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Free Things to Do in Edmonton

by Leah Paterson

Rent, car insurance, groceries, a new tiny outfit for your dog... you've got enough to spend your money on. And hey, you work hard for your paycheck. We get it. Lucky for you, the best things in life really are free. Check out this list of awesome things to do in Edmonton that won't break the bank.

Oops, we made a beach
The most talked about accident of the summer, dare we say, the year. Accidental Beach, as it is lovingly called by locals, was the unintentional by-product of the construction of the new LRT bridge— and people are stoked. This aptly named beach off of the North Saskatchewan River is a sandy oasis in Cloverdale, and the perfect place to spend the last moments of summer, or to snuggle up on a blanket with a hot cocoa and breathe in the autumn air. A happy accident if there ever was one.

Fit, fancy... and free
November Project
can help you get into shape with early morning sweat sessions led by professional athletes. These outdoor workouts happen year-round, no matter the weather. That's right, even in -30C. Anyone can join, just show up in your stretchy pants and get moving. November Project encourages people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and fitness levels to get out of bed and join the tribe.

Step back in time, without spending a dime
Experience a taste of Alberta's history on a free guided tour at the Alberta Legislature. Check out the Borealis Gallery, the Pehonan 4-D Theatre and the Agora Interpretive Centre. Ask about the Famous Five who fought for a woman's right to vote, and make sure you listen for the phenom known as the "magic spot". The Legislature grounds overlooking the North Saskatchewan River are also free to explore, and make for a very Instagram worthy backdrop.

Stargaze at the U of A
Get starstruck at The University of Alberta Observatory. It’s located on the roof of the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS), the science faculty’s shiny new building. Open on Thursday evenings for regular observing hours, you can take in the beauty of the cosmos for free... that's quite a bargain for the vast expanse of celestial wonder that is outer space. Neil Degrasse Tyson would be proud.

Loving art don't cost a thing
Appreciating art never felt so right, or so free. Head to Churchill Square and the swirling structure of glass and steel known as the Art Gallery of Alberta for an evening of inspiration. Admission is free on All Access Evenings: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:00-8:00pm. Looking for more? Take yourself on a tour of the incredible independent art galleries down 124th St. From modern cubists to contemporary rebels, some of Edmonton’s most diverse and controversial art is found here.

Gather the herd for a day-trip to Elk Island
Hankering for a little outdoor adventure? Connect with nature on the cheap at Elk Island National Park. Free roaming plains bison, moose, deer, elk and over 250 species of birds are only a 45 minute drive from Downtown Edmonton. Both the largest and smallest terrestrial mammals in North America make their homes here too (the equally adorable wood bison and pygmy shrew!). As part of the year-long Canada 150 celebration, admission to our national parks is totally free. Hey, Bison like to party too.

Farmers markets galore
City Market Downtown, the Old Strathcona Farmers Market and the 124 Grand Market are great places to spend a morning or afternoon, even if you don't plan on making a purchase. Produce, hand-made jewelry, clothing, art and unique home goods are all worth perusing, and you can also see free entertainment like street performers and live musicians. If you're feeling like splurging a little (you've been so good so far), gather ingredients for a perfect picnic, head to the river valley, and a fuel up before tossing the ol' Frisbee around.

Speaking of the river valley...
Edmonton's river valley has over 150 km of trails just waiting to be explored. These trails are perfect for jogging, cycling, or even a casual stroll. Grab a buddy and meander through North America's largest stretch of urban parkland, or cycle through the trees and trails on a mountain bike. Fresh air never felt so good.

Window shop and people watch in Old Strathcona
The bohemian spirit of Whyte Avenue awaits, and you don't have to spend any hard earned dough to enjoy the vibe. Sift through Blackbyrd Myoozik’s collection of vinyls and CDs then pop into unique shops like Vivid Print, Junque Cellar or Poppy Barley. Finish off with a dive into the collection of vintage finds at the Old Strathcona Antique Mall.

Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
Edmonton has a festival for every time of year, and many of them are... wait for it... free! For events throughout the year, many of which won't cost you a dime, check out our event calendar.