If you talk to anyone who's lived in Edmonton for a while, odds are good they're going to tell you that they're soooo over it, and they can't wait to move on with their lives. Let's be real though, the same goes for any other city - once you've been there long enough, it's easy to become jaded and start fantasizing about moving elsewhere. Newsflash though, once you get to where you've been dreaming of, chances are very high that you'll get bored of that just as quickly, and start dreaming of other places.
If you ask me, life is all about making the best of wherever you are, for however long you're stuck there! Perhaps you're finishing up your grad degree in Edmonton, so you have another four years here, or maybe you're hunting for your dream job in a different city, but until you find it you're stuck in Edmonton. Whatever the case may be, there's no denying that you're gonna need things to do during your stay.
Let's be real, there's only so many times that you can make your rounds at West Ed, watch an Oilers game at Roger's Place, or visit the Muttart Conservatory. Those tried-and-true things are fun for a while, but they get old if you do them too often! Sometimes, the best way to have fun in Edmonton is to actually take a day trip just outside of the city — you wouldn't believe how many super cool hidden gems there are to be explored.
Have you made it to the Edmonton Corn Maze yet this fall? Spent some time exploring the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary, or visited one of the many other beautiful provincial parks nearby? What about hanging out with the massive dinosaurs hiding around Jurassic Forest? See, we told you! There are so many amazing hidden gems right outside of Edmonton for you to check out. Here are some of our favourites:
Edmonton Corn Maze
Need some fall-themed photos for your Instagram feed? The Edmonton Corn Maze is just the place to get them! Whether you want snaps of you wandering through the maze, or having a blast in a bin full of pumpkins, this is basically the most perfect place to spend your time this fall. Bring along your friends, family, or significant other for a day full of fun, and maybe some friendly competition to see who can make their way out of the maze the fastest! You'll want to hurry though, as the corn maze is only open for a few more weeks before winter hits.
Elk Island National Park
Let's be honest... You're probably getting tired of hearing about Banff or Jasper whenever someone suggests a spot to visit in Alberta. The Rocky Mountains are undeniably pretty, but there's a lot more to see in this province than just that! If you're the outdoorsy type, and still want to check out a beautiful park, may we recommend making the 30-minute drive from Edmonton out to Elk Island National Park? There's plenty to do here, from hiking and biking to simply sitting outside on a crisp fall day and enjoying a picnic!
Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre
There's no denying it, the oil and gas industry plays a major role in the lives of many Albertans. If you ever find yourself interested in learning more about the history of oil and gas, a trip to the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre will teach you just about anything you could possibly want to know. Designated as a National Historic site in 1990, the Centre is a wealth of knowledge on the history and technology involved in the industry. The museum is located just a 40-minute drive away from Edmonton, and they offer tours daily from Tuesday to Saturday.
Perhaps one of the most interesting hidden gems near Edmonton would have to be Jurassic Forest. This hidden park is just a 40-minute drive from the city and is home to a ton of giant dinosaur and other prehistoric animal sculptures. There are over 50 animatronic exhibits that are incredibly realistic, as well as an interpretive centre, and a picnic area for you to hang out in after a day of exploring. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, until Monday, October 14, 2019!
Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary
If you need to get out of the big city of Edmonton for a bit and reconnect with nature, may we suggest you make the 40-minute drive out to the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary? There is an abundance of trails throughout the sanctuary for you to throw in some headphones and explore solo, or conquer along with your pup or friends! Many people head out here to do some birdwatching or check out other wildlife, but there are also picnic tables around for you to kick back and relax after a long walk through the beautiful scenery.
University of Alberta Botanic Garden
The University of Alberta Botanic Garden is one of the few spots that's beautiful all year round. In the fall, with its colours, it's got a unique sort of rustic charm, but when winter comes, and everything is covered in snow, or when everything begins to bloom again in the spring, it's worth visiting as well — with every season, the gardens bring a whole new experience. There are also frequent date night events that are held here — so be sure to keep an eye out for those if you and yours need something to do. The Garden will be closed for fall of 2019 as they are building a new pavilion and they are scheduled to open in December for special events only. Be sure to check out their website for up-to-date information.
Strathcona Wilderness Centre
We all know that winter is looming right around the corner, and when it hits, you're not going to want to leave your house, much less your bed. Take advantage of the last few weeks of fall, or brave the snow if it starts falling again soon, and check out the Strathcona Wilderness Centre! It's just a 35-minute drive away from Edmonton, and is home to plenty of wildlife, walking paths, and wonderful sights that are just waiting to be explored.
Red Deer may be a bit of a drive from Edmonton, but if you've ever been lucky enough to try a milkshake from Peter's, you know that it's worth it. Some people may say that fall isn't the time for milkshakes, but if you love ice cream like I do, you'll never pass up the opportunity to sip on a sweet shake. Open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., 7 days a week, Peter's will never fail to satisfy your late night cravings, or provide you with the perfect afternoon date spot.
Is being in the big city starting to drive you crazy? Why not make the 40-minute drive out to the small town of Devon? With a population of under 7,000, this quaint little spot is home to tons of friendly people, and much less of the hectic hustle and bustle that one would find in Edmonton. Take your bike for a ride through Riverview Bike Park, explore the many adorable little cafes and shops, and get to know the locals! A trip to Devon could be exactly what you need to clear your mind this fall.
Miquelon Lake Provincial Park
Miquelon Lake Provincial Park is just a 50-minute drive outside of Edmonton and is a great place to spend the day outside and soak up the great outdoors. Although the lake and beach are more enjoyable in the summer, it's still relaxing to hang out and check out the view come fall time. Be sure to stop by the visitor centre and pick up some fun facts from their many interactive programs and activities.
Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm
Haven't met your quota of fall-themed Instagram pictures yet? We've got another place for you to visit! The Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm is just 25 km outside of Edmonton and is easily the ultimate spot to get your autumn fix! Check out the corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, and much much more for a day filled with fall fun. They hold regular events until October 31 that might just make for the perfect unique date night for you and your best friends or your significant other.
With reading week soon approaching for all of my fellow struggling students, and plenty of long weekends on the horizon, there's no time like the present to plan a day trip with your friends, family, or significant other! You may be feeling bored of Edmonton, but that doesn't mean you need to be bored of Alberta altogether and spend your time sitting at home! Make the most of your time here, and get out there and explore all the wonderful places that are calling your name!