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Edmonton, the bustling capital of Alberta, offers a wide range of attractions to vacationers and locals alike. From the cosmopolitan world of West Edmonton Mall to the natural beauty of the North Saskatchewan River Valley, Edmonton has something for everyone.
No trip to Edmonton is complete without a trip to West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping complex in North America. In addition to world-class shopping and restaurants, the Mall contains movie theaters, a skating rink, a miniature golf course and Galaxy World, an indoor amusement park.
The Mall, or WEM as locals call it, also includes the World Waterpark, the second largest indoor water park in the world. The World Waterpark includes a wave pool, inflatable raft ride, multiple slides (including the 83-foot-high Cyclone and Twister), and a bungee jump. On a cold winter’s day the Waterpark is a real draw, whether you’ve been shoveling snow off your driveway or are taking a vacation from a your work at the holistic drug rehabilitation center.
People associate the Old West with the United States, but Edmonton was once a frontier town too. Fort Edmonton recreates the city’s beginnings as a fur trading fort run by the Hudson Bay Company. The fort includes historical recreations, a steam-driven train and opportunities to explore life from the 1840s to the 1920s.
Speaking of the city’s past, K-days are a ten-day festival and exhibition. Once called Klondike Days, the festival once had a gold rush feel. Today, K-days center around an extensive midway and exhibition at Northlands Coliseum.
K-days run alongside a Taste of Edmonton, where the city’s best restaurants present samples of their best creations in Winston Churchill Square, next to the City Hall. Tickets are cheap, and offer an opportunity to eat gourmet food in a fair-like atmosphere.
A stroll down Whyte Avenue is a window shopper’s dream, with niche shops, bookstores and cozy cafes. Catch a movie at the historic Princess Theatre or explore the weekly farmers’ market with its fresh food and artwork.
If you’re on Whyte Avenue in August, be sure to catch a show at the International Fringe Theater Festival. Performances are often edgy, imaginative and push the boundaries of theater to new levels.
One of Edmonton’s most scenic attractions is the river valley, a stretch of uninterrupted park and woodland running through the city on both sides of the North Saskatchewan River. Formally known as the North Saskatchewan River Valley Parks System, the river valley includes 20 major parks and is the largest urban parkland in North America.
The valley covers 18,000 acres, and offers golf courses, cross-country skiing and hiking trails, bike paths and skating facilities. The valley includes Fort Edmonton Park, the Edmonton Valley Zoo, the Muttart Conservatory and the John Janzen Nature Center. The Muttart Conservatory is a particularly well-known Edmonton landmark, made of four connected pyramid-shaped conservatories offering plants from across the world.
The John Janzen Nature Center provides information on the many animals that make the river valley their home. Nature lovers may spot rabbits, beavers and skunks, as well as larger wildlife. Deer, porcupines and even bears inhabit the valley. In addition to tours and demonstrations, the Nature Center includes the Tegler Discovery Zone, where kids can experience life in recreations of local wildlife habitats.