5 Edmonton-area day trip adventures

By Athena Raypold

Edmonton is known for its hot, dry summers, so it’s no surprise everyone wants to get outdoors in the summer months. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure this summer but don’t have the time to travel to Jasper, Banff or Waterton, there are plenty of daytrips around the city that give you the chance to connect with nature and each other. [Photo credit: www.istockphoto.com/wwing]

5 Edmonton-area day trip adventures

Edmonton Canoe

If you don’t want to drive out of the city but want to get on the water, Edmonton Canoe is for you. They offer both full-day and half-day boating (that’s old school boating – canoe or kayak) on the North Saskatchewan River. Edmonton Canoe shuttles you from downtown (where there’s free parking at Emily Murphy Park) to Devon where they provide you with boats, paddles and safety equipment. Even if you have no paddling experience, you’ll quickly learn how to steer your boat as the river current takes you downstream. Pack a lunch and drinks and stop off on Edmonton's River Valley shore for lunch.

Pembina River Float

Looking look to float instead of paddle down a river? Then Pembina River Tubing is the destination for you. Drive about an hour and half west out of Edmonton to Entwistle where they’ll provide everything you need for a memorable trip down the Pembina River. Pembina River Tubing provides you with tube and lifejacket rentals and a shuttle service that brings you back to your car. As you float down the river’s gentle current soaking up the sun, luxuriating in ultimate relaxation, you’ll experience the 62-metre gorge the Ice Age created – as well as an opportunity to view wildlife and the river valley’s lush foliage.

University of Alberta Botanic Garden

For a more manicured experience with nature, satisfy your inner botanist at The University of Alberta Botanic Garden (formerly the Devonian Botanic Garden) in Parkland County, located just outside of Devon. With 240-acres of cultivated gardens, plant collections, indoor showhouses and a beautiful trail system, the botanic garden is an award-winning tourist attraction and research site open May through October. No need to bring lunch: the garden’s outdoor Patio Café provides soup, sandwiches, salads, drinks and of course, ice cream. You can also pickup local and handcrafted gifts from the Shop in the Garden.

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Discover more fun things to do in Edmonton this summer:

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Jurassic Forest

Want to add a prehistoric flair to your outdoor adventure? Plan a day trip to the Jurassic Forest. Kids love seeing the massive, life-sized dinosaur statues that are surprisingly detailed and realistic. In this 40-acre old growth forest, you’ll see herbivores like the Brachiosaurus and the Apatosaurus alongside deadly carnivores like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and winged dinosaurs like the Archaeopteryx. The Forest offers tours with expert guides and opportunities for kids to dig like archeologists and picnic among the dinosaurs. Amenities include two-kilometres of discovery trails, the Junior Palaeontologist Playground, scavenger hunts as well as a gift shop and concession. To ensure a full lunch, be sure to pack a picnic to take along with you.

Elk Island National Park

Take advantage of Canada 150’s free National Parks Pass by trekking out to Elk Island National Park for the day. A bison handling facility, Elk Island offers guests the chance to see and learn about how they brought this majestic animal back from the brink of extinction. A refuge for animals indigenous to Alberta like elk, bison and more than 250 birds, this park is a hiker’s playground. With opportunities for animal and bird watching, theatre and geocaching, hiking and cycling, as well as kayaking, canoeing, sailboating and windsurfing, Elk Island has something for everyone.

With such long winters, Edmontonians tend to make the most of our summers – and what better way than by communing with nature? Pack a picnic and head out to one of these beautiful locations for a fun-filled day outside!

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