Story by Sarah Deveau
EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Conquering the West Edmonton Mall (aka West Ed) is a challenge onto itself, and it goes without saying that it’s a challenge that I relish.
Unlike many capital cities, Edmonton’s most recognizable structure isn’t the historic legislature building — it’s a shopping centre. A massive and audacious one. With more than 5 million square feet of shopping, dining and entertaining pleasure, West Ed is tackled relentlessly by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year who are eager to check out all the goodies and trinkets this shopping hot spot offers. The good news? I’m one of happiest deal-tacklers in the province. The bad news? My children aren’t.
What if your kids don’t want to be dragged from store to store? Luckily, Edmonton features plenty more than the mall for family travellers.
Edmonton Is Shopping and So Much More
An Edmonton must-see is the Royal Alberta Museum. Designed to preserve and tell the story of Alberta, the experience of the animals, people and places over time, the museum offers an incredible look at the historical landscapes and culture of the region. It was dramatically different from our usual haunt, the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and the kids enjoyed it.
Revive the kids with an afternoon at Launchpad Trampoline Park. Try dunking in their basketball extreme area, dodging in the dodgeball court and diving into a huge foam pit. The massive freestyle court offers everyone a chance to literally bounce off the walls.
Edmonton has plenty of choices for families looking to enjoy the fresh air. At the Strathcona Wilderness Centre, a half-hour jaunt east from the city limits, visitors can try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing (rentals are available on site) or winter hiking through stands of aspen, birch and poplar. More than 550 acres of parkland are yours to explore, including 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) of interpretive trails. Summer offers picnic, day hikes and camping opportunities, and a free 18-hole disc golf course.
In the city proper, nestled in the heart of the sweeping Edmonton River Valley, the Edmonton Valley Zoo houses more than 350 animals, including endangered peregrine falcons, zebras, foxes and bighorn sheep. Their new Polar Extremes exhibit gives visitors an up-close view of seals, sea lions and arctic foxes.
When it’s time to rest your weary heads, there’s not better spot for families than the Delta Edmonton South. Centrally located, the hotel features KidZone rooms with a separate area with twin bunk beds. Each bed has its own TV, DVD player and headphones — perfect for helping entertain the kids while mom and dad get a little more sleep time. Children under seven years old receive a Kids’ Essentials kit upon check-in, and baby-sitting services can be arranged. The pool is fairly standard, but my kids had a blast, and they loved the traditional buffet brunch.
More Vacay.ca Coverage of Edmonton