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3 Days in Edmonton – 14 Fun Things To Do

by Valerie Vanr

Discover the best sites to visit in Edmonton, Canada. We’ve got 14 great things to do for a fun-filled visit.

Edmonton is a great summer destination for a long weekend trip! 

3 Days in Edmonton Itinerary

This itinerary hits Edmonton’s highlights over 3 days. For a one-day visit, our Day 1 itinerary will whet your appetite to return to this beautiful city. For 2 days, we recommend following Day 1 and pick either Day 2 or 3 depending on your interests.

Map of Edmonton Attractions

Edmonton Map showing points of interest
Click on the above map of Edmonton Canada for an interactive version

14 Fun Things To Do in Edmonton

  1. Explore Downtown Edmonton.
  2. Splash in the water fountains at Churchill Square.
  3. Catch a professional hockey game in the ‘City of Champions’.
  4. Ride the 100th Street Funicular down to the promenade for a spectacular view of the Edmonton River Valley.
  5. Discover the many art treasures at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
  6. Learn about Alberta’s heritage and nature at the Royal Alberta Museum.
  7. Check out locally-sourced produce and handicrafts at an Edmonton Farmers’ Market.
  8. See the grounds and fountains of the Alberta Legislature.
  9. Cruise the North Saskatchewan River on the Edmonton Riverboat.
  10. Grab a pint and check out what’s happening in Old Strathcona.
  11. Experience Edmonton’s early history at Fort Edmonton Park.
  12. Enjoy a wide variety of Indie artists at the Fringe Festival, one of the many Edmonton summer festivals.
  13. Hike the paths and footbridges of the Edmonton River Valley.
  14. Ride one of the 17 waterslides at West Edmonton Mall.
River tall buildings background
Beautiful view of the downtown Edmonton from the river valley

Downtown Edmonton

The town of Edmonton developed east of 97th Street and north of Jasper Avenue in the 1890s. When Edmonton became a city in 1904, the Hudson’s Bay Company controlled the current downtown.  By 1913, that land was in private hands and well on its way to becoming today’s thriving downtown.

Enjoy a walk around Downtown Edmonton and discover all the area has to offer.

Downtown Edmonton Map

Edmonton Downtown map points of interest
Click on the above Edmonton map for an interactive version.

The perfect place to start a walk of Downtown Edmonton is the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, a half block south of Jasper Avenue on 100th Street.

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

The luxurious hotel opened in July 1915 costing the Grand Truck Pacific Railway $2 Million to build and furnish. The first guests enjoyed many of the conveniences we take for granted, such as electric elevators and systems integrating heating and ventilating.

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald treed hill foreground
The 1915 Hotel Macdonald underwent a major renovation in the 1990’s. Its attic was converted to specialty suites with turret spaces and magnificent views of Edmonton’s River Valley.

One of its biggest assets is a commanding view of the North Saskatchewan River valley and the city spreading to the south. Behind the hotel, at the top of McDougall Hill, the 100th Street Funicular connects Downtown Edmonton to the river valley. The glass-walled elevator opened in 2017. It operates year-round taking about a minute to climb or descend the hill. The views are incredible.

The funicular ride ends halfway into the valley. Follow the path to the Funicular Promenade Bridge and the Frederick G. Todd Lookout. Don’t forget your phone to capture the amazing panoramic view from the lookout. Over a century of bridge building is visible from this spot. To the west is the Low Level Bridge, built in 1902, while to the east is the Tawatinâ LRT Bridge, completed in 2022.

Person bridge funicular Hotel Macdonald background
The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald dominates the skyline behind me.

Retrace your steps to Jasper Avenue. Walk north to 102nd Avenue and east along Sir Winston Churchill Square to 99th Street. This street, between Judy Padua Way and 103a Avenue, is the heart of Edmonton’s Arts District, its civic and cultural core.

