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Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, Canada. Its metro area is home to 1.1 million people and is the northernmost city in North America of at least one million people. Edmonton is famous for its beautiful river valley park system, the North Saskatchewan River Valley, which offers over 100 kilometers of recreational trails, wildlife viewing, and city views. The river valley also contains many parks, including Fort Edmonton Park, Canada's largest historical park. If the great outdoors is not your target, the city also offers West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. On top of that, Edmonton has a vibrant theater community, a busy cycle of annual festivals, national sports teams active year-round, and wonderful winter recreational opportunities. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Edmonton
A young city, Edmonton's historic structures are still relatively new. The City of Edmonton's Municipal Historic Resources are buildings or structures that have been designated by bylaw as buildings or structures legally protected from demolition and from inappropriate changes and alterations.. For further reading about Edmonton's architecture from 1940-1969, Capital Modern is a book available from the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Here are some of the most popular attractions:
- Alberta Legislature - This beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture dates back to 1911, built following Edmonton's selection as the provincial capital. Free tours are available. There are wading pools to cool off in during the summer and skating rinks beside walkways light up with tons of Christmas lights during the Christmas season. See Central. Its grounds are a beautiful area to relax in any time of the year, and are patrolled at night for visitor security.
- Art Gallery of Alberta (formerly the Edmonton Art Gallery) - This modern facility explores all forms of art. The gallery has a unique selection of Canadian and international pieces and regularly brings in traveling exhibitions. See Central.
- Muttart Conservatory - These four glass pyramids rising out of the river valley are a unique Edmonton landmark. Inside, they house three distinct climate zones and a fourth seasonal display, packed with several hundred plant varieties. See South Central.
- TELUS World of Science - Edmonton's largest science museum has a unique architectural design and houses many science exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theatre. See West End.
- Royal Alberta Museum presents Alberta's history through paintings, statues, and more. Exhibits include the Syncrude Gallery of Aboriginal Culture, Wild Alberta, and the Natural History Gallery. See West End.
- West Edmonton Mall is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in North America, with copious opportunities for shopping, a built-in hotel, restaurants and food courts, an amusement park, an artificial beach and indoor wave pool, casino, movie theatres, indoor lake and Santa Maria ship replica, and lots of visitors to share it with. See West End.
- Fort Edmonton Park is living history at its best! Join the costumed historical interpreters at Fort Edmonton Park - Canada's largest living history museum - and try your hand at living life as an early pioneer. You'll experience life as it was at the 1846 fort and on the streets of 1885, 1905 and 1920. See South
- Aurora Borealis. The northern lights are harder to see in Edmonton than in Northern Canada and eastern cities of Canada. However if you travel outside the downtown area the lights can slightly be seen from December to late February.
- Elk Island National Park of Canada. With the exception of the Serengeti Plains of Africa, tiny Elk Island National Park, located less than 20 minutes east of Edmonton on the Yellowhead Highway, has higher densities of hoofed mammals per square kilometer than any other wild area in the world. Visitors can see over 40 species of mammals including plains and wood bison, elk and moose; and over 250 species of birds. Located less than an hour away from Edmonton, Elk Island National Park of Canada protects the wilderness of the aspen parkland, one of the most endangered habitats in Canada. Open year-round, park visitors can enjoy hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, golfing, camping, and more.
- Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. The award-winning Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is located 25 minutes east of Edmonton along Highway 16, or 3 km east of the Elk Island National Park entrance. This provincial historic site showcases Ukrainian settlement in East Central Alberta. There are over 30 historic buildings including three churches, a fully-functioning grain elevator, blacksmith shop, and sod hut, all enlivened by costumed interpreters. Weekends are busier however the crowds can be worth it with more interpreters on hand and often more things are going on to see.
North Saskatchewan River Valley
One of Edmonton’s greatest attractions, the North Saskatchewan River Valley park system provides a natural corridor for all-season recreation and relaxation. The river valley is the longest expanse of urban parkland in North America at 7,400 hectares – 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park – with golf courses, 22 major parks and over 160 kilometres of maintained multi-use trails for walking, cross-country skiing, cycling, and more. Several attractions are located along the river valley including Fort Edmonton Park, the Valley Zoo, and the Muttart Conservatory.
