Edmonton. City of Champions, Capital City, Festival City…no matter what you call it, it’s easy to spend a weekend exploring what makes it stand out. And, with 18 hours of sunlight a day during the summer, you’ll have plenty of sunshine to fill with adventure. Here are just a few of the ways to spend the weekend (but you’ll probably want to extend your stay!).
Best Places to Visit during a Weekend Trip
With so many places to visit in the capital city, how do you decide what to do first? Here are just ten of the top attractions to put on the must-see list this weekend.
1. Art Gallery of Alberta
From modern art to classical masters, the Art Gallery of Alberta will catch your eye. Alberta’s oldest cultural institution makes it easy to while away the day, checking out each new gallery.
Address: 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
2. West Edmonton Mall
It’s a world unto itself! The largest shopping and entertainment centre is more than just a mall – you’ll find shopping, fine dining, amusement park, ice rink, waterpark, aquarium, mini golf, and so much more.
Address: 8882 170 St NW
3. John Janzen Nature Centre
Take a walk on the wild side! John Janzen Nature Centrehas nature walks, day camps, programs, hands-on exhibits, and an indoor playground that’s focused on helping kids get close to nature. Pro tip: tot and child admissions include an adult admission to supervise.
Address: 7000 143 Street
4. Neon Sign Museum
It’s a museum like no other.Over 20 historical neon signs, carefully restored, can be found on the side of the Mercer Warehouse. Check out a vibrant part of the city’s history at absolutely no cost.
Address: 104 Street and 104 Avenue
5. Telus World of ScienceCelebrate science at Telus World of Science!Explore and get hands-on in the space gallery, IMAX theatre, Curious City, and many more exhibits. Perfect for all ages – kids under three are free.
Address: 11211 142 St NW
6. Edmonton Valley Zoo
From Amba the Siberian tiger to Tahiti the Goeldi monkey, the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s colourful and exotic residents are ready to welcome you to the zoo. It’s home to over 350 animals, and with a focus on conservation, the zoo is always enjoyable for all ages.
Address: 13315 Buena Vista Rd
7. Snow Valley Aerial Park
Imagine an extreme jungle gym combined with a tree house, and you’ve got the Snow Valley Aerial Park. The first of its kind in Canada, this tower of obstacles lets all ages be a kid playing on the playground once again – but larger than life.
Address: 119 Whitemud Dr NW
8. High Level Bridge Streetcar
Ride the rails across a bridge that’s over 100 years old! From downtown to Old Strathcona, this beautifully-refurbished street car will take you back in time and create new memories.
9. Edmonton Riverboat
It just might be the best way to view the North Saskatchewan River Valley: from the water itself. Edmonton’s iconic riverboat has been carefully restored and tours up and down the river with different tours.
Address: 9734 98 Ave
10. Royal Alberta Museum
Royal Alberta Museum focuses on telling Alberta’s stories through exhibits and artifacts you won’t find anywhere else, from a woolly mammoth skeleton to Indigenous artifacts. Pro tip – kids under six are free!
Address: 9810 103A Ave NW
11. Take a Tour of Alberta Legislature Grounds
Sitting atop the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Alberta Legislature is known to Edmontonians as “the leg” and is a marvel of Beaux-Arts architecture with marble pillars and carved oak. Free guided tours are offered hourly where you can learn stories about the portraits, magnificent art.
- Fort Edmonton Park & Muttart Conservatoryare currently (2020) closed for extensive renovations. Both the locations will reopen within 18 months. A distinctive part of Edmonton’s skyline, the Muttart Conservatory offers a year round escape into the beauty of the world’s plant life, and Fort Edmonton Park is a historically-themed attraction offering authentic, immersive, memorable and fun experiences to visitors of all ages.
Places to Take in Edmonton Vibe
What sets Edmonton apart? It’s won’t take long to get the vibe of this city that loves to celebrate and support local! Spend some time here and you’ll never want to leave.
1. FestivalsEdmonton embraces the title of “Festival City” with an excitement that’s hard to beat. There’s always something going on, especially during the summer. Freewill Shakespeare Festival, A Taste of Edmonton, Heritage Days, Blues on Whyte, Edmonton Street Performers Festival… Join the locals and see what all the excitement is about.
2. Whyte Ave
Whyte Ave (82 avenue) is one of Edmontonians’ favourite spots – and for good reason. Shop local with unique boutiques and stores, hit up the local food and arts scenes, discover the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, and hit up a festival or two.
3. North Saskatchewan River Valley
There’s just nothing like it. North America’s largest urban greensapce, the North Saskatchewan River Valleyis waiting to be explored, so what’s keeping you? Over 150 km of winding trails will take you through trees and wildlife along the banks.
