Edmonton Travel Guide, AlbertaEdmonton is located on the steep banks of the North Saskatchewan River, a sophisticated and multiethnic city with convivial populace retaining the atmosphere of a much smaller, friendlier town. Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta and the sixth-largest city in Canada with a population of about one million, the largest metropolitan population in the province. Not only its size is impressive, but also the diverse cultural scene with a thriving arts community.
The city knew a few booms over the years that helped it become what it is today. At the beginning it was a simple trading post that was shaped in turn by the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 when prospectors flocked to the area, and then during the World War II the Alaska Highway brought in more people. But probably the boom that shaped the city the most is the oil boom that started in 1947 when in Leduc, a settlement 40 km southwest of the city, oil was discovered. The drilling wells multiplied and reached 10,000 in number the area of search extending to 100 km of the city. The petrochemical industry developed and numerous refineries and supply depots appeared transforming the city into the capital of Canada. This boom has changed the city’s future and skyline. Lots of new buildings were built in no time and a new civic centre sprung up.
All this development did not transform the city into a confusing web of streets and buildings. The city's street system is quite simple and visitor friendly. Numbered streets run north-south and the avenues run east-west so it is pretty easy to deduce where you are. As most visitors you will probably want to start with the centre and the city's main street which is Jasper (101) Avenue. You will see a vibrant, modern downtown of high-rise offices and cultural venues. There are plenty of opportunities to shop downtown but the best of all is shopping at West Edmonton Mall the largest shopping mall in the city and at Kingsway Garden Mall, the second in line.
The other parts of the city are worth visiting just as much, each of them having their own appeal. For example the Original West End with its well preserved Edwardian architecture is a historic reference; the "new" Chinatown is a must for its Multicultural Centre; the Kingsway neighborhood, the Old Strathcona neighborhood the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Little Italy, are all special in their way and you will find plenty of interesting spots and entertainment opportunities in each of them.
If you want to have fun at a larger scale you should plan your visit during one of the 35 festivals that are held annually in Edmonton. They are for every occasion but most of them are dedicated to art and are held in summer time.
Plenty of relaxation opportunities are offered by the many parks that stretch for miles around the city and along the North Saskatchewan River valley. One of them is Fort Edmonton Park with interesting reconstructions of various eras of Edmonton's history that include the Fort Edmonton fur-trading post, Jasper House Hotel and Frontier Edmonton. The thrill is guaranteed and you could feel how it was like to live decades ago.
Still in the area of history is the Royal Alberta Museum where museum buffs can enjoy displays of Alberta's natural and human history and exhibits on Native inhabitants and their culture. The wildlife exhibits are those that attract the children the most.
If you want to visit a vibrant, energetic city that's rich in heritage, culture, entertainment, and commerce, Edmonton runs right up there with the big dogs.
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