by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent

You may have already noticed, but a quick glance at the calendar shows fall is on its way. In only two short weeks, kids will be heading back to school and before you know it, we’ll all be swapping out our sandals for scarves, bathing suits for boots.
If your summer zipped past you a little too quickly and you find yourself unwilling to let go of the season, don’t worry yet—there’s still some time to get out and take advantage of these last few warm weather days.

Planning day-trips from Morinville is a good way to maximize the last few weeks of summer. Here are a few ideas for some family-friendly outings and events taking place close to home:

Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake is about a two-hour drive south from Morinville. After 34-years, this is the final year its popular Wild Rapids Waterslide Park will be open; if you’re hoping to take one last trip there, you better get going before it’s too late. In addition to the waterslides, Sylvan Lake also has another water attraction, new this year: the Sylvan Lake Inflatable Aqua Splash Park (for ages five and up. Note: kids between the ages of five and nine require a parent to accompany them).

Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm
There is a lot to do and see at Prairie Gardens, located less than 20 minutes away (by the Town of Bon Accord). There’s a petting farm, corn maze, fresh produce for sale, outdoor cafe, trackless train rides, and a lot more to take in during a day at the farm. Mark your calendars because Prairie Gardens is offering free admission to families on Aug. 21 and on Sept. 3 to 5 is their annual Corn Festival.

Pembina River Provincial Park
West of Morinville, Pembina River is about an hour away. Pembina is famous for river tubing, which makes a fantastic trip for the family. If you don’t have any of the equipment needed to go tubing, an onsite company, Pembina River Tubing (PRT), has everything available to rent (PRT will rent tubes to kids as young as five, as long as they have an adult riding with them).

Elk Island National Park
Located about an hour east of Morinville, Elk Island National Park will keep your family busy. This park is perfect for picnicking, observing wildlife, hiking trails, or even for an overnight stay. On Sept. 4, Elk Island National Park will be hosting their 11th annual Star Party, where volunteer astronomers will help people see the stars during both the day and the night.

The Town of Whitecourt
Whitecourt is about an hour-and-a-half away from Morinville, heading west. There is a lot to do there for families looking to get away for a day or two. Everything from a Forest Interpretive Centre to an Aquatic Centre with a ‘lazy river’ and waterslide, beautiful trail systems, and the popular Rotary Park, home to a large, super fun, outdoor spray park that kids love.

Jurassic Forest
Jurassic Forest is located 3 km north of the Town of Gibbons, so it’s very close to Morinville and perfect for a day-trip. A favourite with kids, Jurassic Forest boasts 2 kms of discovery trails, a dinosaur-themed playground, interactive learning centres, mini golf, and concessions. If you visit their website, you can find free printable scavenger hunt bingo cards, perfect for keeping the kids entertained while walking the trails and discovering dinosaurs.

Symphony Under the Sky
This annual event takes place at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton from Aug. 25 to 28. The four-day event includes the music of Simon & Garfunkel, classical music, a night dedicated to Hollywood (includes well-known tunes from the Lion King, Jurassic Park, E.T., etc.), and a Heritage Celebration of music from around the world. Tickets can be reserved or purchased on the day of the event. Grass seating for kids under 12 is free (must be accompanied by an adult).

Grand Masters Fiddling Competition
Okay, so this one doesn’t require you to leave town on a day-trip. Instead, it’s a great local event taking place right here in Morinville, from Aug. 26 to 28. This competition will see 33 of the best Canadian Fiddlers compete for the title of Grand Masters Fiddling Champion (and the first time the event is being held in Alberta). Tickets are still available for the competition and on Sunday, there is a pancake breakfast open to everyone. More information can be found on the Town of Morinville’s website, under the Events Calendar.

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