Edmonton is a city that is quietly confident. Located in the heart of the western Canadian prairies, Alberta’s capital is home to a population of 1.3 million that embodies a welcoming spirit, a collaborative mentality, and a get-shit-done attitude. It’s a hub of makers and risk-takers, of dreamers and doers, a place where ideas come to be.

In fact, it’s unofficial credo is, “Take a risk — it’s the most Edmonton thing you can do.”

This vibrant metropolis holds far more than Wayne Gretzky memorabilia and the largest shopping mall in North America; it is one of Canada’s youngest and fastest-growing cities, and it has a penchant for pioneers. But those are just a few of the reasons Edmonton is worth exploring.

View of the Muttart Conservatory in EdmontonBASICS

  • Area: 264.1 mi² (684 km²)
  • Location: Alberta, Canada
  • Population: 1.3 million
  • Languages: English and French (though rarely used)
  • Climate: Humid continental
  • Currency: Canadian dollar (CAD, $)
  • Time Zone: Mountain Time Zone (UTC -6)
  • Airport: Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  • Drive on the: Right

REPUTATION VS. REALITY

Edmonton’s past is steeped in oil, hockey, and ill-advised travel reviews that paint the city as a frigidly cold stopover en route to Jasper National Park. But this gem on the North Saskatchewan River is not the Edmonton your grandmother knew. Often referred to as a Renaissance city, it’s cool but coy — and rapidly changing. In other words, it has a lot to offer, but it doesn’t like to brag about it. As the fifth-largest city in Canada, and with a median age of 36.5 years, Edmonton is a center for culture, education, arts, culinary excellence, sustainability, and outdoor adventure. Because of this, we encourage you to shed the stale stereotypes associated with the far north and let us introduce you to the Edmonton we know and love.

One of the River Valley trails in Edmonton

SO, WHY VISIT EDMONTON?

Edmonton is a city of design — it can be seen in its architecture, layout, recreational activities, festivals, food and cocktail scene, people, and arts sector. The city itself is constantly changing and building upon its foundation. And because of that, there’s never a shortage of things to do.

Arts and Culture

Whether you’re wandering through a living history museum or checking out local bands at an underground venue, Edmonton will make your inner arts and culture nerd jump for joy. At its core, Edmonton is an arts city. Its museums, galleries, clubs, theaters, workshops, and events define its present and promise to continue shaping its future — just ask its local makers.

The Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton
The Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton

Food and Drink

In recent years, a host of new restaurants has arrived in Edmonton, giving the city a new voice in the food world. Local chefs aren’t simply satisfied with making good food; they’re pushing their ideas further to make the experience artful, local, and as interesting as it comes. Whether boasting farm-to-table traditions or a menu influenced by cities across the globe, Edmontonian restaurateurs are embracing new flavors and ideas. So, go ahead — journey through its hyper-local bistros, indie bakeries, and craft beer taprooms. Your taste buds will thank you.

Charcuterie at Bar Bricco in Edmonton

The Great Outdoors

If you ask any local, they’ll tell you that the heartbeat of Edmonton is its glorious river valley. Winding through the downtown area, this expanse of urban parkland is the largest in North America and serves up an abundance of green space. (Fun fact: it’s 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park.) What’s more, Edmonton’s proximity to Elk Island National Park and day-trip distance from Jasper National Park make it a popular location for outdoor enthusiasts looking to experience more of Alberta’s natural landscape. Oh, and did we mention that the Northern Lights are often viewable from the city?

Biking trails in the River Valley in Edmonton
Bison at Elk Island National Park

Sports

Edmonton’s sports scene is tough to beat. Though best known for its NHL team, the Edmonton Oilers, who call Rogers Place home, the city also hosts a number of football, soccer, and even Red Bull Crashed Ice events — and there’s a good chance that it will be a host city for the FIFA World Cup in 2026. With boisterous crowds and die-hard fans, the capital city’s sports culture is alive and thriving.

Rogers Place in Edmonton

Edmontonians

Edmonton was built by, for, and with its people. It is a city of many cultures, educational opportunities, and social orientations, yet its citizens are inspired by a shared vision and the belief that their home is one of the most unique places on Earth. This mindset is what sets the city apart and leaves a lasting impact on all who visit. Its community prides itself on extending hands and then rolling up sleeves to make things happen. Edmontonians are prepared to help anyone who falters and are more than happy to celebrate in their successes. It’s pretty special, to say the least.

A street artist in Edmonton
Local Edmonton makers

The Future

While there’s a lot happening in Edmonton today, the city is only getting started. With the input of thousands of residents, Edmonton’s City Council established a creative description of the city that they want Edmonton to reflect by 2040. The plan sets forth several goals to guide the city and help make its vision a reality, the first of which includes the development of more residential towers and retail spaces, educational institutions, arts and culture facilities, hotels, and light rail transit. As they put it: “The city has grown up; now we’re building smarter.”

View of Downtown Edmonton over the North Saskatchewan River

WHEN TO VISIT

#exploreedmonton signWhile it’s true that Edmonton is among Canada’s coldest cities, they’ve embraced the title and developed a WinterCity Strategy to encourage people to get people outside throughout the year — which includes everything from outdoor festivals with storytelling tents and lantern walks to warming huts and skating trails. That said, if you’re still not sold on experiencing a true winter wonderland, complete with temperatures as low as 5°F (-15°C), it may be best to visit the city during the summer, when average temperatures are closer to 75°F (24°C) and daylight spans up to 17 hours. But no matter which season you choose to visit during, the city will be ready for you.

Though it’s apparent that Edmonton has truly stepped into its own in the past five years, it’s even clearer that the city is only gaining momentum. Keep an eye on Edmonton; it will pleasantly surprise you.

To learn more about the city, visit exploreedmonton.com.

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Hailing from the foothills of Northern California, Kacie is a writer and editor who's worked on everything from quarterly surf magazines to art books, zines, lookbooks, novels, and emoji style guides. She's a bit of a story junkie, but we forgive her for that. To view more of her work, creep her website and Instagram.