One of the most popular river valley parks is Hawrelak Park, located just west of Groat Road near the University of Alberta. It encircles a large pond, summer home to a variety of ducks and geese. It's the site of several Edmonton festivals, including Shakespeare in the Park and Symphony Under the Sky. In winter it is a popular venue for outdoor ice skating and cross-country skiing.
The area around Edmonton, which sits in the geographic centre of the province, was home to native populations for thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers. In 1795, Edmonton House was constructed and work on Fort Edmonton began. The original site was near Fort Saskatchewan, but was relocated near the present day Legislature in 1830.
The town developed around the fur trade, and in the early days there was little to distinguish it from other such settlements in the area. The first hotel and hospital were built in the 1870s. The latter part of the century saw an influx of wealthy families, and in 1892 the Town of Edmonton was officially founded.
Early developments were centered around the Quarters area. In 1905, Edmonton was declared the capital of the province of Alberta, and a year later was designated a city. The 1907-1914 period saw the city experience an unprecedented boom, with the population rising from around 6,000 to 78,000. During this period, the University of Alberta was founded
In 1947 oil was discovered just outside of Edmonton in Leduc county, which spurred a second period of growth, leading to urban sprawl and the development of US-style malls. The Royal Alberta Museum opened in 1967.
The utilitarian office buildings and condos that dominate the downtown landscape today were mostly constructed in the 1970s.
Today, Edmonton is the hub for energy development & petrochemicals for Alberta. As well, it has become a centre of excellence in research through the University of Alberta and the high technology industries located in the region like the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
If you want to spend time outdoors, the summer months offer the most opportunities for recreation and entertainment. In the summer, Edmonton offers great outdoor festivals, street entertainment, open-air concerts, and many other world-class entertainment opportunities. Winter is equally exciting, with snow sports for the outdoorsy, extensive indoors shopping in the many malls, and live sports, theater, and music throughout the city.
Edmonton's climate is "northern continental", with a wide range of weather over all four distinct seasons. Edmonton receives 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, making it one of Canada's sunniest cities. Rainfall is low to moderate, and entire weeks can pass without clouds or precipitation through the late spring and summer.
Bright green foliage appears in May, signaling spring. Even as the city shakes off its winter chill, cold snaps and the occasional snowfall can still occur. The region's golf courses are generally open by this time.
Summer days generally bring temperatures up to 21-25°C (70-77°F) in June, July, and August, though temperatures will often rise over 30°C (85°F) for a few days. Thunderstorms sweep in from time to time during the summer months, usually in the evening. Humidity is relatively low, so warm days are more comfortable than they are in humid climates. At the height of summer, Edmonton enjoys more than 17 hours of daylight, with twilight extending past 11PM in June and July.
Fall starts in mid September, bringing bright yellow and orange foliage to Edmonton's treed neighborhoods and river valley parks. This season ushers in cooler temperatures ranging between 10-20°C during the day.
Winters are long, but not as harsh as those further east on the Canadian Prairies. Periods of mild temperatures with daytime highs over 0°C (32°F) can occur. Such mild weather makes outdoor winter sports extremely popular with the locals. Stop by a local outdoor ice rink to catch the fever of children and adults alike taking part in community hockey. Colder days in Edmonton are kept reasonably comfortable by the low humidity index, but it's wise to have some lip balm and hand cream with you, as the skin and lips can get cracked and chapped quickly in this dry environment.
Winter walking and driving are not often affected. Cold snaps with temperatures down to and beyond -30°C (-22F) can occur during the winter, although it's unusual for these frigid spells to last more than 1 or 2 days. Extremely cold temperatures are usually accompanied by the crisp blue skies and bright sunshine of a prairie high-pressure zone. Even regular winter temperatures can feel very cold if there is a noticeable wind: if you are visiting between December and March, be prepared.
Edmonton's summer brings many festivals, and with Canada's most impressive mountain parks 3.5-hr drive away, Edmonton is fun year-round. You can expect to find some kind of festival any weekend during the summer months and they are usually located in the central region either around Whyte Ave or downtown at the Legislature grounds or in front of City Hall.
