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Edmonton

Explore a city rich in natural and cultural history

Alberta’s capital city is a gem on the Alberta heartland that blends beautiful urban greenery with sophisticated architecture and innovative attractions. This city of around a million people is a great stopover point for getting a little taste of city life before embarking on adventures in the Canadian Rockies to the west or the many attractions of the surrounding prairie, including the festive city of Calgary to the south.

A Major Mall

Bring your credit card to one of most popular attractions in the city: West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America. This vast indoor shopping complex features over 800 stores spread out over more than 5 million square feet, but retail isn’t the only game here. Popular non-shopping features include the Galaxyland amusement park, the second-largest indoor amusement park on the planet.

The World Waterpark — the second-largest indoor waterpark on earth — is another major draw, with some serious slipping and sliding opportunities, including one slide that’s 83 feet high. You can also slosh around in the world’s largest indoor wave pool. Other recreational facilities at the mall include Sea Life Caverns and Sea Lions Rock, a lagoon area with sharks, sea turtles, penguins and a small colony of California sea lions. Along with plenty of restaurants and fast food options, the mall also features an ice-skating rink, an 18-hole mini golf course, a cinema, a recreation center with bowling and arcade games.  There’s a venue that puts on live concerts and even an indoor shooting range.

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Edmonton’s Culture

Beyond the mall, Edmonton is packed the cultural opportunities. The Francis Winspear Centre for Music is home of the Edmonton Symphony and houses the country’s largest pipe organ. There are also plenty of theaters throughout the city, particularly in the South Central part of town, plus a number of museums.

Set aside an afternoon for the Royal Alberta Museum, housed in a new building in downtown Edmonton. The permanent collection includes objects related to earth sciences, as well as human history, with lots of ethnographic and military artifacts.

Other cultural attractions include Fort Edmonton Park, the largest living history museum in Canada, sprawling across 158 acres on the North Saskatchewan River. The park is divided into four sections, each detailing a different era in the region’s history, from the city’s early days as a fur trading fort clear up to its rapid development in the 1920s.

Attractions include replica homes, boats, a trading post, a covered wagon, a mosque and even an operating streetcar. Interpreters dressed in historic garb add an authentic ambience to the experience and help visitors better understand what life was like on the prairie in Alberta’s yesteryears.

Architectural Treasures

Fans of architecture will enjoy Edmonton’s variety of architectural styles, from majestic Beaux Arts structures to Spanish and Tudor Revival houses, not to mention a good mix of Edwardian, Queen Anne and Craftsmen houses. There’s even the odd log cabin. Wandering around and soaking up the different designs can be a treat in itself, but those looking to check out some of the city’s best gems should add a few iconic landmarks to their list.

Perhaps the city’s most famous architectural showpiece is the Alberta Legislature Building, known locally as “The Ledge” as it hosts the Legislative Assembly. This imposing, dome-capped Classic Revival building was constructed from 1907-1913, and like many buildings of its style, features a T-shaped symmetrical design complete with huge columns and a series of arched windows.

One of the more unusual examples of Expressive Modern architecture, the Peter Hemingway Pool in Coronation Park mixes steel, glass and timber to create a structure that’s most easily likened to a sloping pyramid around the park’s main indoor pool.

Riding High

For a unique view of the city, hop aboard Edmonton’s High Level Bridge Street Car. The bridge opened in 1913 and was outfitted with three sets of tracks on its top deck; Canadian Pacific Railway trains ran down the center and local streetcars traveled on the outside. Operated by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society, the streetcar is a restored 1912 model that runs daily between May and September, and on weekends through Thanksgiving Day (in Canada, it’s mid-October).

The North Saskatchewan River flows through the city and is an urban gem surrounded by walking and biking trails. At the water’s edge, cast a line for lake sturgeon, goldeye, burbot and mountain whitefish. Local lakes are prime spots for trout fishing in the warm summer months.

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Cool Conservatory

Still seeking adventure? Take a stroll through Muttart Conservatory. This unique set of glass and metal pyramids is home to three biomes, or plant communities — desert, tropical rainforest and temperate, where deciduous forest and tundra coexist — consisting of thousands of species of plants. A fourth pyramid houses rotating exhibits and seasonal displays.

Get in touch with Edmonton’s natural surroundings at John Janzen Nature Centre, chock full of interactive exhibits and special events to teach visitors about local ecology. The Nature Centre is a hit with children and families, who find its hands-on activities and indoor play space a great combination of fun and discovery. The park is situated at the gateway to Edmonton’s River Valley.

For More Information

Edmonton Tourism

800-463-4667

www.exploreedmonton.com

Travel Alberta

800-252-3782

www.travelalberta.com