The University of Alberta is a research university known primarily for its scientific programs, but it has a whole lot more to offer. Over 40,000 students attend annually, with most of them calling the city of Edmonton their home. But other than academics, what else is there to do in Edmonton? More than you may initially think.
Edmonton is Alberta’s capital city, as well as being one of its fastest growing ones. With over 325 days of sunshine annually, it’s the perfect place for enjoying the outdoors. Edmonton is also known as the “festival city” of Canada, with over 50 events taking place every year. Between the great weather and growing population, Edmonton is a gorgeous city with plenty of fun and culture to explore, making it perfect for college students.
If you’re looking to explore Edmonton, here are 10 places to visit first:
University of Alberta Botanic Gardens
Not interested in walking too far? No problem. The University of Alberta has one of the largest botanical gardens in the province, with thousands of unique plants for you to observe. There are actually multiple sections of the garden to explore, all with intricate design and theming.
The Aga Khan Garden, for example, is a gorgeous landscape that takes inspiration from Islamic architecture and scenery. From limestone terraces, to secluded forest paths, there is plenty to marvel at. That doesn’t even include the Kurimoto Japanese Garden, the Indigenous Garden, or the indoor showhouses they use for their tropical plants.
This is the place to go if you want to spend your day looking at and learning about botany and marveling at landscapes and sculptures. No matter your background, culture, or interests, University of Alberta’s Botanic Garden Collections are sure to inspire you.
Elk Island National Park
If you are looking to escape the city life without having to travel too far from campus, Elk Island is the place for you. A short 35-minute drive from Edmonton, this national park is a refuge far from the city lights. It’s ideal for hiking, biking, or even horseback riding with over 11 trails to explore. Not to mention the gorgeous waterfronts are great for canoeing, kayaking, and other water activities.
If you’re not the adventurous type, Elk Island still has much to offer. And while you can never guarantee the chance to see a wild animal, Elk Island is also Canada’s only fenced in national park. This means your odds of seeing bison or elk are much higher than usual. It’s also a great location for bird watching, with over 250 species of bird to spot and identify.
Since Elk Island National Park isn’t diluted with city lights, it’s a certified dark sky preserve. This means that it is the perfect place for stargazing, or even spotting the Northern Lights when the timing’s right. So, whether it’s day or night, you’ll always have something beautiful to look at.
Royal Alberta Museum
If you don’t know much about the province of Alberta’s rich history, you’re missing out on millions of unique stories. The Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) is committed to collecting, preserving, and displaying items that are directly related to the history of Alberta. It’s only a quick 12-minute drive from campus, making it an easy weekend activity.
The RAM is the largest museum in western Canada, as well as one of the most popular. It is nestled in the Arts District of Edmonton, making it a perfect place to stop and visit for a few hours while you take in the culture. The museum opened in 1917 and was relocated in 2018, so it has quite an interesting history of its own.
There are 13 programs that the museum focuses on for curation. These programs can be divided into four basic sections: life and earth science, as well as human history and conservation. RAM is committed to sharing over 5.1 million Albertan stories with care and respect. It truly is a must-see if you are looking to learn more about Alberta and the history that helped build it.
Visit the End of the World (Keillor Point)
Are you the type of person that loves beautiful views but isn’t willing to hike miles to get there? Then you’re going to love Keillor Point. Commonly called, “the end of the world,” this outlook is the perfect spot to get a look at the river valley, which is sure to inspire. The best part is, it’s easily accessible from a residential road and safe to explore.
In 2015, the Edmonton Parks and Recreation department underwent a project to allow everyone to view Keillor Point safely. In 2019, Edmonton finally released outlook point, which is fenced in from all sides. But now it’s newly renovated, safe to access, and open to the public. So, be assured that when you come to visit, you’ll be safe and sound as you step out onto the end of the world.
