15 THINGS TO DO IN EDMONTON IN WINTER

things to do in edmonton in winter

I met a Canadian once who laughed when I said that I'd visited Edmonton. "We call it Deadmonton" he said. To him, Edmonton was boring with minimal things to do. But I visited as a travel blogger slash YouTuber - the tourism board Explore Edmonton flew me and my now-ex over to visit. Our schedule was jam-packed (the only kind of jam I enjoy) and I came away with a list of many romantic and / or fun things to do in Edmonton. Especially in the winter! So, without further ado, here are 15 things to do in Edmonton:


Edmonton Is A Cool Winter City!


Edmonton is Canada's fifth largest city and one of our favourite cities ever! It has a real entrepreneurial / youthful feeling to it with it's hip start-ups and cool cafes. The food there is world class, the people are friendly, there are lots of fancy hotels, and lots of culture and art. But it's so much more than a cool city - this is Canada and with a great city often comes incredible nature less than a stone's throw away! Elk Island, a beautiful national park with bison and elk, is less than an hour's drive away and Jasper itself can be reached in four hours, either by driving or by taking one of the convenient shuttles!

Fun Things To Do In Edmonton In Winter

Fat Biking Edmonton

Edmonton has an abundance of convenient and well connected cycle trails and bike-friendly roads: through the city, by the river, through the park, across the woods etc. But what about during the winter where snow lies thick on the ground? Enter fat bikes. Fat bikes are the same as normal bikes except they have really wide (or should I say fat) tires - around 5 inches wide.

fun things to do in edmonton

Edmontonian fitness expert Chris Tse met us and the fat bikes at a cafe before putting us through our paces across and around the city. He showed us some fat-bike stunts, he took a bunch of photos for us, and he even encouraged us to fat cycle onto the frozen North Saskatchewan River:

fun things to do in edmonton

(If you're anything like me - intense fear of falling through ice -, don't worry, it was safe, but whilst we're talking about dying, maybe now is the time to mention travel insurance... I recently wrote a piece about why SafetyWing is the best insurance for nomads, please even if you're not interested give it a click so it ranks better on google :P )


But back to fat bikes: Chris was even kind enough to wait patiently whilst I freaked out cause I dropped my camera in the snow (it survived, yey). All in all, I found fat biking to be an interesting, exhilarating experience and I think it's a great way to have a work out in winter. Our fat bikes were from Revolution Cycle and came pre-pumped and ready to go.

Take a Fun Helicopter Tour of Edmonton

Edmonton Regional Helicopters took us up for a bird's eye view of Edmonton. Everything was covered in snow and it looked like a literal dream, an actual winter wonderland. At the time I was especially excited to see peek into Edmonton's resident billionaire's house (he owns the hockey team) and I had a really fun time. At times I felt sick, at times I felt scared, but mostly I felt elated (literally) and I loved the views.

things to do in edmonton

Update: Nowadays, I'm concerned about the air pollution of helicopters, but, I can't deny it was one of the most fun things that I did in Edmonton, and it's not fair for me to sit back and tell you not to do something I've already had the privilege of doing.. Plus I don't know of any other way to take photos like these:

fun things to do in edmonton

things to do in edmonton

I dunno, maybe you, like many others, believe that that planet has already reached the point of no return, might as well see it from the air before it goes!

Do Yoga at Sattva School of Yoga Edmonton

Almost all Edmontonians that I met were hip, zen entrepreneurs, so naturally yoga is big there. We went along to the Sattva School of Yoga one morning and tried out a class.

things to do in edmonton

The room was spacious and full of natural light, well heated from the snow outside and there were yoga mats and blocks to borrow. Our teacher led a class that I found to be the perfect tempo - it pushed me just the right amount and I left feeling rejuvenated and inspired.

Go to Elk Island National Park

Perhaps your idea of fun lies outside the quick city life, don't worry, Edmonton can cater to you too: less than an hour's drive away is a beautiful national park: Elk Island National Park. Here you can spot bison, or even try your hand (or rather foot) at snowshoeing.

