caesar salad on the side) and breakfast poutine. Make sure to have a large meal, because if you are following this itinerary, it will be a busy day!
Surekha’s on the Snye
After brunch, we headed to the Aboriginal Interpretive Trail by MacDonald Island Park, the largest community centre in Fort McMurray. MacDonald Island Park is home to aquatic centres, ice rinks, rock climbing, squash courts, and much more! To get to the trailhead, turn off into the parking lot to the left just before entering MacDonald Island. The Aboriginal Interpretive Trail is a short walk along the Athabasca River. The walk is lined with birch trees, public art pieces, and painted fox sculptures. Due to the rain and the recent flood, the trail was very muddy.
Aboriginal Interpretive Trail
After your morning walk, head to the Oil Sands Discovery Centre where you can learn more about the history, science, and technology behind the Athabasca oil sands. Continue to Rotary Links, the golf course by the airport, and take a few shots at the driving range. Rotary Links is one of the newest golf courses in Fort McMurray with only 9 holes. There is a lot of construction in the area as they are trying to build another 9 holes. We did not notice when we left in the morning, but we were wearing opposite-matching coloured clothing (LOL).
Rotary Links Driving Range
We stopped by Vista Ridge after Rotary Links as we were curious what the ski hill looks like in the summer. During the summer, Vista Ridge opens up its aerial adventure park, golf course, and mini putt course for visitors. During the winter, it is frequented by locals as the main ski hill in the area. They also have a tube park and skating rink in the winter. Note: The chair lift does not operate during the summers.
After our short visit to Vista Ridge, we headed to Gregoire Lake Provincial Park for a walk along the water. It was a bit chilly despite only being the first week of September. We were not dressed for the weather, so our walk was cut short. Gregoire Lake is also a popular camping spot — you can reserve your campground online.
After Gregoire Lake, we drove through Anzac (just so we could say we have been). Anzac is a very small hamlet with a population of around 550 and about a 18 minute drive east of Gregoire Lake Provincial Park. We stopped by the Anzac Grocery to grab a drink and headed to the beach area at Anzac Day Use (also part of Gregoire Lake). Unlike the clear lake water at the campgrounds, the water here was murky brown.
After Anzac, head north of Fort McMurray to visit Syncrude Giants of Mining. The Syncrude Giants of Mining is a free attraction showcasing giant decommissioned machines. The main attractions are the bucketwheel reclaimer and the dragline bucket. The bucketwheel reclaimer once played a role in moving material from one point to another, while the dragline bucket was once used to dig into the oil sands.
A visit to Fort McMurray is not complete without a glimpse of the oil and gas refineries — Syncrude and Suncor.
For dinner, we stopped at Cedars and got take out. They have two locations (Cedars Bakery and Restaurant AND Cedars Shawarma and Kebab) and specialize in Lebanese food. The portions are large and pretty reasonable for the price. We ordered the mixed (beef and chicken) shawarma platter to share, as well as falafel and tabouli. The platter comes with rice, hummus, toum, pita, and salad. Cedars is never a disappointment — seriously, I crave this stuff.
Cedars for Dinner!
If you want to go out for an evening drink, some popular options are Banquet, Townhall, and 57 North Kitchen + Brewery. Note: 57 North Kitchen + Brewery makes their own brews and stills.
Side Note: Here are some photos of our home-cooked meals! In order of appearance below:
- Charcuterie (Guacamole, Raspberry Jam, Tabouli, Brie, Hummus, Toum, Parmesan Garlic Crackers, Prosciutto, Salami, Smoked Salmon, Olives, Pickled Bean, Capers)
- Homemade Tomato Soup and Cheesy Beef Quesadilla with Homemade Salsa, Guacamole, and Sour Cream
- Shepherd’s Pie and Lemon Garlic Vegetables
- Truffle Oil Tomatoes, Warm Kale Salad, Sous Vide Steak, and Homemade Pasta stuffed with Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Parmesan, and Bacon
- Chicken Wings (Creamy Parmesan Garlic, Lemon Pepper, Sweet Chili, and Hot) and Miso Tahini Salad. Sweet chili and hot chicken wings were purchased from 57 North Kitchen + Brewery.
Side Note 2: Beacon Hill Lookout is a nice viewpoint especially in the Fall! The Fall colours make a beautiful backdrop.
Complete Day 1 Itinerary
*Travel times may vary. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details.
10:30am: Start the day with a walk along the Aboriginal Interpretive Trail.
11:30am: Have brunch at Surekha’s on the Snye (6 minute drive from the Aboriginal Interpretive Trail).
12:30pm: Visit the Oil Sands Discovery Centre (11 minute drive from Surekha’s on the Snye).
2:00pm: Visit the driving range at Rotary Links (12 minute drive from Oil Sands Discovery Centre).
3:30pm: Visit Vista Ridge (18 minute drive from Rotary Links). Consider visiting the Aerial Adventure Park. During the winter, go skiing or snowboarding.
4:30pm: Visit Gregoire Lake Provincial Park (34 minute drive from Vista Ridge).
6:00pm: Head to Syncrude Giants of Mining (57 minute drive from Gregoire Lake Provincial Park). Take in the view of the refineries.
8:00pm: Head to Cedars for dinner (30 minute drive from Giants of Mining).
9:00pm: Go out for an evening drink at one of the local bars (i.e. Banquet, Townhall, 57 North Kitchen + Brewery).