A sizeable North American city, Edmonton is home to several distinctly different districts that turn out everything a modern traveller could hope for – shopping, activities, culinary hubs, arts and culture, nightlife and natural attractions. The river valley that splits the city in half is fringed with park areas, wildlife and walking trails, weaving a ribbon-like ecosystem in amongst the high rise buildings and urban streets. Hosting around 50 festivals every year, Edmonton is often referred to as ‘Canada’s Festival City’. This is most certainly a place where there’s always something to celebrate.
Who could resist an art gallery that puts on a show before you’ve even step foot inside? The immense glass and metal structure of the Art Gallery of Alberta is definitely one of the more abstract pieces of architecture in Edmonton, and makes for a great photo opportunity. Inside you’ll find more than 6,000 fascinating objects of contemporary and historical art to take your fancy.
For a vivid look at what life was like in Edmonton during the 18th and 19th century, take a trip to Fort Edmonton Park. This massive park spanning 158 acres is an example of living history at its finest. Step back in time and into very realistic recreations of Edmonton in 1885, 1905 and 1920, complete with convincing actors dressed in the fashions of the day. Don’t miss your chance to take a ride on the 1919 Baldwin Steam Train – a definite highlight.
The Muttart Conservatory is certainly one of Edmonton’s more unique attractions. The fascinating glass pyramids are home to a collection of botanical gardens, each with its own climate theme. Experience the thrill of hopping from the tropics to the desert in a matter of seconds.
Eat and Drink
The place to be – whether it’s for dining, drinking, clubbing, live music or theatre – is Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona, a historic district located in south-central Edmonton. This vibrant entertainment precinct is home to restaurants serving up popular cuisines from around the world, and there are plenty of bars and pubs to choose from if you want to kick on into the night.
Just over the river from Old Strathcona is downtown Edmonton where you’ll find delis, Italian kitchens, bistros, diners and juice bars. A handful of Asian restaurants can also be found in Chinatown in the McCauley district.
Where to Stay
Downtown Edmonton offers an excellent range of high-end hotels and puts you in a convenient location to access the river and other surrounding areas of interest. There are a few chic hotels in Old Strathcona too, if you want to be placed near the action of Whyte Avenue.
The West End district of Edmonton is abundant with mid- to high-range hotels and is ideal if shopping at the famous West Edmonton Mall is on your agenda.
The phrase ‘shop-till-you-drop’ might actually hold true if you spend a day at West Edmonton Mall, famed for being the largest shopping mall in North America. You’ll find absolutely everything a modern mall can offer here, with more than 800 shops selling everything from clothes, shoes and cosmetics to furnishings, electronics and homewares.
But this place isn’t just about shopping. It’s also home to an enormous indoor water park complete with a wave pool and towering, twisting waterslides that snake all the way up to the atrium roof. If that’s not enough to keep you entertained, check out the Galaxyland amusement park for thrills and spills, or take on the league-sized ice skating rink among other attractions.
Edmonton Like a Local
Make like an Edmontonian and head to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. From 8am until 3pm this indoor market is abuzz with vendors selling produce fresh from the farm, delicious baked goods, homemade jams, delicious ethnic food, local clothing and jewellery and unique arts and crafts. This long-running market provides the perfect way to combine a little retail therapy with a much-loved local pastime.