By Karlie Marrazzo
Exploring my home province of Alberta is one of my favourite things to do at any time of year, so when the Alberta Motor Association invited me to be a summer ambassador for their #TheRoadIsCalling campaign to show off my hometown of Edmonton, I was over the moon. I am a weekend warrior and love to discover new places close by, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to discover more about my home city.
Read on for my recommendations on unique things to do in and around Edmonton, and stay tuned until the end of this post to enter a giveaway to win a prize pack that includes admission to all of the attractions I visited!
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
Although I have an Italian last name, I also share Ukrainian ancestry with hundreds of thousands of other Albertans. Ukrainian immigration began in waves in the late 1800s and continued through the 20th century. To celebrate 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village puts on Ukrainian Day, an annual event featuring food (Perogies! Cabbage rolls! Kielbasa! Borscth!), dancing, music, and the chance to explore their outdoor living history museum, complete with historic buildings from the early 20th century and historical interpreters. It was time for me to get in touch with my Ukrainian side. Located 50km east of the city, the Village is an easy 25-minute drive down Highway 16 and is a great day trip.
I hadn’t been to the Village since I was in school and I was impressed with the historical village and the Ukrainian Day events. The sounds of spoken Ukrainian kissed my ears throughout the park and I felt transported to another time and place. After munching on perogies and sausage, my dad and I took a free horse-drawn carriage ride through the historical village, accompanied by a period correct guide. We then roamed in and out of the Orthodox church, the metalsmith’s shop, general store, the police station, private homes and beautiful gardens and farms, complete with roosters and pigs.
On your way back to Edmonton, stop in at Elk Island National Park just 5km down the road for some bison spotting! Take advantage of the nature trails or take a spin on one of the lakes in a canoe while you’re there.
- AMA Members save 10% on regular admission!
Segway tour through the North Saskatchewan River Valley
The river valley is Edmonton’s jewel – more than 100km of trails criss-crossing through 20 lush green parks traversing the entire city is definitely something worth bragging about. River Valley Adventure Co. has been offering Segway tours through the heart of the river valley for four years and has just expanded its tours into the heart of downtown.
I’d already earned my SegLegs on two previous tours with RVAC, and this tour was the best one yet. Our fabulously enthusiastic tour guide Joe took us on a grand tour of the river valley, guiding us across the Low Level Bridge and through Nellie McClung Park, Queen Elizabeth Park and Walterdale Park. I’ve lived in Edmonton for my entire life, yet it was the first time I had been on some of those paths. The tall trees reached up around me as I zipped through and, surrounded by green on all sides, I didn’t feel like I was in the city at all. We then took our Segways to the city streets and crossed back to the north side of the river, past the Rossdale Power Plant and Burial Site, and into the Rossdale neighbourhood, where we admired character homes and the view of the downtown skyline. As the sun set into the river, we wrapped up our evening tour at the serene Chinese Garden Gazebo.
- This fun activity and more like it can be booked with the help of AMA Travel.
Surfing lessons at West Edmonton Mall Surf Club
The nearest ocean to Edmonton is more than 1000km away, so if surf lessons are something that is on your mind, you’re most likely waiting for your next vacation to a sun destination to ride the waves. I’ve never had the courage to surf on the ocean, but was very intrigued at the opportunity to take surf lessons with West Edmonton Mall Surf Club at the World Waterpark in one of the biggest malls on earth.
The lesson started at 8am sharp on a Saturday morning, giving plenty of time for the lesson before the waterpark opened to the public. The owners and instructors, Kris and Jono, went over all of the safety precautions with the group before helping us select our boards and teaching us some board tips on paddling, kneeling and standing before getting us in the water. This left us with a full hour to surf at our leisure and the opportunity to do as many, or as few, rounds as we desired. Kris and Jono were in the water the whole time, shouting out encouraging words and helping with technique. I stayed on my belly the first few times, opting to paddle and get used to the rhythm of the waves. Nervous at first, I felt free and exhilarated as soon as I caught my first wave. Feeling confident, I was able to rise to my knees on my next pass, but was unable to duplicate it afterwards. It was amazing to be able to learn to surf in such a controlled environment with predictable waves, and gave me more confidence should I ever choose to surf on the ocean.
o AMA Members SAVE $7.00 or more on passes for World Waterpark, Galaxyland Amusement Park and other great attractions.
Ready to experience all of these great attractions for yourself? Enter my giveaway!
The not-so-fine print:
The contest is open to residents of Alberta only.
The prize is one (1) family pass to Explore Alberta’s History, two (2) one-hour Segway tours with River Valley Adventure Company, and two (2) surfing lessons with West Edmonton Mall Surf Club. Total value is $406. I will contact the winner after the contest closes to arrange for pick up or delivery of the prize pack.
Family members of the author are ineligible.
Contest runs from Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 12:00am to Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 11:59pm.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association, as part of AMA’s “The Road is Calling” summer campaign. Your AMA Membership can save you – whether you need roadside assistance, to book a vacation or at one of our Rewards partners. AMA is also having an awesome summer road trip contest as part of this campaign, where you could win an escorted journey through Ireland (a $9,000 value)! Check out
ama.ab.ca/theroadiscalling/ to enter the contest, and see the adventures other bloggers went on! As always, all opinions are my own.