Stay in an ice hotel, attend a winter festival and wander through an ice castle.
Make your hub the cozy Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, a downtown icon overlooking the scenic North Saskatchewan River. Fuel up with breakfast at nearby Credo Coffee, then cross the street to The Artworks for high-end giftware such as bar tools and coffee table books. On Saturdays, head to City Hall—stopping to take a selfie in front of the interactive art installation, Happy Wall—to shop at City Market; it’s one of Edmonton’s most popular, with more than 100 vendors selling everything from locally roasted coffee beans to pet products. Continue your art-filled day at the neighbouring Art Gallery of Alberta to check out its collection of contemporary works. Dine on decadent pasta at Italian hotspot Uccellino, and spend the evening at Citadel Theatre watching a production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (November) or A Christmas Carol (December).
Spend your day in hip Old Strathcona, starting at The Next Act or MEAT, casual sister restaurants where locals gather for hearty Sunday brunch. One block away is Whyte Avenue, one of Edmonton’s main shopping destinations. Stroll the 10-block stretch and browse local boutiques: stop into Vivid Print for colourful cards, prints and giftware; Foosh for the newest must-have sneakers; and, WORKHALL for simple, locally designed women’s wear. For the city’s best vintage finds, check out the Old Strathcona Antique Mall for everything from vinyl and books to clothing and jewelry. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, refuel at lively Dorinku for Japanese fare—the savoury, spice-covered Shaka Shaka fries are a must—and night owls will want to head to The Holy Roller to sip cocktails in its eclectic space.
[This story appears in the November 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine].