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The capital of Alberta is decidedly working-class, filled with real people living ordinary lives. It’s that no-nonsense spirit that’s given the city a character and a culture all its own. Here’s the best way to see Edmonton in one day:
Start your morning at the New York Bagel Café, a spot that’s become an Old Strathcona institution for both its longevity and its delicious range of eggs Benedict dishes, served with a side of fresh fruit. It’s OK to linger over a cup of coffee — here, the atmosphere is relaxed, and shops on nearby Whyte Avenue don’t open until 10 a.m., anyway.
After breakfast, take a stroll along Whyte Ave to check out some of the hippest boutique shopping in town. The strip has long been the hangout for the city’s counterculture, from artists and designers to punk rockers and hippies. Locally designed fashion, used bookstores, and record shops are just some of what you’ll find here.
It’s time to head across the river. If you think your heels can hack it, start at 109th Street and Saskatchewan Drive and walk across one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the High Level Bridge. Opened in 1913, the bridge connected the newly joined communities of Edmonton and Strathcona. You’ll get a view of the downtown skyline and historic, castle-like Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, and come out onto the Alberta Legislature Building grounds, where you can rest by the fountains or under the massive, leafy trees.
Lunch can be found a little deeper downtown. Rice Howard Way, a cobblestoned street right in the city’s core, is lined with excellent restaurants. Tres Carnales, the best taquería in town, is great for grabbing a quick bite, and food trucks — which have exploded in popularity the last few years — can be found all over downtown in the afternoons.
Conveniently, you’re not far from Sir Winston Churchill Square. It’s here you’ll find the Art Gallery of Alberta, a recently redesigned public gallery featuring both historical and contemporary works from international and local artists. Once you’ve absorbed enough art, just down the street are the Winspear Centre and the Citadel Theatre. Pick up a pair of tickets for a musical performance or play later on, and in the meantime, enjoy some dinner.
Reservations are recommended for the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald’s Harvest Room restaurant, but when it comes to fine dining with a local touch — not to mention atmosphere — it’s one of the city’s best. Featuring Alberta beef, freshwater fish, game, and local produce, the menu allows you to truly taste the Prairies.