Edmonton is one of Canada's fastest growing cities with over one million residents and is also known to be Canada's sunniest city. Being located in Alberta, Edmonton is a big city with country side roots that offers a cool mixture of old versus new. I got to spend some time there back in September and here are my top things to do in Edmonton.
1: Eat your way around town
I was pleasantly surprised by Edmonton's food scene. It reminded me very much of London's trendy food scene when it was up and coming. Chefs from all over the world have settled back down in their home town, bringing lots of inspiration, making this a city full of great diverse food.
2: Shop at West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall was once the world's largest shopping mall, until 2004, and is now the largest shopping mall in North America. The mall has got something for everyone. You can find shops, a waterpark, cinema, an indoor lake, ice skating rink and the world's largest indoor amusement park. A whole day can be put aside for West Edmonton Mall alone.
3: Edmonton River Valley Segway Tour
I nervously went on a Segway tour for the second time in my life, cruising through the hilly valleys of Edmonton. I had the 60 minute package which included a 30 minute training. The guides here are friendly and patient, so no prior experience is needed. Once everyone was up and running, we got a nice 30 minute tour of the beautiful valley and it was well worth it.
4: Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
Every summer Edmonton holds the biggest Fringe Festival in North America with over 1,500 performances shown over 2 weeks. I got to watch a show called Weaksauce by Sam Mullins, an adorably awkward story about his childhood memories and road to finding love. You can catch anything from stand up comedy, improvisations to full theatre shows.
5: City Market
Skip the restaurant or hotel breakfast one Saturday and check out the huge farmers market in downtown Edmonton. Open from 9am-3pm on Saturdays only, it's a great way to spend a morning or early afternoon. There's lots of fresh produce to choose from and it's a great place to pick up a ready made meal on the go.
6: High level street car
If you're crossing the bridge between Downtown and Old Strathcona, why not get some nice views over the river while you're at it? It's a quick 20-minute ride and adds something different to the usual mode of transport. The high level street car runs from May until September and is especially useful around the Fringe Festival period.
6: Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village
If you're into history, the Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village is a place worth visiting. I have to admit, I'm usually not a big fan of museums myself but the Ukranian Heritage Village is quite different. It takes you back to how Alberta used to be in 1892-1930 in real time. The whole site is original, with houses that have been imported and actors that are playing the old characters. You feel like you're in the actual valley!
7: See the northern lights
If you're lucky, you can see the northern lights from Edmonton. Sign up to aurora watch which alerts you when it's likely to catch the northern lights near Edmonton International Airport. There are a few spots outside of the city centre which increase your chances of seeing them. I was surprised to find that the sun in Edmonton sets around 10pm during the summer, thanks to their 17 hours of daylight. Be prepared to stay awake.
8: Go on a road trip
Visit the surrounding areas. Alberta is known for it's scenery and beautiful landscapes. Edmonton is only 3.5 hours away from Jasper National Park, part of the Canadian rockies. From Jasper there are endless amounts of beautiful lakes and mountains to explore.