Are you ready to discover the best things to do in Edmonton? Here’s a list of must-see attractions during your visit to the Gateway to the North. The capital of Alberta, Canada has something to satisfy every taste. From arts, crafts and cultural activities to family and sporting events, it’s hard (if not impossible) to get bored here.
With 18 hours of summer sunshine, you’ll have plenty of time to discover and enjoy the parks and outdoors. But your trip to Edmonton will be just as fun in winter, when the river valley is completely transformed as the Northern Lights dance over the winter wonderland. Whatever time of year you visit Edmonton, you’re sure to find a festival. Known as the City of Festivals, it boasts more than 50 festivals, making Montreal second to none when it comes to fun in the city.
Best things to do in Edmonton
Do you love spending time outdoors admiring wildlife? Or maybe you’re a big fan of shopping malls? Are you a food lover? Do you love festivals? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you’ll have a wonderful time in Edmonton, Alberta. Here you’ll discover a vibrant, cosmopolitan city surrounded by nature.
Moose Island National Park 1.
Founded in 1906, Moose Island National Park’s role is to preserve and protect the last of the great elk herds. Located just 35 minutes from Edmonton, Moose Island NP was Canada’s first wildlife refuge and has been a safe haven for the dwindling plains bison herds for over a hundred years.
Moose Island National Park is easily accessible from Edmonton. The Yellowhead Highway runs through the park. You’ll have to get a pass to get through the park, but the views are absolutely spectacular.
2. Edmonton River Valley Parks
Edmontonians know how to enjoy the outdoors. The North Saskatchewan River Valley Parks system encompasses 18,000 acres combining 20 different parks. Everything your heart desires outdoors is available in this green space. Hiking and biking trails, a golf course, ravines and lakes and, if you like zoos, the Edmonton Valley Zoo is within the park system. In the winter, there’s cross-country skiing and even an alpine ski slope.
3. West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall is not the largest mall in the world (as some tend to believe), but it is certainly one of Canada’s largest and most impressive entertainment destinations. With over 800 stores, a water park, ice skating rink, golf area and much more, this mall is definitely worth a visit if you’re passionate about shopping.
And even if shopping isn’t on the list for your trip to Edmonton, Alberta, you can head to West Edmonton Mall just for the variety of restaurants or you can even book accommodations at one of the mall’s two hotels.
Fantasy Land Hotel and Resort – If you want to stay at the West Edmonton Mall, this hotel has themed rooms and is connected directly to the mall. West Edmonton Mall Inn – For a more affordable option within walking distance of the mall, check out the West Edmonton Mall Inn.
Edmonton World Water Park
With over 17 slides in a tropical and exotic setting, World Waterpark is one of the best places to hang out on the mall. The waterpark opened to the public in 1986 and is located inside the West Edmonton Mall.
It’s one of the largest indoor water parks in North America, so it will keep the whole family entertained for hours, if not an entire day. And don’t worry if you didn’t bring a towel on your trip, just arrive and rent one at the admissions office.
4. Fort Edmonton Park
Time has stood still at Fort Edmonton Park, where the streets are frozen in time. This 150-acre park traces history from the Indigenous peoples’ experience to the 1920s. Costumed artists walk the replica of an 1885 street and you can tour an 1846 fort from the Hudson Bay fur traders’ era. For snippets of Alberta and Canadian history, the heritage park offers memorable experiences for everyone. It’s also Canada’s largest living history museum. Visit the fort for the details.
5. Hanging out at Old Strathcona and White Avenue
Also known as 82nd Avenue, this is one of the best spots in Edmonton. Many make this place a priority every time they visit the city. With an eclectic mix of restaurants, theatres and various shops, Whyte Avenue is a thoroughfare that runs through Old Strathcona. The avenue was named in 1891 after Sir William Whyte (superintendent of the western division of the CPR). Whyte Avenue is the heart and soul of the arts and entertainment district, so it’s definitely an attraction not to be missed.
6. International Fringe Festival
Are you a theatre lover? Then you’ll probably want to visit the oldest and largest fringe festival in North America. The Edmonton Fringe Festival is held in August in the Old Strathcona district. Performers and street performers roam the streets and original productions take place in the many theatres. The Edmonton Fringe Festival features over 1,000 performances with more than 1,500 national and international artists. Here you can experience innovative theatre without worrying about your kids getting bored. The Fringe Theatre Festival features family and children’s performances as well as Theatre for Young Audiences shows. Enjoy ten days of non-stop fun at the Edmonton Fringe Festival.
7. Alberta Legislature Building
It’s known as “The Ledge”, it’s located in Edmonton and houses the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council. The architecture of the building is magnificent, but don’t leave as soon as you get your picture taken with it. The Alberta Legislative Assembly Building offers free guided tours. If you’re tired of the city or the parks and want to learn more about Alberta’s legislative process, we invite you to find out!
