Earth : North America : Canada : Prairies (Canada) : Alberta : Edmonton Capital Region : Edmonton
Edmonton  is the capital city of Alberta, Canada. Its metro area is home to 1.1 million people and is the northernmost city in North America of at least one million people. Edmonton is famous for its beautiful river valley park system, the North Saskatchewan River Valley, which offers many kilometers of recreational trails, wildlife viewing, and city views. The river valley also contains many parks, including Fort Edmonton Park, Canada's largest historical park. If the great outdoors is not your target, the city also offers West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. On top of that, Edmonton has a vibrant theater community, a busy cycle of annual festivals, national sports teams active year-round, and wonderful winter recreational opportunities.
The area around Edmonton, which sits in the geographic centre of the province, was home to native populations for thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers. In 1795, Edmonton House was constructed and work on Fort Edmonton began. The original site was near Fort Saskatchewan, but was relocated near the present day Legislature in 1830.
The town developed around the fur trade, and in the early days there was little to distinguish it from other such settlements in the area. The first hotel and hospital were built in the 1870s. The latter part of the century saw an influx of wealthy families, and in 1892 the Town of Edmonton was officially founded.
Early developments were centered around the Quarters area. In 1905, Edmonton was declared the capital of the province of Alberta, and a year later was designated a city. The 1907-1914 period saw the city experience an unprecedented boom, with the population rising from around 6,000 to 78,000. During this period, the University of Alberta was founded
In 1947 oil was discovered just outside of Edmonton in Leduc county, which spurred a second period of growth, leading to urban sprawl and the development of US-style malls. The Royal Alberta Museum opened in 1967.
The utilitarian office buildings and condos that dominate that downtown landscape today were mostly constructed in the 1970s.
Today, Edmonton is the hub for energy development & petrochemicals for Alberta. As well, it has become a centre of excellence in research through the University of Alberta and the high technology industries located in the region like the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
If you want to spend time outdoors, the summer months offer the most opportunities for recreation and entertainment. In the summer, Edmonton offers great outdoor festivals, street entertainment, open-air concerts, and many other world-class entertainment opportunities. Winter is equally exciting, with snow sports for the outdoorsy, extensive indoors shopping in the many malls, and live sports, theater, and music throughout the city.
Edmonton's climate is "northern continental", with a wide range of weather over all four distinct seasons. Edmonton receives 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, making it one of Canada's sunniest cities. Rainfall is low to moderate, and entire weeks can pass without clouds or precipitation through the late spring and summer.
Bright green foliage appears in May, signaling spring. Even as the city shakes off its winter chill, cold snaps and the occasional snowfall can still occur. The region's golf courses are generally open by this time.
Summer days generally bring temperatures up to 21-25°C (70-77°F) in June, July, and August, though temperatures will often rise over 30°C (85°F) for a few days. Thunderstorms sweep in from time to time during the summer months, usually in the evening. Humidity is relatively low, so warm days are more comfortable than they are in humid climates. At the height of summer, Edmonton enjoys more than 17 hours of daylight, with twilight extending past 11PM in June and July.
Fall starts in mid September, bringing bright yellow and orange foliage to Edmonton's treed neighborhoods and river valley parks. This season ushers in cooler temperatures ranging between 10-20°C during the day.
Winters are long, but not as harsh as those further east on the Canadian Prairies. Periods of mild temperatures with daytime highs over 0°C (32°F) can occur. Such mild weather makes outdoor winter sports extremely popular with the locals. Stop by a local outdoor ice rink to catch the fever of children and adults alike taking part in community hockey. Colder days in Edmonton are kept reasonably comfortable by the low humidity index, but it's wise to have some lip balm and hand cream with you, as the skin and lips can get cracked and chapped quickly in this dry environment.
Edmonton gets much less snowfall than many other Canadian cities and even some American cities further south. Winter walking and driving are not often affected. Cold snaps with temperatures down to and beyond -30°C (-22F) can occur during the winter, although it's unusual for these frigid spells to last more than 1 or 2 days. Extremely cold temperatures are usually accompanied by the crisp blue skies and bright sunshine of a prairie high-pressure zone. Even regular winter temperatures can feel very cold if there is a noticeable wind: if you are visiting between December and March, be prepared.