Arts District

The buildings on the west side of 99th Street are Edmonton civic buildings. The main branch of the Public Library is south of Sir Winston Churchill Square, aka Churchill Square. Many Edmonton open-air festivals and shows are held in the Square.  Hot summer days bring kids and families to the City Hall Fountain to splash and have fun cooling off beside City Hall.

Couple in City Hall Fountain Edmonton
Join Edmontonians on hot days and cool off in the City Hall Fountain.

The hub of Edmonton’s arts and culture scene is located on the east side of 99th Street. The Citadel Theatre is opposite the library (at the corner of 99th and 102nd). The multi-stage entertainment complex opened in 1976 and hosts the city’s best actors and comedians on stage in a wide variety of performances.

The Winspear Centre, to its north, opened in 1997. It’s known for excellent acoustics and is the home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.  The 3-storey tall Davis Concert Organ has 6551 pipes. It was built by Orgues Létourneau Limitée of St. Hyacinthe, Québec.

Continuing north, the impressive Art Gallery of Alberta opened in 2010. Further north, the Royal Alberta Museum is on the other side of 103a Avenue. It’s the newest addition to the Arts District, opening in 2018.

Ribbon like decoration facade Art Gallery Alberta
The art gallery itself is a work of art. The winding “ribbon” mimics forms found in the North Saskatchewan River and Aurora Borealis.

The Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market is just to the east, at 97th Street and 102a Avenue. The building began as a department store in 1911. In 1917 it became the denim and western wear manufacturing plant for Edmonton’s Great Western Garment Company (GWG). By the mid-1950s, GWG was the largest garment manufacturer in the British Commonwealth, outgrowing its downtown plant.

Walk west from the Arts District to 101st Street. The Ice District, centred around 104th Avenue, stretches from here to 104th Street.

Ice District

This is Downtown Edmonton’s entertainment district. At its centre is Rogers Place, the home of the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League.  The arena seats 18,500 for hockey and another 2,000 for the wide variety of musical acts who grace its stage throughout the year.

Man Edmonton Rogers Place
Rogers Place, behind Andy, is the home of the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers.
Man Wayne Gretzky statue Edmonton
Wayne Gretzky played hockey for the Oilers from 1979 through 1988, leading them to 4 Stanley Cups. He played for 11 more years, retiring in 1999 with 61 league records. Most of those records have yet to be broken. He is the only hockey player whose jersey number 99 has been retired league-wide.

Outside the arena, pose in front of the Wayne Gretzky statue on 104th Avenue.  Gretzky captained the Oilers to four Stanley Cups during their dynasty run in the 1980s.  Visit the Official Oilers Team Store in the Ice District Plaza to grab a souvenir from a wide range of Oilers’ memorabilia. In the winter, the plaza becomes a skating rink.

Edmonton Oilers hockey jerseys
Pick up your Edmonton Oilers jersey from ICE District Authentics, the Official Oilers Team store.

On the east side of Rogers Place is the Grand Villa Edmonton. This entertainment and gaming space is over 60,000 square feet.

On the west side of Rogers Place, just south of the 104th and 104th intersection, enjoy the outdoor Neon Sign Museum. The collection of signs from Edmonton’s past is mounted on the side of the Mercer Warehouse building. They were donated to the city and restored by volunteers. Visit any time, but it is most impressive at night.

Downtown Edmonton Restaurants

Jasper Avenue has plenty of food options.  We were really impressed with the breakfast plates at De Dutch and also enjoyed breakfast at Cora, just south of Jasper on 106th Street.

There are lots of sports bars and unique restaurants in the Ice District to satisfy your hunger or quench your thirst, including Home & Away YEG and Carne Asada.  We grabbed a brew and some eats at Campio Brewing Co.

3 decker sandwich fries beer
Enjoy the patio at Campio Brewing in the ICE District of downtown Edmonton

For dinner, try one of the many pubs like Rocky Mountain Icehouse or the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  Our favourite spot for the dinner atmosphere was Central Social Hall.

With an average of 15 hours of summer daylight, there’s plenty of time for a walk after dinner.

