The Big E, or E-town, is known for a lot of things, both officially and unofficially. It’s the volunteer capital of Canada, the heart of Canada’s Great North West, Canada’s Festival city and Canada’s Richest Mixed Farming District.
So if you’re planning to spend some time in the Big E, the first and last questions you need to ask yourself are what are you going to eat, see and do in this gateway city?
What to eat in Edmonton
If weekend brunch is your thing, the District Cafe and Bakery has been voted among the best! Two words: Waffle Benny. Enough said, right? While the coffee’s always hot at the District, the waffles are only around on weekends!
Food on the go, while you’re busy seeing the sights, is a great bet and the number one food truck? Drift. They are famous for their pork belly sandwich with daikon and spicy chili mayo. Add some potato crisps and you’ve got lunch!
Feeling like a little pizza pie? Rosso Pizzeria with their wood fire grill and endless toppings will leave you whirling, trying to decide which combination to try! Local, organic and fresh, Rosso Pizzeria is not just any pie.
What to see in Edmonton
Are you into shopping? And fun? And indoor wave pools? And more… just more? The West Edmonton Mall is THE biggest mall in North America, clocking in at 5.3 million square feet of one stop fun fest. A waterpark and wave pool, a skating rink, marine life at the Sea Life Caverns, 27 rides and attractions at the Galaxyland Amusement park, adventure mini golf and MORE! The best part? It has integrated hotels so really, you never have to leave! This may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective, but the Fantasyland Hotel, with a fake igloo theme room, including bunk beds for the littles? Sign me up!
If the flash and wow of the mall isn’t your thing, the Muttart Conservatory just might be. Three glass pyramids housing different biomes, representing the most extraordinary botanical gardens, are on year round display. A fourth pyramid houses feature displays that change throughout the year.
Get a little taste of living history at Fort Edmonton Park, where you can experience Edmonton’s early years through four eras: Fur Trading (1846), Settlement (1885), Municipal and post railway (1905), and Metropolitan (1920). In costume interpreters dot the landscape, and through their characters and a variety of buildings and artifacts, you can discover more about the different eras.
What to do in Edmonton
Get your geek on and visit the Telus World of Science Edmonton for regularly featured exhibits including the Robotics Lab, the Space Place, the Body Fantastic and more, or take in one of the upcoming featured exhibits including the Science Behind Pixar (Animation)! Kids young and ever so slightly older can experience aspect of science in a hands on, fun environment.
Experience a bison traffic jam at Elk Island National Park (celebrating as part of Canada’s 150 this year!) You can get pretty close to these big animals—from the safety of your car— or spend a little more time and get the VIP tour of the bison world! You’ll get a first hand understanding of how these creatures were almost extinct but have been brought back from the brink, as you walk over catwalks and corrals, with park staff.
A major influence on the cultural heritage of the Edmonton area is Ukrainian, so why not visit the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, another open air museum with ‘in character’ interpreters, who will guide you to a greater understanding of this important group of Canadian pioneers. You’ll see a 35 structures that have been restored to reflect the life of Ukrainians in the area from 1892 to 1930, including the school house, a sod house, the blacksmith shop and more!
Wherever you go in and around E-Town, you’ll encounter friendly people and a welcoming atmosphere, for big kids and little. Do you have a favourite spot in Edmonton? Share it with us!