Most major airlines service Edmonton. General travel times to Edmonton are 45 minutes from Calgary, 1 1/2 hours from Vancouver, 4 1/2 hours from Montreal, and 4 hours from Toronto. Edmonton's main airport is western Canada's hub to the Northwest Territories.
To Europe, Edmonton has daily service to London-Heathrow on Air Canada. To the United States, Edmonton has scheduled departures to 10 United States airports: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Maui, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, and Chicago.
Edmonton International Airport has seasonal charter service to/from:
Acapulco, Bahias de Huatulco, Cozumel, Holguin, La Romana, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Liberia, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Varadero, Cancun, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Samana, and San Jose del Cabo.
There are also many flights to more American cities from Calgary, where someone can easily make a connection.
Edmonton is in Central Alberta east of the Canadian Rockies, with a deep river valley extending from the southwest to the northeast. Known as Gateway to the North, Edmonton is the largest city on the Yellowhead branch (Alberta Highway 16) of the Trans-Canada Highway system. Edmonton is 3 hours north of Calgary on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (formerly Highway 2) and 3.5 hours east of Jasper on Highway 16.
From Vancouver, Edmonton is best accessed using Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada) east to Hope, then Highway 5 (the Coquihalla) from Hope to the Highway 16 eastbound junction. The average travel time in summer is 12 to 13 hours. Travelers from Saskatoon will find Edmonton about 5 hours away using the Yellowhead Highway.
From British Columbia, average travel time during winter (November to March) can be much longer. International travelers are advised that while this major trucking route is well-maintained, severe winter storms can arise suddenly, particularly on the major inclines between Hope and Kamloops in British Columbia. Nevertheless, travelers cognizant of road conditions will find winter trips to Edmonton generally safe.
Greyhound buses  service Edmonton from all major Canadian cities. There is also a premium service between Edmonton and Calgary, Red Deer, and Fort McMurray with Red Arrow Motorcoach , which feature spacious seating (only three seats to a row) and workstation seats with electrical connections for business travelers and their computers.
VIA Rail, 12360-121 Street,  provides passenger train services for Edmonton, and is linked to several major cities along the Canadian National Railroad. The VIA train station is located a short distance from downtown, near the northwest corner of City Centre Airport. The station has free wifi - ask a staff member for the passkey.
VIA Rail prices are higher than train prices generally in Europe (or even short distances by Amtrak in the States). Their passenger trains arrive through Edmonton numerous times during week. Passengers experience leisurely travel through some of the most amazing scenery in the world. Though somewhat more expensive than bus travel, service on a VIA Rail train even in the lowest class is superior to any bus. You can get up and walk around the carriages, dine conveniently, and you will find plenty of legroom in the comfortable seats. If you can afford the extra cost, it is generally worthwhile to take the train rather than the bus.
A large part of the city, built before and during the Second World War, is laid out in a grid pattern of straight streets, which makes for easy navigation by car or foot. There are a number of bridges, including the Walterdale Bridge and High Level Bridge, going in and out of the downtown core.
Edmonton's downtown is fairly eclectic, home to numerous Government of Alberta buildings as well as modern office towers, including the CN Tower near City Hall and the impressive, white marble-clad Bank of Montreal on 101 Street. Edmonton contains some of the most architecturally significant buildings in the province, including the crimson-coloured Citadel Theatre and the church-like spires of Grant MacEwan University.
Areas of Edmonton built before 1950 (and even a few post-1950) place roadways on a grid, with streets N/S and avenues E/W. Some older neighbourhoods like Boyle Street have a diagonal grid pattern, with streets NW/SE and avenues SW/NE. During the 1950s and 1960s, roads became less grid-like, but they are still easily navigable (although less easy to follow than the earlier counterparts). Almost all new neighborhood developments such as Windermere in the southside and the Village at Greisbach in the northwest are designed with more curves, cul-de-sacs and named streets. If visiting these newer areas, a current city map is highly recommended.
