For some, planning the next vacation starts the moment you return from vacation. For others, it’s more of a research assignment with countless hours of digging in a quest to make our dollars and time go as far as possible. And when so much heart and soul goes into planning, how good is it when vacation actually starts? But there’s a question – when does vacation actually start? Is it when you arrive at your final destination? Or when you leave the house? Or somewhere in between? For us, it’s that single moment when the promise of vacation becomes real – you’ve gone through the checklist, you’ve triple-checked that your passport and wallet actually made it into your carry on, and somehow everyone who is supposed with you – actually is. Venturing into the Canadian Rockies is an immersive experience topping many bucket lists. But before you hurry into the National Parks, pause for a moment and experience Edmonton – the True North Rockies gateway. It’s a great way to bookend your Canadian adventure. Read on to get a taste of what this Winter Metropolis has to offer –
1.) Step into awe-inspiring Ice Castles
Edmonton is the ultimate winter city. And there’s no better illustration than the Edmonton Ice Castles. The frosty castles open their doors every year in early January and they stay open until they simply melt away. Step through the icy phenomenon and discover breathtaking sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains, and more.
2.) ‘There’s a festival for that’ –
When you’re in Edmonton, chances are there’s a festival happening right around the corner. And they come in all shapes and sizes. To name a few – Silver Skate Festival, Flying Canoe Volant Festival, and Ice on Whyte, are list toppers, but there are so many festivals to choose from you may hear someone say ‘there’s a festival for that’. See the full Edmonton Festival lineup to see what’s happening during your next visit.
3.) Fairmont Macdonald, the city’s landmark hotel –
First opened in 1915, the Fairmont Macdonald is one of Canada’s grand heritage rail hotels. Inspired by 16th-century French Chateaus, it’s now considered the city’s landmark hotel. A stay here is not only convenient, but it will add a little extra something to your Canadian experience. And you’ll be in good company! The hotel has been home to quite the guest list including – Queen Elizabeth II, King George, The Rolling Stones, Oprah, Bill Clinton, and numerous others. Not to mention, this sweet Canine Ambassador, who certainly knows how to roll out the red carpet.
4.) Take in a hockey game –
So the saying goes – ‘keep your elbows up and your stick on the ice’. It’s sort of a Canadian mantra reminding us all to play smart, and to play fair. The Edmonton Oilers seem to not only play smart and fair, but they are also mega Champions! They have 5 Stanley Cups under the belts, and their fans are as passionate as they are devoted to the team of champs. Come on in and see how Canadians do hockey.
5.) Take a walk on the wild side –
Feeling adventurous? Take an adventure tour and see the mighty Bison in Elk Island National Park. And for those feeling young at heart, try your hand at Fat Tire Biking through the River Valley, Tubing at Sunridge, or conquer the Dead Cold Run at Silver Skate. Learn more about the full lineup of how to get Extreme in Edmonton.
Photo credits via Travel Alberta