Stroll over to 107th Street and south to 99th Avenue. The Alberta Legislature Grounds stretch south to the river and west to 109th Street.

Alberta Legislature Grounds

Many buildings make up the Alberta Legislature. They are surrounded by parkland with fountains and flower gardens, perfect for a summer wander. An underground pathway system connects many of the Legislature’s buildings with the transit system.

The Alberta Legislature Building has a central dome above a rotunda, like many North American capitol buildings. Huge marble columns frame the main entrance of this beautiful Beaux Arts building, constructed between 1907 and 1913. On a free tour of the Alberta Legislature Building, learn about the workings of provincial government, its traditions and about the building itself. Pre-registration is required.

Stop at the Legislative Assembly Visitor Centre, located on the main floor of the Federal Building. Grab a souvenir at the Capital Gifts shop. If a tour isn’t on the day’s plan, learn about government through the exhibits in the Borealis Gallery and the Pehonan Theatre. The theatre’s 4D presentation ‘Our People Our Province’ explores Alberta’s political history.

Concrete walkways slabs water feature Alberta Legislature
Water features were added in the 1970s in front of the Alberta Legislature Building. Even without water, it’s impressive.
Couple Centennial Flame Alberta Legislature building
We enjoyed the shaded grounds behind the Legislature Building and the Centennial Flame.

Exit the Federal Building onto Violet King Henry Plaza and walk south toward the Legislature. At the railing, look down to the plaza below with fountains, the Alberta Legislature Building Wading Pool and the beautiful surrounding gardens. The area is illuminated at night. The Centennial Flame is behind the building.

This area was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s last western headquarters, Fort Edmonton. Most fur trading activity was over by 1891. The headquarters closed permanently by 1914 when the Alberta Legislature Building opened.

Edmonton Museums

There’s something for everyone at Edmonton’s best 6 museums!

Fort Edmonton Park

Discover what life was like in Edmonton’s early days. Ride the working steam train and vintage streetcar or just wander the park’s 158 acres in the river valley. Set aside a couple hours for a visit or maybe stay at the 1920’s era Hotel Selkirk, a 2-suite boutique hotel.

Person antique farm cart Fort Edmonton
Andy is in front of one of the Fort Edmonton buildings which are all full-scale replicas of the 1846 Hudson’s Bay Company fort. Reenactors show the activities that happened at the fort during the era of the fur trade (1795-1859).

Interact with costumed staff re-enacting the daily activities of a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post at the reconstructed 1846 Fort Edmonton. The nearby Indigenous People’s Experience presents the histories and perspectives of local First Nations and Métis Peoples.

Fort Edmonton Park 4 photo collage
At Fort Edmonton Park, in addition to the recreation of the fort itself, there are buildings representing the changes in the development of the city. Clockwise from the top left: Streetcar in front of the Capitol Theatre, Metis Camp, 1920s Midway & Exhibition and Sun Drug Store

Walk through three streetscapes of Edmonton’s early days: the 1885 Settlement era, the 1905 Municipal era and the 1920 Metropolitan era.  Check out the 1920s Midway and Exhibition complete with rides and games perfect for both kids and adults.

Allow 3 hours to fully explore Fort Edmonton Park.

Royal Alberta Museum

Check out thousands of objects chronicling Alberta’s human history. Learn about ancient Indigenous society and the transition to the province’s modern multi-cultural one. Alberta’s spectacular nature and environment is expertly showcased. The Children’s Gallery will easily engage younger visitors.  Allow for a 2-hour visit to the Royal Alberta.

4 photo collage Royal Alberta Museum
Explore Alberta’s cultural and natural history at the Royal Alberta Museum.

See the art gallery’s regional, national and international art, collected over its century in operation. Over 6,000 paintings, sculptures, and installations are displayed in six gallery spaces, on 3 floors, including a dedicated children’s gallery.

