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Destination Camrose?

By on August 11, 2016

Alberta is my favourite place to vacation. It doesn’t matter that I live in this province, either. I’ve travelled to other parts of the world: Paris, Amsterdam, Vegas, Scotland, Dominican, lived in Kuwait for a year and British Columbia for a couple of years, but Alberta has a special magic that is taken for granted if you live here. It’s like anything else. If I lived in Scotland, I’d probably want to travel anywhere BUT in that country. I have friends who live there and are constantly going to exotic countries Cyprus and Spain for vacation because A) they can afford to and B) they’ve seen all there is to see in their own country.

Travelling within Alberta never gets old. I love Canmore sooooooo much that we go every year just to soak up the energy from the mountains (OK, I do that, hubby and the kids just like to chill and don’t even realize they’re soaking up all that mountain energy goodness). Jasper is another favourite destination, specifically the Jasper Park Lodge because, duh, luxury in the mountains. I swear, my dream is to live there and write books while staring at the Lac Beauvert with a cup of coffee.

The mountains are an easy option when doing a roadtrip in this province. Honestly, I rarely think of going anywhere else.

And then, I was asked to take part in a media tour for Camrose.

Camrose? What the? Why would I go to Camrose? It’s about an hour and half from where I actually live but it’s also about 25 minutes from my in-laws and I don’t exactly love THAT road trip so, no, Camrose was never on my radar as places to visit in Alberta.

Except.

A couple of years ago, I was told about this women’s conference in Camrose that was held at The Best Western Plus Camrose Resort and Casino. I’ll tell you a little secret. I love going to the casino. It’s one of my favourite date night things to do and I really love the atmosphere with the lights and ding ding ding of the slot machines and the fun of disconnecting from reality for a couple of hours. Responsibly, of course.

So this place was kind of on my radar but more of a peripheral thing, not a, “OMG WE HAVE TO GO TO CAMROSE!” kinda thing, you know?

But the invitation came and I thought, “What the hell. Let’s see what this place has to offer!” so I checked out the website and was surprised, like, really surprised to see it was more family-friendly than I thought. The pool has a waterslide and they have DVDs for the family to watch in the comfort of surprisingly large and lovely rooms. On Friday, we indulged in a decadent seafood buffet which I will totally go back to indulge in again and on Saturday, Oz and I went on a bus tour to check out what Camrose had to offer.

oz

Again, I had it in my head that Camrose was just some derpy little town. Because I’m an idiot and don’t pay attention to anything, obviously. I knew the CITY, not town (not that there’s anything wrong with small towns, I actually live in one), hosted the Big Valley Jamboree. Have you heard of it? I’ve heard of it but I had no clue what a big deal it actually is because A) I’m not a country fan and B) I really don’t like festivals of any kind because I’m old and go to bed by 9pm. So. There’s that.

Anyway, the city was just gearing up for BVJ when we were on the tour and holy crap, there is a lot that goes into the festival. I’m in awe of the amount of time, effort and land it takes to put on this event. Fun fact: 

camrose-a

Mainstreet Camrose has a selection of unique shops and art galleries that remind me of a less hipster Whyte Ave in Edmonton. There’s a certain charm to Mainstreet Camrose that appeals to my inner shopping geek and I was able to wander without knowing what I would find in the next boutique. I’m constantly at West Edmonton Mall (every Edmontonian seems to avoid that place, why, I have no clue. I quite enjoy that mall) and love knowing where to find what I need when I shop but there’s something special about checking out independently-owned stores that have products no chain store would carry. And there’s something even more appealing when you have to take a road trip to find such uniqueness.

Aside from the stores and the FABULOUS stay at the Best Western Plus Camrose Resort & Casino, Hazel, the tour guide and owner of Oleo’s Ice Cream who so passionately shared her love for her city, almost convinced me to move to Camrose. It’s a funky place with lots to offer and if my current job ever opened an office there, I wouldn’t hesitate to move.

icecream

I have to get back to the BWPCRC for a sec (yeah, I know, I’m all over the place on this blog. Bear with me. I’m writing a book in between work and consulting and tweeting :D). Summer is short and if you are looking for a quick, family friendly trip, check it out. Even if you just want a girl’s weekend or a romantic getaway, this place has everything.

On the Friday night, I rocked out to the dueling pianos while hubby won $100 in a charity poker tournament which went to the University Hospital Foundation in memory of his dad who passed away from cancer two years ago.

camrose-b

poker

And if you’re looking for the best chicken wings in Alberta, look no further than Eats Restaurant. GM Dawn Anderson said she rarely raves about anything but promised they would be the best I’d ever had and she was right. Also, I’m pretty sure I want to be her BFF, she’s so freakin’ amazing. Don’t fall off your chair or anything but I actually hugged her because I loved her energy so much. I don’t hug people. Ever. But I couldn’t help myself!

OK, so to recap:

  • Family friendly – check
  • Ridiculously awesome food – check
  • Fun for adults – check
  • Shopping – check

Will I go back? You bet your sweet ASS I’ll be back. I might even try to get to the Big Valley Jamboree JUST because it looks like so much fun! And ladies, the Resort even has a spa. Just sayin. I’ve been to other Alberta resort and casinos and there’s no spa and the pool sucks. Not the case here.

Do something different this summer. Whether or not the Dalai Lama actually said this or not (it’s a disputed quote) it makes sense: Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before. I can honestly say I’d never been to Camrose because it never appealed to me but having been, it’s definitely a place I’d go back to see.

cheers