Edmonton's main east-west highway south of the North Saskatchewan River is Whitemud Drive. It goes through the West and South areas of the city.
Currently, Anthony Henday Drive is a highway-in-progress with a number of four-way intersections still present. By 2016, it is planned to be the ring road of Metro Edmonton. Currently west, southwest, southeast and east legs are complete.
Edmonton's main highway north of the river is known as Yellowhead Trail (Alberta Highway 16). Travelers wishing to discover Edmonton proper (and avoid the trendy, but tourist-clogged Old Strathcona on the southside) are strongly encouraged to take this route. Some of the city's greatest cultural landmarks, including Rexall Place (home of the Oilers) and Commonwealth Stadium are quickly accessible from the Yellowhead.
Other major roads include Groat Road, Mark Messier/St. Albert Trail, the Sherwood Park Freeway, Stony Plain Road and Wayne Gretzky Drive.
The most prominent cab companies are:
All Edmonton taxi companies offer 24/7 service. From the last weekend in November to New Year's Eve on weekends, Operation Red Nose offers cab rides for drivers who have been partying and prefer not to drive themselves (780-421-4444).
By public transit
Edmonton has a safe, efficient and inexpensive public transportation system: the Edmonton Transit System . Hundreds of different bus routes cover the city, traveling nearly anywhere you need to go.
During peak hours, buses run as frequently as every 15 minutes. Outside of peak, the frequency drops to every 30 minutes and on some routes to industrial areas or far-flung suburbs as infrequent as one service per hour. Many major bus routes will operate as early as 5AM to as late as 1AM, but there are a number which stop running at 8PM-9PM or only run only during peak hours (6AM-9AM and 3PM-6PM). Some bus routes simply do not run on Sundays. For more information or to plan your bus trip, you can call Transit Information at 780-496-1611 or check out the Trip Planner , or Google Maps. For where routes go and their names which is essential, go to .
Edmonton's transit system is not unified with those of the nearby communities, so if you wish to visit the suburbs be prepared for more transfers and increased fares.
Edmonton was the first North American city with a population of under 1 million to have developed a Light Rail Transit (LRT)  system. (Metro Edmonton population is now over 1 million.) It is a part of the Edmonton Transit System (ETS), which also manages the buses. The track stretches from Clareview Station in the northeast section of the city to the Century Park Station (formerly known as Heritage), going past the University of Alberta main and South Campuses.
During peak hours on weekdays, LRT trains run every 6 minutes. Outside of that and on Saturdays, frequency is every 7 to 12 minutes, depending on the time of day. Sundays and holidays, trains run every 15 minutes throughout the day. Trains operate from about 5:26AM to 1:26AM. On Sundays and holidays, the LRT stops running past 12:26AM.
Fares are $2.75 with children under 6 riding free. Day passes can be bought for $8.25 regardless of age group. A pack of 10 tickets can be purchased for $22.00 (adults). Tickets can be purchased at the ETS online store, automated fare vending machines located at all LRT stations, or at the ETS Customer Information Centre located on the pedway level of Churchill Station. Note that Mac's convenience stores in Edmonton no longer sell adult bus tickets. 
Edmonton has excellent cycling routes which allow for all-year cycling, though winter cycling can be challenging for those unaccustomed to Edmonton weather. These marked routes, combined with a lack of freeways to traverse and relatively low traffic compared to other major cities, low snow or rainfall, and a fairly flat terrain, make Edmonton an easy city to travel by bicycle. The City of Edmonton provides free maps  of the bike routes.
Edmonton streets are mostly numbered, although there are some named streets: usually major roadways and roads in the newer residential areas. Streets in Edmonton run north-south, while avenues run east-west. The downtown core of the city is centered near 101 St and Jasper Ave (which corresponds to 101 Ave), with streets increasing in number to the west, and avenues increasing to the north.
