Suggested Months: Year-round
Allow one or two days to experience Edmonton Festival City, and at least one day to “experience the energy” in Fort McMurray (optional overnight in Fort McMurray).
DAY 1 — Enjoy a day crossing Kalyna Country, Canada’s largest eco-museum, home to more than 40 designated natural areas and 1,000 km of trails, all just east of Edmonton. Along this 300-km stretch of North Saskatchewan river valley you’ll be able to view all manner of creatures, from bald eagles and bears, that make up Alberta’s diverse bird, fish and wildlife. Be sure to stop at Elk Island National Park or the adjacent Cooking Lake-Blackfoot recreation area, home to herds of free-roaming bison, moose, deer and elk, as well as more than 250 species of birds. Hike amongst the many trails or canoe across the motor-free lake. Experience the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve Program, aimed at raising public awareness on light pollution. Overnight at Elk Island Retreat, just 15 minutes from Elk Island National Park, a unique setting for rest, relaxation and reflection. Bring the RV along, or rent a tipi for year-round camping. Immerse your imagination in the history of First People’s culture; attend one of many offered Aboriginal Culture Programs.
DAY 2 — Discover nature in the city! The John Janzen Nature Centre offers programs, events, exhibits and information to encourage awareness and understanding of nature in an urban setting. Visit the Exhibit Room, the living pond or the active, working beehive to see nature close-up! Be sure to stop in at the Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton’s premier horticultural attraction, featuring more than 700 species of plants. Ask about the Orchid Species Preservation Foundation of Alberta, helping to develop a world-renowned orchid species collection. Head south on Queen Elizabeth II Highway to The Devonian Botanic Garden, home to an authentic Japanese Garden, floral gardens and collections of native and alpine plants, all situated in a rolling landscape of pine trees and wetlands.
DAY 3 — Start the day with a truly educational experience. Visit the Edmonton Waste Management Centre and bone up on composting, recycling, landfill design, biofilters and more. Now it’s time for some shopping! Start at Southgate Centre, which meets 25 per cent of its energy needs through wind turbines, part of eco-incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at six major malls across Alberta. Head west for adventure in West Edmonton Mall, The Greatest Indoor Show on Earth! Be sure to stop at the Sea Life Caverns, home to more than 200 species of colourful fish, sharks, stingrays, reptiles and penguins. Interactive exhibits and daily live presentations allow you to get up close and learn more about these remarkable creatures. Hear about the African penguin-breeding program, which helps this protected species survive by providing a stable, safe breeding environment.