Anyone who’s ever planned a summer vacation knows that the age-old ‘urban beauty vs natural beauty’ dilemma is no joke. Especially now! Everything is back on more vibrant than ever making it so much harder for us to choose between an upbeat city and a calming nature-powered destination. So, this year, we decided to club them both. Lo and behold, the ultimate City to Summit, aka Edmonton to Jasper, travel guide.
The vacay starts in the Albertan capital, which is quite literally the hub of summer adventures, with local shopping, festival hopping, delicacy hogging and a lot more. And after all the urban delights, there is revelling and rejuvenating in all things nature at the largest national park in the Rockies.
Best of Edmonton
Enjoy a heritage (or a boutique) stay
When it comes to accomodations, Edmonton has something for everyone. Romantic getaway? The 100-year-old Fairmont Hotel Macdonald castle has all the luxuries for you. Need a modern and hip vibe? The JW Marriot skyscraper in the middle of ICE District is the answer. Vacationing with the fam? The Westin Edmonton is just steps away from attractions like The Royal Alberta Museum and the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Shop in Edmonton’s trendiest hood
Shopaholics, you’ll want to head straight to West Edmonton Mall (largest in North America btw) to satisfy your shopping desires. But the local boutique stores at Old Strathcona and Whyte Ave are nothing short of a delight either. From fashion-forward outlets to one-of-a-kind art galleries to inspired music shops, there’s a lot to splurge on here.
Edmonton isn’t called “Festival City” for no reason. And thanks to the wonderful weather and long, sunny days, summer is extra special. From foot-tapping music fests to inspiring art fests to fests celebrating the many Edmontonian cultures, there’s plenty to choose from. Frankly, you can spend a whole vacation festival hopping but we suggest at least a day (or 3).
Embark on a culinary adventure
With a city so culture-rich, it would be wrong to not expect a foodscape that’s to die for. Creative eateries are serving up reimagined classics. Cozy cafés are serving up freshly brewed coffee and delicious bakes. Patios and taprooms are serving some of the best craft beer you’ve ever had. Plus, you can snag great deals with these Explore Edmonton Discount Passes
Experience Indigenous Edmonton
The city is home to many nations including the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Sioux and Métis People. It is also home to great Indigenous talent- artists, musicians, performers and chefs. And you can witness their cultural greatness by way of Indigenous-led tours, museums, the Métis Crossing Cultural Centre, The Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park and more.
Journey to Jasper
Now that we’ve taken in our fill of the Edmontonian beauty and heritage, it’s time to head east. As it happens, the 4-hour drive along the Yellowhead Highway to Jasper is a scenic appetizer to the park’s gorgeous beauty. And if you’d rather just enjoy the journey instead of driving, SunDog Tours has a shuttle from West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton International Airport, and Downtown Edmonton to get you to Jasper.
Best of the Rockies
One of the many stereotypes that we Canadians proudly embrace is our love for nature and wilderness. It’s no wonder then that we love cabins so much. After all, what better way to enjoy nature than to live amidst it. So, rent one of Jasper’s beautiful amenity-loaded cabins.
There’re so many ways to celebrate Jasper National Park. You can go on an adventurous motorcycle tour, hike scenic trails, go horse-riding in the mountains, cook and eat your meals in the great outdoors, spot the many furry inhabitants of the park. And you can do all that while taking in the most breathtaking views of green forests, majestic mountains and sparkling blue waters.
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While traversing the mountains and greens is one way of exploring the park, the other is by floating over the many, many glacially fed lakes and rivers here. The best thing is that your water exploration can be as soothing or as thrilling as you want. Canoe, paddle or raft the crystal waters for an experience of a lifetime.
SkyTram your way to the Summit
Everything is more amazing at a 2,277-metre elevation. The views are more incredible, the food tastes nicer and the selfies turn out to be killer awesome. Of course, the iconic Whistler’s Mountain summit is on the list. And because getting there is no easy feat, there is the SkyTram that can transport you to this elevated heaven on earth without breaking a sweat.
Alright, that was our list. Now, if you’re already packing your bags, you’ll be happy to know that getting to Edmonton is pretty darn easy too. There are multiple non-stop flights- Air Canada, Flair Airlines, Lynx Air (starting July 28), Swoop and WestJet.
Just FYI, the Edmonton International Airport itself is a great start (and end) to your vacation with great shops, restaurants and a luxury hotel attached to the terminal. Plus, as part of Airport City Sustainability Campus, you can shop over 100 brand-name outlet stores, a second Marriott hotel, casino, racetrack, and golfing.