Summer vacation. No passport required.
Who needs the Shangri-La of tropical beaches and faraway places? Leave your passport in your drawer and discover 17 hours of sunlight, thirst-quenching patios, newly re-opened attractions and boundless outdoor experiences just waiting to be explored in Edmonton. Bust out your shades, slap on some sunscreen, and get ready for a summer vacation like no other.
Where the Bison Roam
Thirty-five minutes east of Edmonton lies a wild oasis at Elk Island National Park. With hundreds of free-roaming bison, you just might catch a glimpse of a herd grazing in an open meadow or stopped in the middle of the highway with steam rising from their woolly coats in the morning. The park is also part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, meaning it’s a stellar location for stargazing. Bring a blanket, a basket full of late-night snacks, (ahem, stock up on delicious food from local restaurants and bakeries - check out our massive list here) and gaze up at the starry sky where you’ll see star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. Note, some areas of the park are not yet reopen. Click here for more info!
Art & Culture Collide
In the heart of downtown Edmonton you'll find The Arts District, home to both the Royal Alberta Museum and the Art Gallery of Alberta. The Royal Alberta Museum (or RAM as it is known to locals), preserves, researches, interprets, and exhibits objects and specimens related to the heritage of Alberta's people and natural environment. This diverse museum pulls back the curtain on Alberta's legendary stories and dynamic history.
Art lovers, rejoice! With an exterior of zinc, glass and steel inspired by Edmonton’s unique northern environment, the gallery exudes creativity even from the outside. Take in everything from original contemporary to historical exhibitions from Alberta, across Canada and around the world.
Won't you take me to dino-town?
In this 40-acre prehistoric preserve, you’ll discover a land populated with dinosaurs that ruled the planet 250 million years ago. No need to charge up the ol' DeLorean, the days of the dinosaurs roar to life at Jurassic Forest! Meet life-size dinos face to face just minutes from Edmonton and millions of years from the present. Watch herbivores like Stegosaurus and Triceratops graze peacefully while primeval predators like Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus stalk in the shadows.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo, home to hundreds of species of plants and animals from around the world, is a perfect family outing. Bring along the kids for a chance to see the endangered peregrine falcon, native prairie dogs, a zebra, fox, and bighorn sheep. Bird lovers can meet the snowy owl, bald eagle, and great-horned owl. Hoot twice if you love owls! Check out the Polar Extremes exhibit that gives visitors an up-close view of seals, sea lions, and arctic foxes.
You Better Believe it!
Head to TELUS World of Science and discover a remarkable collection of intriguing objects and astonishing artifacts from Ripley's Believe It or Not!. What’s even more amazing than Robert Ripley’s legendary compendium of oddities, anomalies, and fantastic feats? The science that underlies them! This exhibit is the perfect activity for the whole family. Big kids and little kids alike will love adventuring through the remarkable realms of scientific discoveries and real artifacts!
Shop 'til you drop
You’ll find everything from big-name retailers to local boutiques in Edmonton. Discover North America's largest shopping and entertainment centre, West Edmonton Mall, the legendary Premium Outlet Collection at EIA, and the local boutiques that make up the bohemian spirit of Whyte Avenue. Go on, give your wallet a run for its money!
Explore Indigenous Edmonton
Check out the delicious eats by chef Scott Iserhoff at Pei Pei Chei Ow, or make a day-trip to Métis Crossing and discover how the Métis lived as trappers. Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta, sitting on 512 acres of land designed to engage visitors in immersive experiences. Edmonton also has many Indigenous parks and landmarks that are easy to visit while engaging in physical distancing. Take a self-directed tour with this handy guide.
Hit the ground running. Or biking. Or Segway-ing...
Edmonton's river valley has over 150 km of trails just waiting to be explored. These trails are perfect for jogging, cycling, and taking in the sprawling urban parkland that is the North Saskatchewan River Valley. Feeling adventurous? Blaze your own trail on a segway tour with River Valley Adventure Co.
The Commonwealth Walkway App is a free guide to exploring Edmonton's river valley while reading and listening to one of five storylines (Indigenous, History, Family, River & Winter). All you need is a smartphone and a thirst for adventure! Take flight with Edmonton Regional Helicopters and explore the North Saskatchewan River from a bird's eye view. Rather explore the city by water? Paddle your way along the North Saskatchewan River spotting wildlife, and taking in the city's beautiful skyline with Edmonton Canoe.
Tip toe through the tulips
A short forty-minute drive from downtown Edmonton you'll find the University of Alberta Botanic Garden — the largest botanical garden in the province. The winding pathways, precisely placed water features, and beautiful natural structures draw you through a cornucopia of exotic flora. Want to take your visit up a notch? The gardens have partnered with extraordinary local food and beverage makers to create fully stocked picnic baskets for two. Boxes are charcuterie-style and adorned with fresh flowers and herbs grown at right at the Garden. Imagine dining on delicious local goods while you relax in the lush green grass as the prairie sun warms your cheeks... sigh!
Summer is the perfect time to take a trip down patio lane. Stop in at one of these newly re-opened patios and make the most of the city's long, hot summer nights… you’re never alone with a cold drink in your hand!
Look up, way up!
Gather your crew and hit the biggest and most intricate jungle gym you've ever seen at the Snow Valley Aerial Park. Are you ready for the "Ninja Warrior" course? Or are you looking for something a little closer to the ground? Either way, you'll have the best afternoon ever exploring the off-the-ground games and obstacles. Visitors will need to book in advance this season and complete their waiver online.
History Comes to Life
Explore some uniquely Western Canadian history at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village! The Western provinces experienced a huge influx of Ukrainian immigrants at the end of the 19th Century. Many current residents can trace part of their heritage to this migration. UCHV is an open-air museum depicting early settlement in east-central Alberta from 1892-1930, and a perfect day-trip for the whole family.
Bikes & Brews
Who says that beer and a little exercise can't go hand in hand? Hop on a 15 passenger U-shaped bike and pedal your way through Edmonton’s top craft beer taprooms and breweries with Urban Pedal Tours. You’ll use the power of the pedal to make your way to 3 distinct stops, while taking in the River City along the way. While cruising at a leisurely 10 km/hr. you’ll have time to enjoy Edmonton’s scenic streets, gorgeous landscapes, and vibrant urban culture.
Lovin' La Vida Local
Farmers' Markets like City Market Downtown, the Old Strathcona Farmers Market and 124 Grand Market are making it easier than ever to support local. Edmonton made jewellery, clothing, art and unique home goods are all on the menu, as well as unique food trucks, fresh produce and outdoor entertainment. Tip: stop by the market in the morning and gather a spread for a picnic lunch in the river valley. With a plethora of prime picnic spots like Hawrelak Park scattered throughout the valley, there's plenty of opportunity to take a break and play a game of Frisbee!
Click here for a complete list of Edmonton's plentiful Farmers' Markets.