A Winter Guide to Edmonton, Alberta

The Edmonton Freezeway (Credit: Edmonton Tourism)

The Edmonton Freezeway (Credit: Edmonton Tourism)

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Alberta, Canada, is an extraordinary place, and a place much loved here at JohnnyJet.com. I’ve spent time in the province’s Banff and Jasper National Parks, most recently for the Jasper Dark Sky Festival this fall. Johnny’s been to and loved Alberta twice himself, most recently for a springtime visit and before that in the season we find ourselves currently buried in: winter. But neither of us has been to Edmonton, Alberta’s capital—not yet.

On that Jasper trip back in October, I connected with my media caravan in Edmonton to be shuttled to Jasper, four hours to the west. We made a stop for poutine at North America’s largest mall on the way out, but I didn’t see much of Edmonton proper. As I was regaled with stories of its energy and culinary scene on that drive to Jasper, I decided I needed to return for a real visit soon. Winter, it turns out, might be a good time to take it.

Here’s a light guide to getting started in Edmonton in winter:

Morning coffee and eats
1. Little Brick, 10004 90 Street; 780-705-1230
A little brick house with ties to core Edmonton history that now serves food. Built in 1903, Little Brick is the former dwelling of brickman J.B. Little, who “provided bricks to Edmonton’s most historical buildings.” These days, you can indulge in the history by grabbing a sandwich, a coffee or an item from the general store.

2. Credo, 10134 104 Street, Edmonton & 10350 124 Street
Two locations, one high-quality coffee establishment. Stop by for a cup of fresh-brewed Intelligentsia and enjoy knowing their growers “are paid 25% higher rates than fair trade prices.”

Winter activities
1. Skating on the Edmonton Freezeway
The Edmonton Freezeway is a 400-meter track/course that’s frozen in ice. You skate along it, beneath trees and around curves, at your own pace. There are sections lit by colorful, inspired lights, and you can bring a thermos with you with whatever you like to warm up with. The Freezeway aims “to address the way we live, and the way we move in a winter city.” If that sounds ambitious for an ice skating experience, you should really give it a try

2. Fat biking on 400+ km of trails
A fat bike is a “winterized bicycle with large tires on a widened mountain bike frame,” according to Edmonton Tourism—and pretty much everyone else. Fat biking is popular right now, and Edmonton makes a great case as an entry point with more than 400 kilometers of beautiful wintery trails through its river valley. Get started with Revolution Cycle, which offers rentals, group rides and more.

3.Cross-country skiing
Another winter activity available in Edmonton’s winter wonderland is a classic: cross-country skiing. Lessons are available from the likes of Ski Life, or you can strap up solo with rentals from Totem Outdoor Outfitters and explore on your own (or with your group). Per Edmonton Tourism, “the ski trails in Edmonton’s central river valley make it unlike any other large city on the continent.” Find out if that’s true as you ski between the downtown area and the charming shops of Old Strathcona and Whyte Avenue.

Night and nightcap
1. Rostizado, 10359 104 Street
The name Rostizado translates to “roasted” from Spanish, which makes sense. It’s the latest venture from three successful Edmonton restauranteurs that incorporate cooking styles from all 32 states (incl Mexico City) of Mexico.

2. Mercer Tavern, 10363 104 Street; 1-587-521-1916
A classic and historic spot in Edmonton’s Warehouse District. Good craft beers and a great menu complement this cool drinking and eating space, which dates back to a life as a storage warehouse in the 1910s.

3. The Next Act, 8224 104 Street; 780-433-9345
Arguably the best burger in town, The Next Act has grown into a really great spot from its low-key roots as a favorite among the acting crowd. Great beers, as well.

For more on Edmonton in any season, visit exploreedmonton.com. For more on Alberta, visit travelalberta.us.

Ian Livingston

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About the Author

Ian Livingston

Traveler and writer Ian Livingston has lost his bearings in 59 countries, six continents and five NYC boroughs. He is better for it. Now living in Brooklyn, he reports on the world’s lesser-known quantities as a self-calibrating writer and by way of his roles as Editor at JohnnyJet.com and Chat Manager for the weekly #TravelSkills Twitter chat with Johnny Jet and Chris McGinnis. In his sights now: the polar regions.

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