By Kendra Stager
For a city that has received a bad reputation for being run down and unattractive, Edmonton certainly has some scenic gems available for anyone willing to explore a little bit. A few of these locations are more obvious, like the River Valley or the Legislature Building, but others require a little more of a careful eye, and some hunting and hiking to reach. Looking to spend the weekend outdoors now that the weather is finally warming up? Branch out a little and tour the city of Edmonton, and discover that sometimes there really is more than meets the eye.
Everyone knows about the Legislature Building in Edmonton, especially with more interactive developments surrounding it, including colour-changing water fountains and a wading pool, but most people choose to visit it during the day and sunbathe on the grassy hills nearby. The key to really appreciating what this site has to offer is stopping by after the sun goes down, when lights shine up onto the building, giving it a looming appearance and a warm glow. The lights reflect off of the unoccupied wading pool, adding to a quieter, more peaceful atmosphere compared to during the day.
High Level Bridge
Speaking of visiting places at night, the High Level Bridge is another location that lights up when the sun goes down; however, instead of driving back and forth across it, park at the Legislature grounds and take a stroll up to the north end of the bridge. There is a wide space of sidewalk here that allows for both great long-exposure shots of traffic, and photos that capture the full length of the bridge, capturing the multicoloured lights against the night sky.
Grant Notley Park
At the very top of Victoria Park Road, just north of the river, sits Grant Notley Park. Although small and unassuming, this little green space offers a gorgeous view of all the greenery surrounding the river itself, as well as the golf course down below. There are benches to sit on right at the edge of the valley and soak in the views, and even a gazebo that can be rented out for events such as weddings. It’s in the perfect location for those who want to be right in the city, while still enjoying all of the peace and lush greenery that nature has to offer.
While more obvious and easy to access viewing points are nothing to scoff at, there are some hidden gems in the city that offer incredible views with way less foot traffic and teens taking selfies. For example, the Strathearn neighbourhood in south-central Edmonton—which dates back to the 1940s—overlooks the entirety of the downtown core from across the River Valley. This is one of the only locations where you can get Canada Place, the Shaw Conference Centre, the Hotel Fairmont Macdonald, the Funicular, and the Muttart Conservatory all in one photo. To get an unobstructed view, it’s best to weave through the forest at the edge of the neighbourhood, where there are makeshift paths near small clearings; just be careful, since it’s a pretty steep drop-off into the valley.
Saving the best for last, recently the city decided to build a parking lot and viewing point across Walterdale Hill Road from the Kinsmen Sports Centre. What used to be one large, steep hill that was completely unusable, now allows people to park and gather, all while taking in the views of the new Walterdale Bridge and the city’s skyline. The ideal time to check this spot out is at dusk, when there’s still a bit of light left in the sky, but it’s dark enough that all of the buildings have had to turn on their own lights. This creates the true definition of a city being lit up like a Christmas tree.
While there certainly are some less than desirable pockets of Edmonton, this is true of any major city, and should not be anyone’s focus when exploring and enjoying the long-awaited warm weather. There are plenty of absolutely beautiful views to behold, and while some of them are a little more off the beaten path, others are incredible easy to access for anybody, and should be taken advantage of to the fullest extent.