Experience the Two sides of Alberta, Canada
For your next short break, try combining a hip city break, incredible natural scenery and star gazing in Alberta's City of Edmonton and Jasper National Park. The cool cultural city of Edmonton allows you to indulge in a vibrant food scene – dine at award-winning restaurants such as Corso 32, uncover some of the best Canadian cuisine such as the farm to table dishes offered at RGE RD, and sip on craft beers at Mercer Tavern, located in the new Ice District. Edmonton’s food landscape is inventive and diverse, just like the people who started the restaurants. In Edmonton, you’ll find everything from food-truck festivals, high-end wine and tapas bars to trendy burger and beer joints.
Once a magnet for fur traders, gold prospectors and other fortunate seekers, Edmonton now shines as an arts and culture hub, with festivals on the horizon year round. Perhaps it’s the city’s legacy of entrepreneurs dreaming up oddities: the continent’s first, biggest and wildest Fringe theatre festival calls Edmonton home, along with more than 50 other festivals happening throughout the year.
In this heavily entrepreneurial and creative city, there’s something for everyone. Take a stroll down Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona, home to locally owned boutiques and global-reaching companies like Poppy Barley, a bespoke shoe brand. Pop into one of many independent coffee shops, creative restaurants, yoga and fitness studios, and find all the shopping your heart desires. If that’s not enough, then West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest, boasts more than 800 stores and attractions, including the world’s largest indoor water park.
If you’re keen to escape the city, why not explore Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley, the largest urban parkland in North America, with more than 160km of maintained pathways and 20 major parks. Or head further out of the city and discover Elk Island National Park; it’s located just far enough from the city lights that on a clear night it’s a perfect spot for stargazing or to witness the Aurora Borealis.
For adventure, look no further than Jasper National Park. The 365km drive between Edmonton and Jasper is packed with incredible scenery; golden crop fields and crisp blue skies transition into rolling hills and Alberta lakes, followed by the grand finale: the white-capped mountain ranges of Jasper.
In Jasper National Park you’ll find adventure for all levels, ranging from novice to extreme. As Canada’s largest National Park in the Rocky Mountains and one of only 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s a must-see destination. The awe-inspiring glaciers, abundant wildlife, crystal-clear lakes, waterfalls, deep canyons and evergreen forest – all surrounded by towering mountains – are what make this backyard the best playground of all.
Wild Current Outfitters, one of Jasper’s newest adventure travel companies, is now providing a variety of raft and canoe trips and rental gear to Jasper’s visiting explorers. With four decades of guiding experience and enthusiasm for Jasper’s lakes and rivers under their belts, the team will ensure you make the most of your time exploring.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, give canyoning a shot. Rocky Mountain Canyoning provides guided tours that will have you descending waterfalls, using ropes to control you movements and rappelling from heights of approximately 15 meters. Be prepared to get wet.
Jasper is also a designed Dark Sky Preserve, having received designation by the Royal Astronomy Society of Canada in 2011. Due to the limited light pollution within the park, conditions for dark sky viewing are ideal. During October it hosts the Dark Sky Festival, when astronomers of every level are invited to gaze upon the wonder of the night sky.
See for yourself what makes Jasper so unique by experiencing it through the eyes of a local. Here you’ll find the mountain town lifestyle different from that of any other mountain town. The characters of Jasper embody the ‘venture beyond’ culture, and embrace what it means to live in a landscape both accepting and challenging, ensuring that they’re prepared for the adventures they choose to embark on.