We know that being broke can be a huge downer. And when it seems like doing anything fun in Edmonton requires a lot of money, an empty wallet can often lead to a lackluster social life.
Fortunately for you Edmontonians, if you find yourself having to turn down plans with friends, or are unable to justify paying extra to add that chicken in your salad-- we have some ideas for how you can still get out there and enjoy yourself!
So if student loans got you down, and rent is holding you back from living your best life, this article offers some cheap solutions to keep you entertained. Here is a list of 25 things to do in Edmonton if you’re broke AF.
1. Tour the Alberta Legislature Building.
Take a FREE guided tour of this architecturally stunning building! That’s right folks, I said free (which is about as cheap as it gets). Make sure to snap a few photos of the waterfall pools and gorgeous gardens—your Instagram account will thank you.
2. Stroll through a farmer’s market on a Saturday morning (or more realistically, afternoon).
Grab your friends and head down to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. It doesn’t cost a thing to walk around and peruse through beautiful handmade jewelry, sample some fresh local fruits, and listen to live music. Bring some cash if you want to actually purchase that pastry you’ve been eyeing, but lusting after it is always free! The City Market on 104th is another great option, but since it’s not open year-round, be sure to take advantage of it when possible!
3. Go for a walk/ run/ jog/ hop/ skip along one of the River Valley Trails.
This option is also free. Get some fresh air and surround yourself with beautiful scenery. Plus, the physical activity can help you reach your fitness goals. Might as well look and feel your best-- because if you’re going to be broke, might as well be fit and broke.
4. Catch some Pokémon at West Edmonton Mall.
Gather all your Pokémon-loving friends and head out to the mall (dressing up as Ash Ketchum is not required). With 22 Pokéstops and 3 gyms, you’ll be closer to your dream of catching them all.
5. Take advantage of the annual Alberta Culture Days.
For a few days once a year, the beautiful province of Alberta offers free admission to museums, art galleries, historic sites, etc. Since you’re already living the starving artist lifestyle, may as well tap into your artsy side.
Examples of the sites offered:
Art Gallery of Alberta - Free admission on October 1st and 2nd, (10 a.m. to 5 p.m)
Mile Zero Dance Extravaganza - Free performances and dance party Oct 1 (5 p.m. to 9 p.m and 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.); Free dance classes Oct 2 (12 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
Edmonton Opera - Free Performance at the Kingsway Mall Oct 1 (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.)
6.Walk the red carpet at the Edmonton Short Film Festival.
For $18.90 a person, you get to walk the red carpet, get a complimentary photo taken by “paparazzi”, stuff your face with movie popcorn (i.e. the best kind of popcorn), eat hors d’oeuvres and enjoy live music. You also get to see 90 minutes of curated material ranging from trailers, web episodes, comedies, and dramas. This event is definitely worth the money—so start saving your couch change so you can attend next year’s festival.
7. Head to the Empress Ale House on Sundays for some free comedy and cheap beers.
We can’t guarantee that all the jokes will be funny, but we’re sure you’ll be entertained (plus, you’ve got to admire the courage it takes to get up there). You and your friends can enjoy cheap beers and some hilarious comedic talent, to cheer you up before the unfortunate weekly event that is Monday.
8. Attend the Edmonton Pride Parade and show your support/love for equality.
Lucky for you, it’s free to be a good human (rainbow-coloured face paint not required, but desired).
9. Hone your strategic thinking skills at Hexagon Board Game Café (HXGN).
Whether you’re a fan of Clue, Sushi-Go, or Cards Against Humanity—Hexagon is bound to have the game you’ve been itching to play. At only $2.50/ hour (per person), you'll have the chance to get rich in Monopoly money, all while barely spending your actual cash.
10. Take advantage of free yoga at Sir Winston Churchill Square.
During the summer, find your zen for the low price of $0. You can use this time to de-stress from the emotional trauma you suffered when paying rent the day before.
11. Head to the AGA on the last Thursday of every month (because, free).
Look online to find upcoming free admission nights (thanks to the Servus Credit Union), so you can spend the night feeling cultured, as you stare at the contemporary artwork and pretend to “understand it”. We're calling your bluff.
12. Join Manhunt-Edmonton on Wednesday nights.
GIANT. GAME. OF. HIDE AND SEEK, ‘NUFF SAID. Oh, one more thing…it’s totally free.
13.Watch movies at Princess Theatre (a beautiful art-house cinema).
With student pricing at $8 a person and general admission at $11, It’s cheaper than most places, and you’ll get the experience of being in an old-school theatre with an old-timey looking concession stand as well.
14. Take a stroll down 124th St and check out the art galleries.
Walking is free. Checking out art is also free. So, maybe being surrounding by beautiful things might make you forget about your grim financial situation? It’s worth a shot.
15. Have a picnic at William Hawrelak Park.
Head out to the park with friends (or by yourself, with a book). Remember to bring along a basket of sandwiches and fruits, or sour skittles and chips-- I mean, you do you (we aren’t here to judge your nutritional choices).
16. Practice your Luke Skywalker/Rey impressions by getting lightsaber training at Sir Winston Churchill Square.
Everyone has at some point picked up a random, inanimate object and made lightsaber noises with their mouth. Admit it, you totally have. Well, it’s time to take those “skills” up a notch. Go with a group, it’s sure to be a funny night.
17) Be aware of Free Admission Day for participating Edmonton rec centres.
It’s frugal thinking like this that helps ease the pain of being broke. Gain free admission to places like the Edmonton Valley Zoo, the John Walter Museum, the Muttart Conservatory and more!
18. Walk down Whyte Ave.
Chances are, you’ll come across some entertaining street performers as you spend the day window shopping (not actually shopping though, because remember you’re broke AF). Check out cool vintage stores like Junque Cellar, and you may find some great deals on knick knacks you probably don’t need, but will make you happy anyway.
19. Grab some cheap eats with friends at these restaurants:
20. Visit the outdoor Neon Sign Museum.
It looks best when there’s little to no light—so make sure you take your broke ass there later on at night (or SUPER early in the morning).
21. Go stargazing at the U of A Observatory.
This won’t cost you anything, and you can use this time to picture your life as an astronaut (i.e. as someone that has more money than you).
22. Take Instagram photos of your ice cream at Scoop N’ Roll.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing sheets of ice cream rolled up. Actually, it’s probably more satisfying to eat it…which can and should be done immediately after posting your Insta pic.
23. Enjoy the sunset while riding the High Level Bridge Streetcar.
For only $5 round-trip, you’ll be able to travel from Old Strathcona to Downtown, Edmonton. The whole experience is even prettier when the sun is setting.
24. Watch a performance at the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.
Prices vary, but you’re bound to find something that will work within your tight budget (or perhaps you don’t have a budget…which is probably the main reason you’re broke AF)
25. Explore the provincial/national parks near Edmonton.
Canadian national parks will be free in 2017. You better get in on this deal! If you don’t have a car—find a friend that does, and get a group together so you can split the cost of gas.
Here is a list of must-see provincial/national parks: