Uncover why Edmonton, Alberta is one in all Canada’s hottest journey locations

Edmonton cityscape

Edmonton Tourism

Something exciting has happened in the western Canadian city of Edmonton in recent years. In the past, the Alberta capital believed that the city’s cultural, scenic and culinary attractions were not quite up to date, often lost to Calgary or Banff when it came to attracting tourists’ attention. Recently, however, Edmonton has been causing a stir thanks to intense revitalization efforts and one of the most iconic food scenes in Canada, and there has never been a better time to finally see this underdog take center stage. Find out why Edmonton is one of Canada’s hottest travel destinations.

To do

Royal Alberta Museum

Cooper & O’Hara

Royal Alberta Museum

The Royal Alberta Museum is the largest museum in Western Canada and has more than 75,000 square feet of galleries and more than 2 million objects that highlight the province’s fascinating natural, cultural and human heritage. Through interactive and appealing displays, visitors learn more about the various groups of people and events that have shaped the character of the province. A perfect getaway for families, kids will especially love the Bug Gallery, which pays homage to the creepy, crawling residents of Alberta. Currently, guests can enjoy the touring exhibition “Museums’ Choice: Fossil Favorites from Across Canada,” which features the best fossil finds from 11 museums across the country. Highlights include a 66 million year old Tyrannosaurus Rex skull.

Strathcona spirits

Andrea Schubert

Strathcona spirits

This tiny place has the honor of being Edmonton’s premier distillery as well as North America’s smallest distillery. The focus here is on taste rather than filtering to highlight the unique regional ingredients. The award-winning Strathcona Spirits Single Grain Vodka contains red wheat grown just 14 miles from the distillery, and the Badland Seaberry Gin (one of my personal favorite gins of all time) contains juniper from Alberta’s fabled badlands. Stop by for a tour and warm your mind with an educational tasting session.

Neon museum

Sandra macGregor

4ththe Street promenade

This elegant, recently revitalized neighborhood stretches along 104 Street and extends to 99 Avenue and is in the center of downtown the city. Lined with trendy boutiques, art galleries, artisanal coffee and chocolate shops, and some of the best restaurants in town, you can spend many pleasant hours here. Some places not to be missed are the outdoor Neon Sign Museum (the first of its kind in Canada), JACEK Chocolate Couture, and Credo Coffee.

Wee Book Inn with Fergy sitting on a book case

Sandra MacGregor

Wee Book Inn

Right on the boardwalk on Jasper Avenue is the charming Wee Book Inn, a popular, locally owned and operated bookstore soon to be celebrating its 50th anniversary. All three locations have a friendly house cat, each named after a Montreal Canadiens hockey player (you can meet the well-read Fergy – aka John Bowie “Fergy” Ferguson – at the Jasper Ave location).

100 Street funicular

Sandra MacGregor

100 Street funicular

A ten minute walk from 4th Street Promenade to the east is 100 Street Funicular. Take a free 48-second ride in the glass elevator for some superb city panoramas. The funicular runs from downtown to the banks of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. (Be warned, I found it poorly marked and therefore may be difficult to find, but it’s worth it – just look for it right next to the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald.)

Old Strathcona farmers market

Sandra MacGregor

Old Strathcona farmers market

Held every Saturday, the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market is the city’s largest year-round indoor farmers market with over 130 vendors selling local and regional produce, meat, crafts, clothing, and more. The special thing about this market is that it does not allow resale, so all items are personally made by the sellers. Make sure to explore the neighborhood and nearby Whyte Avenue. Old Strathcona is recognized as a Provincial Historic District and is home to many quirky shops and award-winning locally owned restaurants.

Alberta Art Gallery

Sandra MacGregor

Alberta Art Gallery

The Art Gallery of Alberta is one of the most prestigious art museums in Western Canada and is home to over 6,000 works. The Canadian abstract painting and sculpture collection is particularly strong, and there is also a notable collection of contemporary and historical photography. You’ll also find some pieces by Canada’s acclaimed Group of Seven, as well as works by major indigenous artists, including Jane Ash Poitras, Alex Janvier, George Littlechild, and more. On the website you will find current and upcoming exhibitions.

eat

Bündok

Cooper and O’Hara

Bündok

Located in Edmonton’s newest neighborhood, the Ice District, Bündok is one of those warm, understated restaurants that rely on their food to speak. Beautifully presented dishes highlight local fresh fare with tasty twists that demonstrate Chef Ryan Hotchkiss’ enviable skills in the kitchen. In 2018, the restaurant was included in enRoute magazine’s prestigious top 10 list of the best restaurants in the country. Be sure to try the sea bream crudo with Thai basil, citrus fruits and apple and the airy, melt-in-the-mouth Parisian style gnocchi.

pip

Cooper & O’Hara

pip

This tiny but incredibly busy place near the city’s popular Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market breathed new life into the city’s brunch scene when it opened in 2017. Classic favorites like Eggs Benedict get a welcome meaty touch with Pip’s short rib version. Give your morning a nice kick with a cold shoulder with espresso, amaro, vanilla and milk. In the evening, the menu with dishes such as seared manchego and sweet fig jam is just as inviting as meatballs. Pip is comfort food at its best.

Biera cheese bar

Detour photography

Biera

This large but cozy brewpub restaurant (owned by Blind Enthusiasm Brewing) is a popular hangout in the neighborhood, both for its incredible range of inventive craft ales and its extensive and tasty dishes to share. Chef Christine Sandford’s skillful ability to create flavors in food is only matched by her talent for presenting some of the most colorful and aesthetic dishes in town. Ordering the sunflower seed rye risotto is like dipping into a bowl of sunshine. Do yourself a favor and take a seat at the bar. The friendly, knowledgeable bar staff are happy to provide drink recommendations that will take your food to the next level.

Little bird

Dong Kim

Little bird

Those Edmontonians who list Italian food as their favorite cuisine may have Chef Daniel Costa to thank. The celebrated chef electrified the palates of the residents with this upscale eatery that eschews traditional and tired Italian cuisine in exchange for a modern interpretation of authentic Italian flavors. The ricotta and braised Swiss chard crostini with currants and roasted almonds are a wonderful bite of spicy sweetness and the grilled lamb pancetta sausage with spicy Abruzzo lentils warms you to the bone even in the coldest Edmonton winter.

Stay

JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District lobby bar

JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District

JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District

Edmonton’s newest and most luxurious hotel, the JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District is ideally located in the heart of downtown in the entertainment district. It is connected to the Rogers Place Arena and is within walking distance of major attractions such as the Royal Alberta Museum, 4th Street Promenade and the Art Gallery of Alberta. Despite its upscale ambience and decor, the modern property emphasizes warm, accessible, and fun luxury with an emphasis on entertainment and wellness. The upscale full-service spa and extensive list of pampering treatments are among the best in the province.

Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

Hubert Kang |

Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

Known as the Chateau on the River, this historic 4-star hotel overlooks the North Saskatchewan River and offers some of the most impressive views in the city. It is just steps from the 100 Street Funicular and the North Saskatchewan River Valley. Elegant, elegant rooms offer city or river views (unfortunately, Wi-Fi is only available for a fee), and the property has an indoor pool and a restaurant serving regional specialties. One of the hotel’s best perks is hands down the dog ambassador Smudge.

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