The long list of things to do in Edmonton
Contrary to popular belief, Edmonton has a lot to offer to those who care to look and seek fun. This list is a mix of places you can visit, activities you can do, seasonal events, festivals, and more. Feel free to contribute to this list by commenting below, because we can all benefit from shared knowledge! Also, there’s no special order to things listed here, in the future I’m considering to categorise these by season, cost, distance, etc.
Fort Edmonton Park: set yourself a couple hundred years back, and explore the history and activities associated with this city’s past. The park is huge, and it can definitely take an entire day to see everything. The best part is that the park has lots of houses, shops, and activities that you can explore. There are many actors/volunteers on the park premises, that you can talk to, ask questions, observe what they are are doing, etc.
The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village: another open space museum that will easily take an entire day to explore. Immerse yourself into the life of Ukrainian settlers who came to these lands about a century ago. Take a carriage ride through the park, or in a vintage car. Feed the chicken. Have an interactive discussion with the actors.
The Heritage Festival: up to 100 countries come together to showcase their culture through the world’s largest three day celebration of multiculturalism. You can try various foods, watch volunteers perform their traditional dances, buy souvenirs, or just relax on the grass. The festival usually takes place at the beginning of August in the William Hawrelak Park.
The Muttart Conservatory: from the outside the pyramids look like they’re drawn from a science-fiction movie. But inside those pyramids you can find various biomes from all around the world. There are also events organised for children, as well as date nights.
The Devonian Garden: the University of Alberta Botanical Garden is Alberta’s largest botanical garden. It features the Kurimoto Japanese Garden and the Aga Khan IV Islamic Garden. Additionally, there are several greenhouses with different biomes, and one of them even has exotic butterflies flying around. There’s also a rose garden, a tower, a maze, and everything else you can discover yourself 🙂
Luminaria: this evening winter event is organized around Christmas and takes place at the Devonian Garden. All trails are lit with candles and glowing lights, angels are dancing, choirs are singing, and free warm cider is served. This magical event will pump up the Christmas spirit in you.
Golfing: if you look at the satellite map of Edmonton, you’ll notice that the city has golf courses galore. Whether you are a golfing enthusiast, someone who wants to explore the sport, or whether you simply like to practice your golf swings, Edmonton is a great place for that.
Football games: if you’re a football (ahem, soccer) fan, you’ll be happy to learn that Edmonton has its own team and regular games are hosted. See more details and schedule on FC Edmonton’s official website.
Hockey games: hockey is a popular sport in Canada, and Edmonton has its own world renowned professional team – the Edmonton Oilers. Games are hosted at the new, state of the art Roger’s Place arena. If you’ve never gone to a hockey game, you’re missing out 🙂
American Football games: Edmonton has its own American (Canadian?) Football team – the Edmonton Elks, formerly known as the Edmonton Eskimos. Games are hosted at the huge Commonwealth Stadium.
The River Valley: rumour has it that Edmonton has the largest network of trails, both paved and unpaved, in North America. Collectively known as the North Saskatchewan River valley parks system, it contains a plethora of parks and trails along the North Saskatchewan river, that you can explore by bicycle, walking, running, or rollerblading, spanning from Devon, all they way to Fort Saskatchewan. Personally, I think this is the city’s gem, and is the perfect retreat when you want to feel like you’re outside the city.
Karting: get your buddies together for this expensive, yet a lot of fun activity. There are several karting tracks around the city, and one of them even feels like it’s taken from Need for Speed (hint, the one at WEM) 🙂
The Happy Acres uPick farm: come explore this amazing family-run farm, where you can pick your veggies, Saskatoon berries, buy free range chicken eggs, homemade jams and pickles, and much more. They also sell muffins, ice cream, and coffee that are super delish, and that you can serve outside at a picnic table. The farm also features a mini zoo, playgrounds, a trampoline, a tree house, a fire pit, hammocks… c’mon, aren’t you sold already? Buy fresh, buy local. Also, say hi to Cricket, the talking cockatoo!
The Prairie Gardens: located about 40 minutes North from Edmonton, in Bon Accord, this farm is host to a wide range of events and activities: pick your own veggies and berries, picnic with your family, play some games, or take a cooking class.
Little Italy & the Viva Italia festival: explore this cute neighbourhood, with cute European style shops, and flower pots all around. The Viva Italia festival is a great time to listen to authentic Italian music, drink an espresso or cappuccino, or let your kids play in the beautiful Giovanni Caboto Park.
