By Cassandrea Gascoyne
The editor of Alberta Travel Ideas asked for an authentic view, from a local Edmontonian, of what would be considered the top 10 things to do and see while visiting Edmonton. I have lived in or near Edmonton almost all of my life and have worked in Edmonton for over 15 years so it was a perfect opportunity to share my favourites. These 10 locations in Edmonton are what I would recommend a visitor explore and some of them I still take part in regularly today!
1) West Edmonton Mall
This is an easy recommendation to put first because there is so much that West Edmonton Mall has to offer! You could literally spend a solid two days exploring this 5,300,000 sq ft mall. In your visit, you can not only explore over 800 shops, but go swimming at the World Waterpark, go on a thrill ride at Galaxyland, play a round of golf at Professor Wem’s Mini Golf, explore the ocean in the Sea Life Caverns, enjoy public skating at the Ice Palace or have a good meal on Bourbon Street. There is something for everyone!
2) High Level Bridge Street Car
Take a ride across the North Saskatchewan River into Strathcona on one of Edmonton’s historic trolley cars. The High Level Bridge Street Car provides scenic views of the river valley and a piece of Edmonton’s past. I actually just took a ride on the High Level Bridge Street Car for the first time this week with some fellow co-workers! We took the trolley from Jasper Ave down to Strathcona for lunch! It is a great idea for a lunch date!
3) Fort Edmonton Park
If you are one who enjoys history, don’t just stop at the High Level Street Car; Fort Edmonton Park has so much history to enjoy that it takes a full day (maybe two if you stay the night at the Hotel Selkirk!) to explore this grand park! You can catch a movie at the Capitol Theatre, test your luck at the shooting range on the Midway and Exhibition, learn about fur traders in the Hudson Bay Trading Company Fort or just explore the historic streets from 1885, 1905 and 1920. Growing up near Edmonton, my school took us on many field trips to the Fort and as an adult I have been back many times. The Fort is an educational experience for young and old!
4) 124 Street shops, restaurants and Thursday’s 124th Grand Market
124th street will treat any visitor to boutiques, vibrant restaurants and on Thursday’s the Grand Market is held offering fresh produce, preserves, crafts, food trucks and live music! I have been to the market only once this summer but while I was there I picked up local homemade beef jerky and a rhubarb pie!
5) 104th Street Promenade and City Street Market
If you want more shopping and more dining, head downtown to the 4th Street Promenade. There are trendy shops like Evoolution (one of my favourite shops dedicated entirely to olive oils and balsamic vinegars!), and great dining hangouts like the Blue Plate Diner! And if you happen to be there on a Saturday you will be able to enjoy the City Market offering a variety of local goods!
6) Northland’s Horse Racing
Bet on your favourite horse at Northland’s Horse Racing and stay for dinner at Colours, the only tiered restaurant in Edmonton. I was able to experience the horse races for the first time this summer! Good friends, my husband and I went to Northlands for a food event and ended up staying to bet on a few races. It was very exciting when we won, even if we only bet a few dollars! And if you are in Edmonton in August you can experience the Canadian Derby here live; this year is the 86th annual Canadian derby for Northlands!
7) Telus World of Science
This is another place that I visited as a kid during school field trips. The Telus World of Science lets you explore and learn more about science, technology and outer space. Exhibits change seasonally but any time of the year you can expect to find the robotics lab, environment gallery, space place and so much more!
8) Edmonton Queen Riverboat
Here’s an event that I actually have not done but it is on my bucket list to do soon! I have walked by the Edmonton Queen Riverboat many times in and thought to myself that it would be such a great romantic dinner idea. The cruise offers pleasing views of the river, the river valley and the city.
9) Pools and park at the Alberta Legislature Grounds
During my lunch hours you will often find me walking around the Alberta Legislature Grounds (a.k.a. the “Leg”). It is my favourite place to escape the busy workday mid-afternoon. On a hot summer day you can take a dip in the wading pools, but if you don’t have a bathing suit, take a walk around the beautifully landscaped park instead or sit and enjoy a picnic at one of the many benches. For something educational, partake in a free guided tour of the Legislature; tours occur hourly!
10) Alley Kat Brewing Company
Another item that I have not done but want to because Alley Kat brews one of my favourite beers – Aprikat! You can take a trip to Alley Kat Brewing Company, a microbrewery that has won National and International awards for its craft beer! You can sample beer in free tastings and take a tour to learn how the beer is made.