Unless you’re originally from Edmonton or you’ve visited in the past, you probably don't know much about Alberta's capital city. We're here to change that.
Most travellers gravitate towards major tourist hubs like Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa but Edmonton actually has a lot going for it. It's filled with history, scenic views of the Saskatchewan River, and home to dozens of fun fests. Here are a few things that every traveller to Edmonton should know before planning a trip to the city.
It’s Always Sunny in… Edmonton
Step aside Philadelphia, Edmonton takes the cake when it comes to always being sunny. OK, so it's not always sunny, but the sun is likely to be shining during your visit. This is one of the sunniest cities in Canada, logging nearly 2,300 hours of bright sunshine every single year.
Vancouver is often praised for its nice weather, but when compared to Edmonton, there's no comparison. The average annual rainfall in Vancouver is 1,200mm while in Edmonton it's less than 500mm. Sure, Edmonton isn't as ideal for snow sports, but you'll leave with more vitamin D coursing through your body than ever before.
You Can Take a Short Drive to See the Best of Canadian Wildlife
By taking the short drive to Elk Island National Park - it's less than an hour from the city - you'll be in the heart of Alberta's wildlife. This national park is home to the highest density of hoofed animals per square kilometre IN THE WORLD! This includes bison, moose, deer, and of course, elk.
Edmonton Is Home to Canada’s Largest Planetarium
Not everyone wants to spend their Edmonton itinerary confined by the walls of museums, but exploring the Telus World of Science is a must for science nerds. This is the largest planetarium in all of Canada. Not only is it the largest, but it's also the most impressive.
The World of Science is operated by the Edmonton Space and Science Foundation. New events and exhibits are constantly filtered in and out, so even if you visited in the past, it's worth another trip. Unfortunately, there are admission fees. Just remember that these are necessary for running this massive science centre.
Visitors Have Tons of Options for Attending Festivals
Edmonton has rightfully earned the title of Canada's "Festival City", and it's obvious as to why. The city is host to more than 30 annual festivals throughout the year, including some of the most-attended fests in the country. The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is a major tourist draw, happening every year in August.
Even if you don't consider yourself a folk music fan, it's likely that there will be a fest that you actually enjoy during your time in Edmonton. The city celebrates all forms of art throughout the year, you just need to search for what's going on during your specific dates of travel.
It’s Also Home to Canada’s Largest Living History Museum
After checking out Canada's largest planetarium, it's time to hit up the country's largest living history museum. You might be wondering what a living history actually is. Well, it's actually exactly as it sounds. A living history museum is history happening right in front of you. It provides a setting for history to be recreated, allowing you to experience it firsthand.
Fort Edmonton Park is where this living history is happening in Edmonton. Spending the day here gives visitors to Edmonton the chance to experience the area's past - actually experience it, not just read or hear about it. There are constantly events and educational programs being offered at FEP, so stop in any time.
And It’s Home to One of the Largest Shopping Malls in the World
If you consider yourself a shopaholic, you might want to stay away from West Edmonton Mall. This mall now ranks as the 5th largest, not in Canada, but in the entire world. The mall is even home to an indoor lake that sustains over 200 unique forms of marine life.
Even if you're not interested in spending tons of money, visiting the mall is a fun family-friendly activity. Within West Edmonton Mall, you'll have access to an indoor water park and wave pool, a bungee tower, an NHL-sized skating rink, a 6-acre water park, and even a triple-loop rollercoaster.
It’s Possible to Buy Cannabis Over the Counter
As of October 17th, 2018, recreational cannabis is now legal on a federal level throughout Canada. This means that it's no longer necessary to have a prescription to buy marijuana over the counter. As long as you have a valid ID, you can walk into a marijuana dispensary and walk away with high-quality products.
It’s always a good idea to do some research before shopping. For better selection and value, you can also purchase your ganja from online dispensaries across Canada. When ordering online, you can arrange to have the weed waiting at the hotel reception when you arrive.
Edmonton is Home to Michael J. Fox
If you're a fan of Back to the Future or Family Ties, you might already know about this next Edmonton fun fact. Yes, MJ Fox was born in Edmonton. He didn't live there long, though. Fox 's family lived in various big cities and small towns throughout Canada before starting his acting career at the age of 15 in Vancouver.
As you can see, Edmonton has a little bit of everything. From the largest living museum to the largest shopping mall, Edmonton pretty much has it all.