Do your next date night the Edmonton way: outside and bundled up! With so many months of winter, we are forced to get creative with our date nights, and recent COVID-19 restrictions force this creativity a bit more.
Having a date night (or morning or afternoon) that is not only outside of your house, but that is also safe by public health orders, may be just what you and your partner need to heat things up in the coldest of Edmonton months.
Please remember to check with all facilities for mask and capacity rules/social distancing rules (pro tip: your mask can keep your face quite warm while doing anything outside).
1. Nighttime Stargazing – Elk Island National Park/Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve
The trip to and from, as well as your time at Elk Island, is all an experience. Take a short drive out (even shorter from Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park) after dark but watch for the bison; upon entry, you are greeted by tons of them catching z’s beside the road. After your drive into the park, sit back lakeside or fireside, and enjoy some vast prairie sky. Elk Island is within the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve where there is no light pollution to obstruct your views of stars and if you’re lucky, the aurora borealis too.
Address: 54401 Range Rd. 203, Fort Saskatchewan
2. An Afternoon at Hawrelak Park
This central Edmonton park is right on the River Valley and offers multiple fun date activities. The pond on the park’s east side is maintained for skating, and throughout the rest of the park, you’ll find even more to do. Take a scenic walk or snowshoe through urban parkland, pack a picnic, and warm yourselves by either your own fire or the ones provided next to the Park Pavilion.
Address: 9330 Groat Rd NW
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3. Backyard Cocktails
If you have any source of heat in your backyard like a fire pit, propane, or electric fireplace, then you can enjoy an outdoor date without leaving your property. Enjoy a cocktail around a warm fire in your coziest wares by ordering one of many to-go cocktail kits offered by many fine local Edmonton restaurants and bars. Some Edmonton cocktail kits to try (prices vary):
- The Workshop Eatery (delivery available)
- El Beso (delivery available)
- DOSC (delivery available)
- Woodwork (delivery available)
- Pip (delivery available)
4. Snow Tubing
Maybe you and your date are looking for a bit more adventure: a bit more speed, perhaps? Edmonton is home to a few great urban ski hills, and at two of these hills are snow tube parks. The snow tube hills look, and are maintained, differently than the rest of the park hills, and are noticeable from their large snow-banked bumpers on each side of the tracks. Within Edmonton, you can try snow tubing for a small fee at Edmonton Ski Club and Sunridge Ski Area. For enhanced health and safety and to avoid large crowds on the hill, both parks require you to purchase your tickets online.
5. Catch a Winter Sunset at the End of the World/Keillor Point
Colloquially, many of us know this southwest-facing lookout as The End of the World (formerly Keillor Road). It is a beautiful and perfectly scenic spot for a winter sunset, and there is a path on each side of the lookout leading down to the river. In recent years, The End of the World received a bit of a facelift from the City of Edmonton to make the area safer and more accessible and was officially named Keillor Point. Before heading out, be sure to read into the history of Keillor Rd.
Address: 7433 Saskatchewan Dr NW
6. Watch the Sunrise from Old Glenora
Taking a drive through the Glenora neighbourhood is a great look into some of Edmonton’s history, and if you park on St. George’s Crescent, there is a great look into Edmonton’s scenery you don’t want to miss. Head to the lookout point over the river valley and you are in the perfect position for watching the sun rise over urban parkland and the River Valley surrounded by downtown Edmonton, the U of A campus, and the Walterdale and High Level Bridges. Once the sun is up, you can head to 124 St. for a caffeinated pick-me-up from one of many local cafes.
7. Art Walk in the Ice District
Edmonton’s Ice District offers a lot more than hockey games: just outside Rogers’ Arena, you’ll find several unique public art displays. And before or after your walk, you can grab lunch or dinner to go from one of the areas many local restaurants and pubs. Start your walk on 102 Ave. just south of the Sutton Place Hotel: on the north side, you’ll find two Canadian legends sitting and waiting for hockey to start; from here, head east to 104 St. and the Neon Sign Museum (free and outdoors); afterwards, take a lap around Rogers’ to find Essential Tree , Skater’s Arch, and one more Canadian legend.