Things to Do in Edmonton at Night in Winter

Go out for dinner in Edmonton - Canadian food is delicious!

Edmonton is a stunning winter destination with lots of cool activities and sports to try out, but if you're anything like me, these wonders and fun times will feel tainted if they're not complimented with mouthwatering, delicious foods. Luckily, there's plenty of this, in fact the food in Edmonton is simply world-class.


And it's not all just traditionally Canadian food that they do well either, they also do absolutely incredible Mexican food. The tasty food is matched by the fun atmosphere in the restaurants and cafes and the excellent presentation of the food. And even vegans like us will find top places to eat in Edmonton :) These were our favourite places:

El Cortez

El Cortez serves some of the best guacamole and margaritas I think I've ever had. The secret to their cocktails lies in their tequila - a guy with a mohican hairstyle who introduced himself as the manager told us that they know everything there is to know about this spirit.

things to do in edmonton at night

He taught us that the reason most have horrible tequila hangover headaches is because sugar is almost always added to tequila. Not at El Cortez though, they don't do that (and I can confirm I definitely did not have a headache the next day, despite drinking 4 margaritas).

The food was really delicious too. And they get extra brownie points for being so accommodating to vegans - they didn't have anything friendly on their dessert menu, so the chef was kind enough to make up a dish for us. The food and drinks was so great at El Cortez, it almost wouldn't have mattered what kind of dive we were dining in - but, again, El Cortez goes the extra mile with its location and decor. There have cool projectors projecting cool artworks and just a general quirky cool feel to the place - I loved it.

Rostizado

Rostizado is a modern place with a classy vibe that serves Mexican food. We both had a roasted pineapple salad with a side of 'vegetales rostizados'. It was all yummy, but the salsa on the pineapple in particularly so - I couldn't get enough of it.

things to do in edmonton at night

At the time I also loved that you could watch the cooks making your food, past Laura says "this is always entertaining (and you know nothing's been dropped on the floor!)" I'm not sure why she said that.. we've both worked in a kitchen and know how stressful it can be. Adding an audience must make it worst. Still, they didn't seem stressed, and actually now I'm really thinking about it, the more work that's done out in the open, the more we can see if people are being exploited or not. From what I saw, they didn't seem to be at Rostizados. Excellent.

The Common

things to do in edmonton at night

At The Common we had Sweet Potato Hummus & Grill Bread - served with warm Mona mushrooms and beetroot and a Green & Grains salad - Quinoa, kale, leeks & spinach. And it was all incredible! We had it with a Canadian beer for Tanbay and a virgin Margarita for me (I was driving).

Visit Situation Brewing

Situation Brewing is a pub with a very unique set up - on one side is a hip pub with delicious beers and burgers, but just through a door is the brewery. Hello zero food miles.

fun things to do in edmonton

The guys showed us around and it was clear how much they care about their craft. I tried their vegan burger and it was delectable. I don't know about you but a bit of education followed by hours of beers and burgers is my idea of a fun (or even romantic) thing to do.

Catch an Ice Hockey game in Edmonton

Edmonton is home to the Edmonton Oilers who weren't playing when we went to Edmonton (which was fine because I'd never heard of them). Instead we saw the Oil Kings play at Rogers - Edmonton Oilers' home stadium. Rogers itself is massive (and strict about not letting you take your cameras in in case you use them as a weapon πŸ˜‚).

things to do in edmonton at night

Watching ice hockey here for about five minutes was interesting, but after that I was more entertained by the players slamming into the walls, the 15 year old girls sat in front deciding which hockey players they'd fck, and, best of all, when one of the players winked at one of the girls and they went hysterical. All that aside, and despite the stadium being half empty, the atmosphere was electric. I recommend seeing a hockey game as one of the best things to do in Edmonton at night, because you know, Canada & culture. It's ice hockey!

