Edmonton is a wonderful city to explore. Whether you travel by foot, public transportation, coach, or by car, the city and surrounding area have endless experiences to keep you busy from early morning until the late hours of the night.If you have 24 hours to spend in the city, make sure you start the day early and take in some mouth-watering goods at one of our local breakfast joints. The charming Blue Plate Diner in the downtown historic warehouse district cooks their dishes with locally produced ingredients and welcomes vegetarians and vegans with open arms. If you find yourself in the University area, The Sugarbowl serves up the most pillowy-soft cinnamon buns in the city (and possibly the world!).
Before you start slipping into a food coma, take a stroll along the North Saskatchewan River through the many trails of our glorious river valley. Our expanse of urban parkland is the largest in North America with over 150 km to explore, and not to brag or anything, but it’s 22 times the size of Central Park in New York City. Before long you’ll find yourself at River Valley Adventure Co nestled along the riverbank in the heart of downtown. Chris and his team will bring you to life with tours throughout the beautiful river valley and will provide tips and tricks along the way. Hop on a Segway for an exhilarating ride; not only can you zip around town on these stand-up electric cruisers in spring, summer, and fall, but they’re fully equipped with heavy snow-biting winter tires during the colder months. Not sure if a Segway tour is up your alley? River Valley Adventure Co also offers top of the line mountain bike rentals, snowshoe guided tours, and snowshoe rentals to explore our pristine trails.
Before lunch, be sure to wander over to the city’s civic plaza, Sir Winston Churchill Square. This popular meeting spot is a celebration hub for entertainment and festivals year round. The Works Art & Design Festival, Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, A Taste of Edmonton, and the Cariwest Caribbean Arts Festival, are just a few of our favourites. During the spring and summer, channel your inner child at the square and shift knights on a giant chess board, shoot some hoops, crush your opponent at a game of ping pong, or cool off in the free outdoor pool. In the winter, lace up your skates and twirl around City Hall’s bustling ice rink before warming up around public fire pits. Just next door is the Art Gallery of Alberta, home to an impressive collection of over 6,000 objects and offering original contemporary and historical exhibitions from around the world. With a swirling exterior of zinc, glass, and steel inspired by Edmonton’s unique northern environment, the building itself is a beautiful masterpiece.
After all that activity, your stomach is now probably a bottomless pit. The city centre is filled with mouth-watering restaurants and cafés, so it won’t take long before you stumble across some fine eats. Head to Tres Carnales where you’ll experience delicious traditional Mexican recipes brought to life in bold and fresh ways. The place is so unique that you’ll actually think you’re in Mexico! Craft Beer Market is another gem and features high ceilings, rustic wooden trusses, and most importantly, 104 different types of beer on tap. Their roof top patio is unbeatable in the summer and definitely earns a few bragging-right points.
Now that your belly is filled to the brim with delicious grub, head over to the Royal Alberta Museum to expand your mind and enrich your cultural and historical sense of Alberta. Start off in the Wild Alberta Gallery where you can come face to face with full-sized moose, grizzlies, mountain lions, and big horn sheep, to name only a few. Step back in time in the Natural History Gallery and explore the wonders of our natural world. Find yourself surrounded by remarkable dinosaur fossils, completely mesmerized by the exquisite gems and minerals whose shape and colour almost defy belief, or making friends with some of the most exotic and unique bugs on the planet. The Aboriginal Gallery is one of the largest explorations of First Peoples’ history on the continent and offers stories and artifacts spanning 11,000 years.
Want to feel like Bill Nye the Science Guy for the day instead? Then the Telus World of Science – Edmonton is just the place for you. This giant laboratory inspires life-long learning in out-of the-box and engaging ways. Push a button and watch a miniature tornado form right before your eyes in the Syncrude Environment Gallery, touch a real Moon rock and a meteorite in the Space Place, build and program your own robot in the Robotics Lab, or hop onto the multi-axis trainer used by astronauts in the Body Fantastic Gallery.
Feel like you have a good sense of modern day Edmonton but know nothing about its past? Providing the best in living history, Fort Edmonton Park allows you to experience four distinct eras of Edmonton’s past in one visit: the days of the fur trade, and the pioneer years of 1885, 1905, and 1920. Visit a reconstruction of the 1846 Hudson Bay Company’s Edmonton House, the most important post west of the Red River Settlement, and watch a demonstration of the fur press. Fast forward 40 years and take a stroll along 1885 Street. Become part of history as you learn the skills of a blacksmith and wheelwright, or put your muscles to the test and pump your own water to make tea at the Kenneth Mcdonald house. Jump ahead a few years and play around at the Penny Arcade on 1905 Street or get your picture taken in period costume. Experience the excitement of a real 1920s-style Midway: soar to great heights on the Ferris wheel, test your shooting skill and accuracy and the Shooting Gallery, and ride majestic hand-carved horses on the carousel. You won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face, so be sure to take a selfie.
For dinner, head to the heart of 82nd Avenue (known as “Whyte Avenue”) in the Old Strathcona neighborhood. Anchored by a funky and bohemian spirit, historic buildings blend with youthful energy to make this one of Edmonton’s trendiest areas. Cruise over to MEAT, a locally owned and operated smokehouse, to find some of the best brisket, beer, and bourbon in the city. Grab a seat at one of the cafeteria style communal tables and share plates of pulled pork, BBQ ribs, smoked chicken, beef brisket, and Andouille sausage with friends. Our mouths are watering just talking about it. For a cozy, more intimate feel, head over to Three Boars Eatery. This hidden gem serves dishes that are locally sourced and their dinner menu changes frequently, almost daily. With a dining room upstairs, a small bar on the main floor, and a patio during the summer, this place has it all.
We know, we know, you’re trying to eat healthy. But we bet you’ve saved some room for dessert. Stick around Whyte Avenue and you’ll find some of Edmonton’s tastiest, freshly baked pastries at Block 1912. Not only that, their gelato is out of this world. Trust us on this one. Ampersand 27’s donuts and toffee pudding are a must, as is their smooth and creamy lemon buttermilk mousse.
Not quite ready for bed? There is no better place in the city to keep the evening going than on Whyte Avenue. Dance the night away to your favourite DJ, relax over a glass of wine or pint of beer at a charming pub, laugh out loud at a local improv group, or catch a flick at the Princess Theatre, Edmonton’s oldest cinema. But be sure to look into the sky for one of the best attractions of all before bed time – the Aurora Borealis.