Are you ready to discover the best things to do in Edmonton? Here is a list with must see attractions during your visit to the Gateway to the North. The capital city of Alberta, Canada has something to satisfy all tastes. From arts, crafts, and cultural activities to family and sporting events, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to get bored here.
With 18 hours of sun in summer, you’ll have plenty of time to discover and enjoy the parks and the great 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 above the winter wonderland. No matter what time of year you visit Edmonton, you’re bound to find a festival. Known as the City of Festivals has more than 50 festivals, giving Montreal a run for its money when it comes to having 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 foodie? Do you like festivals? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then chances are you’ll have a wonderful time in Edmonton, Alberta. Here you’ll discover a vibrant, cosmopolite city surrounded by wilderness.
1. Elk Island National Park
Founded in 1906, Elk Island National park role is to preserve and protect the last of the big elk herds. Located just 35 minutes from Edmonton Elk Island NP was the first wildlife refuge in Canada and has been a safe haven for the dwindling herds of Plains bison for more than a hundred years.
The Elk Island National Park is easily accessible from Edmonton. The Yellowhead Highway goes through the park. You will have to get a pass to go through the park, but the views are absolutely spectacular.
2. Edmonton River Valley Parks
The people of Edmonton know how to enjoy the great outdoors. The North Saskatchewan River Valley Parks System covers 18,000 acres combining 20 different parks. Anything outdoors that your heart desires is available in this green space. Hiking and cycling trails, a golf course, ravines and lakes and if you are into zoos, the Edmonton Valley Zoo is within the parks system. In the winter, there’s cross country skiing and even a downhill ski slope.
3. West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall is not the largest shopping mall in the world (as some tend to believe), but it is definitely one of Canada’s largest and most impressive entertainment destination. Featuring more than 800 shops, a water park, an ice-skating rink, a golf area, and much more, this mall is definitely worth a visit if you are passionate about shopping.
And even if shopping is not on the list for your trip to Edmonton, Alberta, you can still go to West Edmonton Mall just for the variety of restaurants or you can even book accommodation in one of the two hotels at the mall.
- Fantasy Land Hotel and Resort – If you want to stay at West Edmonton Mall, this hotel has theme rooms and is connected directly to the mall.
- West Edmonton Mall Inn – For a more affordable option just steps away from the mall check out the West Edmonton Mall Inn.
Edmonton World Waterpark
Featuring over 17 slides in a tropical, exotic environment, World Waterpark is one of the best places to hang out in the mall. The water park was opened to the public in 1986 and is located inside the West Edmonton Mall.
It is one of the North America’s largest indoor water parks, so it will keep the whole family entertained for hours, if not for a whole day. And don’t worry if you didn’t bring a towel with you on your trip, just get there and rent a towel at the admissions office.
4. Fort Edmonton Park
Time has stopped at Fort Edmonton Park where the streets are frozen in time. The 150 acre park traces history from the Indigenous People’s experience to the 1920s. Costumed performers walk the replica of an 1885 street and you can tour an 1846 fort from the days of the Hudson Bay fur traders. If you want a look at bits and pieces of Alberta and Canadian historythe heritage park offers memorable experiences for everyone. This is also Canada’s largest living history museum. Visit the fort for details.
5. Hang Out at Old Strathcona and White Avenue
It is also known as 82 Avenue, and it’s one of the best places in Edmonton! Many make it a priority to get here each time they visit the city. With an eclectic mix of restaurants, theaters, and different shops, Whyte Avenue is an arterial road running through Old Strathcona. The avenue got its name in 1891, after sir Willian Whyte (superintendent of the CPR’s western division). We can say that Whyte Avenue is the heart and soul of the arts & fun district, so it is definitely a not-to-miss attraction.
6. International Fringe Festival
Are you a theater lover? Then you’ll probably want to check out North America’s largest and oldest fringe festival. Edmonton’s Fringe Festival is held in August in the Old Strathcona District. Artists and street performers line the streets and original productions take place in the many theatres. The Edmonton Fringe festival features over 1000 performances featuring over 1500 national and international artists. Here you can experience innovative theater without worrying that your little ones will get bored. Fringe Theater Festival has family and kids-friendly performances and also Theater for Young Audience shows. Enjoy ten days of interrupted fun at the Fringe Festival in Edmonton!
