The Best Things to do in Edmonton, Canada

The 15 Best Things to do in Edmonton, Canada

With its rich history as a premier fur trading post and railway hub, Edmonton exudes a unique charm, evident in its historic buildings and preserved neighborhoods like Old Strathcona and living history museums like Fort Edmonton Park.

The city landscape is iconic, with its huge swaths of urban greenspace, soaring bridges, and running streetcar system. The vibrant Whyte Avenue is the heart of the city’s culinary scene, loaded with a diverse array of food options, from neon izakayas to modern fusion restaurants and eclectic taquerias. 

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Edmonton. Stick to these fun and unique Edmonton bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this gem in the Canadian West!

The 15 Best Things to do in Edmonton, Canada

1. Shop at West Edmonton Mall

Best Things to do in Edmonton: West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton Mall is one of the largest indoor shopping malls in the world, containing over 800 stores. It’s also a massive indoor theme park, boasting nine big attractions, over 100 eateries, and two different hotels.

The mall first opened in 1981, and until 2004, it was the world’s largest shopping mall. But even though it’s since been unseated in that category, it still holds records for the world’s largest indoor wave pool and indoor lake.

The mall houses major luxury labels like LV, Gucci, and Coach, alongside popular picks like Aritzia, Canada Goose, and Alo. Whatever you’re looking for, it’ll be here!

But you really have to see the major attractions in the mall, including Galaxyland, a 24-ride theme park, the huge World Waterpark, and two different 18-hole mini golf courses. These are all fantastic Edmonton activities for a group outing.

Other cute attractions include the swan boats in the indoor lake, the go-kart track, the bowling alley, and the aquarium. If you don’t want to choose between all of these options, you can also grab a convenient multi-park pass for unlimited access.


2. Hang Out on Whyte Avenue

Fun Things to do in Edmonton: Whyte Avenue

The vibrant Whyte Avenue is located in the historic district of Old Strathcona, making for an intoxicating blend of old and trendy. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Edmonton, Whyte Ave offers an eclectic array of dining options, entertainment, and unique shops to visit.

There’s a distinctly bohemian atmosphere imparted by the local art galleries and street vendors, along with an amazing nightlife. Here, you’ll find pubs, lounges, and cocktail bars all along the same block, so the party can just keep going! Food enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice, too, since Whyte Avenue boasts a delectable mix of international cuisines and local flavors.

For a taste of the Canadian West fused with the American South, head to MEAT, where wood-fired cooking brings out the best in Alberta’s finest cuts of meat. Their mouthwatering Southern BBQ offerings, craft beers, and laid-back vibe create a perfect setting for a hearty and satisfying meal. 

From the Pork Belly Burnt Ends to the Chicken and Waffles and Pecan Pie, you won’t go hungry here. Conclude your culinary journey at Duchess Bake Shop, a lovely patisserie that satisfies your sweet tooth with exquisite pastries, macarons, and cakes.


3. Ice Skate at Castle Downs Park

Must do things in Edmonton: Castle Downs Park

A visit to Castle Downs Park is one of the best Edmonton activities if you’re looking for an escape from the city, and there are attractions here that will delight visitors of all ages.

If you’re visiting Edmonton in the winter, you have to go to the outdoor rink here. Bring your own skates, or rent them, and have a magical time gliding across the ice!

Edmonton Bucket List: Castles Downs Park

In the summer, the spray park opens up so you can stay cool during the prairie heatwaves. The playground is accessible year-round, as is the skate park, baseball diamond, and park pavilion.

If you’re bringing a pup, there are even off-leash areas where you and your best four-legged friend can play a round of fetch. You’ll also have access to handy amenities like bathrooms, water fountains, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s so easy to pack a picnic and spend a day out at the park.

In case you want to get your ice skating on closer to downtown, head to City Hall, where you can also appreciate Edmonton’s historic architecture.


