Edmonton is often overlooked as a place to visit in Alberta. Unfortunately for most people, they’re missing out on a great city filled with year-round events, quaint neighborhoods, and a growing coffee shop scene. While it seems like Edmonton is stuck in a perpetual winter, it’s truly a city for all seasons. In winter, you can cozy up in a café or try your hand at skating outside, and in summer the weather is gorgeous for wandering to the farmers markets and unique boutique stores. Skip out on the consumer crazy, fast fashion driven, West Edmonton Mall; instead check out these wonderful conscious alternatives.
Located in the urban center of Edmonton, this new coffee shop is a little slice of heaven. Nestled in an older building, its interior is bohemian chic, and serves up delicious vegan and vegetarian food. Find a spot at the long communal table and chat with new people, or nestle into the hammock in the corner with a good book. With an extensive tea, latte and elixir menu, this spot is perfect to grab a drink and settle in.
The founder of this coffee shop truly cares about coffee and community. Sourcing coffee directly from coffee farmers, they’ve established long term relationships to procure the best coffee.
For the best chai in Edmonton, head to any of Remedy Café’s locations. Started by Sohail ‘Zee’ Zaidi, Zee brought Pakistani cooking to Edmonton, and created the perfect chai recipe. No wonder there are six locations across the city.
This beautiful space kind of has it all. You can start your visit with a yoga class, and then walk five steps over to the vegetarian eatery and superfood elixir bar for some eats. Finish by shopping their retail store for organic snacks and herbal tinctures to bring home. There is something magical about this space, that leaves you feeling happier when you leave than when you arrived.
Since 1943, the Sugarbowl has been a great food spot in Edmonton. While it began as a burger joint in the 40’s and 50’s, morphed into a coffee shop in the 60’s and 70’s, it is now a full service bistro and pub.
As its name suggests, this restaurant serves seasonal food. Sourcing local and regional produce, the menu changes throughout the seasons. Named one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada, dress up, and enjoy the cuisine.
Focusing on seasonal food, they try to source local food wherever possible, and make almost everything in house. They’re are housed inside the Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce, a LEED Platinum Certified building.
Old Strathcona Antique Mall
Set aside a couple of hours, and wander this massive antique mall. Owned by a mother-daughter team, the antique mall is the place to go to find fine antiques and collectibles. Even if you can’t fit these goods in your suitcase, it’s also a way to see Alberta’s history (the good and the bad), with many antiques coming from Alberta residents.
Putting people at the forefront of their business, sisters Justine and Kendall Barber created Poppy Barley, a shoe company. Handcrafted in Leon, Mexico, Poppy Barley provides employment to workers while ensuring fair wages, workplace safety, and transparency to consumers. While you can shop online, head into their store for a personal experience.
The founders of Arturo got their start in the denim business by buying machinery from rapidly closing factories in Calgary and Montreal. The jeans are carefully sewn in Quebec and Edmonton, with the denim sourced from 2 mills in Japan. With free alterations in store, and in house repairs, you can wear your jeans again and again on all of your adventures, knowing that Arturo Denim has your back (literally and figuratively!)
A socially conscious organization focused on supporting Canadian designers and artists.
Things to Do
Old Strathcona Farmers Market
This Saturday market has been around since 1983, and hosts over 200 vendors. Find anything from locally made jewelry and notebooks, to fresh organic produce. It does however create a lot of plastic waste, so make sure to bring your own bags to help save the environment while supporting the vendors.
Skate in Hawrelak Park
If you’re visiting in the winter, make sure to get outside and try skating on one of the many outdoor skating rinks. I recommend Hawrelak park, as they offer rentals, and usually have warm drinks at the ready!
Neon Sign Museum
This is the first neon sign museum in Canada, and has a collection of neon signs, telling a story about Edmonton’s past. It’s all outdoors, installed on the outside of buildings on 104 St, making it free, and open year-round. While you can see the signs in the day, I highly recommended to go at night, when you can see them in all of their neon glory.
Edmonton Fringe is a massive theatre event which happens every August in Edmonton. With events all over the city, from outdoor performers, to wine tents featuring local musicians, and plenty of kids activities, there is always something to see and do. It’s truly a mix of fantastic artists and performers, ranging from world-famous artists, to local high school students.
Hosted only in the warmer months, EAT takes people to some great food spots in Edmonton. You’ll not only get to eat, but be able to explore more of Edmonton on foot.
Architecturally stunning, AGA is visually impressive inside and out. Well curated, with free admission every Tuesday and Wednesday evening, enjoy stunning art from Canada and around the world.