Alberta’s capital exudes a laid-back confidence thanks in part to its business and cultural communities that have transformed the city into a must-visit destination. Whether you find yourself in the Arts District or historic Oliver, the city’s neighbourhoods are full of charm.
Where to Stay
If you’re a foodie: Union Bank Inn
Be close to the action at the Union Bank Inn. This boutique hotel inside a former bank features newly renovated guest rooms and the on-site Madison Grill. Hotel guests are a quick stroll from the restaurants and specialty food shops of the 4th Street Promenade, including Jacek Chocolate Couture and Credo Coffee.
If you’re a culture-lover: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
Few buildings in the city are as iconic as the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, which has overlooked the North Saskatchewan River since 1915. Built in a Chateau style and faced with Indiana limestone, “The Mac” is a 10-minute walk to the Arts District, and features two on-site restaurants and a lush public garden.
If you’re on a budget: Crash Hotel
Located downtown besides Rogers Place arena, Crash Hotel is a unique experience in the city. The themed rooms offer a variety of accommodations and various price points, including standard rooms, hostel-style options and the Party Bunk Room, where you can share a classic bunk bed with a buddy.
If you’re with your family: Matrix Hotel
The Matrix Hotel’s comfortable rooms mean there is plenty of space for the family— plus, there’s loads of shopping, restaurants and attractions within walking distance. Free breakfast and nightly wine tastings will keep parents happy, while the complimentary Wi-Fi and bike rentals are sure to keep the kids entertained.
What to Do
If you’re a foodie: Visit a distillery
Edmonton’s distilling scene is on fire right now. Local favourites such as Strathcona Spirits and the Hansen Distillery offer tours and tastings. Rig Hand Distillery—located in Nisku, a hamlet between Edmonton and Leduc—is worth the trip to sample a cocktail made with its many flavoured vodkas, like sour cherry.
If you’re a culture-lover: Check out the Royal Alberta Museum
Visit the newly opened Royal Alberta Museum. Located in the city’s Arts District, Western Canada’s largest museum—there are 5,300 objects on display and 2.4 million in the collection—tells the story of Alberta. There is a gallery dedicated to human history, another to nature, plus the Bug Gallery and play area.
If you’re on a budget: Explore the city’s multi-use trails
Spend your visit enjoying the warmer weather and soaking up the sun. Rent a bike or stroll along the city’s 160 kilometres of multi-use trails, or pack a picnic and enjoy the river valley’s Hawrelak Park. If the weather isn’t co-operating, a guided tour of the beautiful Alberta Legislature Building is totally free.
If you’re with your family: Go to the West Edmonton Mall or Elk Island National Park
Hang out at the West Edmonton Mall’s World Waterpark, visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo and explore the Telus World of Science. Or, head to Elk Island National Park. In roughly 30 minutes, you’re at this natural wonder: a dark-sky preserve where the bison roam, and hiking, canoeing and camping abound.
What to Eat
If you’re a foodie: Clementine and Bündok
Sip cocktails at Clementine—this bar’s Art-Nouveau interior emits a trendy vibe, with knowledgeable servers who will walk you through an impressive cocktail list. For dinner, award-winning Bündok is a can’t-miss. The small-plates change seasonally, but if the roasted cauliflower is on the menu, you must try it.
If you’re a culture-lover: Partake
For French food, head to Partake, a cozy bistro tucked between two of Edmonton’s most historic neighbourhoods, Glenora and Oliver. Opt for classics such as escargot and French onion soup, and do not miss the pissaladière—a savoury onion tart topped with olives, anchovies, caramelized onions and pesto.
If you’re on a budget: Commodore Diner or Kanto
There’s no shortage of budget bites around Edmonton. Commodore Diner is an institution—it’s been around for more than 75 years—and a full breakfast costs less than $10. Or, opt for Filipino street food at Kanto. This spot serves barbecue, Bao and bowls; portions are generous and run about $15 a dish.
If you’re with your family: LovePizza or The Nook Cafe
Picky eaters can create their own pie at LovePizza, and everyone will be into the tasty tater tots with dipping sauce. Need a coffee break? The Nook Cafe caters to families with a selection of kid-friendly food and drinks—there’s even a little corner with books and toys where they can hangout.
[This story appears in the May 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine.]