Things to Do in Edmonton in Winter

Visit Edmonton Ice Castles

Edmonton ice castles: icicles upon icicles glitter in the sun, each perfectly crafted not just in a feat of engineering, but as a pure celebration of Canadian winter. No, I'm not talking about Narnia (though I definitely felt like I'd stumbled upon it) - I'm talking about the Ice Castles in Edmonton.

things to do in edmonton in winter

Nancy from Edmonton Tourism told me that Edmonton is trying to think of innovative ways to get people out of the house during winter, (her actual words were "force people to come out of the house and have fun") ice castles were one of the ideas: Every day, around 10,000 icicles are grown and placed throughout the ice castles - water is then sprayed on them (and subsequently freezes) which is how the ice castles are formed.

things to do in edmonton in winter

They're beautiful just to look at, but it doesn't stop there, you can sit on thrones and crown yourself King and Queen of monogamy the ice castle, you can slide down slides, or ride down slides on your fat bikes, you can sit inside them and pretend to be a snow ho gnome:

fun things to do in edmonton

things to do in edmonton

Update: now I'm wondering about the waste of water πŸ˜… I really am the epitome of a Debby Downer.. points for being stunningly beauty and points for trying to help people's mental health by getting them out of the house though.

Ice on Whyte Festival Edmonton

Edmonton has a tonne of ice in the winter, so what do they do? Make the most of it of course! In Edmonton, from ice festivals where world champions compete to make the most beautiful sculptures; to entire castles made of ice where you can play and (priorities) take the most beautiful Insta-good photos.

things to do in edmonton in winter

This is another way that they are trying to get people out of the house: the Ice on Whyte Festival. Countries from all over the world (Russia, Latvia, Netherlands, Canada, US and - surprisingly considering it's so near to the equator - Malaysia) gather to find out who can make the best ice sculpture. The sculptures themselves were insane, I can't believe people know how to do things like this:

things to do in edmonton in winter

things to do in edmonton in winter

Visit Jasper Canada - It Doesn't have to be expensive!

Last, but not least, if you're from the UK/ Germany / Netherlands etc and thinking 'damn, this looks so beautiful but it's so out of reach for me', I've got great news for you! A winter trip to Edmonton and Jasper is probably not as expensive as you think. With cheap flights to Edmonton and plenty of Snow Sure Deals, a winter skiing holiday to Canada is down-right reasonable. E.g. you can go skiing in Canada for 9 days, for £1159 p.p - this includes return flight with KLM, 7 nights in a hotel, 5/6 day lift pass and transfer!

things to do in edmonton in winter

Even the guy who called Edmonton 'Deadmonton' couldn't deny that Jasper is one of Canada's most beautiful gems. And as it's 'only' 200 miles away, in Canadian terms that's right next door. In fact, many (affluent) Edmontonians take regular weekend ski trips to Jasper. If you don't drive / want to be more environmental there's a bus that goes from Edmonton to Jasper and back again (and if you ask nicely they'll drop you off at your hotel). We took it and it was so deliciously warm and they stopped off half way for snacks. Yey.

things to do in edmonton in winter

Jasper is typically a summer destination, but there are so many fun things to do in Jasper in winter - skiing, ice walks and spotting wildlife were my favourites. [Read more: weekend guide to visiting Jasper Canada]

Romantic Things To Do In Edmonton in Winter

COOL CAFES IN EDMONTON

Edmonton has a great hipster/entrepreneurial feel to it - there are loads of cool cafes with innovative ideas and creative menus. Edmonton is also super vegan-friendly! As someone whose a great believer in 'the best way to the heart is through the stomach' I think that if you're on a date and looking for a romantic thing to do in Edmonton, it doesn't get much cuter than this. Here are some of my favourite places:

Mosaics

romantic things to do in edmonton

At Cafe Mosaics I had the Scramble: tofu crumble, hash browns, sausage, pepper and Tanbay had the Pancake experiment: massive pancakes with both sweet and savoury toppings. My God, it was all so delicious and the portions were gigantic - we actually ended up taking most of ours home and enjoying the rest later.

Da Capo

Da Capo is perfectly located for catching a bite and a coffee after a morning of yoga. Da Capo is located in a building where all the businesses are cool (in my opinion): a yoga studio, an organic grocery store, an organic restaurant. We went on a Sunday morning and it was very busy - but this gave it a lovely, friendly atmosphere as opposed to a chaotic one - mainly because the staff are so chill and lovely.