The Alberta Open Farm day: this event is a wonderful opportunity to explore the local farms, when they open their doors to the public, give tours, and sell tasty food and organic products. Make sure to plan your route to minimise the driving between farms, and maximise the fun at the farms!
Dinner theatre: who doesn’t like good food, or a great live performance? How about both? Book a table and enjoy the experience! There’s a couple options available in the city, simply search for “Edmonton dinner theatre”.
High Level Bridge Streetcar ride: ride into history on a segment of the old Canadian Pacific Railway track, over one of the tallest structures in Edmonton, and soak in the view (even more so if you plan your ride at sunset)! Bring cash to pay for the fare.
Tennis courts: did you know that the city owned tennis courts are free to use? There are several tennis courts all around the city, you can find more about locations here.
The Edmonton Corn Maze: whether you like to find your way out of the maze by answering correctly to the answers at various checkpoints, or simply want to get lost (that’s me haha), the Edmonton Corn Maze is a must do activity in late fall. Each year, the maze is created to a different pattern, and you can get a view of the cornfield from the high bridge in the middle of the field.
End of the World: this place provides a stunning view of the river, and gathers a lot of people who like to chillax under the influence of the gorgeous river view.
Biking: get a bike to enjoy the best of the River Valley trails system. If someone dropped you blindfolded on a bike trail in the middle of a forest, you’d probably have a hard time telling if you’re in the city or in Canmore. The trails here have varying levels of difficulty, and if you’d like to know which one is what, I recommend the Trail Forks mobile app. In the winter, fatbiking works just as great.
Coffee & Stroopwaffle at the Dutch Delicious Shop: visit this cute Dutch shop for a variety of delicious pastries, and breads. And since you’re there, enjoy a coffee and stroopwaffle at one of the cute coffee tables.
The Wabamun Lake: this provincial park is a perfect getaway for the weekend if you want to spend it by the water, enjoy a BBQ, toss a flying disc, take a ride in a canoe, or even swim if conditions are good (watch out for blue green algae alert). Keep in mind that the park gets full real quick during hot days, so you better be there early in the morning, or be prepared to turn back, as the park rangers won’t let you in if the park’s capacity is exceeded.
Pembina River Tubing: float down the Pembina River for an hour or two in a tube with your family or friends. Although I can’t say this is a lot of fun – it is definitely very relaxing. You’ll go under a very tall bridge where trains pass, the scenery is quite nice, and from what I remember, there is even some sections with some easy rapids. Don’t forget the sunscreen or long sleeves, as the sun can cook you real quick.
North Saskatchewan River Tubing: if you go to the river on a scorching day you’ll see lots of people having fun floating down the river in groups. You too can have such fun 🙂
Johnson Canyon Ink Pots: this is not really close to Edmonton, but it can be a day trip if you’re really determined. What I liked about this, the hike is really nice, and at the end you’ll get to see the ink pots, those beautiful bodies of water of different colors, with bubbles coming from the bottom.
Drumheller & The Dinosaur Museum: as awesome as it sounds, dinosaurs once roamed the lands of Alberta. Many fossils are still being excavated, and one such finding was named the Albertosaurus, which you can admire at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Another popular attraction is the huge 26m tall dinosaur at the Rotary Spray Park, that you can enter and climb all the way into the dinosaur’s mouth. Besides dinosaurs, while you’re there, you can visit the Star Mine suspension bridge, and enjoy the badlands scenery.
Reynolds Alberta Museum: the museum features a vast collection of vintage cars, trucks, industrial machinery, and airplanes. You can find some very rare models of luxury vintage cars, and you can also observe how car restoration is done.
The Nut Cracker at the Jubilee Auditorium: a Christmas tradition for many who enjoy to dress up nicely, to watch this beautiful winter performance. Don’t forget to enjoy a good chat and a glass of wine with your friends, or people you meet there, before the event or during the intermission.
Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall: this huge indoors waterpark runs year round and is a great way to unwind during those long cold winters. The waterpark even has a huge pool with artificial waves, and in the evening you can even surf there 🙂
Soundwave EDM Festival: if electronic music is your jam, you’ll love this music festival organised at the West Edmonton Mall Waterpark, and where the dress code is the swimsuit.
Revelstoke zipline park: also a far drive from Edmonton, but this is so much fun that I wanted to share it. The SkyTrek Adventure Park features a large obstacle course in between massive cedar trees, and it can easily take around 3-4 hours to finish. It is very safe, as your harness will always be connected to the safety line, which you can only disconnect from once you’re on the ground.
Revelstoke summer luge: and while you’re in Revelstoke, take a ride on the summer toboggan, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the experience. If you pay attention, you may even see wildlife.