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8. Art Tour YEG
There is a lot of public art downtown, and the Downtown Walkability Initiative and the City’s Department of Sustainable Development developed the Art Tour YEG. This helpful guide includes tours of Capital Boulevard, Churchill to McKinney, Jasper Avenue, and The Quarters.
9. Skating and Sunsets
Welcome to the Rundle Park Iceway– a long, winding, and wide path taking you through the park on your skates. Glide around the large trees of the park which close at a wide loop and a second open area. There are benches above the park along Ada Boulevard perfect for watching the sun set over Edmonton’s west end.
Or head to the Victoria Park Iceway located downtown. This colorful and luminated path is prettiest at night, so you may want to enjoy your sunset BEFORE hitting the ice. A nearby west-facing vantage spot is at the top of the Royal Glenora staircase, about 5 minutes north of Victoria Park.
Victoria Park: 12030 River Valley Rd. NW
Rundle Park: 2909 113 Ave. NW
10. Cross Country Skiing Through the River Valley
For a more active outing together, you can hit the trails of many River Valley parks- trails groomed for cross-country skiing. Get your sweat on at Gold Bar Park and Capilano Park, where the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club is continuously grooming the ski tracks. After your skiing adventure, there are nearby local restaurants on 50th St. with curbside pickup available. Take your food to go after hitting the trails or fuel up on your way out with Mood Café, Fargos, Rice 101, or Swiss 2 Go (to name a few!).
Capilano Park: Capilano Park Rd. and 50 St. NW
Gold Bar Park: 10955 50 St. NW
11. Luminaria at the U of A Botanical Gardens
Due to extreme popularity in December, this uniquely Edmonton experience is carrying over into January. Enjoy a romantic walk amongst lit up art installations, the Tree of Life, the winter village, fairy houses, and hanging stars. throughout the Botanical Gardens, just west of the city. Tickets are selling fast for January, so head to Eventbrite right away if you want to secure you spot.
Address: 51227 AB-60, Spruce Grove (5km north of Devon)
Cost: Adult $20.00; Senior $15.00; Student $15.00; Child 3-12 $10.00; Child 2 and under FREE; Friends of the Garden and Annual Passholders $15.00
12. Experience the Byzantine Winter Festival
In February, Alberta Avenue will be transformed into a festival of arts and culture which embraces all the best of winter. All along 118 Ave are live art shows, live music, ice-sculpting, and games and activities throughout. The entire event, Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Fête, is free to attend and social distancing guidelines will be in place.
Address: Alberta (118) Ave. & Borden Park
13. Walk the Lit-up Legislature Grounds
The Alberta Legislature Grounds are fully lit in LEDs for the holidays and remain lit for the rest of winter. Along the Grounds are numerous pathways to take, some leading to views of the River Valley. You can continue your walk up to Jasper Ave., and grab a drink or snack at a local spot like Remedy Café,
Address: 10800 107 St. NW
14. Skiing and Snowboarding
Whether you’re on the East, West, or in Central Edmonton, there is a ski hill near you! Choose your closest hill, pack up the skis and board, and enjoy a day of shredding the hills of our River Valley. Local hills include:
- Rabbit Hill Snow Resort: 20715 57 Ave SW, Leduc
- Snow Valley Ski Club: 13204 Rainbow Valley Rd NW
- Edmonton Ski Club: 9613 96 Ave NW
- Sunridge Ski Area: 10980 17 St NW
15. See the River Valley Via Segway
It is well-known that there are tons of paths by which to explore the North Saskatchewan River Valley, but did you know you can explore them on a Segway too? River Valley Adventure Co. is offering River Valley tours in 30-minute intervals where you’re led by an experienced guide/Segway-er around Edmonton’s gorgeous parkland.
Address: 9735 Grierson Hill NW
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16. See the City on Snowshoes
Pick from one of many parks in the city, like Hawrelak, Rundle, or Kinsmen, and Gold Bar, or take your snowshoes further out into nature to one of the many parks in the greater Capital Region. While you’re out there, watch for wildlife!
- St. Albert: you can snowshoe across the fields of Lions Park and Riel Recreation Park.
- Sherwood Park: you have Broadmoor Park in the south, or Centennial Park in the north.
