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Edmonton Alberta's provincial capital, EDMONTON is among Canada's most northerly cities, and at times notably in the teeth of its bitter winters it can seem a little too far north for comfort.
Situated above the waters of the North Saskatchewan River, whose park-filled valley winds below the high-rises of downtown, the city tries hard with its festivals, parks, restaurants and urban-renewal projects.
With a downtown area that still has the somewhat unfinished feel of a frontier town, however, it's perhaps appropriate that the premier attraction for the vast majority of visitors is a shopping centre, the infamous West Edmonton Mall.
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This certainly has curiosity value, but not really enough to merit a special journey here. Downtown has a handful of modest sights, though most enjoyment in the city is to be had in Old Strathcona , a rejuvenated "historic" district south of the North Saskatchewan River filled with heritage buildings, modest museums and plenty of eating and drinking venues. Edmonton lacks the big set-piece museums of Calgary and Vancouver, but its Space and Science Centre is a sight within a whisker of the first rank.
Edmonton feels oddly dispersed, even in the six-block downtown area around Sir Winston Churchill Square and along the main east-west drag, Jasper Avenue (101st Ave). Bounded to the south by the North Saskatchewan River, this grid holds a few assorted points of interest, though much of the younger and more cosmopolitan Edmonton resides south of the river in Old Strathcona.
For the West Edmonton Mall , the Space and Science Centre , and the Provincial Museum , you'll need to take transport west from downtown. To stretch your legs, wander up and down the big string of attractive parks that protects the river, or cross the Low Level Bridge to the Muttart Conservatory , another worthwhile sight consisting of four space-age glass pyramids filled with flora and natural-history displays.
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