Calgary luge: this is another way to have fun if you’re in Calgary. Unlike the Revelstoke luge, which uses a rail system, the Calgary luge allows far more freedom of movement, since you can actually control the car’s direction, speed, and you can also drift 🙂
Elk Island Park day hike: unlike what the park’s name suggests, the main attraction of this park are actually the bisons, that you are most likely to see in large numbers during the day. Hikes are always very nice, and of varying level of difficulty.
Elk Island Park stargazing: because this park is open 24/7, you can go there at night to look at the stars. Since it’s quite far from the city and other sources of artificial light, the park can get very dark at night, which means you can get a better image of stars in the sky (especially true for the Eastern side). I recommend using Google’s Sky Map to find various constellations, planets, and stars. Additionally, if you use a satellite tracker app, you can identify satellites as they shoot through the sky.
Drive Hwy 37 at sunset: I really like drive this road at sunset, because it is quite pretty. Loads of wheat fields, pastures and cattle, wavy roads, small rolling hills, and the sunset can sometimes make the sky look like it’s on fire. The road section along Hwy 770, between Hwy 622 and Hwy 627 is also very nice, as you’ll go over the North Saskatchewan river, and along the Genesse lake, and the wavy road is very enjoyable to drive.
Ikea roaming: when it’s cold outside, or too hot, the big Ikea store is a nice refuge 🙂 Plus, the restaurant inside, has tasty food and good coffee.
Calgary stampede festival: if you like country music, rodeo, chuckwagon racing, and the similar, then you should go see this. Don’t forget your cowboy hat and boots, to blend in 🙂
Taste of Edmonton food festival: if you’re a foodie, you’ll like this outdoor event where tens of food trucks come together to serve various tasty foods and drinks, accompanied with all-Canadian music performances.
St Albert’s Farmer’s market: this is the place to find local, fresh food. Also, handmade items, and hand-baked goodies. Runs every Saturday from 10am to 3pm, beginning the second Saturday in June, and until sometimes close to Thanksgiving.
Ski the Rockies!: trust me when I say that winters will never be boring again, if you pick up skiing or snowboarding in the Rockies. We’ve got world class ski resorts, and amazing snow conditions, so it’s a pity not to take advantage of one of Canada’s most important winter touristic attractions.
University of Alberta campus promenade: how about just walking around campus, and enjoying the nice parks? The Arts building is quite nice to take some pictures at 🙂
WEM walk: another cold winter day or evening? The West Edmonton Mall is always warm and provides options for things to do. If you don’t want to do anything, you can just get with the flow and walk around the mall 🙂
Cineplex VIP: if you want the ultimate movie watching experience, try Cineplex VIP! You can order food and beverage, and enjoy your meal or drink, while watching a nice movie in the super nice recliner comfy seats.
Lake Louise Tea house hike: if you’re at Lake Louise, try a hike to one of the tea houses. Besides an amazing hike and scenery, you’ll be rewarded with a nice tea or meal at the top, which tastes so much better, I guarantee you that.
Ellis Bird Farm: great place to experience nature about an hour and a half drive from Edmonton. Lots of hidden trails and ponds to explore, and to admire flowers, birds, and birdhouses.
Kinsmen Pitch & Putt: this place offers small golf courses, in a nice location. Perfect on a summer evening.
Magic of Lights at the Castrol raceway: drive in your car on the Castrol circuit, and admire the various Christmas holiday themed creations made out of LEDs, including a light tunnel. Obviously, this event takes place around Christmas 🙂
Manchester square promenade: nice complex, and architecture design with an European feel. Great photography opportunities. This will be a vibrant place to visit once more tenants join the party.
The Promenade (Boulevard) (100 Avenue NW): relax and enjoy a walk with stunning vistas over the River Valley. Lots of benches available for you to enjoy the views.
Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area: this conservation area is absolutely gorgeous. Being born and raised in Moldova – a small country in Eastern Europe – I grew to love rolling hills, grassy lands, and lush vegetation. I finally found a place close to Edmonton that reminds me of home, and that is a pleasure to hike.
Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary: the jewel of this place, in my opinion, is the long boardwalk that goes along and over the swamps in the marshlands of this area. While I was exploring here, I observed a diversity of birds and animals, as well as various types of aspen and pine trees.
Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area: beautiful scenery, hiking trails, picnic tables, fire pits, and washrooms. About 45min drive West from Edmonton.
Garden Centres / Greenhouses: if you like plants, or just like to be around plants and flowers, you can visit a garden centre. Try the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert, or Greenland Garden Centre and Salisbury Greenhouse in Sherwood Park.