Theatre and Music
Edmonton has a vibrant performing arts community with notable accomplishments in live theatre and live music. The central area contains the Winspear or Francis Winspear Centre for Music, a new concert hall with stellar acoustics, and the Citadel Theatre, which has hosted major live theatre performances for over forty years.
South Central area is home to the theatre district with a number of venues, and the Jubilee Auditorium, a large concert hall. The west end has two dinner theatres, Jubilation's and Mayfield.
Edmonton's river valley and Mill Creek area have an extensive network of trails, good for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing. At many points in the extensive ravines and forested areas in the river valley, you can't even tell you're in a city. Maps are published by the City of Edmonton  and are available at City Hall, Edmonton Tourism's Visitor Information Centres, and many bicycle and ski shops.
The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' Society (EBC), a non-profit bicycle co-op , operates a staffed drop-in DIY workshop where rental bicycles are available. During the summer months, at River Valley Adventures  rents bicycles and operates Segway tours. Fun group rides occur during the summer, mostly organized by the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club (EBTC)  and EBC. Most commercial bike shops organize training rides for those road cyclists who are interested in higher intensity workouts. Larger commercial bike shops include United Cycle, Western Cycle, and Revolution Cycle. Smaller ones include Velocity Cycle, Redbike, Hardcore Mountain Bikes, PedalHead Bikes, and Transition BMX.
Edmonton has small downhill ski hills in or near the city, including Edmonton Ski, Sunridge Ski Area, and Snow Valley. Natural and artificial snow cover their slopes from early winter to early spring, offering city skiers an easy way to learn, amuse families, and tone up for the big Rocky Mountain ski opportunities in Jasper and Banff.
There are over 70 golf courses located in the Edmonton region. Albertans are keen golfers, based on the province's sunny summers, large number of developed courses, and relatively low prices. Within city limits, the City of Edmonton operates three public courses, including Canada's oldest municipal golf course: Victoria (central), Riverside (South) both of which are located close to downtown, and the par-three Rundle Park on the east end of the city (Edmonton/North).
Edmonton is home to a number of professional and amateur sport teams. The Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League are the most recognized team and have won five Stanley Cups. They play at the 16,839 seat Rexall Place which was built in 1974 to house the team. Tickets are available, but games are routinely sold out, and tickets must usually be bought from a broker at higher prices. Minor league hockey is also part of the Edmonton sports scene: the major junior Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League play in Rexall Place, while several junior 'A' and senior 'AAA' teams play in metro Edmonton. Tickets to these games are available at the door.
Edmonton is also home to the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. The Eskimos have won 13 Grey Cups and play at the 60,000 seat Commonwealth Stadium. Good seats can be bought in advance, but few games are sold out and tickets can be purchased at the door. For basketball, the recently formed Edmonton Energy of the International Basketball League play at Grant MacEwan Gymnasium against smaller American cities and other Canadian cities. For soccer, FC Edmonton of the North American Soccer League play at Clarke Park. The Edmonton Rush of the National Lacrosse League also play at Rexall Place. There is no professional baseball in Edmonton at this time.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears (men's teams) and Pandas (women's teams) participate in a number of sports including hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer, football (men only), rugby, and track and field at venues on both the main and south campuses. Smaller universities and colleges in Edmonton also have teams and athletes that compete in a variety of sports.
Major events and festivals
Edmonton, hailed as "Canada's Festival City" , is home to over 30 annual festivals and special events throughout the year.
Attracting over 500,000 visitors each year, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is the largest in North America, second largest in the world, offering some 1,000 performances, primarily in venues in Old Strathcona. The Works Art & Design Festival features new works of painting, drawing, sculpture, and much more. The Whyte Ave Artwalk lets viewers stroll the avenue looking at local art. There is also the Canoe Fest which tells stories about morals and history. For music, Symphony Under the Sky is a nice way to listen to some fine music in the great outdoors. One of the world’s leading Folk festivals, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival is a four-day outdoor music extravaganza that attracts more than 80,000 music lovers. Situated in Gallagher Park in Edmonton's scenic river valley, the festival offers an eclectic mix of music for all tastes. The more popular festivals often sell out, particularly the Folk Festival and many Fringe performances, sometimes well in advance, so visitors should make arrangements for tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
For culture, Edmonton rolls out the red carpet. Heritage Days puts the spotlight on the food, dance, and local goods from over 60 cultural backgrounds. Edmonton Cariwest is a Caribbean festival that takes over downtown with colourful dances. Gay Pride is a large festival that closes Jasper Ave for people to be proud of gay rights.
