When you live in a city it’s hard to think of your home as a travel destination. To you, that city is just home, the place where you work, eat, sleep, and go out for an occasional pint. In contemplated this article, though, Edmonton began presenting itself as a travel destination. After all, Edmonton does have many fine amenities and attractions to offer. Edmonton has a thriving arts community, interesting attractions, great shopping, history, and much more.
One of Edmonton’s best amenities is its river valley. For 48 kilometres, the North Saskatchewan river snakes through town. This ribbon of green hosts 22 parks and is the largest expanse of urban parkland in North America. Of course these parks boast picnic areas, bike trails and hiking paths. Some are off leash if you want to take the pets. Of the river valley parks, Louise McKinney is my favorite. It’s close to downtown, wheelchair accessible, and offers small gardens and pavilions, complimenting the park’s amenities. Plus, if you’ve got access to a canoe, there’s a dock from which to launch.
While you’re downtown, you’ll want to visit the farmer’s market (www.city-market.ca). The market runs every Saturday 9am-3pm from mid may through early October. Come rain or shine the market takes over 104 street from Jasper ave north to 103 ave. Here you’ll find an impressive array of products ranging from food and produce to arts and crafts. There are also fine shops and restaurants surrounding the market if you want lunch or just get in out of all that fresh air for a while.
“Old Strathcona Welcomes You!” is the slogan for this eclectic neighborhood. This shopping district runs along 82nd (Whyte) ave from 101 st west to 106 st. Here you’ll find fully restored buildings from the 1910s. The buildings are now home to restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, book stores and so on. Old Stretching (www.oldstrachona.ca) is THE place to shop for anything out of the mainstream. There’s even an old movie palace called the Princess Theatre where you can see great independent films.
The Hudson’s Bay fur trading company plays an important part in Edmonton’s history. Fort Edmonton (www.fortedmontonpark.ca) is where you can experience this history first hand. The park starts off with an authentic reproduction of the fur trading post as it stood in 1845. The post comes complete with great house, lodgings, coralles and shipbuilding facility. Outside the fort are 1845 st., 1905 st., and 1920 st., each representing eras in Edmonton’s growth. Visit on weekends when there are events such as the harvest fair and highland games. The park is open from may through September yearly.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the festivals. Oh, the festivals. From June through August every year Edmonton is host to more than a dozen festivals. Enjoy the Taste of Edmonton and sample dishes from local restaurants. Or, visit the Fringe festival one of the largest fringes anywhere. Edmonton also hosts folk, blues, and jazz music festivals. I could devote an entire article to all these festivals hosts For more information on festivals, visit http://www.edmonton.com/for-visitors/festival-calendar.aspx.
I don‘t think a visit to Edmonton would be complete without visiting the Muttart conservatory. $10.50 buys you admission into four glass pyramids devoted to thousands of species of plants. Three of the pyramids are devoted to different climates, one devoted to tropical climate, one to temperate, and one to arid. The fourth is referred to the Feature pyramid and is changed completely six times a year.
Edmonton also boasts a thriving arts scene. Most prominent in that scene is the Citadel Theater. The Citadel is Canada’s largest regional professional theater and was opened in 1965 by Joseph Shoctor with the help of his three partners. Today, the Citadel boasts a fine reputation offering a variety of plays and musicals every season. Located at 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square, the Art Gallery of Alberta offers a fine permanent collection of artwork. Additionally, the gallery brings in a variety of exhibitions featuring art in many forms including paint, sculpture, and architecture. The gallery is open daily and charges $12 admission. Visit www.youraga.ca for more information.
One last thought for golfers. Remember the parks I mentioned earlier? Those parks are also home to golf courses and driving ranges. Edmonton’s municipal courses include the Highlands Golf Club (www.highlandsgolfclub.com) and the Royal Mayfair Golf club (www.Mayfair.ca). Of course there are other municipal courses around town but they don’t all offer views of the river valley. And there are more courses available within a thirty minute drive if you don’t feel like playing on a municipal course, no matter how nice.
As you can see, Edmonton has much to offer as a destination. Whether you like music, outdoor activities, shopping or entertainment you’ll find something worthwhile in Edmonton.