4. Take a Brewery Tour

What to do in Edmonton: Brewery Tour

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Edmonton, Edmonton Brewery Tours offers a fantastic way to explore the city, support local businesses, and have a great time, whether you’re traveling solo or with a group. You’ll be able to pick between a walking tour that will take you down Whyte Ave, a thriving foodie mecca, or a shuttle tour that will take you across Edmonton.

It won’t just be a bar crawl experience. You’ll actually go behind the scenes at each brewery and get the lowdown on everything that goes into making a fantastic pint of craft beer. You’ll learn how hops, malt, yeasts, and special ingredients translate into the finished product.

While it’s a surprise which breweries you’ll be visiting on the tour, some of the city’s most well-known include Bent Stick, Blind Enthusiasm, Brewsters, and Sea Change. You might even stop by a local distillery!

Every tour is a little bit different, depending on which breweries are open to give tours, so if you’re back in town on another occasion, you might enjoy taking another tour.


5. Admire the Gardens at Muttart Conservatory

Cool Things to do in Edmonton: Muttart Conservatory

The beautiful Muttart Conservatory is located right by the river valley, just across from Edmonton’s bustling downtown core. It’s the perfect stop to make if you’re looking for a peaceful respite.

Over 700 plant species thrive in three different biomes housed across four iconic glass pyramids. Temperate gardens feature the plants that live in bogs and woodlands, while arid plants will have you trekking through prairie and desert. The tropical pyramid is transporting – its tall palm canopies, rare orchids, and waterfall feature all come together to create one of the coolest Edmonton attractions.

Alongside the gorgeous gardens, the observatory features rotating exhibits that celebrate botany in a variety of fun ways. Past exhibits have included whimsical LEGO displays intermingling with the plants and lights to celebrate Christmas.

If you’re looking for a souvenir for the plant-lover in your life, make sure to stop by the gift shop and take a look at carefully curated plants and artisanal crafts.


6. Go on an Athabasca River Canoeing Trip

Unique Things to do in Edmonton: Athabasca River Canoeing Trip

If you’re a canoeing enthusiast, you can’t miss one of the best waterways in Canada. The Athabasca River was a historic fur trading route and remains an amazing way to experience Canada’s natural beauty.

This glacier-fed river winds through acres of untouched woodland and features sporty rapids, fishing streams, campsites, and swimming areas. It’s everything you’d want in a trip into the wilderness!

Canoe tours of the river conveniently leave right from Edmonton, and you can hire a guide through Timberwolf Tours or any number of agencies. Depending on how much time you have, you can go on a day trip or a multi-day excursion.

The Athabasca is suitable for novice paddlers, though the rapids will be demanding. If you’re an experienced excursionist, you can always set off on your own from one of the many campsites located along the river.

Sights include plenty of wild beavers, bears, and moose, serene lakes, forested mountainside, and clear waters as far as the eye can see. A trip down Athabasca River is a true Edmonton bucket list activity!


7. Attend a Show at Citadel Theatre

Fun Things to do in Edmonton: Citadel Theatre

Citadel Theatre is Edmonton’s premier performing arts venue, and it just so happens to be the third-largest regional theater in the country. They’ve been putting on shows since 1965 and continue to play a major role in the city’s vibrant culture.

Major productions take place on the theater’s main stage. This is where you’ll find your Hadestown, Shakespearian tragedies, and classic musicals. Selections also include contemporary productions featuring Indigenous playwrights and actors – all part of the theater’s vision for inclusivity in the arts. Meanwhile, the theater also organizes more casual house shows, which feature a broad array of concerts, comedy acts, and cabaret acts.

We appreciate that the theater offers special pay-what-you-can events and Saturday matinee panel talks. During your visit, you can also check out the Lee Pavilion, a beautiful tropical conservatory located right upstairs.

Getting to the theater is easy, with plenty of parking and direct LRT service. Book tickets well in advance to get the best seats.


8. Explore the Royal Alberta Museum

Edmonton Bucket List: Royal Alberta Museum

The Royal Alberta Museum is the largest institution of its kind in western Canada. After a move to a brand new building in 2018, the museum now features natural and cultural exhibitions, a children’s gallery, and an entomology hall. First opened in 1967, the museum has expanded to cover millions of years of Alberta’s history, from the age of dinosaurs to the modern day.