Many find the gallery’s state-of-the-art building itself a work of art. The swirling steel ribbon is the architect’s vision of the North Saskatchewan River and the Aurora Borealis, both of which can be enjoyed in Edmonton.

Alberta Aviation Museum

More than 30 historical aircraft are on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum in a huge World War II era hangar. All are lovingly maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers. Explore the aircraft and learn about Edmonton and Alberta’s aviation history. The hangar, at the former Edmonton Municipal Airport, is the only remaining one of its kind. The huge hangars were used to train men and women of the British Commonwealth as pilots, navigators and aircrew.  

Airplane mounted outside Alberta Aviation museum
This Noorduyn Norseman “CF–HPY” is one of over 30 aircraft on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Telus World of Science

This newly-renovated museum is a must-do for families with lots of fun, interactive displays in both permanent and feature galleries for the kids.

Check out an IMAX film or learn about our solar system at Zeidler Dome. The World of Science website has a full list of exhibits including show times to help you maximize your visit.

Museum display Saturn V rocket
The Saturn V rocket was developed by NASA for the Apollo lunar missions. This 1:10 scale model is 11 metres high and weighs 748 kg. The full size version weighs 2.8 million kilograms.
Person in space suit Telus World of Science
Fun awaits the whole family at Telus World of Science. (Yup that’s me in the spacesuit.)

Alberta Railway Museum

Explore over 75 engines and railcars from the Canadian National Railway, Northern Alberta Railway and industrial and short line railways in western Canada. The railway museum displays engines of both the steam and diesel eras. Located just north of the city, the museum is open weekends between Victoria Day (late May) and Labour Day (first Monday of September). 

Edmonton Farmers’ Markets

There are several local farmers’ markets in Edmonton. The two largest operate on weekends.

People shopping farmers market stand
Pick up locally-grown organic produce, hand-crafted artisan goods or maybe just a latte and a sweet. It’s waiting for you at the market!

Edmonton Festivals

Edmonton has many interesting summer festivals including:

Edmonton Fringe Festival

We highly recommend the Edmonton Fringe Festival, North America’s oldest and largest fringe theatre festival.  This festival takes place in Old Strathcona for 11 days every August.

3 photo collage Fringe Festival performer theatre
A highlight of Edmonton’s festival calendar is the Fringe Festival held in Old Strathcona. Buskers entertain audiences with street performances and often take the stage at the Walterdale Theatre and other area venues for evening shows.

See local, national and international artists busk for the crowds on the street and on the main outdoor stage in Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park.  Many of these artists also move indoors for ticketed performances on stages nearby in the Fringe Theatre Arts Barns, and the Varscona and Walterdale Theatres.

As well as coordinating the popular festival, the Fringe Theatre group presents performances year-round.

Old Strathcona Neighbourhood

Explore the quirky shops on Whyte, aka 82nd Avenue. This is the heart of the former town of Strathcona which amalgamated with Edmonton in 1912. It continues to have a lively town-like vibe. Come for the art, culture, food and people watching. On a Saturday visit, don’t forget to hit the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market.

Man Old Strathcona Farmers' Market
The Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday year-round from 8 am to 3 pm. We were too late!

Ride the vintage High Level Bridge Streetcar for a unique way to come to Old Strathcona. The streetcar travels between Jasper Plaza Park, a park south of Jasper Avenue between 109th and 110th Streets and Whyte Avenue at Gateway Boulevard. It uses track that was part of the Canadian Pacific Railway until the late 1980s and travels over the High Level Bridge. Get some of the best views of the river valley on the streetcar as it crosses the bridge.

Said to be the highest operating streetcar in the world, it runs Fridays through Sundays between Victoria Day (late May) long weekend and Thanksgiving Monday (2nd Monday in October).  Mondays are added in the summer.

Visit the Edmonton Radial Railway Society’s free museum in the Strathcona Streetcar Garage which it shares with the farmers’ market. Learn about streetcar history, Edmonton’s original streetcar system and the museum’s streetcars from around the world. The museum occupies part of the garage which used to be Edmonton’s diesel and trolley bus barn.  The railway museum is open on Saturdays between Victoria Day and Canadian Thanksgiving.

