Whether you are new to Edmonton or have lived here your whole life, getting the most out of the summer weather is essential to making it through those cold winter months with your sanity intact. However, getting out and finding activities that are appealing to all age groups is not always an easy task. Here are some family-orientated ideas for activities that operate all summer long:
1) A picnic or BBQ in the city’s beautiful William Hawrelak Park. The park offers an array of open spaces, playgrounds, BBQ pits, an indoor concession and washroom area, as well as paddle boat rentals. Be sure to bring some bread crumbs so that the little ones can feed the ducks. If parks are your thing but you would like a change of scenery or quieter location, try Rundle Park on the city’s east side down in the scenic river valley. The park contains some of Edmonton’s best walking and cycling trails as well as a mini golf course and paddle boats.
2) My family’s all time favorite summer activity is a trip to Fort Edmonton Park. It is one of the greatest parks of its kind anywhere in the world. You can either start the tour by walking back in time, or take the train around to the reconstructed fort and end the day at an old-timey amusement park. Be sure to bring some cash for the incredibly tasty baked goods and ice cream located in the old store fronts, and be prepared for a full day because this park is massive.
3) If you are up for a short drive, be sure to take the dinosaur enthusiasts in your family to Jurassic Forrest located about half an hour north of the city. There you will find a surprisingly modern and fascinating series of trails with moving dinosaurs and authentic sound effects. There is also a picnic area and playground for the kids to get out all of their steam before the car ride home.
4) You can’t say you are a true Edmontonian until you have been on the Edmonton Queen Riverboat. Sit back and enjoy some lunch or an afternoon snack while you catch a breathtaking view of the river valley aboard a functioning riverboat. This is a great activity for the kids or even for quiet, romantic evening away for two.
5) On Saturday mornings there is no better place to go than either the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, or the City Market Downtown. Better yet, go to both. The kids can get their faces painted or snack on some locally produced treats while you shop for the freshest produce or unique crafts. Food is everywhere so go hungry and enjoy some local talent while getting some of the city’s best open air grub.
6) The Edmonton Valley Zoo is not the worlds biggest (they are currently expanding), but it is still a good way to spend an afternoon. There are many animals to see (and smell) including some you can feed and pet. My daughter’s favorite is the elephant Lucy, who you can find at her enclosure or occasionally walking on one of the trails. Parking is free and there are also paddle boats and concession stands as well as a train ride through the park.
7) Newcomers to the city often don’t believe how warm it gets in the peak of the summer. To cool off try one of the city’s free outdoor water parks. Local favorites include the City Hall Wading Pool and the newly constructed Jackie Parker Spray Park just off of the Whitemud. Most sites have adjacent playground areas and some include BBQ pits and walking paths. On weekends be sure to bring some spare change for ice cream.
8) Get your family out of city and let them run wild on a real live farm with piles of activities for all ages. Although my favorite time to go is late in the summer when the corn maze is grown in, Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm makes for a good day all summer long. My wife is convinced that their chili is the best she has ever had; find out for yourself or be a wimp like me and stick to the fudge.
Image courtesy of mikeatqasam on Flickr