7. Alberta Legislature Building
It’s known as “The Ledge,” it’s located in Edmonton, and it hosts the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council. The architecture of the building is superb, but don’t walk away as soon as you get your photos with it. The Alberta Legislature Building offers free guided tours. If you are tired of the city or the parks and you want to find out more about Alberta’s legislative process, you’re welcome to discover it!
8. High Level Bridge Streetcar
Owned by 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 in it and enjoy spectacular views of the city and the river valley.
Your journey through Edmonton’s river valley in the hundred year old old streetcar can take you to Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market and over the High Level Bridge. And the best part is that you get off when you want to visit a shop or grab a bite and hop on when you are ready to see more.
9. TELUS World of Science in Edmonton
The science center is located in the Woodcroft neighborhood, close to Coronation Park. Telus World of Science aims to ignite curiosity and inspire discovery, and this makes it a wonderful destination for people of all ages, kids included. Children and adults alike have the opportunity to engage in science, participating in different experiments, and discovering the interactive galleries.
And if your kid has a soft spot for science, you can even organize a birthday party for him here! The staff is friendly, and the food court offers a 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’re talking, of course, about the botanic garden at the Muttart Conservatory. It features more than 700 different species of plants from around the world in three climates – Arid Pyramid, Temperate Pyramid, and Tropical Pyramid.
An important horticultural attraction in Edmonton, Muttart Conservatory is located on the North Saskatchewan River valley, close to the downtown area. This is a year round attraction and one of the best things to do in Edmonton.
11. Winspear Center
Winspear Center is home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The center was opened in 1997 and is located in the city center. A performing arts center like few others in the area, Winspear Center hosts different types of events and concerts. The acoustic is fabulous, so don’t hesitate to go see your favorite concert here.
12. Art Gallery of Alberta
The locals call it AGA (the acronym of Art Gallery of Alberta). The 8000 square meters building is located in downtown Edmonton, so you won’t have any issues finding it. The building itself is an impressive piece of architecture. But there is more to the AGA than the magic of modern architecture. Art Gallery of Alberta is among Canada’s largest galleries featuring contemporary and historical exhibitions.
13. Alberta Aviation Museum
Are you passionate about aviation? This place is a good option if you want to learn more about Canadian aviation history. The kids love the hands-on activities they can try here, not to mention the souvenirs they can get!
14. Royal Alberta Museum
Located near the Art Gallery of Alberta, these make for a great combination. See exhibits distinctly Albertan highlighting Alberta’s Heritage and environment. With 82,000 square feet of exhibit 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 outdoor installation of vintage signs. Twenty neon signs originally from stores, railroads, and theaters have been reconditioned and hung on a building. It’s not your conventional museum, but you’ll definitely get amazing photos if you decide to take a walk in the area.
16. Alberta Railway Museum
If you get to Edmonton’s northern suburbs, you can visit Alberta Railway Museum. The museum was founded in 1976 to preserve the railway heritage. Here you’ll discover over 75 engines and an impressive collection of still-operating, as well as static locomotives. But the highlight of this visit is the opportunity to go on a train ride (only available during summer).
Bonus Trip to Jasper
If you drive, you can get to Jasper from Edmonton in about 4 hours. You can also take a bus, but it will be a longer ride, approximately 5 hours. By train is no less than 6.5 hours. Despite the fact that it is not very easy to get there, a trip to Jasper is one of the best things to put on your to-do list while in the area. Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies, and this is just one of the things that makes Jasper an appealing destination for many travelers. Check out all the Amazing Things to do in Jasper here.
How to Get to Edmonton
Edmonton International Airport is 30 km from the city. To get around Edmonton and Alberta we highly suggest renting a car. You can check out Car Rentals for prices and availability. Taxis, Uber and airport shuttles can take you downtown.
Edmonton is 3 hours straight north of Calgary up Highway 2. By Canadian standards this is a short drive. Grab your Tim Hortons Double Double and get driving.
But if you want to take a more scenic drive, make your way to Banff and go up the Icefield’s parkway to Jasper and then onward to Edmonton. Why not make a full loop?
Don’t rule out the train. Edmonton can be reached by major Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg or Saskatchewan.
Final words about your trip to Edmonton, Alberta
An all year-round destination, Edmonton has plenty to offer visitors. And it’s difficult to make a list of the top activities to try while in the city, especially if you have little time.
Some choose to come to Edmonton and spend most of their time on the golf course, while others find it difficult to leave one of North America’s largest malls as there is no shortage of entertainment here.
- Read more about travel to Alberta