Old Strathcona has lots of great restaurants, many with patios in the summer.  Try Julio’s Barrio Mexican Restaurant, The Next Act, or Sugarbowl.

Stools by bar beer keg wall behind
MKT has 100 different beers between bottles and on tap. Perfect for beer aficionados and casual quaffers alike.
Person with beer in hand in bar 2nd beer foreground
We enjoyed beer and great food at MKT!

We enjoyed great nachos and a pint at MKT on a Saturday night. There are literally dozens of beers on tap and more in bottles. Sit on the enormous patio or inside the former Canadian Pacific Strathcona Railway Station, in the heart of Old Strathcona. The station, a Canadian heritage railway station, operated from 1908 to 1985. The second floor, originally for storage and railway crew housing, is a cool events space.

Discover more than 70 murals, graffiti walls and street art along Whyte Avenue, its side streets and back lanes. Use the Old Strathcona Mural map to find their locations.

3 photo collage wall murals
There are many murals throughout Old Strathcona. Clockwise from left: Okuda Mural, Mr. Chi Pig Mural and Backstories.

West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton is the largest mall in North America with over 800 stores and services. People visit for much more than just shopping.

This goliath of shopping and entertainment has over 5 MILLION square feet with plenty of entertainment options, including:

  • Public skating on the indoor Ice Rink
  • Galaxyland Amusement Park
  • World Water Park (with 17 waterslides and rides) and wave pool
  • Miniature Golf
  • Drive – a multi-level go-karting experience
  • The Casino
  • Sea Life Caverns, and
  • the IMAX theatre
3 photo collage West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall has over 800 stores, the World Water Park with waterslides and wave pool, and the Ice Palace, the NHL-sized ice rink and much more.

There are two hotels and over 100 dining venues. While fewer people are “going to the mall” these days, West Edmonton was packed when we visited on a hot summer day.

Edmonton’s River Valley

The North Saskatchewan River flows in a deep valley through the centre of Edmonton. This is one of the largest stretches of urban parkland in North America. At the turn of the 20th century, Frederick Todd, a landscape architect, urged the early city planners to create parks and natural open spaces. We’re glad they listened.

The legacy of that suggestion is a first-class system of parks, stairs, footbridges and multi-use trails throughout the city with the River Valley at its core. Tourists and residents enjoy easy access to many things to do in the valley.

Muttart Conservatory

Spend an hour at this year-round botanical garden. Since opening in 1976, Muttart’s gardeners have showcased thousands of species of plants within its four glass pyramids. 

The plants in the Feature Garden pyramid are replanted multiple times each year. There is always something new at the Muttart. The other three pyramids hold plants from different climate zones: Temperate, Arid, and Tropical

Person by bike stand front Muttart Conservatory
Andy stands among the outside gardens at the Muttart Conservatory. The stars are inside in the 4 glass pyramids, each holding a different garden.
Inside glass pyramid Cactus garden
The Arid Garden houses plants from the world’s hot and cold deserts of five continents

Temperate plants grow in a climate like Edmonton and much of Canada. The temperature and humidity within the pyramid are controlled so that the plants follow their usual seasonal cycles. See spring’s vibrant new growth, summer’s stunning flowers, and fall’s beautiful coloured leaves all fade away to dormancy in the winter.

In the arid garden, find plants from the hot and cold deserts of five continents.  The tropical pyramid has a jungle-like environment with plants from tropical rainforests, tropical evergreen forests and tropical grasslands. Enter and smell the sweetness of its orchids. The Muttart Conservatory is definitely worth a look!

Nearby, the Edmonton Riverboat is docked and ready to give visitors a different view of Edmonton’s River Valley.