One of the museum’s standout artifacts is the Manitou Asinîy, or Creator’s Stone, among many other epithets it has among the Indigenous peoples. This 145-kilogram meteorite is shrouded in mystery – exactly where and when it landed on Earth is unknown, and for centuries it was a pilgrimage site.

The meteorite was later stolen from its original location and traded hands until it made its way to the museum, where it awaits a return to its first known location.

Of course, you’ll also want to explore the Natural History Hall, which charts Alberta’s landscape through the millennia, and the Human History Hall, which follows the stages of settlement the province went through. The Bug Gallery features live specimens, and if you’re traveling with little ones, the Children’s Gallery is a must-see.


9. Ride on the Edmonton Radial Railway

Must do things in Edmonton: Radial Railway

The Edmonton Radial Railway is a historic attraction that’s completely volunteer-run. It’s one of the largest heritage transit sites in the country, with eight streetcars in operation and 17 more in various states of restoration.

The Edmonton Radial Railway is dedicated to preserving the city’s streetcars and railways, as well as the restoration of forgotten streetcars. Given the complexity of a restoration and the scarcity of available parts, each restored streetcar is a model of engineering ingenuity.

The streetcars operate on a seasonal schedule, usually through spring and summer, and in a limited capacity during the fall. Stops are conveniently near other major Edmonton attractions, like the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market or Fort Edmonton Park, making it easy to hop on and off, depending on your plans for the day.

Of the two tracks, we enjoy the High Level Bridge Streetcar best. This will take you through a historic tunnel and over a bridge going right over downtown Edmonton. Up there, you’ll get a stunning view of the city.


10. Ski at the Rabbit Hill Snow Resort

What to do in Edmonton: Rabbit Hill Snow Resort

The Rabbit Hill Snow Resort is located on Edmonton’s southside. At over 40 acres, the park contains a tube park, plenty of trails, and a terrain park. Parts of the hill operate year-round, so you’ll be able to enjoy the slopes even during the height of summer.

Lockers are available on-site, and you can get your lift passes in advance. During the season, ski and snowboard lessons are available in case you want a refresher on the hill.

With six lifts and over 3 kilometers of slopes spread across 16 runs, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test your skills. Several beginners’ runs mean everyone in your group will have plenty to do regardless of skill level. For the more seasoned skiers, we’re happy to report that there are two black diamond runs on this hill and several freestyle terrain hills to choose from.

While the runs close in the summer months, tubing is available year-round. Tubing is a fun and unique way to spend a breezy summer afternoon, so we recommend checking it out if you’re in Edmonton during the off-season.


11. Explore Fort Edmonton Park

Edmonton Things to do: Fort Edmonton Park

Step back in time and explore the captivating Fort Edmonton Park, a 158-acre living history museum in the heart of the city. If you’re a history enthusiast, this is easily one of the best things to do in Edmonton!

Upon entering the park, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, where costumed interpreters and meticulously recreated buildings bring to life four different eras of Edmonton’s history.

First, you’ll have the Indigenous Peoples Experience, which showcases the traditions of the province’s first inhabitants. You’ll also be able to see a replica of the fort from 1846, during the heyday of the city’s fur trading industry. 

1885 Street, 1905 Street, and 1920 Street replicate what life was like in the town during that year, complete with horse-drawn carriages, streetcars, and even early automobiles. A steam train will take you right to the fort, and from there, you can commence your historical explorations in whatever fashion you so choose.

One of the highlights of the experience is an opportunity to enjoy a delectable meal at the vintage Hotel Selkirk. Indulge in Edmonton’s refined Metropolitan era and marvel at the beginning of the city’s modernization.


12. Watch a Horse Show at Amberlea Meadows

Best Things to do in Edmonton: Amberlea Meadows

If you’re looking for fun Edmonton activities, why not enjoy a trip to the races at Amberlea Meadows? These beautiful grounds are located just south of Edmonton, and events are held from January through September every year.

