Edmonton is often overlooked when backpacking through Alberta. Calgary has a tendency to be the safer choice, being much closer to Banff, and being right along the Trans Canada Highway. In the past, Edmonton has been the little brother trying to achieve what Calgary has. However, in recent years Edmonton is gradually shedding it’s title as “Deadmonton” and emerging as a great alternative to Calgary.
First off, find a place to stay. If you’re not camping on the many campgrounds outside of Edmonton, check out the hostels.
The Muttart Conservatory
A unique escape from the West Edmonton Mall is the Muttart Conservatory. It’s a beautiful botanical garden, found in the North Saskatchewan River Valley, just across from downtown Edmonton. What makes this botanical garden unique is that the gardens are inside four glass, pyramid-shaped structures, each displaying plants from tropical, temperate, and arid climates, the final pyramid consists of a theme that change year-round. Each of these pyramids provide the warmth needed to protect the plants from the harsh Edmonton Winters. Entry costs $9.75.
Hoping to visit an area of town with that “Vibe” you’ve been craving. Arts, theatre, entertainment, pubs, shopping, and fine dining, all of which can be found in Old Strathcona. Voted one of the ten coolest places in Canada. This majestic part of Edmonton is approximately eight square blocks, largely centered around Whyte Ave and Calgary Trail. There are countless festivals happening in Old Strathcona throughout the year, including Ice on Whyte in January, an ice sculpting festival and outdoor playground. In August, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival welcomes hundreds of thousands of theatregoers and festival patrons. Come Fall, check out the Edmonton International Film Festival. Visit www.OldStrathcona.ca for more information regarding this historical Edmonton Landmark.
Since the Mid 90′s downtown Edmonton has been growing a good sized club and pub scene. There are countless pub crawls being run through the city each month. The clubs here are definitely worth checking out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Check out the New City Suburbs, Oil City Roadhouse, The Bank, and Halo, all of which and more can be found along Jasper Avenue, Edmontons main street. If you’re staying at any of the backpackers be sure to ask them if they have any pub crawls going on. If so, suit up and sign up.
Most large Canadian cities are proud to host it’s own NHL Hockey Team. Edmonton isn’t any different. Home to the Edmonton Oilers (Where Legendary Wayne Gretzky got his start). If you’re around Edmonton during playoffs try your darndest to get to a game. During playoffs the “Blue Mile” takes off. Head down to Old Strathcona after the game to find thousands upon thousands of drunk, partying, hockey fans. It’s not only a great way to party, it’s a great way to meet some locals. Tickets for the Edmonton Oilers can be purshed here.
West Edmonton Mall
A post about Edmonton wouldn’t be complete without The West Edmonton Mall. This mall is the main reason the majority of tourists flock here, with over 800 stores, there’s something for everyone. The Mall is the largest mall in North America, and fourth largest in the world. Inside is Galaxyland, the largest indoor amusement park in the world, featuring over 24 rides. If amusement parks aren’t your thing, check out out The World Waterpark, also the worlds largest indoor waterpark. It’s got a bunch of awesome slides, and a huge wavepool, as well as a bungy jump. Then there’s the Sea Life Cavern, where they have a large amount of aquatic life, including some sea lions, which perform shows throughout the day. You can skate year round in West Edmonton Mall during the public skate at the ice palace. Or just stop by and watch a game of hockey for free. Perhaps golf is more your sport, the Mall has an 18 hole mini golf coarse where you can brush up on your putting skills. I’m sure I’m missing countless other attractions the mall has to offer, there’s plenty to see. West Edmonton Mall is easily worth a full day. Check out the West Edmonton Mall Website for more information.