In food, Edmonton has some festivals to keep you salivating. One of the most popular is A Taste of Edmonton. Purchase tickets and sample culinary delights from 40 of Edmonton’s leading restaurants at Sir Winston Churchill Square.
The Edmonton area has seven large casinos: Casino Yellowhead, Casino Edmonton, Bacarrat Casino, Palace Casino, St Albert Casino, Celebration's Casino, and Marriot Enoch Resort & Casino.
See the district articles for specific listings of different restaurants and fast food joints.
There are three major dining centres:
- Downtown and Oliver - many restaurants both chains and independents, with a side range in pricing. 103 St., 102nd Avenue, 100 St. and Jasper Avenue have the highest concentration. Some of the most popular include: Lux Steakhouse, Hundred, Sorrentino's, Famoso Neopolitan, Matahari, Japanese Village, Blue Plate Diner, La Ronde, Sabor Divinio, Niche, Corso 32, Moriartys and La Tapa.
- Whyte Ave. - a trendy area that has some good restaurants and many that are average, and the greatest concentration of bars and pubs in the city.
- West Edmonton - whether in West Edmonton Mall or nearby, there are many restaurants, but few that will provide and above-average meal.
Edmonton is the birthplace of two major Canadian restaurant chains: Boston Pizza (Italian), and Earl's (Canadiana). These two have major locations across Canada. The city is also home to a lot of good quality fast food chains like Burger Baron and Fatburger.
Italian food is very high quality in Edmonton. Chianti's, Sicilian Kitchen, Sorrentino's, Fiore Cantina, and Tony's Pizza offer hearty and filling pasta. The best are Whyte Ave, Downtown, or in Little Italy.
Edmonton has some excellent ethnic restaurants. "Langano Skies" is a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant on Whyte Ave, "Syphay" offers spicy Thai cuisine on Calgary Trail and 62 Ave and "Padmanadi's" is a delicious Indonesian vegan restaurant in downtown.
Edmonton has its fair share of cheap Chinese food, most of which is concentrated in Chinatown. WokBox is another Edmonton-based chain, offering fair priced Chinese food in a fast food environment.
For a healthy alternative, check out HealthFare, which got its start in Edmonton in 2008. A new location opened downtown on Jasper Avenue in 2009. They display the calorie count of their items, and the restaurants employ green initiatives including: chairs are made of recycled plastic and aluminum; tables are made of reclaimed wood from local sources; eco-friendly take-out materials are made from renewable resources; and more.
Try locally grown and produced food: EatLocalFirst.com includes a list of all members with information on what they sell and produce and where to find them. 
The three local microbreweries are Alley Kat,Ambers's Brewing, and Yellowhead Brewery.
There are many pubs, clubs, lounges, and bars clustered on Jasper Avenue (downtown) and Whyte Avenue (Old Strathcona). Some of the most popular in Old Strathcona include Hudson's', Lucky 13, Filthy McNasty's, The Rack, Funky Buddha, and O'Byrne's.
For those looking for a more indie experience should journey to Black Dog Pub and Empress Ale House who provide visitors with a less mainstream outing.
Downtown you will find a range of places to serve your drinking desires. Contemporary resto-lounges, such as Suede, The Hat, Sherlock Holmes, Red Star Pub, and The Pint.
A variety of dance clubs can be located in the downtown area and these include: Vinyl Retro Dance Lounge (Retro Classics/Top 40), Oil City Roadhouse (Country), Treasury Vodka Bar (Top 40/Electronic), and Warehouse (Top 40)
Edmonton also has a prominent LGBT community and offers several establishments that cater to this particular group; Buddy's Nightclub, Flash, and Junction. In addition, on the last thursday of every month Empress Ale House hosts a special 'Beers for Queers' night.