Edmonton Riverboat

Climb aboard for brunch, dinner or a sunset cruise on the North Saskatchewan River. This paddle-wheeler, originally known as the Edmonton Queen, is 50 metres long and holds 400 passengers. She began plying the North Saskatchewan in 1995. Schedules vary throughout the summer season. While tickets can be purchased both online and at the dock, it is best to review Edmonton Riverboat cruise times before arriving.

Paddlewheel boat on river
A ride on the Edmonton Riverboat is a great way to see the Edmonton River Valley.

Best Parks in Edmonton

Each of these River Valley parks offers visitors a unique experience. Public washrooms (open 9am to 9pm) or portable toilets are available in all parks except Kinnaird. The parks are linked by trails suitable for hiking and often cycling, blading and cross-country skiing.

Explore these great parks (listed from east to west):

Rundle Park

Rundle Park offers disc and mini golf, pedal boat rentals and beach volleyball. There are picnic sites and access to walking and cycling trails. It is just off Yellowhead Highway and 118th Avenue.

Kinnaird Park

Many of Kinnaird Park’s walking and cycling paths are dirt covered and climb the tree-and-scrub covered valley walls. You’ll feel like you are in the middle of the wilderness. Access the park from Sheriff Robertson Recreation Park at 82nd Street and 111th Avenue.

Man path city buildings background
Andy is on a trail in Kinnaird Park. If the city skyline was not in the background, this picture could be on any wilderness trail instead of in an urban park.

Keep your eyes peeled for a local landmark, the River Valley Swing. A hint: We didn’t go to the river’s edge to try the swing, but got some photos from above. This park is one of only a few spots on the north side of the river where there is still a great view of the Edmonton skyline.

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park

A must-visit for lovers of nature, art and expansive river vistas, the riverside park includes a Chinese Garden complete with gate and bridge. Parking is available via 95a Street and Grierson Hill. By foot, use the 100 Street Funicular or the Tawatina LRT Bridge.

Benches are plentiful along the riverfront with walking and cycling trails throughout.

The upper level of Tawatina LRT Bridge carries the LRT track for the new 13-kilometre Valley Line Southeast LRT. Walk the lower level pedestrian bridge and enjoy the more than 400 pieces of Indigenous artwork by local Indigenous artist David Garneau above.  The Edmonton Riverboat and the Muttart Conservatory are on the south side of the bridge.

Louise McKinney Riverfront Park Chinese Garden bridge background
Louise McKinney Riverfront Park includes a Chinese Garden, pagoda and gate. Walkers can reach the park from the south side of the river valley via the pedestrian bridge of the Tawatinâ LRT Bridge.

Hawrelak Park

The park has a large central lake, open meadows and a pavilion. It hosts several major festivals and events throughout the year. William Hawrelak Park Road, just off Groat Road, circles the park. The park’s northern limit is the century-old, members-only Royal Mayfair Golf Club.

Rent pedal boats and enjoy the lake but swimming and fishing are not allowed. Picnic areas, walking and cycling trails are close to parking areas. 

Whitemud Park

The park sits between Fort Edmonton Park and Whitemud Equine Centre. There are picnic sites and multi-use trails nearby. Some of the trails head south along the Whitemud Creek and into Whitemud Creek Ravine, another ribbon of urban green space. Parking is available just off Fox Drive on Keillor Road.

The Talus Dome is a piece of public art on a cycling path over the nearby Quesnell Bridge. This structure of almost 1000 handcrafted, stainless-steel balls reflect their surroundings. Depending on your positioning, you may see the sky, the river, passing cars, people and probably you! No matter the background, enjoy the often warped and quirky reflections.

Couple Terwillegar Park Footbridge
Opened in 2016, the Terwillegar Park Footbridge is 5 metres wide giving pedestrians and cyclists lots of room to pass each other safely. There was lots of cyclists until we took this picture of us on the footbridge.

Terwillegar Park

This park has a huge off-leash area for our canine friends. It’s the perfect place to explore nature and maybe see some wildlife. The park is located at the end of Rabbit Hill Road in the city’s southwest. Parking is available.