8. High Level Tramway Bridge
Owned by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society, the High Level Bridge Streetcar is a heritage streetcar. One of the things to do in Edmonton is to take a ride on it and enjoy spectacular views of the city and river valley.
Your trip down Edmonton’s river valley on the century-old streetcar can take you to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market and the High Level Bridge. And the best part is you can hop off when you want to visit a shop or grab a bite to eat and hop back on when you’re ready to see more.
9. TELUS World of Science in Edmonton
This science centre is located in the Woodcroft neighbourhood near Coronation Park. Telus World of Science aims to spark curiosity and inspire discovery, making it a wonderful destination for people of all ages, including children. Children and adults alike have the opportunity to engage with science, participating in a variety of experiments and discovering the interactive galleries.
And if your child loves science, you can even throw them a birthday party here. The staff is friendly, and the food court offers a wide variety of dishes to choose from, so you can spend a few hours here enjoying the learning experience.
10. Edmonton Muttart Conservatory
Discover the pyramids! But not the ones in Egypt, but the ones in Edmonton, Alberta. We are talking, of course, about the botanical garden of the Muttart Conservatory. It has more than 700 different species of plants from all over the world in three climates: arid Pyramid, temperate Pyramid and tropical Pyramid.
The Muttart Conservatory, a major horticultural attraction in Edmonton, is located in the North Saskatchewan River Valley near downtown. It is a year-round attraction and one of the best things to do in Edmonton.
11. Winspear Centre
The Winspear Centre is the home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The centre opened in 1997 and is located downtown. A performing arts centre like few others in the area, the Winspear Centre hosts many different types of events and concerts. The acoustics are fabulous, so don’t hesitate to go see your favourite concert here.
12. Art Gallery of Alberta
Locals call it AGA (an acronym for Art Gallery of Alberta). The 8000 square metre building is located in downtown Edmonton, so you won’t have any trouble finding it. The building itself is an impressive piece of architecture. But there’s more to the AGA than just the magic of modern architecture. The Art Gallery of Alberta is one of the largest galleries in Canada, with contemporary and historical exhibitions.
13. Alberta Aviation Museum
Are you passionate about aviation? This place is a good choice if you want to learn more about Canadian aviation history. Kids love the hands-on activities they can try here, not to mention the memories they can make!
14. Royal Alberta Museum
Located near the Art Gallery of Alberta, they are a great combination. See distinctly Albertan exhibits highlighting Alberta’s heritage and environment. With 82,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) is the largest museum in Western Canada. Visit the RAM website for more information.
15. Neon Sign Museum
Let there be light, with some history behind it! This is actually an open-air installation of vintage signs. Twenty neon signs from shops, railways and theatres have been reconditioned and hung on a building. It’s not a conventional museum, but you’re sure to get some amazing photos if you decide to take a stroll around the area.
16. Alberta Railway Museum
If you’re heading to the northern suburbs of Edmonton, you can visit the Alberta Railway Museum. The museum was founded in 1976 to preserve railway heritage. Here you’ll discover over 75 locomotives and an impressive collection of locomotives that are still operational as well as static. But the highlight of this visit is the opportunity to take a train ride (only available in summer).
Extra trip to Jasper
If you go by car, you can get to Jasper from Edmonton in about 4 hours. You can also take a bus, but it will be a longer trip, about 5 hours. By train it’s no less than 6.5 hours. Although it’s not very easy to get to, a trip to Jasper is one of the best things to put on your bucket list while you’re in the area. Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies, and this is just one of the things that make Jasper an attractive destination for many travelers. Check out all the amazing things to do in Jasper here.
Getting to Edmonton
Edmonton International Airport is 30 km from the city. To get around Edmonton and Alberta, we highly recommend renting a car. You can check prices and availability at Car Rentals. Taxis, Uber and airport shuttles can take you downtown.
Edmonton is 3 hours straight north of Calgary on Hwy 2. By Canadian standards it’s a short drive. Grab your Tim Hortons Double Double and get driving.
But if you want to do a more scenic drive, head to Banff and up through the Icefield Park to Jasper and then on to Edmonton. Why not do a complete loop?
Final words about your trip to Edmonton, Alberta.
A year-round destination, Edmonton has a lot to offer visitors. And it’s hard to list the top things to try while in town, especially if you’re short on time.
Some choose to come to Edmonton and spend most of their time on the golf course, while others find it hard to leave one of North America’s largest shopping centres, as there is no shortage of entertainment here.
Photo credit Fort Edmonton Park and West Edmonton Mall: Mack Male of Edmonton, AB, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. GoToVan of Vancouver, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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