Living on the Prairies may seem a little limiting when it comes to looking for an exciting weekend road trip excursion, but there are actually quite a few action-packed cities to explore. And since moving to Saskatoon, one of our family’s favourite weekend destinations is Edmonton.
The city is bustling with exciting things to do and see, so finding the best of the best can be a challenge. That’s why I’ve put together a weekend itinerary that will let you see the most appealing attractions that Edmonton has to offer.
Check into your Edmonton Hotel
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
Looking for a hotel that boasts exquisite luxury in the heart of the city? Look no further than the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald! This downtown hotel is the only four-diamond luxury hotel in Edmonton and features a fitness centre with massage treatment rooms, public gardens, the acclaimed Harvest Room restaurant and even an adorable dog ambassador named Smudge. It’s within walking distance to the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Winspear Centre and many other top Edmonton attractions.[button text="Check availability »" href="https://www.trivago.ca/edmonton-44246/hotel/fairmont-hotel-macdonald-43776"]
Best Western Plus City Centre Inn
Want a more budget-friendly Edmonton hotel? The Best Western Plus City Centre Inn has great rates and even offers free parking! Grab a morning brew at the on-site Tim Hortons and enjoy rooms that feature refrigerators, microwaves and coffee machines. After exploring the city, enjoy some downtime in the indoor saltwater pool complete with a waterslide for the kids! The hotel is just eight minutes from the new Rogers Place Arena, home of the Edmonton Oilers.[button text="Check availability »" href="https://www.trivago.ca/edmonton-44246/hotel/best-western-plus-city-centre-inn-43698"]
Chow Down[caption id="attachment_52351" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by Raj Taneja CC-BY[/caption]
Once you’re in your room and your bags are stowed, it’s time to enjoy some of the finest cuisine Edmonton has to offer…and there’s plenty to choose from. For breakfast, hit up De Dutch for a taste of classic Dutch cooking in the heart of the prairies. Specializing in Pannekoeken, a thin Dutch pancake that is customized with a variety of fillings and toppings, it’s a uniquely delicious spot to fuel up for your day. De Dutch also offers tempting traditional breakfast and lunch choices for finicky eaters.[caption id="attachment_52356" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by Elsie Hui CC-BY[/caption]
In the mood for an early lunch instead? Try Tres Carnales Taqueria. Serving up authentic Mexican street food in downtown Edmonton, it’s a must-try for any food lover. The Carne Asada made with Alberta flank steak is sure to please any beef lover, or check out the daily special for a great deal on authentic tortillas, tacos and quesadillas. Everything is freshly made and affordably priced for a meal that any fan of Mexican food will adore.
Get Exploring[caption id="attachment_52353" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by IQRemix CC-BY[/caption]
Edmonton has no shortage of great things to do as a family, so it’s easy to tailor your activities to suit your crew. If you have younger children or animal lovers in your group, the Edmonton Valley Zoo is sure to be a popular destination. It’s home to more than 350 animals and has a strong focus on conservation. Kids will love seeing their favourite animals up close while learning about their lives and habitats.[caption id="attachment_52354" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by IQRemix CC-BY[/caption]
For art-loving families, the Art Gallery of Alberta is a must-visit. The building houses over 6,000 stunning pieces of art as well as various hands-on exhibits that budding artists will especially appreciate. Right now, check out the Atelier creation space that lets artists use both physical and digital materials to create simple animations, build sets and record their own personal stories.[caption id="attachment_52359" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by IQRemix CC-BY[/caption]
If your family is the adventurous type, try something new while learning about prairie ecosystems on a River Valley Adventure Segway Tour. After a brief training session, your guide will take you on a tour of the River Valley that lets you learn more about this beautiful area. After the education, you’ll even get the chance to rev your Segway up to top speed! Best of all, the company even has special winter Segways, making this activity available year-round.
Hit Up The Mall
The West Edmonton Mall, that is! No trip to Edmonton would be complete without stopping by the largest mall in North America. Shoppers will love being able to explore more than 800 stores all under the same roof, but that’s really only the start of the fun the mall has to offer.[caption id="attachment_52355" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by IQRemix CC-BY[/caption]
If you have kids, plan to spend at least a day at the mall and check out package deals that will let you enjoy rides at the Galaxyland indoor amusement park or waterslides and the world’s largest indoor wave pool at the World Waterpark. There are also tons of other great activities including mini golf, an indoor ice skating rink, and sea lion shows.
For an extra special treat, book your family a night at the Fantasyland Hotel. This iconic hotel features 120 theme rooms including Igloo, Roman, Sports and Hollywood themes, among others. It’s located right inside the West Edmonton Mall for unbeatable convenience and is a great way to give your family vacation the feel of a more exotic getaway.
[button text="Check availability »" href="https://www.trivago.ca/?iGeoDistanceItem=44662"]
Find a Festival
Edmonton is known as the Festival City for a reason. In the course of a year, the metropolis hosts dozens of happening festivals ranging from the deliciously appealing Taste of Edmonton festival to the acclaimed Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. As a foodie, the Taste of Edmonton is always a personal top choice, and its all-ages atmosphere is perfect for family getaways.[caption id="attachment_52357" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Photo by IQRemix CC-BY[/caption]
If you’re making a winter trip, however, then don’t miss out on the chance to check out one of the many Festival of Trees or Festival of Lights celebrations taking place in the city. The holiday lights and displays are sure to inspire and delight children of all ages and add an extra touch of magic to your holiday season.
Enjoy City Nightlife
Just because the sun’s gone down doesn’t mean that there is any shortage of things to do in Edmonton. First, check out a variety of delicious dining choices for your family ranging from the upscale Canadian fare of the Hardware Grill to the thrilling experience of a custom-made pizza at Blaze Pizza. Then, if your kids are old enough to entertain themselves for the evening, get ready for a night on the town! (Psst.. the Fairmont Macdonald’s concierge is happy to arrange a babysitter otherwise.)
For music lovers, there’s no better place to spend the night than Al’s House of Blues. Featuring top blues bands, great drinks and reasonable cover charges, it’s a favourite with locals and visitors alike for good reason. Make sure to save room after dinner for some delicious late-night munchies too!
Prefer comedy to music? Choose from shows at Rick Bronson’s The Comic Strip or Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club and get ready to laugh the night away. The Comic Strip shows are open to ages 16 and older and are conveniently located in the West Edmonton Mall. Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club is for adult audiences only. Both are a great choice for fans of stand-up comedy, so check out the week’s headliners and grab your tickets!
Being just a few hours away from Edmonton means that it’s a place we tend to visit again and again throughout the year. That’s a good thing, since there are way too many fun-filled attractions to fit into just one weekend.
But when you are visiting for just a weekend, you ought to sample the culture, entertainment, incredible food and, of course, some of the best shopping you’ll find in North America. Whether you’re on a couple’s getaway or a family road trip, you’re sure to have a great time in this vibrant Prairie city.