“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”
-T. S. Eliot-
Located in northern Canada, Edmonton, Alberta, is perhaps a place missed on many wander-lists. It’s a city buried under snow six to eight months per year, it doesn’t harbor white sand beaches nor coral reefs, and the oldest historical building is still an infant by European standards. So if it hasn’t been on your travel radar, I understand, but just know, you are seriously missing out.
Not to brag about summer here, but…..
Our Edmonton River Valley which encompasses 7400 hectares of greenspace, 22 major parks and 150 km of trails, is the largest urban parkland in North America. We are a major summer festival capital, with 53 Events ranging from outdoor concerts like the infamous Folk Fest and Sonic Boom to food festivals and street performers. We host a world triathlon and we embrace our inner-thrill seeker at K-Days and our cultural diversity at Heritage Fest. We also host Fringe Fest, the oldest and largest live theater production in North America. But again, we Canadians are humble creatures….
To make it easy? We have an International Airport, making us a perfect starting point for iconic destinations like Jasper and Banff, offering visitors views like these in mere hours.
We have proudly called Edmonton home for 13 years now. We have enjoyed many restaurants, parks, trails and events over the years, but this summer I made it my mission to get out and explore new things, to build my kids appreciation for their home and to do my own city justice. While there are simply too many events, too many amazing places to indulge in and not enough time to attend them all, we did manage some pretty amazing days. Please share in some of our favorite moments of the summer, as I introduce you to our home base, Edmonton, Alberta.
DISCOVERING DOWNTOWN EDMONTON:
Downtown Edmonton is currently undergoing a major revitalization, and residents themselves are now enjoying our city’s core more than ever. This summer Mr. B and I made an effort to not only spend time on eachother, but on touring the heart of YEG. Some of our favorite stops? We love testing the flavors at Craft Beer Market, indulging in a gourmet sweet from Duchess Bake Shop, grabbing a cocktail with a view from the Courtyard Marriot Hotel , choosing a designer chocolate from Jacek and finishing the night with a stop at our favorite Italian restaurant, Cafe Amore. A stroll down the trendy 4th Street Promenade leads you to many incredible and unique stops, including the coffee brewmasters at Transcend. On Saturdays, families can enjoy the City Market and stroll over to the Neon Sign Museum, a first of it’s kind in Canada. At the end of the street, you’ll find yourself face to face with our brand new Rogers Place Arena where we can further highlight what a leading concert host city we are, and serious NHL hockey fans hope our Oilers will see some major wins this year!
A TASTE OF EDMONTON:
This was my first experience at Taste of Edmonton, and I am seriously hooked. Held at Sir Winston Churchill Square in late July, this is a foodies dream venue. In it’s 32nd year, the more than 500,000 festival goers had the opportunity to try one of two feature dishes from any (or all!) of 64 vendors, with a focus on independently owned operations. Combine this with live music from emerging artists, a private Sip ‘n Savor event and Canadian Championship level cooking, it’s hard to not overindulge in the good life. The best part? Taste of Edmonton is paired with 15 charities, and donates portions of the proceeds to worthwhile causes.
ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK:
We love Elk Island, and frequent the park as a family. This National Park is Canada’s largest completely enclosed park, and second only to the Serengeti for numbers of hoofed wildlife that live within its borders. Families can view over 250 species of birds including trumpeter swans, and watch for elk and 2 kinds of bison (plains and wood), of which a 100 year conservation project has brought back from near extinction. It’s a perfect place to hike, camp and picnic. Park goers can also enjoy a day on Astotin Lake by renting kayaks, paddle boards and canoes on site. A perfect way to end summer? Thanks to a lack of city light pollution, the park is an official dark sky preserve, and families can enjoy a night of star gazing (and perhaps some northern lights!) at the DSP Party running Sept 2-3, 2016.
Hard to believe it took us so long to step into the famous Muttart Pyramids, located in the heart of the beautiful River Valley. A leader in western Canadian plant science, and home to one of Canada’s largest botanical collections, the pyramids are not only educational, but visually stunning inside and out. The gardens are housed in four glass biomes, three of which are permanent displays (tropical, arid and temperate) as well as a fourth that houses a feature display, changing up to eight times per year.
STREET PERFORMER FESTIVAL:
The Edmonton Street Fest is a curated festival, meaning the performers and buskers who come from around the world have been invited by an artistic producer. Held in July in the heart of downtown, entrance is free to the roughly 250,000 attendees, who are asked to partake in a traditional pass-the-hat as they view acts ranging from acrobatics and fire breathers, to mimes and sword swallowers. It’s good, unique, family fun.
PLAYING A MOVIE EXTRA:
Not to toot Edmonton’s horn, but our Edmonton International Film Festival been selected by the Academy Awards as an Oscar qualifying festival, so clearly we have roots and passion in the movie world. This summer, the oldest B. kiddo had the privilege of being a part of a movie being shot locally, playing a high school extra in a pep rally scene for the upcoming #ROXY. So what did she think after a 5 am wake up and 15 hours on set? “Awesome….I totally want to do it again!”
GRAFFITI COLOR RUN:
So how did we finish off summer in Edmonton? By getting colored powder in our hair, on our clothes, on our faces…and everywhere else. The Graffiti Run is a 5 km fun run, held in Capilano Park, and was an epic way to spend one of the last vacation days as a family. Portions of the proceeds were donated to The Mustard Seed, a local supportive community for those in need….win-win.
This list of fun experiences our family enjoyed doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Edmonton and area has to offer. Alberta embraces diversity in the same way our entire country does, and we are proud of it. This rich melting pot of culture and heritage allows Alberta to offer unique and varied experiences that cater to any travelers deepest desires. I’m excited to continue our journey rediscovering, playing tourist in our own city, and I’m equally excited to share our adventures and discoveries with the world.