Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, Canada, is a true city. Although it often serves as a stopover between visits to nearby Jasper National Park, Edmonton's monumental shopping mall, top-notch arts and culture scene and rapid transit system offer more than enough reasons to stay awhile.
The temperature is so often cold in Edmonton that when summer hits, the city goes all out in celebration. Whyte Avenue, a trendy strip in the historic Old Strathcona district, buzzes as shoppers pop in and out of its independent boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and cafés. A wave of festivals also hit the streets. The Fringe Theatre Festival in August lures crowds from all over the world. Not to be outdone, the West Edmonton Mall entertains year-round with more than 800 stores and attractions including a water park, ice rink and mini-golf course.
Located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton manages to merge its urban metropolis with surrounding nature. Roaming bison have been spotted in town, while a multitude of parks protect land from further development. In Fort Edmonton Park, you can experience local heritage at the reconstructed fur trading post or during a ride on a steam train. Of course, you'd be remiss to visit Edmonton and not spend at least a day exploring Jasper National Park. A four-hour's drive will deliver you to its vast landscapes shaped by glaciers, lakes and mountains home to moose, elk, bears and bighorn sheep.