Castrol Raceway: the only racetrack close to Edmonton. If you’re into horsepower and loud engines, you’ll want to be here. Many events take place throughout the season, and you can see the schedule here.
Play SpikeBall: I’m addicted to the game of roundnet. The best part about this, is that you can use the official SpikeBall mobile application to find games in your area. There are all types of games: just for fun, competitive, and even tournaments. The people are very welcoming and will happily teach you the rules and give you helpful hints. It’s also an amazing opportunity to be outside, and enjoy the beautiful parks in Edmonton!
Ride the electric scooters: over the past few years, Edmonton has seen a spike in electric scooter use. They are a fun way to explore the university area, and downtown. Also heard they’re fun to drift on grass, and race your buddies 🙂 Just remember to ride safely, especially around other people.
Escape rooms: if you like solving puzzles, this can be an excellent way to spend time with your friends. There’s a couple of options around town!
Join a sports group: if you’re into sports, check out the Edmonton Sport and Social Club. They have plenty of offerings for sports, and organise seasonal tournaments that you can join as an individual or as a group. There’s also the Edmonton Ultimate Players Association for ultimate frisbee. Excellent way to meet new people.
Tour the Alberta Legislature: besides having a beautiful park outside with fountains, you can also take a tour to explore the building from the inside and learn about the history of our province. There is even a special spot on the top floor of the building where you can hear the water in the fountain from the first floor, due to the building’s acoustics.
Learn to skate: if you learn to skate, there are endless opportunities for fun in the winter. There are multiple ponds around the city that are maintained, and also several ice ways. My favorite one is the pond at the Hawrelak Park, in the winter it gathers many avid skaters, and it’s beautiful both during the day and the evening.
Cross country skiing: Edmonton has a vast network of trails for XC skiing in the winter, that are actively maintained, and that are absolutely free. Some golf courses are transformed into trails as well. The best part is renting or buying the equipment is relatively cheap, and it’s an excellent sport to keep you in shape during the cold season.
The Deadmonton Haunted House: if you’re looking for a good scare, you’ll want to visit this place. Especially popular around Halloween.
Skiing & Snowboarding: Edmonton is not very hilly, but there are still a couple of places in the city (and close to it) where you can ski and snowboard. Best places would be the Snow Valley (in the city), and the Rabbit Hill (slightly farther from the city, but a bigger hill). It’s also an ideal place to learn the sports, before heading to the mountains (trust me, this is the right order, I did it the other way and almost injured myself on the mountain 🙂 )
Walk the Whyte Avenue: every city has a main street that is like the central place to meet out. For Edmonton, this is the Whyte Avenue (82Ave). It’s lined up with restaurants, shops, and clubs, and the speed limit is lower, so it’s pedestrian friendly.
The Snow Valley Aerial Park: if you like solving challenges and dealing with obstacles while up high in the air, you’ll absolutely love this! This 15m structure is divided into 3 levels by level of difficulty, and will definitely take at least 2 hours if you want to try everything. You’ll always be connected to a safety cable system, so even if you fall, the harness will keep you safe. It’s located right in the city, in the Rainbow Valley Park (in the winter it’s called the Snow Valley). Each element is marked with green, red, black in increasing level of difficulty. Some of the black ones are quite wicked, and will require both muscle and creativity 🙂
Thrift Store Scavenger Hunt: you never know what you’ll find at a thrift store! There are stories of people finding valuable items such as art, jewellery, or rare devices. Even if you don’t find a Picasso poster, it’s still a nice way of spending time, and giving pre-loved items a second chance should you find something that you like.
The Edmonton Zoo: Edmonton has a zoo, and quite a variety of animals, including the zoo’s emblem Lucy the elephant.
The Edmonton Public Library: EPL for short, is a vast resource of books, videos, and audio materials that is absolutely free for all Edmonton residents. You can conveniently use the mobile application to find, reserve and track books. You can also browse at the physical locations, use the computers, or simply read or study there if you need a quiet place. Multiple locations are available around town, and you can request a material to be brought to your closest location.
Go to a trampoline park: actually I recently discovered about Launchpad Trampoline park, and I am looking forward to go! I can’t wait to try some front/back flips in a safe environment, which I’ve always wanted to do.
Paintball fights: if you’re not afraid of small bruises, this is one great way to have fun with your buddies. Try not to frag your teammates 🙂
But this is not all! This list is a work in progress, and I will update it once I find more interesting things to add. Share this with your friends 🙂 Also, let me know what your favorite things to do in Edmonton are.