Farrow

romantic things to do in edmonton

Farrow is like central perk meets hipster: super cool, super tasty and the staff are super friendly! We had two vegans sandwiches and coffee from here and wow! At the time I said that they may just well be the best sandwiches I'd ever had. (I tend to say that about all sandwiches though)... Still, the truth is that these were really good - perhaps it's because they source all their food locally, perhaps it's because of the vegan mayo - who knows.

District Cafe

romantic things to do in edmonton

We had breakfast at District Cafe before our fat biking adventure and I'm glad we did - District Cafe fuelled us up with a delectable three-course vegan meal. We started off with forest fruits, followed by mouthwatering homemade bread and apple sauce and ended off with rice pudding made with coconut milk. I'm obsessed with their coconut rice pudding - I've tried to recreate it since but to no avail. :(

ART GALLERY OF ALBERTA

The Art Gallery of Alberta is located in Edmonton and is teeming with art exhibitions, programs and events. As for the building itself, it was built in 1968 but renovated in 2010 giving you the best of both retro and contemporary worlds. If you and / or your other half is into art and culture, this is the perfect romantic thing to do in Edmonton.

MUTTART CONSERVATORY

The Muttart Conservatory is a botanical garden right in the centre of Edmonton. Come here to connect to nature and see some awe-inspiring specimens.

FANCY HOTELS EDMONTON

What says romantic more than staying in a fancy hotel (you know what I mean wink wink) even if you rent or own in Edmonton, it can really spice it up to um, oh fck it I don't care: FCK in another bed.

romantic things to do in edmonton

If you want to be in downtown, I recommend the Matrix hotel - they're in a great location, they serve a delicious buffet breakfast and the rooms are massive. If you're staying in uptown, I recommend Metterra Hotel on Whyte they also serve a delicious buffet breakfast and have massive rooms - the staff also go out of their way to help you and they have a great, complimentary, valet service.

Things to Know About Edmonton

TRANSPORT EDMONTON

Despite being a large city, Edmonton is easy to travel around. I'd never enjoyed driving in a city until I came to Edmonton. Edmonton is so easy to drive around! It's partly because the streets are just so damn clear (set out in clear blocks which are numbered clearly), but mostly because Edmontonians are so damn nice - not once was I beeped at for driving slowly - and in an average country I'll get beeped at least a million times per day. Thank you, Edmonton! And it doesn't just stop with easy driving, we also tried out the public transportation system in Edmonton and it was great. The bus tells you where you are so there's basically no chance of getting lost.

SHOPPING EDMONTON

For those that love to shop, Edmonton is the city: they've got it all, from organic produce and locally made gifts at Old Strathcona Farmer's Market; to unique boutiques on 4th Street Promenade; to funky, bohemian steals at Whyte Street. Oh, yea, and they have one of the biggest malls in North America: West Edmonton Mall. Complete with rollercoasters, an ice skating rink and an actual water park (not to mention hundreds of shops), this place is like Dubai crazy! Although we don't agree with the fact that you can also see sea lions at their sea life exhibit, this mall is humongous.

EDMONTONIANS

What's a city without its people? Not a city. And your city can have absolutely everything: good food, easy transport, cool sights, hot clubs.. but if it doesn't have nice people, then it's not going to be great. This is where Edmonton really shines: with its lovely people. Everyone in Edmonton seems to have some kind of hip, entrepreneurial business: from breweries to kids' books. But it's not just their business prowess that makes us want to become Edmontonians - they are so nice!

Wrap Up: 15 Things To Do in Edmonton in Winter

So there you have it - 15 things to do in Edmonton. Edmonton surprised us with its delicious food, kind people and with so many things to do there, you could never get bored! It's hands down one of the most beautiful, fun places we've ever been to and has so much to offer - truly something for everyone: romantic couples, families, adrenaline junkies, solo travellers, anyone and everyone will find something to love here. [Read more: Cruising the Icefields Parkway, Canada]


Have you been to Edmonton? Let us know in the comments below!

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