Discover the “Gateway to the North” with these fun things to do in Edmonton, Alberta. From great restaurants to incredible culture, you’ll find it all in Edmonton
Whether you love nature, history, culture, or great food and drink, Edmonton, Alberta is a vibrant and exciting city that’s easy to fall in love with.
As the capital of the province of Alberta, Edmonton offers a little something for everyone. There are incredible museums, exciting festivals, innovative breweries, and world-class restaurants. And all of this is nestled with a stunning river valley just a short drive from the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Dubbed “The Gateway to the North,” Edmonton is the northernmost capital city of all of Canada’s provinces. The city saddles the banks of the North Saskatchewan River (not to be confused with the South Saskatchewan River where the city of Saskatoon is situated). The city sees bitterly cold winters and long, comfortable summers, and its access to the wilds of Alberta’s north makes this city a dream destination for outdoor lovers.
Along with being the capital of Alberta, Edmonton is the province’s economic, cultural and political hub. The city rose to prominence as an important centre in Canada’s fur trade and now acts as an economic engine for the oil and gas, manufacturing, and technology industries.
The city holds some of Alberta’s most important institutions including the University of Alberta, and the Royal Alberta Museum, and is home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Edmonton is also known for its artistic culture, diverse arts scene and world-class festivals.
Fun Things To Do In Edmonton
If you’re looking for what to do in Edmonton, Alberta, you won’t have to look far. This exciting and vibrant city is packed with attractions that will thrill anyone. From the breadth of the Edmonton craft beer scene to the unbelievable urban and natural experiences, these exciting Edmonton attractions are sure to delight.
Explore The North Saskatchewan River Valley
Edmonton is packed with stunning natural scenery, but there are few better places to get outdoors than the North Saskatchewan River Valley park system. Covering over 7,000 hectares (22 times larger than New York City’s Central Park), this outdoor playground combines to form the largest urban park in all of Canada.
The North Saskatchewan River Valley stretches the length of river banks within the city. It combines 11 lakes, 22 ravines and a host of Edmonton attractions that we’ll touch on further in this article. These include the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Fort Edmonton Park, and the 100 St. Funicular.
The park is a four-season playground with winter skating, skiing, and birdwatching paired with summer activities such as a golf course, hiking trails, and beaches.
Shop Till You Drop at Canada’s Largest Mall
You’ll want to wear your most comfortable mall walkers for this Edmonton attraction.
West Edmonton Mall isn’t just the largest mall in Canada, it’s the largest mall in North America. In fact, it’s currently ranked as the sixth-largest mall in the world!
This Edmonton icon could be a multi-day destination on its own. The mall features more than 800 stores, North America’s largest indoor amusement park, an indoor waterpark, a full-sized skating rink, two mini-golf courses, a great collection of bars and restaurants, and the FantasyLand hotel, one of Edmonton’s premier themed accommodations.
The mall covers a massive 48 city blocks and is constantly adding new experiences. The new “Drive” multi-level go-karting experience is a hit for thrill-seekers
Taste Your Way Through The Edmonton Craft Beer Scene
Edmonton hasn’t kept up with the pace of its sister city, Calgary, when it comes to craft beer. But the craft beer scene in Edmonton is still worth exploring. There are some absolutely brilliant brewmasters in the city creating some unforgettable hoppy delights.
The city may not have the variety of its southern sibling, but Edmonton beer is definitely not lacking in quality.
The city’s brewing history dates back to the early 1900s when Alberta Brewing Co. first opened its doors. Now there are more than 17 local craft breweries and more are opening each year. Each one is worth a visit, but these are some of our favourites.
Omen Brewing is a family-owned brewery on 67 ave. With a DIY focus, the folks at Omen have created a range of full-flavoured darker beers that feature rich flavours and complex aromas. Every beer is a winner, and it’s obvious that a lot of time went into selecting each style.
Located in a former 1930s substation is Irrational Brewing Company. Staying true to its name, Irrational Brewing pours a wild range of unique and often unconventional beers that often include hard-to-find exotic ingredients. The brewery itself is a social hub with a relaxing and high-end vibe. If you love unique beers, this one is for you.
One of the newest kids on the block, Sea Change Brewing has quickly rocketed to the top of the Edmonton craft beer scene. The colourful atmosphere and socially conscious messaging have made this brewery a popular stop and their collection of conventional beers and unique fruity brews keeps people coming back for more.
Stop and Smell the Roses at the Muttart Conservatory
One of the best things to do in Edmonton is to visit the Muttart Conservatory. The four glass pyramids dotting a massive man-made pond make it one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
This stunning botanical garden features three greenhouses and a vast public garden. The gardens feature zones from different biomes including Australia, Asia, and Canada. The Muttart Conservatory was designed by renowned British architect Peter Hemingway and the gardens opened to the public in 1976.
Feed Your Curiosity at the Royal Alberta Museum
There is no better place to explore the rich history, culture, and wonder of the province of Alberta than at the Royal Alberta Museum. This engaging and exciting attraction features a wealth of exhibits that cover everything from natural history to the stories of Indigenous Peoples in Alberta.
