Alberta’s capital city sprawls out over the prairie, surrounded by farmland and forest in all directions. Whether you know it from its glory days (hockey great Wayne Gretzky rose to fame as captain of the Edmonton Oilers) or its gigantic shopping center (world-famous West Edmonton Mall covers the equivalent of 48 blocks), Edmonton is a city filled with surprises. Take, for instance, its unexpectedly vibrant and passionate arts scene, or the vast network of walking trails and biking spanning one of the largest stretches of urban parkland in North America. It’s also home to a host of year-round festivals, earning the nickname of “Canada’s Festival City” with events ranging from jazz (Edmonton International Jazz Festival) to street performers (Edmonton International Street Performers Festival). At heart, Edmonton is still a frontier town, with the characters and rapid propensity for change to prove it.

Whether you’re in town to seek a history lesson about the Yukon gold rush — Edmonton was one of the major supply depots, after all — or get your fill of outdoor adventure along the North Saskatchewan River, this Canadian city is brimming with activity.