4. Farmer’s Markets (various)
Edmonton is proud of its shop local and eat local movements – what better way to take immerse yourself in it than by visiting one of the many farmer’s markets in the city? From small, community markets to the larger Downtown or Bountiful Farmer’s Markets, these are the places you can talk to the growers and makers in person.
5. Little Brick Café & General Store
Where better to get a feel of who Edmontonians are than by spending some time in a favourite place to spend the afternoon? Little Brickis a café built into an historical home in the heart of the Riverdale neighbourhood, featuring good, local food and unique, locally-made goods.
Address: 10004 90 St
After the Sun Goes Down – Edmonton Nightlife
Edmonton isn’t just thriving during daylight hours – vibrant nightlife keeps the city hopping long after the sun goes down. Whether you’re dancing the night away at El Cortez’s Tequila Cellar or meeting the gang for drinks at the ever-popular Hudsons on Whyte, you’ll find the right kind of bar to wait for last call. Feeling classy? Try one of the newest hotspots: Alchemy. Handcrafted cocktails and elevated snacks can be found – after you find the entrance to the bar behind the bookcase on the fifth floor of JW Marriott Hotel.
ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE…
Edmonton is famous worldwide for our arts scene, so taking in a show or performance (or two…) while you’re here is a definite to do. From small, intimate venues to award-winning concert halls, check out the line ups for what’s playing this weekend.
1. Winspear CentreFrom Bach to Broadway, there’s nothing like a concert at the Winspear Centre’s performance hall. It’s home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, but also hosts other big names in concerts throughout the year.
Address: 4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
2. Jubilations Dinner Theatre
Enjoy a four-course meal as you watch professional actors put a fun spin on pop culture with plays and parodies. Grab a ticket for such shows as “Pitch Perfect Golden Girls” and “Night at the Museum Rock Stars.”
Address: 2061 8882 170 St
3. Varscona Theatre
Varscona holds a special place in the heart of Edmontonians – many people had their first theatre experience at the theatre just off Whyte. Watch local and international actors in new plays, comedy shows, favourite scripts, and more, since it’s home to eight theatre companies.
Address: 10329 83 Ave
4. Citadel Theatre
As one of the largest not-for-profit theatres in North America, the Citadel is not only a cultural hub in Edmonton, it’s home to some of the best actors and playwrights around. With four different theatres, there’s always a show on the calendar.
Address: 9828 101A Ave
5. The Starlight Room
The Starlight Room is always open to new music and genres, which is obvious from the full lineup they have on the calendar. Whether it’s a new band getting its start or a fan favourite returning for a sold out show, make sure you start lining up early.
Address: 10030 102 Street
Spectator Sports in Edmonton
Get ready to cheer, sports fans! Edmonton has no shortage of games to catch this summer. Take me out the ball game with the Edmonton Prospects and cheer on the green and gold with the Edmonton Eskimos. Get a kick out of an FC Edmonton match, or watch as the Stingers host the Championships. No matter your game, Edmonton lets you display your team colours.
Where to Eat in Edmonton
Exploring a city with so much going on is sure to work up an appetite! Good thing our food scene is just as vibrant.
•Edmonton may have cold winters, but when summer finally does arrive, we do it right – with eating outdoors. From small cafes to fine dining, you can patios all over the city to enjoy the sunshine.
• Beer crawls are so last season. This summer, go for an Urban Pedal Tour – a 15 seater bike that takes a 2-hour tour to top breweries, tastings, and hot spots.
• Edmonton’s coffee scenealways has something brewing. Neighbourhood coffee shops, such as The Colombian, provide a place for friends and family to spend some time talking and laughing over that locally-roasted cup of joe.
• Food trucks and summer go together. With over 100 food trucks, you can grab anything from poutine to pork belly bao to eat on the go (or for a picnic in the park next to the truck!).
• It’s not just cafes and coffee shops – the fine dining scene is just as impressive.Award-winning restaurants such as Violino will always impress with delicious meals and locally-sourced ingredients.
Getting Around in Edmonton Getting around the city is a breeze. Edmonton Transit’s bus and LRT system runs throughout the city and offers day passes. A major pedway system connects most of downtown, plus, there are over 200 km of bike and walking trails. Summer is the perfect time to try out the electric scooters program in some areas. Taxis, Ubers, and car rentals offer more options.
Where to Stay in Edmonton
Classy hotels, cozy B&Bs, homey Airbnbs… Edmonton has it all. Looking for something for more exotic? How about a restored 1920s boutique hotel Hotel Selkirk, a 100-year-old castle Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, or a luxury Polynesian suite Fantasyland Hotel? Yup. Got those, too. No matter you decide to rest up at the end of the day, Edmonton has you covered.
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