Ready to escape winter cabin fever? Looking for somewhere that offers you the chance to get out of the house in the colder months? Edmonton, Canada, is an excellent city if you are looking for a vacation. There are many places to stay, outdoor parks for you to enjoy, festivals’ year-round, and you never need to eat at a chain restaurant because the food scene in Edmonton is to die for. It can get quite cold and snowy but do not let that deter you from enjoying the many winter activities Edmonton offers. I lived in Edmonton for three winters, and I have compiled a list of some of my favorite activities from ‘The city of festivals.’
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Visit West Edmonton Mall
WEM is the largest shopping mall in North America, and so as you can imagine, there is a little bit of everything for everyone at this mall. There is a large variety of stores from high-end brand-name stores to dollar stores, restaurants to food courts, a comedy club, water park, a giant Cineplex with IMAX, amusement park, gun range, bowling, ice skating rink, live sea lion shows, a large pirate ship and it even has an attached hotel with themed rooms. The sea lion show runs every day from 2-4 pm; you can either pay to go into the show where you may get splashed or go up to the second floor to watch the show for free. The water park and amusement park both have a large assortment of rides and the water park even has a wave pool, but they both can get quite pricey. You can find information on prices and hours on the WEM website
Check out a market
Going to markets was one of our favorite activities to do. Edmonton has a great selection of year-round farmer markets and craft shows. From getting local produce, jewelry, pottery, baking, clothing, and many more. It always feels great supporting local companies, and people love Handmade gifts for Christmas. Some of our favorites include;
- The Bountiful Market
- The Downtown Market
- The Butterdome Craft Sale
- Make It! The Handmade Revolution
- St. Albert Indoor Christmas Market
Visit The Ice Castles
The Edmonton Ice Castles are the only Ice Castles of its scale available to view in Canada. It is built entirely by hand using only snow and ice by a skilled team of “ice artisans.” It usually opens in December and closes by March, depending on the weather. Unfortunately, it will not be open in the 2020 season, but they are already planning for the 2021 season. The Ice Castles is suitable for all ages as it has ice slides, various rooms, a bonfire pit, and a sculpted throne. It is a photographer’s dream and can be accessed in the daytime and is lit up at nighttime. It is strongly suggested that you buy tickets ahead of time as it is not guaranteed there will be any tickets at the door.
Try An Escape Room
Escape rooms have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. We enjoyed doing them whenever we had family or friends in town. Every place will have different themed rooms where you have 45-60 minutes to escape whatever bizarre situation you are in by solving different clues. You need 2-6 players in most rooms, and it is definitely better when you have more players. The more you do these mind puzzles, the better you start to get them and have a better chance of getting out. Some rooms we have escaped, and some were left to perish in (totally kidding they will come and rescue you). Our favorite spots in Edmonton included GTFO Escape Entertainment and Breakout Escape Room.
The Art Gallery of Alberta is one of Canada’s largest art galleries. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, and the exhibits range from legends to local artists. They have a total of six Gallery spaces that are changed out quite frequently. The art gallery is currently open from Thursdays to Sunday 11 am – 7 pm via pre-booked tickets.
Royal Alberta Museum
The RAM is the largest museum in Western Canada and focuses on human and natural history. You could easily spend a couple of hours here as there is lots to see, read, and interact with. They have a large children’s section, and my favorite exhibit is where they detail Alberta’s early history and the rich culture of the indigenous peoples. As of November 2020, you need to purchase tickets ahead of time as they are operating with less capacity. Their website says they are open Wednesday-Sunday 10 am-4 pm. Check out the museum’s website for up to date opening time and find your tickets with up-to-date prices. They have a current program running where Indigenous people can access the museum for free!
Take A Cooking Class
Not to toot my own horn, but I am lucky enough to know my way around a kitchen very well. However, the beauty of cooking is that there is always more to learn. Cooking classes are great because you learn how to cook your food and then eat it accompanied with a glass of wine! We chose to do a make your own pasta night through Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group. They hold various types of cooking classes throughout any given month so you could easily pick any cuisine you want. They offer small class sizes, and you work with the Head chefs of the company. It is a little pricier, but you can follow their Instagram as they will do occasional sales and giveaways, or it would make a great Christmas gift idea. Another class I wanted to take was a baking class from Duchess, but we did not get a chance to do this yet.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities
Even though Edmonton can have unpredictable weather in the colder months, the city has lots of different options to enjoy outdoor activities. Some options include; snowshoeing at Elk Island National Park (they even offer rentals), snow tubing at Sunridge Ski Area, skiing at Rabbit Hill Snow Resort, ice skating at various indoor and outdoor rinks (check out Victoria Park IceWay for a light show on ice), or find one of the many cross-country skiing tracks!
Visit A Festival/Christmas Lights
Edmonton is not called the City of Festivals for nothing. They host all different types of Festivals throughout the year. There are also many Christmas light displays that offer you the chance to walk or drive-thru. Here is a list of just some of many activities or light shows you can attend;
- Castrol Raceway Magic of Lights
- Ice on Whyte
- Silver Skate Festival
- Zoo Lights at Edmonton Valley Zoo
- Walk around downtown
See A Play Or Listen To The Symphony
The Winspear Centre hosts the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and live performances. They play beautiful pieces from all different types of genres and time periods. My husband and I love going around Christmas time as they have the hall all decorated and play Christmas classics like the nutcracker. The venue is centrally located in the city, so you could easily make a night out of it and go for dinner at one of the many restaurants downtown. Check their website for all of their events and ticket prices.
* BONUS* Stop for some pho soup
Even though this list is not in any rank, I really thought about putting this activity as my favorite thing to do in Edmonton. There is just something about a warm, beefy broth that is so perfect for winter. The aromatics alone are just so perfect, especially when you throw in some Thai basil. Most places have a few different options when it comes to what you get in your pho. My husband opts for the special pho with a little bit of everything, whereas I prefer to stick with the rare steak and tendon. Some of our favorite places in Edmonton consist of;
- Halong Bay
- Pho Boy
- Pho Hoan Pasteur
I hope you enjoyed this list and can enjoy Edmonton as a local does. If you have any other places you love to enjoy, drop a comment below! I suggest visiting websites of anywhere you plan on going ahead of time to help follow all Covid 19 rules. Stay safe!