Winter snows melt to reveal the very civilized fa‡ade of Edmonton, one of Canada's important urban centers and Alberta's leading tourist attraction. Modern office buildings are complimented by atmospheric cafes, pubs and restaurants that spill onto sidewalk patios in sunny weather. Boasting a wide variety of museums and outdoor activities galore, Edmonton visitors are guaranteed entertainment, no matter the temperature. Within easy reach of Calgary and the splendor of Banff and Jasper National Parks, this city is a convenient urban oasis in the rural heart of Alberta.
Spread along the snaking waters of the North Saskatchewan River, it's an easy seasonal switch from cross-country skiing to sunbathing and fishing in one of the pleasant green parks. Edmonton is also home to the biggest shopping mall in the world, complete with indoor waterslides and seemingly endless shopping opportunities. Don't expect to leave empty-handed.
If the weather begins to bluster, spend an educational afternoon perusing the Reynolds-Alberta Museum for old airplanes, antique cars and vintage motorcycles or crack your skull over paleontological finds at the Royal Tyrrel Museum (one of the largest museums of paleontology in the World). Learn more about Alberta's human and natural history at the Royal Alberta Museum or appreciate art at the Art Gallery of Alberta. If you'd rather take a scientific approach, kids ? and kids at heart ? will enjoy the TELUS World of Science, a space and science center that will have all ages seeing stars.
Should you exhaust Edmonton's urban attractions, grab hiking ? skiing ? fishing poles and head out of town.
Elk Island National Park is an easy hour's drive from Edmonton, home to big bison, elk, moose, deer and liberally laced with trails. For a Rocky Mountain high, cruise the 250 miles southwest to Banff or make the 192-mile drive to Jasper.