A modern metropolis surrounded by vast swaths of pristine wilderness, Edmonton offers the perfect blend of city fun and outdoor adventure. The city is packed with family-friendly attractions like the gigantic West Edmonton Mall, North America’s biggest shopping center, where you can ride looping indoor roller coasters and splash at a massive water park. Big-name institutions such as the Royal Alberta Museum and the Art Gallery of Alberta celebrate the region’s cultural heritage with exhibits on indigenous peoples and contemporary Canadian art. And trendy neighborhoods like Strathcona are crammed with hip indie boutiques and cool eateries with buzzing outdoor patios.
Edmonton is one of the best places in Canada to enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, snowshoeing, and biking. Go for a hike at spots like Buena Vista Park and then trade athletic gear for comfortable shoes at one of the city’s numerous festivals, which cover everything from jazz to Shakespeare. Passionate about sports? You can cheer on the Oilers at a boisterous NHL game or join the roar of the crowd at an FC Edmonton soccer match.
Here are a few fun outdoor activities in Edmonton:
- Canoeing: Book a guided trip to paddle a scenic stretch of the North Saskatchewan River, which meanders right through the heart of the city. In three to four hours, you’ll gently glide from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park to Capilano Park, passing lush, forested banks and soaring downtown skyscrapers. Tours run May through September.
- Golf: Edmonton’s long hours of summer sunshine mean you can tee off late into the evening. The riverside Victoria Golf Course, established in 1896, has wide open fairways and sweeping views toward the Alberta Legislature and University of Alberta. Or you can perfect your swing at Rundle Park, a peaceful 18-hole course on the edge of the city.
- Hiking trails: Popular routes include the Whitemud Creek Trail, an easy walk with hoodoo rock formations and a chance of spotting birds and beavers. Southeast of the city, the Holdsworth Trail in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park leads you through wetlands inhabited by moose and owls, while Wagner Natural Area to the west has rare orchids and birds like yellow warblers and black-tailed hawks.
- Ice-skating: In winter, free outdoor rinks open up across the city. You can glide around a frozen lake in Hawrelak Park, warming up with toasted marshmallows at the park’s firepits. Alternatively, whiz along the Victoria Park IceWay, a magical forest trail illuminated by colorful, kaleidoscopic projections.
- Bison spotting: Only a half-hour east of Edmonton, Elk Island National Park is home to herds of wild bison. The best time to catch sight of these woolly creatures is at dawn or dusk, and you might also spy elk or coyotes if you’re lucky. Hiking trails crisscross the park, including the Hayburger Trail, which winds through a spruce bog, aspen forest, and wildflower meadows.
When to go
With temperatures typically in the 70s and 80s, Edmonton’s sunny and dry summers are peak season for a slew of outdoor activities and popular events like the Edmonton International Fringe Festival (August). Get swept up in the citywide excitement as artists from around the world perform in pubs, bookstores, and theaters.
Cold and crisp, winters in Edmonton bring out snowshoes and cross-country skis. Because of the city’s latitude, it’s also one of Earth’s best spots for viewing the northern lights. Join Edmontonians at Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve to admire the ethereal glow of the aurora borealis.
Ready to book your visit to Edmonton? Take a look at our hotels in the area and select your ideal spot.