Further afield Edmonton also offers nighttime spots in less centralized locations. The Ranch Roadhouse is a country music nightclub located in South Edmonton at 6107 104 Street and has long been a favorite of country music enthusiasts. West Edmonton Mall located in West Edmonton provides visitors with a number of bars including Empire Ballroom a large vegas-style club, Whisky Jack's Urban Saloon yet another country music club, and Hudsons the west end location of the Edmonton pub chain.
Jasper Ave and 104th Street offers two quality offerings for cafes, Transcend Coffee and Credo Cafe. Transcend Coffee is a local coffee roaster and offers quality espresso and brewed Clover coffee options made to order. Transcend Jasper also has a live music venue and some beer and wine offerings. Credo carries Intelligentsia coffee from L.A. and Chicago and prepares it well. With either cafe you cannot go wrong.
Three Bananas Cafe is another perfect stop; it's on the way to the Churchill LRT station at Churchill Square (102 Avenue between 99 and 100 Street) they also carry Intelligentsia.
ROAST Coffeehouse + Wine Bar is the latest addition to downtown independent cafes. Offering Verve Coffee from Santa Cruise California in a stylish space on 104th ST and 104th Ave in the Mercer Warehouse.
Elm Cafe just outside of the downtown core at 117th ST just North of Jasper Ave is worth the distance. Delicious unique breakfast/lunch sandwiches rotated daily and other offerings. Not to mention excellent espresso and brewed coffee. Elm cafe carries 49th Parallel Coffee from Vancouver.
Many Starbucks, Second Cups and other coffee chains are spread across the downtown core.
Java Jive is a local institution, having been around for more than thirty years and locally owned. There are three shops on the University of Alberta campus, and a warehouse on 77th Ave and 99th St.
Transcend Coffee Garneau is located in the Garneau Theater building on 109th St and 87th Ave. Trendy decor, excellent coffee, close to the beautiful river-valley, University and Whyte Ave. This cafe is open seven days a week. Espresso, brewed Clover coffee and pastries are offered.
Leva Cafe is a cafe that serves a more traditional Italian espresso and is located by the University. This cafe also has great pizza and gelato. If you have an home espresso machine that needs repair, Cafe Tech in the back will be able to help you.
Transcend in Argyll is a very classy coffee shop that not only makes coffee, will sell you the beans (if you want to take home).
Mandolin Books and Coffee Company on 112 Avenue is another fantastic find.
Cafe Haven in Sherwood Park offers Stumptown Coffee from Portland. They also do a near famous brunch.
Some of the best shopping opportunities are...
- Whyte Avenue (in South Central) is the stretch of 82 Avenue west of 75 St. You'll tend to want to focus on the strip between Gateway Boulevard and 109 Street. Whyte Avenue is Edmonton's main retail district on the urban side and certainly should not be missed. It's edgy, funky, mainstream, indie, quirky, and nerdy. Stroll through bookstores, clothing shops, and little gift shops while amidst the wonderful crowd of people.
- 124th Street (in Central) is Edmonton's quieter urban shopping experience. Outside the downtown, this strip has just recently become a good place to stop. The place is mainly home to boutiques and designer shops for stuff like fashion, furniture and home improvement. The area is also home to the Gallery Walk - the first of its kind in Canada. The member galleries are easily accessible within walking distance. There are two self-guided gallery walks organized each spring and fall.
- West Edmonton Mall (in West End) ... few can miss the largest mall in the continent, at 8882 170 St (NW). Over 800 shops fill the suburban mega shopping and entertainment centre. Pretty much any style can be found here. Browse the shops for art, books, gifts, lingerie, soaps, groceries, clothing, watches, jewelry and what ever else you can think of!
- Kingsway (Garden) Mall (in North) is Edmonton's second largest mall, and recently completed expansion.
- Downtown (in Central) you will find Edmonton City Centre, which transforms three city blocks into a retail destination of more than 170 stores and services. Adjacent to Edmonton City Centre are Commerce Place and Manulife Place, where you’ll find a selection of high-end retailers such as Escada, 29 Armstrong and Holt Renfrew.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Edmonton on Wikivoyage.