How to Cruise the Culture of Vermilion, Alberta


Vermilion will give you that vintage prairie feel (as pictured above, during parade day on Main Street), on a road trip through northeast Alberta #NEAB #cruiseourculture

Vermilion, AB — Historic main street, with its red brick and restored wooden buildings, is the first thing you’ll notice about the Town of Vermilion. This picturesque place is filled with friendly locals, fun boutique shopping, good restaurants and many places to experience the beauty of nature. 

About a two-hour drive southeast of Edmonton, this small town is fun to explore. My husband and I spent a day in Vermilion and loved it. Next time, we’re going to stay longer.

WATCH: get a taste of Vermilion's culture and local flavour

Watch How to cruise Vermilion's culture on YouTube.

Dive into history at Vermilion Museum 

Don't let the name confuse you: there are a few places in North America that have the name Vermilion (two in Alberta!). But the Town of Vermilion was established in 1906 and it got its name from the red clay in the river valley. 

The word “vermilion” means “having a bright red colour.”

Photo: Greg Olsen
The Vermilion Heritage Museum is housed within the town's original school building.

One of the earliest businesses in town, the Vermilion Brick Factory, utilized the rich clay to produce more than 1.5 million bricks. We learned this and other cool facts and saw interesting artifacts at the Vermilion Heritage Museum

The museum is located in a historic school building and contains six galleries with a variety of artifacts and displays. 

Get your art and shopping fix on Main Street 

The boutiques and shops in downtown Vermilion are worth exploring and you’ll find things you won’t find anywhere else in Alberta. 

If you love seeing and supporting local artists, Upper Level Pottery and Art Gallery is the place to go.

Photo: Jeremy Derksen
Exploring the art at Upper Level Pottery and Art Gallery.

This brightly lit gallery houses the works of more than 40 Alberta artists in a variety of mediums including sculpture, paintings, pottery, jewelry, crafts and more. 

Art, history, shopping and food—head to Vermilion for a cultural getaway

I enjoyed exploring the regional representation at the art gallery and spent some more time perusing boutique clothing and shoe stores in town. 

Best Cobb Salad in Town - The Hungry Hippie 

After a busy morning of exploring, we needed lunch and The Hungry Hippie was a great place to go. This little restaurant sells subs, wraps and salads. 

Their cobb salad was one of the best I’ve had anywhere. 

Local Craft Spirits at Copper Cork Distillery 

After lunch, you’re going to need a break and some local bevies. Copper Cork Distillery is right on main street and it’s a great place to sample some unique and delicious spirits—in a flight or a craft cocktail.

Photo: Linda Hoang
In the distilling room at Copper Cork Distillery, with co-owner Todd Ree.

The distillery was started by four locals and you can see the copper distilling equipment through a window that sits right behind the bar. Local snacks are served with cocktails. 

Yummmmm: Old School Cheesery 

If you want handcrafted artisan cheese made from fresh milk supplied by local dairy producers, take a stroll off main street to the Old School Cheesery.

Photo: Greg Olsen
Sample locally made artisanal cheese, with a charcuterie board at Old School Cheesery.

This family owned and operated cheesery was founded in 2016. Patrick Dupuis and Valerie Roberts, a father-daughter team, own and operate the cheesery. We enjoyed a charcuterie board and some delicious drinks on the patio. 

Get your fill of local culture and flavour in Vermilion

There’s a wide variety of cheeses available and you can also buy fresh cheese curds, local honey, and other local products in this cheese shop. 

A Red Seal chef on staff has created a small menu of food items made with the shop’s wonderful cheese that can also be enjoyed on the patio or at tables inside the shop. 

Get Your Nature Fix at Vermilion Provincial Park 

We rented kayaks from Burnt Rock Adventure Co. to enjoy in Vermilion Provincial Park.

This 750-hectare park sits along the south shore of the Vermilion River Valley and it’s one of the only provincial parks inside an urban centre. There’s a spray park, ball diamonds, soccer fields, a campground, a trout pond and many hiking trails to enjoy in this park during summer. 

In winter, the Beckie Scott Nordic Centre maintains about 20 kilometres of track set trails and several wider trails to accommodate skate skiing. 

I paddled my rented kayak along the river valley and enjoyed seeing birds and other wildlife just before sunset. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day in Vermilion.

When you go

Vermilion is just under a 2-hour drive from Edmonton, east on AB-16

Build your own adventure based on this story, with stops at: 

Finally, rent some kayaks at Burnt Rock Adventure Co. and head out for a paddle at Vermilion Provincial Park, and check out Explore Vermilion for more info on where to stay, eat and play while in town.

explore #NEAB
Keep the northeast Alberta road trip going with a visit to Lac La Biche, another cultural hub. 

Share your adventures
Be sure to tag #NEAB and #zenseekers, so we might feature your discoveries too!


About the writer
Debbie Olsen is an award-winning Métis writer and a national bestselling author. Follow her adventures at

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