Addresses follow a regular system throughout Edmonton, with even-numbered address numbers are on the north side of avenues and west side of streets. The first two or three digits of a building or house number identify the street it lies just west of, or the avenue it lies north of. For example, 10219-101 Street would be located on the east side of 101 Street, just north of 102 Avenue.
The vast majority of the city lies in the NW quadrant with the center-point near the southeast corner of the city proper. It is common to omit the "NW" from street addresses in the NW quadrant. The grid's official "zeros" are called Meridian Street (at 0 Street) and Quadrant Avenue (at 0 Avenue), but they are not yet important streets for travel. Meridian & Quadrant do not even intersect at this time.
Here are some of the most popular attractions:
North Saskatchewan River Valley
One of Edmonton’s greatest attractions, the North Saskatchewan River Valley park system provides a natural corridor for all-season recreation and relaxation. The river valley is the longest expanse of urban parkland in North America at 7,400 hectares – 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park – with golf courses, 22 major parks and over 160 kilometres of maintained multi-use trails for walking, cross-country skiing, cycling, and more. Several attractions are located along the river valley including Fort Edmonton Park, the Valley Zoo, and the Muttart Conservatory.
One of the most popular parks is Hawrelak Park, located just off Groat Road near the University of Alberta. It encircles a large pond, summer home to a variety of ducks and geese. It's the site of several Edmonton festivals, including Shakespeare in the Park and Symphony Under the Sky. In winter it is a popular venue for outdoor ice skating and cross-country skiing.
A young city, Edmonton's historic structures are still relatively new. The City of Edmonton's Municipal Historic Resources are buildings or structures that have been designated by Bylaw as buildings or structures which are legally protected from demolition and from inappropriate changes and alterations..
Built from 1907 to 1912, the province's foremost historic structure - the Alberta Legislature - is set amidst beautiful gardens and water displays. Inside and out, the Legislature offers a rich experience in exploring Alberta’s past and present as the focal point of the province’s democratic process. Alberta’s premier architectural attraction overlooks Edmonton’s river valley and is steps away from the heart of downtown Edmonton. Free tours of the building are offered year-round. 
Opening January 31, 2010, the new Art Gallery of Alberta is an 85,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility and a premiere presentation venue. Designed by Randall Stout Architects, Inc. of Los Angeles, the building will itself be a work of art. Located in the heart of Edmonton's Arts District on Sir Winston Churchill Square, the gallery will secure Edmonton's reputation as a world class city and centre for visual art. .
For further reading about Edmonton's architecture from 1940-1969, Capital Modern is a book available from the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Edmonton's summer brings many festivals, and with Canada's most impressive mountain parks 3.5-hr drive away, Edmonton is fun year-round. You can expect to find some kind of festival any weekend during the summer months and they are usually located in the central region either around Whyte Ave or downtown at the Legislature grounds or in front of City Hall.
Theatre and Music
Edmonton has a vibrant performing arts community with notable accomplishments in live theatre and live music. The central area contains the Winspear or Francis Winspear Centre for Music, a new concert hall with stellar acoustics, and the Citadel Theatre, which has hosted major live theatre performances for over forty years.
South Central area is home to the theatre district with a number of venues, and the Jubilee Auditorium, a large concert hall. The west end has two dinner theatres, Jubilation's and Mayfield.
Edmonton's river valley and Mill Creek area have an extensive network of trails, good for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing. At many points in the extensive ravines and forested areas in the river valley, you can't even tell you're in a city.
There are a variety of bike shops, including a non-profit bicycle co-op . You can drop in on their workshop hours and wrench your own bike for cheap. Mechanics are on hand to help and answer your questions. Bike maps are freely available at many places, such as City Hall, Edmonton Tourism's Visitor Information Centres, the University, in addition to most bike shops, eg. Revolution Cycle , United Cycle , Hardcore Mountain Bike Store  and others.
