Capital of Canada’s Alberta province, Edmonton is a sprawling, cultural metropolis with a strong industrial and political history. Here we list our 10 favourite tourist attractions to see and do during your time in the city.
If you’re looking to experience a slice of Alberta’s past, Fort Edmonton Park is an astonishingly accurate recreation of Edmonton as it would have been throughout the city’s history, and is the largest living history museum in Canada. The park features a variety of attractions designed to highlight important events such as the Hudson Bay Company Trading Fort (representing the Fur Trading Era), and the 1905 Street, where you can experience a ride on a historic streetcar or steam train. A newer addition is the recreated version of Edmonton’s Capitol Theatre, set to resemble its 1929 appearance and host of a variety of live concerts and theatre performances.
Opening Hours: 10am-4pm weekdays and 10am-6pm weekends in May to June, 10am-6pm daily from June to September, 10am-5pm daily in September
For those interested in learning more about the provincial government system, Alberta’s Legislature Building is a great place to start. Built in classic early 20th century style, this impressive building remains the seat of both Alberta’s Legislative Assembly and executive council. Although it is still a fully functioning part of the legislative system, guided tours are also available to explain more about the traditions and history of the building, as well as the role it plays in the wider parliamentary government.
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday in May to September, 9am-5pm weekdays plus midday-5pm weekends in October to April
Another great educational day out is the TELUS World of Science, a museum specializing in hands-on and child-friendly exhibits. Permanent exhibits range from a life-size robot to an interactive space gallery, as well as temporary exhibitions like those currently inspired by the Harry Potter and Star Wars films. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the museum’s special events such as themed activities in their ‘Dinosaurs Unearthed’ gallery. We challenge anyone, no matter what age, not to have fun in this interactive, engaging center!
Opening Hours: 9am-6pm Sunday to Wednesday, 9am-8pm Thursday to Saturday
Aiming to spur visitors and Albertans alike to explore the national and cultural history of the province, the Royal Alberta Museum first opened almost 50 years ago. Housing over 10 million artifacts in close to 4000 square metres of space, there is truly something to spark the curiosity of any interest, from natural history to aboriginal culture. The museum also serves as a centre for other cultural community endeavors, such as the Edmonton Short Film Festival held annually in the month of September.
Located in outskirts Edmonton is the Muttart Conservatory, a botanical garden situated in the Saskatchewan river valley. As well as its public gardens, the landmark is also home to four glass-paneled pyramids, each of which hosts a different display of plant species. The most interesting of these is the ‘feature pyramid’ where the display is altered seasonally, from roses and geraniums in the summer to poinsettias over the holiday season.
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm Friday to Wednesday, 10am-9pm Thursday
Part of the impressive West Edmonton Mall is World Waterpark, a huge indoor water park full of slides, themed pools and huge wave machines. As an indoor option for a day out that is truly fun for the whole family, this place is amazing fun! Adults and kids alike will love the great range of rides available, with special session times offered for young children.
Opening Hours: 10am-9pm Monday to Saturday, 11am-6pm Sunday
First established in 1959, Devonian Botanic Garden remains the most northerly botantical garden in Canada. Now part of the University of Alberta, the garden is situated just 15 minutes drive outside of downtown Edmonton, in a beautiful green-space of 240 acres. Alongside the well-cultivated plant collections, showcasing everything from a Japanese garden to dedicated alpine and herb beds, the property also features a specially maintained exotic butterfly house.
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm daily in May plus September in October, 10am-6pm June to September.
Founded on the former site of Edmonton’s City Centre Airport, the Alberta Aviation Museum showcases the city’s role in aviation technological process as ‘the Gateway to the North.’ On display are over 40 aircraft, dating back as far as 1927, as well as a dedicated restoration area. Budding pilots also have the opportunity to experience life in the cockpit of a Cold War jet fighter, via the impressive multi-screen flight simulator.
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday
One of the most striking architectural landmarks in downtown Edmonton is the Art Gallery of Alberta. Originally constructed in 1968 by the architect Don Bittorf, the gallery recently underwent an $88 million renovation to create a much larger exhibition space as well as more visitor facilities and a custom-designed 150 seat theatre. The principal collection features primarily painting and sculptural pieces from both Canadian and international artists, although there are also a variety of temporary displays relating to more specific artists and cultural movements.
Opening Hours: 11am-5pm Tuesday and Thursday to Sunday, 11am-9pm Wednesday, closed Monday
Once the official residence of the province’s lieutenant governors, the Government House has now been converted into a venue for more sporadic meetings and events held by the provincial government. Despite its waning official usage, the building is intrinsically interesting for its role in the city’s political history and is available for self-guided tours whenever is in not in session. As well as its governmental function, informational exhibits also shed light on its part in Canada’s WWII efforts, when it was used as a boarding house for American airforce pilots and then as a military hospital. Its grounds also contain the Royal Alberta Museum and Victoria Golf Course, Canada’s oldest city-run golf course.