Discover the best of the Highlands neighbourhood

by Theresa Tesolin

Nestled on the banks of Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River, the Highlands is home to historical dwellings within walking distance of boutique shops, restaurants and recreational facilities. Here are a few highlights.

Discover the best of the Highlands neighbourhood

With its tree-lined streets, well-preserved historic homes and mix of eclectic shops and restaurants, the Highlands is a coveted neighbourhood in Edmonton to live in and a popular one to visit. Scenic Ada Boulevard is the highlight of the area with stately mansions and panoramic views of the river valley. This centrally located neighbourhood is just minutes from downtown and nearby city amenities.

Boutique Shopping in the Highlands

While Old Strathcona steals the local spotlight for funky, independent boutiques, the Highlands is home to an eclectic mix of businesses worthy of a visit.

  • Be-a-Bella. Part candy store, part quirky gift shop, Be-a-Bella is a colourful husband-and-wife operated business. You’ll be delighted with their wide selection of British and retro candy like bon bons, gummies and oodles of Pez dispensers. Art created by owner Kathy Prosser is also for sale alongside jewellery and gifts.
  • Mandolin Books & Coffee Company. Just as a quaint neighbourhood coffee shop should be, Mandolin is cozy and serves up hot coffee and tea, pastries and light meals alongside their jam-packed collection of used books. This neighbourhood gem is a lively gathering spot for locals with board game nights, live music and wall space reserved for local artists.
  • Apple Box Boutique. Need some milk paint? Apple Box is a haven for home décor DIYers looking for inspiration or to pick up milk or chalk paints and supplies and to learn new techniques through their workshops.

Other stores to check out include Chickies-French Country House & Garden Antiques and Sabrina Butterfly Designs.

Where to Eat in the Highlands

  • La Boheme Restaurant. Since 1982, this French restaurant and bed and breakfast has been gracing Gibbard Block with its classic menu and vintage décor. Dine by the comfort of a wood-burning fireplace as you sip wine and savour every bite of your dish.
  • Bodega Highlands. The Sabor group has hit another home run with a spinoff of their successful downtown Portuguese and Spanish-style tapas and wine bar. Happy hours are from Monday to Thursday, 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Reasonably priced tapas to try include the scrumptious patatas bravas and crimini mushrooms.
  • Portuguese Canadian Bakery.  A mainstay in the neighbourhood since 1996, this family-owned business serves up homemade pastries, bread, sandwiches and coffee. Many customers buy pastries and bread in bulk so visit early in the day. Their Portuguese custards are not-too-sweet but just-right when paired with a fresh coffee. Pick up a few food staples in the attached grocery and deli.

Things to Do in the Highlands

Walking may be the best way to experience the lively Highlands neighbourhood. Stroll down historic Ada Boulevard to see Magrath Mansion, a sprawling 14-bedroom estate overlooking the river valley and now a popular wedding venue. Make your way to Gibbard Block where most shops and restaurants are clustered. To get a detailed history of the area, the Highlands Historical Society offers walking tours and accompanying guidebooks.

For recreation, enjoy a dip at the salt water pool at Eastglen Leisure Centre. The Highlands Golf Club is located close to downtown. With its well-maintained fairways dotted with spruce trees, this affordable and scenic golf course makes it tempting to leave work a wee bit early to hit the greens. Enjoy a snack and a cold beer at the Clubhouse afterwards.

Highlands Park is a main feature of the neighbourhood with plenty of benches and a gazebo. In the summer, cool off at the spray park, or try a game of lawn bowling.

With its tight-knit community, walkable neighbourhood and proximity to downtown, the Highlands is a vibrant community. Come explore the beautiful and historical area and support local businesses along the way.

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