A trip to Amberlea Meadows is perfect if you’re looking for unique things to do in Edmonton. This equestrian center features an indoor heated arena with seating and concessions, alongside a grand prix arena with elevated seats.

The biggest events are the classic shows, which tend to be multi-day affairs featuring multiple competitions. Dressage shows are demonstrations of how well a horse can follow commands, while the jumping and hunting events tend to be the most athletic and exciting. Amberlea Meadows also hosts charity shows throughout the year, so keep an eye on their event schedule if you’re planning a trip to Edmonton.

If you’re also interested in more casual horsing events, you might check out the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association, which occasionally hosts outdoor rides for the public. These events are perfect for if you’re traveling with younger riders who want to interact with horses!


13. Attend an Improv Show at Rapid Fire Theatre

If you enjoy a good show, then a night at the Rapid Fire Theatre is definitely one to add to your Edmonton bucket list. The spontaneity and wit displayed on the stage are sure to make for a memorable experience.

The cozy and intimate theater setting helps you feel like part of the action as the performers on stage riff off of audience suggestions, turning them into one-of-a-kind scenes and sketches. It’s an unpredictable experience fully tailored to the evening’s crowd. 

The theater has been around since the ‘80s, and the dedication is clear. The group stages over 300 shows every year, with multiple events every week.

Aside from casual weekly shows, you’ll want to keep an eye out on the annual Improvaganza, an international festival, and BONFIRE, a long-form festival for improv performers. Improv jams are also on the schedule if you’re feeling brave! If you’re in Edmonton for a special event, the theater also caters to private events, including parties and gatherings.


14. Hike around Elk Island National Park

Best Things to do in Edmonton: Elk Island National Park

When it comes to outdoorsy things to do in Edmonton, you can always escape into the serene wilderness of Elk Island National Park, a natural oasis just 35 minutes east of Edmonton.

Within its vast 194 square kilometers, Elk Island offers a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. From scenic hiking trails to picturesque picnicking spots, the park caters to all levels of adventurers. 

Cool Things to do in Edmonton: Elk Island National Park

As you explore the tranquil landscapes, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of sparkling Astotin Lake and lush aspen forests, creating the perfect backdrop for unforgettable nature photography. One of the area’s landmarks is the replica pioneer cabin built and dedicated to the area’s early Ukrainian Canadian pioneer community.

The true allure of Elk Island lies in its wildlife encounters. The park is home to a rich diversity of animals, including the iconic bison, which roam freely in their natural habitat. 

You might also hear the howl of a coyote, see a scampering mule deer, or spot stalking lynx. The chance to witness these magnificent creatures up close is sure to be a highlight of your visit.


15. Visit the Art Gallery of Alberta

Unique Things to do in Edmonton: Art Gallery of Alberta

Step into a world of artistic wonder at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA), an iconic cultural institution nestled in the heart of Edmonton, sprawling over 86,000 square feet.

The AGA’s roots trace back to 1924, when it was established as the Edmonton Museum of Arts. Over the decades, the institution evolved and expanded, culminating in the construction of its striking new building in 2010, sporting its current name.

Fun Things to do in Edmonton: Art Gallery of Alberta

The contemporary architecture itself is a work of art, with its unique design inspired by the northern Alberta landscape and featuring a soaring stainless steel ribbon facade. The collection within spans over 6,000 works of art, with a focus on western Canada.

The AGA’s permanent collection showcases a diverse range of Canadian and international artwork, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and installations. You’ll find classic pieces by Jack Bush, Emily Carr, and the Group of Seven alongside modern artists, including Takao Tanabe, Janet Cardiff, and Dean Drever.

When it comes to rotating exhibitions, you might find pop art legends like Warhol and Banksy popping up or special features on Van Gogh, along with contemporary installations featuring digital technology and interactive elements.

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Edmonton, Canada. What’s your favorite thing to do in Edmonton?


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Author

  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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