Edmonton serves up the perfect blend of big city vibes and exhilarating outdoor adventure. Explore the vast boreal landscapes where the bison roam during the day, then dine at some of Canada's hottest local taprooms and innovative eateries at night. With an endless list of attractions, Edmonton is the perfect place to make memories in Western Canada.
Attractions to discover
At the top of the list is West Edmonton Mall, the largest indoor shopping and entertainment complex in the world. Also in the ‘world’s largest’ department: the mall’s indoor wave pool, indoor lake, and indoor amusement park. At the equivalent of 48 city blocks and spanning over 5.3 million square feet, the mall is the size of a small city, so you’ll definitely have no problem finding what you’re looking for. Go on, give your wallet a run for its money!
The Art Gallery of Alberta is a must-visit for lovers of classical and contemporary art. A collection of over 6,000 works, a regularly changing schedule of period pieces, and modern exhibitions means that you will never have the same experience twice. The architecture of the building is as fascinating as what’s inside – with a swirling exterior of zinc, glass and steel inspired by Edmonton’s unique northern environment, its silver colour reflects the shimmering, multi-coloured Aurora Borealis.
The Royal Alberta Museum (or RAM as it’s known to locals) is Western Canada’s largest museum, located just blocks from the Art Gallery of Alberta. Each of the more than two million objects in the RAM’s collection has its own unique story to tell. When pieced together, you will begin to discover what makes the province so remarkable.
Amiskwacîwâskahikan, also known as Edmonton, is located on Treaty 6 Territory, home to many nations including the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Sioux and Métis People. Edmonton is lucky to boast the second largest Indigenous population in Canada, full of talented performers, artisans, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Immerse yourself in the culture on a day-trip to Métis Crossing, take an Indigenous-led tour, or taste the inventive meals created by trailblazing Indigenous chefs.
Take time to explore the North Saskatchewan River Valley, the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America at 22 times the size of New York City’s Central Park. The 160 kilometres of trails and pathways that make up the river valley are perfect for running, cycling or walking in the summer, or snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. Take a Segway tour along the riverside or discover the North Saskatchewan River by canoe, kayak or paddle board. The river valley is also home to the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
A perfect day in Edmonton
June through August, the sun can rise as early as 5:00 am and sets as late as 10:00 pm. That’s 17 hours of vitamin D, and plenty of time to pack in warm-weather activities. The sun even sticks around when the temperature drops in the winter, which makes for Instagram-worthy shots of Edmonton’s snow-covered landscapes. No matter when you visit, Edmonton is made for exploring. Here are some ideas for a fun-filled day in Alberta’s capital.
Start the day off at one of the city’s iconic local restaurants. Edmonton is the youngest capital city in Canada, and that means that its chefs aren't afraid to experiment. Sweet or savoury brunch items are easy to find with restaurants like Café Mosaics, The Duchess Bakeshop, Little Brick Café, and Meat on the culinary roster.
Once you’re fueled up and ready to go, head to the beautiful grounds of the Alberta Legislature and take a free guided tour. This marvel of marble pillars, carved oak, and beautiful Beaux-Arts architecture is stunning in summer, winter, or any season in between. Set atop the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, this is the backdrop to the province’s political action.
If you’d rather spend the morning shopping, take yourself on a stroll along Whyte Avenue for some of the best independent boutiques in the city. The funky, bohemian spirit and historic buildings blend with youthful exuberance in this trendy neighbourhood. The city's celebrated arts and cultural community makes its home here, as does one-of-a-kind art galleries, music shops, trendy restaurants and cafés.
Pick up lunch (keep your eyes peeled for the various farmers’ markets around the city), then head out on an outdoor adventure to Elk Island National Park. In the wintertime, try your hand at snowshoeing, skating or cross-country skiing. The park is home to free roaming plains bison, moose, deer, elk and over 250 species of birds. Also, both the largest and smallest terrestrial mammals in North America make their homes here, the wood bison and pygmy shrew. Stick around in the evening, and you may get a glimpse at the swirling chorus of pulsating lights know as the Aurora Borealis.
To close out your adventure, head to one of the city’s legendary local taprooms and unwind after a long day of exploring. Polar Park, Campio and Sea Change Brewing Co. serve up craft beer and tasty bites that are far from the ordinary. You can even take your brewery-hopping experience to the next level with the Explore Edmonton Brewery Pass, a digital passport which offers discounts to the best brews in the city.