Edmonton has small ski hills in or near the city, including Edmonton Ski, Sunridge Ski Area, and Snow Valley. Natural and artificial snow cover their slopes from early winter to early spring, offering city skiers an easy way to learn, amuse families, and tone up for the big Rocky Mountain ski opportunities in Jasper and Banff.
Albertans are keen golfers, based on the province's sunny summers, large number of developed courses, and relatively low prices. Within city limits, the City of Edmonton operates three public courses, including Canada's oldest municipal golf course: Victoria (central), Riverside (South) both of which are located close to downtown (though difficult to access without a vehicle), and the par-three Rundle Park (Edmonton/North).
There are over 70 golf courses located in the Edmonton region.
Edmonton is home to a number of professional and amateur sport teams. The Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League are the most recognized team and have won numerous Stanley Cups. They play at the 16,839 seat Rexall Place which was built in 1979. Minor league hockey is also part of the Edmonton sports scene with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.
Edmonton is also home to the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. The Eskimos have won 13 Grey Cups and play at the 60,000 seat Commonwealth Stadium. For basketball, the recently formed Edmonton Energy of the International Basketball League play at Grant MacEwan Gymnasium against smaller American cities and other Canadian cities.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears (men's teams) and the University of Alberta Pandas (women's teams) participate in a number of sports including hockey, soccer, football (men), rugby, and track and field. Other local entries include the Edmonton Rush of the National Lacrosse League and the Edmonton Capitals of the Golden League of Baseball, who play at TELUS Field.
Major events and festivals
Edmonton, hailed as "Canada's Festival City" , is home to over 30 annual festivals and special events throughout the year.
Attracting over 500,000 visitors each year, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is the largest in North America, second largest in the world, offering some 1,000 performances, primarily in venues in Old Strathcona. The Works Art & Design Festival features new works of painting, drawing, sculpture, and much more. The Whyte Ave Artwalk lets viewers stroll the avenue looking at local art. There is also the Canoe Fest which tells stories about morals and history. For music, Symphony Under the Sky is a nice way to listen to some fine music in the great outdoors. One of the world’s leading Folk festivals, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival is a four-day outdoor music extravaganza that attracts more than 80,000 music lovers. Situated in Gallagher Park in Edmonton's scenic river valley, the festival offers an eclectic mix of music for all tastes.
For culture, Edmonton rolls out the red carpet. Heritage Days puts the spotlight on the food, dance, and local goods from over 60 cultural backgrounds. Edmonton Cariwest is a Caribbean festival that takes over downtown with colourful dances. Gay Pride is a large festival that closes Jasper Ave for people to be proud of gay rights.
In food, Edmonton has some festivals to keep you salivating. One of the most popular is A Taste of Edmonton. Purchase tickets and sample culinary delights from 40 of Edmonton’s leading restaurants at Sir Winston Churchill Square.
The Edmonton area has seven large casinos: Casino Yellowhead, Casino Edmonton, Bacarrat Casino, Palace Casino, St Albert Casino, Celebration's Casino, and Marriot Enoch Resort & Casino.
Some of the best shopping opportunities are...
See the district articles for specific listings of different restaurants and fast food joints.
There are two major dining centres:
Edmonton is the birthplace of two major Canadian restaurant chains: Boston Pizza (Italian), and earl's (Canadiana). These two have major locations across Canada. The city is also home to a lot of good quality fast food chains like Burger Baron and Fatburger.
Italian food is very high quality in Edmonton. Chianti's, Sicilian Kitchen, Sorrentino's, Fiore Cantina, and Tony's Pizza offer hearty and filling pasta. The best are Whyte Ave, Downtown, or in Little Italy.
Edmonton has its fair share of cheap Chinese food, most of which is concentrated in Chinatown. WokBox is another Edmonton-based chain, offering fair priced Chinese food in a fast food environment.
For the cheapest, and best tasting, pizza in the city, check out Steel Wheels a block north of Whyte Avenue. $3 for 2 slices, as well as an assortment of Chinese and Asian cuisine, and alcohol.