The perfect blend between hip and historical, Old Strathcona is an artsy community that has become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Edmonton. With a mixture of shops, boutiques, excellent food, and music, there is no shortage of stuff to explore. The neighborhood is covered in murals, leaving many opportunities to snap the perfect photo. There’s even a year-round farmers market that takes place every Saturday morning, on top of the various events that take place multiple days a week.
People of all ages, shapes, and backgrounds can come together and enjoy the lively neighborhood. A pet-friendly business map is available on Old Strathcona’s website, so even furry friends are welcome to join in on the fun. If you are looking for an eventful afternoon, Old Strathcona should be at the top of your list. It will definitely keep you coming back for more!
Fort Edmonton Park
Want a more immersive educational experience about Alberta’s history? Then look no further than Fort Edmonton Park, only a 13-minute drive from campus and located in Old Strathcona. This is a popular spot for schools, families, and history-lovers alike.
This park is over 158 acres of land and decked out in recreated architecture inspired by buildings from 1885, 1905, and 1920 respectively. You can even take a steam train across the park, along with horse drawn carriages, old automobiles, and streetcars. The train drops you off at the back of the park, allowing you to walk forwards through time and immerse yourself in the experience.
Fort Edmonton Park recently underwent renovations, opening up the Indigenous Peoples Experience section of the park. This gives local indigenous folks a chance to sell food and wares, as well as giving guests a detailed view of what life in Alberta was like pre-colonization. Over 50 local indigenous historians contributed to the project, portraying an authentic view of the 45 nations that built Alberta.
North Saskatchewan River Valley
If you are looking to do a day trip, the North Saskatchewan River Valley is the place to go, only a few hours away from the University of Alberta. The journey is worth it! It’s over 22 times the size of New York City’s Central Park. There are many trails to wander through and picturesque spots to set up the perfect picnic.
The North Saskatchewan River is used for year-round recreational activities, like canoeing, jet skiing, fishing, or even gold panning. In the winter, it is also a popular place for skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing. Even just strolling down one of their many trails is the favorite pastime of many Edmonton residents.
Alberta Legislature Building
Now, a government building might not sound too exciting initially, but the Alberta Legislature grounds are a sight to behold. With free guided tours and the ability to sit in and observe the assembly in action, there is no shortage of things to learn. Not only that, but the grounds surrounding the building are lush and full of space, perfect for the public events that commonly take place here.
West Edmonton Mall
Trying to find some more fun? Then you need to visit the West Edmonton Mall, the world’s largest shopping and entertainment complex. At a glance, there are over 800 stores, 20 restaurants, and even a rollercoaster, mini golf, and a wave pool. With over 48 city blocks worth of space, you’ll be able to keep yourself busy for hours.
Over 30 million people visit this mall annually, making it the number one tourist attraction in the province of Alberta. And with the 27 rides, multiple activities, and limitless food options, it’s easy to see why.
Take a Tour (or Three)
One amazing quality about Edmonton is that they give you plenty of opportunities to explore different aspects of their culture. You can do this by joining in on many of their great themed tours. These excursions can range from food and brewery tours to an exploration of Edmonton’s most haunted areas. If you are more interested in sightseeing, bike and segway tours are also readily available all over the city. It is one of the easiest and most engaging ways to explore the city. Wondering if Edmonton is the place for you? They even offer virtual tours, so you can look around popular locations around the city without even leaving your house.
For students at the University of Alberta, so much interesting stuff lays just beyond their doorstep. Want to join in on the fun? Collegeboxes has you covered. If you are looking for tips on applying to college or even transferring to a new one, our blog helps students navigate all stages of their academic career.
If you are moving to or from the University of Alberta, don’t do it alone. Here at Collegeboxes, we offer storage and shipping solutions to make your moving experience better. You can even ship your belongings right to school, or wherever they need to go. Collegeboxes partners with the University of Alberta to ensure their students have a seamless moving experience, and with decades of experience, you can trust us to do the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.