I've spoken about Vancouver a lot already, but on my recent trip to Canada I also ventured into a for me entirely new province: Alberta. This wasn't one high on the priority list before, but I went to visit friends and I ended up really enjoying the places I explored. One of them was Edmonton, the base of my flying visit to Alberta and in this post I'll talk about some of the city's highlights, including the North Saskatchewan River Valley, West Edmonton Mall and Old Strathcona Farmers' Market.
North Saskatchewan River ValleySurprisingly, in my research before the trip the Edmonton River Valley wasn't something I came across with, instead I was lucky that someone mentioned this to me while I was in Vancouver so I instantly looked into it. Over twenty times the size of Central Park in New York City, this is the largest urban parkland in North America. It's a real gem and there is so much to see and do that you could easily spend a full day within it.
My first day in Edmonton was only a half one so we just had a lovely walk in the park but it's also great for bicycling, playing golf and in winter they even ski and snowshoe there! Even though I visited in October, one of the days it snowed heavily and seeing the park covered in a dusting of pure white snow flakes transformed it into a magical winter wonderland. This is a real treasure and one not to be missed when visiting Edmonton.
West Edmonton MallThe biggest mall in North America and in the province with the lowest taxes in America is of course another highlight that is an absolute must to see. The West Edmonton Mall was something I was particularly excited for before I'd even arrived in Canada, because I planned to do the majority of my shopping there – and I ended up being very successful (as you may remember from my Canada Shopping Haul blog).
Despite being the largest mall in North America, I found this one very manageable (much more so than the smaller Metrotown in Vancouver) because it was a pretty straight forward line to hit all of the shops. What I didn't expect, but what was very cool, was that the mall didn't only have shops but other attractions too, such as a water park, ice rink, giant ship and even a sea lion show.
Old Strathcona Farmers' MarketAnother highlight of my visit that didn't pop up in any of my research beforehand was the local farmer's market, but luckily the friends I was visiting knew about this and so this made for a wonderful Saturday morning outing before my flight back to the UK.
Taking place every Saturday, the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market boosts over 130 vendors, which include organic produce stands (I was in awe of the colour and variety of the vegetables on display, which was far more diverse than here in London), home made sweets and beauty products, and lots of art and crafts. It's a great place to pick up quality products from local farms and businesses, and I ended up buying delicious fudge, a key chain made from elk antler, goat's milk body cream and a beautiful handmade cross-body bag.
The picture at the top of this post is from the Alberta Legislature, which I didn't explore fully myself but they do have tours available. I was only in Edmonton for a brief visit (two full days, one of which we made a day trip elsewhere, and two half days) and so I didn't check out all of the city's highlights. For more information on what to see and do in Edmonton, visit the website of the tourism office; Explore Edmonton.