A small beach is just a short walk from the parking lot. Launch a canoe, kayak or raft on the North Saskatchewan River and experience the river and Edmonton’s River Valley. For those with great balance, try stand-up paddle boarding on this calm river. The Terwillegar Park Footbridge crosses the river and links Terwillegar Park to Jan Reimer Park on the north side.

6 Best Walking Trails in Edmonton

The winding River Valley has over 165 kilometres of trails.  With staircases and footbridges throughout the valley, there are lots of options for great, easy hikes. Several of the valley’s trails are part of the Trans Canada Trail, a set of linked trails across Canada.

Person stairs trees river
Andy climbing up the Royal Glenora Stairs, one of many staircases which give access to the trail network in the river valley.

These 6 hikes include some of Edmonton’s best walking trails. Connect the hikes together for a day hike through the valley.

Terwillegar Park to Wolf Willow Stairs (5.5 km one-way)

Enjoy the view over the River Valley from Ramsay Heights Lookout (beside 4120 Whitemud Road). The river bend here is almost a perfect horseshoe. A 1999 landslide sent much of this hillside into the valley below. This is also a great location to view the sunset over the valley.

Just to the west, follow the signs for Terwillegar Park’s off-leash dog park. A paved path leads down to the parking lot at the end of Rabbit Hill Road. Walk down to the beach at the river’s edge and enjoy a swim on a hot day.

Green river valley with bridge
The rugged-looking Edmonton River Valley and the Terwillegar Park Footbridge from the Ramsay Heights Lookout.

Head back toward the parking lot and follow the trail east to the Terwillegar Park Footbridge. At 262 metres long, it was the longest, stressed-ribbon bridge in Canada, and second longest in the world, when it opened in the fall of 2016. Eighty-six deck panels are threaded onto 162 individual steel cables with each end anchored on opposite sides of the bridge.

From the footbridge, hike about 2 kilometres to Wolf Willow Stairs. The total hike is about 5.5 kilometres beginning downhill but turning flat when the valley floor is reached.

The 200-step Wolf Willow Stairs lead to Westridge Park and the Patricia Ravine dog park. The view of the valley from the top of the stairs is quite stunning and another perfect sunset spot.

A great addition to this hike is the following route.

Wolf Willow Stairs to Fort Edmonton Park (2.8 to 3.0 km one-way)

Starting at the base of the Wolf Willow Stairs, follow the paved trail south along the river. Reaching a trail intersection, keep to the left following signs to the Fort Edmonton Footbridge. The footbridge is a suspension bridge that opened in 2011. Wolf Willow Beach is just to the south of the bridge.

Person trail Wolf Willow stairs
Enjoy a sunset from the top of the 200-step Wolf Willow Stairs.

Cross the bridge and be sure to check out the view of the river valley in both directions from the centre of the footbridge. It is worth stopping to drink it all in.

The paved trail ends at Whitemud Road. The grounds of Fort Edmonton Park are straight ahead. There are 2 trails to reach the park entrance on the opposite side of the grounds. For a flat route, turn left and walk to the end of Whitemud Road. A hard-packed dirt trail heads east along the river to the Fort Edmonton parking lot, about 1.9 km. If you turn right on Whitemud, the paved trail does some dips and climbs for about 1 km then flattens for 0.4 km to the parking lot.

It’s about a 4 km walk along the southern riverbank to reach Hawrelak Park Footbridge.

Hawrelak Park Loop (2 to 3 km circular)

Enjoy a walk around the Hawrelak Park Lake. It’s a nice, easy introduction to exploring Edmonton’s River Valley. If you’re not a big hiker or have young kids, this is a great place to get out for some exercise and fresh air in a very pretty setting.

For a little more challenge, try the dirt-covered forest trails on the west side of the park. It is 2.5 kilometres between the Hawrelak Park Footbridge on the south side of the park and Groat Road Bridge.

