As local borders become unbarred and restrictions loosen, we’re aching for a getaway that can provide a little bit of everything.
And the best way to make up for a travel hiatus is by picking a destination with tons of variety — so you can go on a quest for the best tacos one day and embark on a mountainous escapade the next.
When it comes to finding the coordinates that will give way to the best of both worlds, we’ve got our sights set on Edmonton and Jasper. This underrated travel destination is a portal to Northern Canada’s urban edge and wild side.
There are two halves to this adventure — and we’re just about ready to pack our bags and head north. In the event that you need to be swayed, here’s a peek at what lies ahead.
Flying direct and touching down at the Edmonton International Airport is the easiest way to access the infinite possibilities of Edmonton and Jasper.
Take off from Ottawa International Airport with a direct flight on Air Canada, Flair Airlines, or WestJet. If you’re in Montreal, you can book direct with Air Canada and jet from Pierre-Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
Once you’ve landed in Edmonton you’ll be immersed in a world of exceptional dining, shopping, and art, before venturing to Jasper National Park, where natural wonders, enchanting landscapes, and spa-like relaxation awaits.
Since this trip is a two-parter, the first half will entail the thrills of experiencing Alberta’s capital city — overflowing with trendy cafes, thirst-quenching patios, historic buildings, art galleries, and some of the best shopping in the country.
Summertime in Northern Alberta is also synonymous with near-constant sunlight (for 18 hours a day, to be precise). So, expect days that are full-to-the-brim with all the marvels this metropolis has to offer.
Edmonton – foodie favourites
If you like food, you’ve come to the right place. Edmonton has an unexpectedly adventurous palate, which means you can find something to satiate just about every craving — from storybook bakeries to craft breweries.
Among our favourites is Sea Change Brewery, where tongue-in-cheek beers are accompanied by drool-worthy sandwiches.
Craft cocktails are also aplenty around the city, including the art nouveau-inspired Bar Clementine — one of the country’s top cocktail bars. You also can’t go wrong at The Common, where the holy trinity of food, drinks, and music converge.
At Kanto you can indulge in authentic Filipino comfort food with a flare. Rostizado brings classic Mexican rotisserie with family-style eats and slow-cooked meats, but if street food is more your style, try Tres Carnales Taqueria for a life-changing traditional Mexican taco experience.
Edmonton – shop ’til you drop
Home to over 800 shops — including an adventure park and entertainment complex — we’re all familiar with North America’s biggest shopping centre: West Edmonton Mall. It’s a great spot to spend a rainy day or christen your credit card.
If designer finds are what you’re after, 124th Street, Whyte Avenue, or the 4th Street Promenade promise the best boutiques in the city. The latter is teeming with iconic restaurants, historic architecture, and artisanal goods — making it worthy of a stroll just for window shopping and people watching alone.
Edmonton – get artsy
Before engaging in an afternoon of shopping and gallery hopping on 124th Street, drop by the world-renowned Duchess Bake Shop for some French spoils. The charming neighbourhood is replete with tons of specialty and antique stores, boutiques, indie coffee houses, inviting eateries, and incredible art. Home to the Gallery Walk, the area hosts a pocket of local galleries that showcase some of the best visual collections the Canadian art scene has to offer.
There’s also no shortage of art downtown in the aptly named Arts District — to get your fill, check out the Royal Alberta Museum, the Art Gallery of Alberta, The Citadel Theatre, the Winspear Centre, or Churchill Square.
Edmonton – feeling festive
Here, every season is festival season. Shakespeare under an open sky? You got it. A winter festival with sculptures made of ice and…fire? Done and done.
If you’re in Edmonton, there’s a festival going on. Over 50 festivals annually mean there’s no shortage of excitement to fill your stay — whether it’s 30 degrees above or below.
Journey to Jasper
On the second half of your trip, it’s nature who’s calling. As you head to Jasper National Park, let the hustle and bustle of your urban escape melt away as you approach the calm embrace of the mountains.
The drive itself — a four-hour jaunt along the historic Yellowhead Highway — is impressively picturesque with lots of opportunity for scenic lookouts. Once in Jasper, be prepared to encounter small-town charm and an abundance of wildlife, waterfalls, canyons, and glacier-fed lakes.
Jasper – venture off the beaten path
An hour’s drive from the town of Jasper is one of the Rockies’ most iconic landmarks Maligne Lake and Spirit Island. You can go at your own speed by paddling, or sit back and take in the stunning vistas on an interpretive cruise.
When you reach solid ground again by Spirit Island, immerse yourself in its natural beauty with a short walk to a lookout. After the cruise, cool off with a pint on one of the scenic patios that overlook the docks.
Jasper – soar above the clouds
Experience Jasper from a new vantage point with an alpine hike or by taking the Jasper SkyTram to the summit of Whistlers Mountain for a bird’s-eye-view of the awe-inspiring mountain ranges and shimmering lakes down below.
At the crest, delicious eats and drinks await. Throughout the summer, you can even get a free breakfast or burger just for reserving your spot online in advance.
Jasper – get some rest and relaxation
While the mountains are a place for adrenaline-fueled adventure, they can also be restorative. From luxurious spas to cozy cabins, take some time to indulge in self-care.
For some aqua-therapy, head to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge where the eucalyptus steam room, sauna, and 20-person outdoor hot tub and heated pool will wash away your stress.
Everyone deserves a little pampering, and that’s what the Mountain Wellness Day Spa is for. Here, facials, manicures, pedicures, reiki, and massages are on offer.
To learn more about planning your trip to Edmonton this summer, you can visit exploreedmonton.com.