Among the most exciting displays include dinosaurs, a children’s gallery, and the Manitou Asinîy, a meteorite held sacred by local Indigenous communities that is believed to hold great power.
It’s not just the exhibits that make the Royal Alberta Museum one of the best places to visit in Edmonton. The architecture of the museum alone makes this attraction worth a visit. Australian architect Raymond O. Harrison took queues from legendary Canadian-American designer Frank Gehry when creating the plans.
Don’t miss the Royal Alberta Museum dinosaur exhibit which features a number of great finds from Alberta’s own badlands in Drumheller near the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Get Wild at the Edmonton Valley Zoo
Tucked away in Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park is an incredible collection of more than 350 animals such as zebra, fox, bighorn sheep, Asian elephants, and sea lions. The animals at the Edmonton Valley Zoo are located in eight unique biomes.
Along with the wildlife attractions, the Edmonton zoo features a number of special exhibits such as Zoominescence, a seasonal winter light show where visitors can enjoy skating, hot chocolate, and music.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo is a year-round attraction in the city and offers countless options for a fun day out.
Catch The Action at an Edmonton Oilers Hockey Game
Sports flow through the blood of Edmontonians. So if you want to feel like a local, check out one of the local sports teams. There are loads to choose from.
Edmonton is home to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, the Edmonton Stingers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League, and FC Edmonton of the Canadian Premier League. But when it comes to sports in Edmonton, no team holds a candle to the Edmonton Oilers.
The team that brought stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Ryan Smythe, and Mark Messier to the world stage plays out of the iconic Rogers Place on 103 st. The team was founded in 1971 and was one of North America’s first twelve professional hockey teams, joining the WHA in 1972.
Take a Step Back in Time at Fort Edmonton Park
A visit to Fort Edmonton Park is one of the top things to do for history fans. This sprawling urban park features four sections representing the development of the city between the fur trade in 1846 and its metropolitan development in the 1920s.
Summers are the hot time at Fort Edmonton Park when actors in historical garb stroll through the park re-enacting real-world experiences from Edmonton’s past. You can interact with the characters and wander through authentic buildings, shops, and services from each era.
To access the park, visitors can hop aboard a steam train that takes them on a tour of the grounds and drops them off right inside the attraction. Inside, you can stroll down the streets, each representing a different section of Edmonton’s growth including 1846 street, 1885 street, 1905 street, and 1920 street.
Fort Edmonton Park is also home to the Firkin House, considered to be among the most haunted places in Canada. Check it out if you dare!
Eat Your Way Through The Edmonton Food Scene
If you’re looking at where to eat in Edmonton, you will be in for a treat. The culinary scene in Edmonton features a range of delightful cuisines to suit any taste. And throughout the city, you’ll find some of the best restaurants in the province.
Located in a heritage building at the corner of 104 St and 102 Ave, DOSC is taking Edmonton’s passion for high-end beef and adding a chic, modern twist.
The social, coffee-house atmosphere of DOSC makes for a relaxing, authentic atmosphere where sipping a quality whiskey makes the perfect aperitif for an AAA+ Northern Gold Angus Tomahawk. DOSC, which is an abbreviation of Drunken Ox, Sober Cat in the Morning, aims to be a full day and night experience and even takes on a club-like vibe at night.
If you’re looking for some cuisine with a creative flair, look no further than Biera. Not only is Biera home to its own microbrewery (Blind Enthusiasm Brewing), but they’ve balanced its craft beer with an eclectic menu as well.
Pay special attention to their cheese plates which pair up delightfully with both their beers and their samplers.
If you’re looking for a fantastic farm-to-table menu, RGE RD is worth looking into. The restaurant’s tagline of “eat off the beaten path” leads diners on a journey through Canada from coast to coast. You’ll find a menu inspired by the fields, forests, peaks, and seas of Canada’s landscape.
The menu at RGE RD is on a constant turnstile, crafting food around locally-sourced seasonal ingredients and “nose-to-tail” butchery. The dishes are served in a bright and modern setting that lets you enjoy every thoughtfully crafted plate.
Now It’s Time to Experience These Things To Do In Edmonton, Alberta For Yourself
There are more things to do in Edmonton, Alberta, than meets the eye. From riverside parks and fabulous breweries to incredible museums and sports teams, you can find something for everyone in this beautiful region of Alberta.
Many of these businesses and restaurants are anxious for visitors after a tough year. So let’s support local and make the most of your Edmonton adventure.
Do you have a favourite attraction or restaurant in Canada? Head over to the We Explore Canada Facebook Community and join the conversation! You’ll find an amazing group of people passionate about travel in Canada who love to share their local secrets.
Kevin Wagar is a founder and editor of We Explore Canada. He has been working in the travel media industry since 2015 when he founded his family travel website Wandering Wagars – Adventure Family Travel.
Over the years Kevin has developed a deep love for his home country and aims to showcase the incredible experiences and amazing small businesses found within it.