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What to do with 72 hours in Edmonton

by Hannah Manning

When Explore Edmonton tells you you’ve won a VIP weekend to check out Red Bull Crashed Ice, they mean it. From the moment we stepped off the plane on a sunny Friday afternoon, it was clear we were in for an epic weekend.

The wonderful crew at Explore Edmonton planned out every moment in great detail. Sitting in the bar of the lovely Westin Hotel listening to the team go over our itinerary for the weekend, it was clear there’d be no time for sleeping and nor would we want to.

Friday night started off right with a fabulous dinner at Rostizado. Their family style sharing menu was perfect for our group of four and oh those margaritas! After doubling down on their delicious house-made churros, we headed out for a quick look and to take a few photos of the iconic Neon Sign Museum located across from the restaurant and then it was off to Louise McKinney Riverfront Park and the Red Bull Crashed Ice action. Friday night was one big street party that certainly did not disappoint. Following the excitement of Crashed Ice, we ended the evening with drinks at Woodwork. This popular downtown bar has a great vibe and delicious creative cocktails. It was the perfect spot to chill and look back on our day.

Brunch at Canteen was a great way to start our Saturday and get us fueled for the day ahead. The friendly staff made us feel right at home and the recommended buttermilk fried chicken and waffles is a must have along with their cappuccinos. From Canteen it was a quick ride to the Ice Castle in Hawrelak Park. This enchanting acre-sized castle was crafted by hand from only icicles and water. Amazing! We all enjoyed the ice slides and taking photos in the Narnia-esque wonderland.

Next stop, The Rec Room at West Edmonton Mall. We got to unleash our inner child with arcade games galore and then reclaimed the adult side of things with pizza and cocktails. Ready for a nap? No way, there was shopping to be done and no better place than North America’s largest mall. With over 800 stores we all found something great to bring home from our trip!

Back to the hotel to drop off our bags and then we were off to the Shaw Centre for our VIP Red Bull Experience. Our Ice Club passes gave us a great view of the track and a live broadcast of the races. Those who dared to brave the chilly weather could enjoy the action from an outdoor patio. Food from various regions of Canada was served buffet style along with all-night complimentary Red Bull. It was a fantastic evening with Austria’s Luca Dallago winning the events of the night but with Canada’s own Scott Croxall being named the overall champion of the 2017/2018 season!

There’s just no finer way to start the morning after than with brunch at the iconic Hotel Macdonald. The riverfront views are amazing, the dining room charming and the offerings delicious. After a solid breakfast and lots of coffee, we were ready for our final Edmonton adventure. Our last stop was at the airport for an extraordinary flight over the city and surrounding landscape with Edmonton Regional Helicopter Tours. Words can’t do justice to the view from 3200 feet. The winding North Saskatchewan River and rolling fields are simply beautiful from above. Getting a birds eye view of downtown, West Edmonton Mall, the universities and sports fields is breathtaking. After a quick touchdown on the river, we zoomed up the valley and back to the airport. Sadly it was then time to collect our things to get ready to head back to our respective homes.

Two of us are from Ottawa and two are from Vancouver and we all agreed that Edmonton is the perfect city to meet up in for great dining, drinking, shopping and experiences. Many thanks to the Explore Edmonton team for the weekend of a lifetime!