For a healthy alternative, check out HealthFare, which got its start in Edmonton in 2008. A new location opened downtown on Jasper Avenue in 2009. They display the calorie count of their items, and the restaurants employ green initiatives including: chairs are made of recycled plastic and aluminum; tables are made of reclaimed wood from local sources; eco-friendly take-out materials are made from renewable resources; and more.
Try locally grown and produced food: EatLocalFirst.com includes a list of all members with information on what they sell and produce and where to find them. 
The two local microbreweries are Alley Kat and Ambers's Brewing.
There are many pubs, clubs, lounges, and bars clustered on Jasper Avenue (downtown) and Whyte Avenue (Old Strathcona). Some of the most popular in Old Strathcona include Hudson's', Lucky 13, Filthy McNasty's, Black Dog, and O'Byrne's.
Downtown you will find Suede, Sherlock Holmes, Red Star Pub, The Pint, The Bank Ultra Lounge, Vinyl, and Oil City Roadhouse.
There are two main areas for good coffee. The Coffee Block refers to a block of independent coffee shops between 103 St. and 104 St. on Jasper Avenue. Although there are only 3 cafés, they are all very good. Three Bananas Cafe is another perfect stop; it's on the way to the Churchill LRT station at Churchill Square (102 Avenue between 99 and 100 Street). Another area is Whyte Avenue which has more spread out coffee shops but pretty much each one is very good. Java Jive is a local institution, having been around for more than thirty years and locally owned. There are three shops on the University of Alberta campus, and a warehouse on 77th Ave and 99th St. Transcend in Argyll is a very classy coffee shop that not only makes coffee, will sell you the beans (if you want to take home). Mandolin Books and Coffee Company on 112 Avenue is another fantastic find. Other than that, just do some exploring, you might just find something that is just for you.
Most of the budget hotels in the city are concentrated in and around the south (e.g. Derrick Hotel) end of the city or in the deep east central area. There is also a lot in the nearby suburbs, see Edmonton's area.
Closer to the core, Holiday Inn Express Downtown and the Comfort Inn & Suites are good options. These two offer great views along with easy access to the benefits of downtown. In the north end, the Prospector's Gaming Room and North Inn and Suites are some great examples of some modern and simple good priced hotels at that part of the city. In the West End, with the closeness of West Edmonton Mall, there are a ton of hotels to choose from, most of which are on 100 Ave.
South of the river, in Old Strathcona-University the Campus Suites is a great option for nice service and its proximity to the University. Days Inn Edmonton South is a recent addition to Old Strathcona, just a few blocks off Whyte Avenue. Also on Gateway Boulevard there is a lot of hotels like Greenwood Inn & Suites, Ramada South, Travelodge South, Econo Lodge, Sawridge Inn Edmonton South and Cedar Park Inn are the highest quality. In the east, there is a lovely Four Points hotel with easy access to the city.
Edmonton has a good variety of high end hotels in different locations in the city. Some of the most popular locations are:
Edmonton is patrolled by the Edmonton Police Service. In addition to the Police Headquarters/Downtown Division located east of City Hall, the EPS is separated into five operational Divisions (the name in brackets denotes the neighbourhood in which the Division station is located):
The overall crime rate is decreasing. There are some areas where increased caution is advised, particularly after dark:
Panhandling has increased in recent years, particularly downtown and in the Old Strathcona area. Just decline politely and it shouldn't be an issue. Try to avoid parking lots that aren't gated shut, as there is a clear entrance for panhandlers to get in and be more aggressive.
Navigation in Edmonton is made easier by city's street grid and relative lack of traffic compared to most other major North American cities. Visitors should note that additional hazards are presented by winter driving in the city, especially during and after the first few snowfalls of the winter. Ice can be a problem, especially on bridges. Ice on roadways can be almost invisible, which is where the commonly used - and dreaded - term "black ice" comes from.
Hospitals and major health centres
If you are on the north end, central, or in east central, the Royal Alexandra Hospital is the best. For the west, Misericordia is probably the best due to proximity. In the south side of the river, you may choose from Grey Nun's or University. Some people in central might go to University as well.