Ezio Farone Park to Groat Road Bridge Loop (5.5 km circular)

Begin in Ezio Faraone Park, just west of the Alberta Legislature. Enjoy the impressive view of the river valley from the top of the Royal Glenora Stairs.

Person top stairs river bridges background
The Highlevel Bridge, completed in 1913, was the first bridge in Canada which handled rail, streetcar, automobile and pedestrian traffic. It dominates the eastern skyline from the Royal Glenora Stairs dwarfing the Dudley B Menzies Bridge beside it.

Walk down the stairs and cross the river on the Dudley B. Menzies Bridge just west of the High Level Bridge.  The bridge’s main deck carries two tracks of the LRT system. A pedestrian bridge hangs beneath it for walkers and cyclists.

Follow the trail to the left along the river through Emily Murphy Park to Groat Road Bridge. Cross bridge and follow the paved path along the river back to the Royal Glenora Stairs.

A lot of this loop is tree-covered and, other than the stairs, the ground is relatively flat.

The hike from the Dudley B. Menzies Bridge to the Walterdale Bridge is less than a kilometre.

100 Street Funicular to Walterdale Bridge Loop (6 km circular)

Ride the 100 Street Funicular and walk out to the Frederick G Todd Lookout for a great view up and down the river valley. Take an elevator down to the trails along the riverbank.

River walkway riverboat bridge background
From downtown, take the 100th Street Funicular to the river valley. The Frederick G. Todd Lookout provides a great vantage point to see the Edmonton Riverboat and the Tawatinâ LRT Bridge.

Walk west to the Low-Level Bridge and cross to the south side of the river. Continue west on the trail beside the river to the picturesque Walterdale Bridge. The bridge’s beautiful arch is a great photo backdrop. Cross back to the north side and walk through the Rossdale neighbourhood.

The south side of the river is tree-covered and the trail on both sides of the river is flat.

Street river white arched bridge
The Walterdale Bridge opened in 2018. Its two arches are supported on both river banks so that no pier is needed in the river. The bridge is very photogenic.

100 Street Funicular to Dawson Bridge Loop (8 km circular)

Follow the Walterdale Bridge Loop above to the south side of the river. Turn east on the trail and walk past the Edmonton Riverboat and the Tawatinâ LRT Bridge. If the weather has turned messy, cross the bridge and follow the trail west back to the start.

Otherwise, continue east for 10 to 15 minutes to a fork in the trail. The left trail continues along the river to the blue Dawson Bridge.

The right trail climbs the valley to Forest Heights Park for great views of the river valley below. Continue to Rowland Park Lookout, near McNally School, for another amazing view of the city skyline. Follow the trail downhill to the Dawson Bridge.

Blue bridge green river valley
The view from the Rowland Park Lookout of the river valley, the blue Dawson Bridge and downtown Edmonton is spectacular.

Cross the bridge and follow the trail westward along the river through Kinnaird Park’s riverside trails back to Louise McKinney Park and the starting point.

Know Before You Go

How to get from Edmonton Airport to Downtown

Taking public transit is the least expensive way to get to downtown Edmonton.  The 747 airport bus travels between the airport and the Century Park Transit Centre. This is a major Edmonton Transit bus station that includes the Clareview LRT station. Catch the Capital Line LRT to downtown.  Our ride was about 1:15.

A quicker but more expensive option is an Uber ride. The ride is between 30 minutes and an hour depending on the time of day.

Do all Edmonton street addresses have a NW at the end?

No but most do. It is often omitted (as we have done in this article) when the address is unique. Streets in Edmonton run north/south and the numbering is from east to west. Avenues run east/west with numbering from south to north. The city initiated this system early in its history when the entire city was northwest of the intersection of 1st Street and 1st Avenue. As the city grew further east and south, numbering was restarted and the other 3 quadrants were created so that the NW was added to the original set of city addresses.

For more great Alberta destinations, be sure to check out our article Best Alberta Road Trips.

Rocky path surrounded by forested hills mountain peaks

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