Edmonton: A City on the Rise

When you hear the name Edmonton, if you know anything about it, you probably think of hockey; the Edmonton Oilers; or Wayne Gretzky. If you really know Canadian sports; then maybe Warren Moon or the Edmonton Eskimos. But if you’re not into sports and you’re not Canadian or more specifically from Alberta, then you probably know nothing about Edmonton at all! I know about the sports stuff but that was pretty much it so I was happy to get back and gain a better perspective on Edmonton: a city on the rise!
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I drove up to Edmonton from Calgary once in November 2001 for a hockey game and to visit the West Edmonton Mall; which at the time was the largest mall on Earth. I hate shopping but it was just a thing I thought I should check out at the time. I remember thinking the mall was lame, the hockey arena was really old and outdated and it was cold.
YEG, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I didn’t even spend the night; I drove back to Calgary where I used to work about a week out of every month for about a year. I never thought to go back to Edmonton until my friends at Travel Alberta and Edmonton Tourism asked me come after my Jasper trip and my awesome experience at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. I have to say I had a really nice 2 days in Edmonton including the YEG tee shirt they gave me above!
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton; which is another castle looking Canadian Fairmont hotel. It is a little older and needs some updates but it’s still a very comfortable place to stay and has a great view from the rooms of the lower city and river.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, view, Fairmont Hotel MacDonald
If you follow me regularly or just read the introductory paragraph of this post then you know I love sports, say how sports and travel go together and plan many a trip around sports. Not shockingly, my Edmonton trip had two key sporting components to it.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Commonwealth Stadium, Womens World Cup
First, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was being played in Canada in June/July and I was able to catch the quarterfinal match between Australia and Japan at Commonwealth Stadium. Japan won 1-0 but the game was pretty closely contested. The atmosphere wasn’t that great to be honest but the set-up and the pageantry were pretty cool. The VIP FIFA passes I had were also pretty cool!
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, FIFA, Womens World Cup, ticket
The same day was the NHL Draft where the Edmonton Oilers who won 5 Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990 had the first pick and selected the once in a generation talent Connor McDavid. The city was in a tizzy and I was fortunate to hit up a draft party in an Oilers bar. They LOVE the Oil in Edmonton although it’s been a long time since they’ve legitimately had a winner. We’ll see how McDavid shakes out.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
But even more exciting for Edmonton is they are building a massive new hockey arena downtown. This is reminiscent of some US Midwestern cities that have totally revamped downtown areas around stadiums and arenas. I see this happening in Edmonton and I will 100% be back to check out the new arena when it opens in 2 years. It will be a part of a major development including arts, retail, restaurant and entertainment that will revitalize and invigorate downtown-at least that’s what they’re hoping for! But I think it will work out for sure. Plus this means the Oilers aren’t moving which I know was a concern for a while until they got a new arena built.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, view, mountain biking
Another worthwhile thing I did in my 2 days in Edmonton was to go mountain biking with Brett and Chris from Blitz Conditioning. I was as surprised as anyone that they have mountain biking in the actual city of Edmonton. They had a lot of trails along the river and utilized the bridges going back and forth. It was also a great way to see the majority of the city and from different angles. If you like to bike, I highly recommend this in Edmonton.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Alberta State Capital
Finally, Edmonton has some pretty good restaurants. I ate at two worth noting. Rostizado was fantastic. Rostizado brings the style, spice and flare of Mexico’s rosticerias in awesome family-style food. The carnitas and cocktails are off the charts along with some cool décor you wouldn’t expect in Edmonton.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Rostizado
I also checked out Woodwork. Woodwork is a cool blend of Southern French food and it’s a meat-eaters paradise. It’s worth a look and the service and scotch selection is fantastic.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Although I only had two days in Edmonton this trip, I felt like I got a pretty good feel for the city and the vibe. It has a very Portland/Brooklyn vibe to it with a real laid back, hipster, beer-drinking thing going. I look forward to going back when the new hockey arena opens up! Don’t sleep on Edmonton: a city on the rise.

Disclaimer: I was hosted on my Edmonton trip by Travel ALberta and Edmonton Tourism. All things written in this post are by me, based on my experience, and have not been influenced in any way.

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  1. We love our city and try to keep it a secret from the masses. Go Oil!

  2. Well described although I’m not much for sports. Edmonton is a nice place with a cool laid back vibe. Portland is a good comparison.

  3. Thanks for the positive press about Edmonton. Usually journalists just shit on it. I’m going to try the mountain biking. I live here and didn’t even know about that.

  4. Thanks for the great description of our city! You really did our city justice in photos showcasing all the greenery.
    Glad you approached it with an open mind, like Jeffrey said, journalists are usually pretty tough on us because we’re not as metro as Toronto. But we have our quirks!

  5. Great article Lee! One thing though: the arena opens next year – not two! So you’ll have to come back sooner 🙂

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