- Parkland County: Jubilee Park in Spruce Grove and Rotary Park in Stony Plain.
17. Experience the Flying Canoë Volant
Immerse yourselves in Francophone and Indigenous culture for a day (or two!) at the Mill Creek Ravine Flying Canoë Volant.
18. Walking Whyte Ave. and Old Strathcona
From the University to Bonnie Doon Mall, there is tons to stop and see on Whyte Avenue, even if a lot of the businesses are closed. While you walk the Ave, you can take in a ton of local graffiti, explore the historic houses near Saskatchewan Dr., and stop in for coffee-to-go at Remedy Café on 109 St. (or try their famous Chai Tea). Whyte Avenue is well-lit all year-round, has public washrooms, and recently created more walking space for patrons.
Address: Whyte (82) Ave. NW
19. Sledding and Tobogganing
Not just for kids! You and your partner can have a blast bombing the many Capital Region hills by sled, toboggan, disc, or tube. See below for some of the best hills around town:
- Gallagher Park: 9505 96 Ave. NW
- Millwoods Park: 2730 66 St NW
- Park West Toboggan Bowl: 18725 95 Ave. NW
- Emily Murphy Park: 11624 Saskatchewan Dr. NW
20. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
This all-walking activity will keep your blood pumping in the in the winter weather. Explore Edmonton on foot while you partake in a scavenger hunt. You are guided through your search with an app and virtual tour guide. Book the day for your Scavenger Hunt date, and happy hunting!
21. Enjoy an Intimate Hayride for 2
Aside from how romantic hayrides are, you can also expect a huge breath of fresh air as you are pulled by horses, with a stop to warm up by the fire. At Dick Laurin’s Hay and Sleigh Rides, you can enjoy an hour-long ride through the thick trees and under the stars, if you’d prefer. The rides start at $185 and can be booked at their or your location.
Address: 530048 Range Rd 183
22. DIY Photoshoots
With all the public artworks, the River Valley, and the unique architecture of our skyline, Edmonton offers tons of places for DIY photoshoots for baby announcements, engagements, or maybe just for fun. Try out some of these photogenic parts of Edmonton for your next shoot, and don’t forget the selfie stick:
- Spur Line Alley (north of Whyte Ave.)
- Muttart Conservatory
- Borden Park
- Wolf Willow Stairs
- Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge
- Jasper Ave
- Manchester Square
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23. One-on-one Hockey
While a lot of the larger rinks are for recreational skating only, there are many Community League rinks around Edmonton allowing games within cohorts. If you and your partner live together, you can take your skates to any of those rinks, and face-off in competitive (or not-so-competitive) one-on-one shinny. Remember thick socks- most indoor changing huts are closed to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. Check with your Community League to see if the hockey rink closest to you is open.
24. Wildlife Viewing at Blackfoot Recreational Area
Go for a drive just south of Edmonton to the Blackfoot Recreational Area where you can take numerous trails by snowshoe, fat bike, or cross-country skis. From here you might spot birds, elk, moose, coyotes, and rabbits. The trail conditions are consistently updated, so be sure to plan ahead and see what trails are accessible first.
25. Hiking Edmonton’s Ravines or River Valleys
Throughout the North Saskatchewan River Valley, from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, you and your date have options for hikes in tons of Edmonton neighbourhoods, all with different scenery, bridges, and staircases to traverse. For hiking the River Valley trails in winter, your best bet for footwear is waterproof and rubber soled boots, and you’ll want to remember plenty of layers and water. So, whether you are in the north, west, east, or south side of the city, or in any surrounding areas, the River Valley makes a great spot for an afternoon or morning hike. Check out some of these popular starting points:
- Devon: 100 Saskatchewan Ave. W
- Brandy’s Landing: 17103 23 Ave. NW
- Terwillegar Park: 10 Rabbit Hill Rd. NW
- Wolf Willow Ravine: 1307 Woodward Pl. NW
- Whitemud Park: 13204 Fox Dr. NW
- Mackinnon Ravine Park: Summit Dr. NW
- Forest Heights Park: 10104 85 St. NW
- Rundle Park: 2909 113 Ave NW
- Fort Saskatchewan (Legacy Park): 10005 102 St.
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By: Bernadette Gallagher