The 10 Best Edmonton Neighborhoods to Explore

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Do a quick search and you’ll find plenty of articles covering the best areas to live in Edmonton or the safest neighborhoods in Edmonton. This is not one of them.

In this article, I’m going to cover the most interesting neighborhoods in Edmonton to explore, either on foot or by your preferred mode of transportation. We’re going to get up close and personal with this culturally diverse and surprisingly rewarding prairie town just shy of 1 million residents.

Assuming you either live in Edmonton already or are planning to go there, I encourage you to follow this guide and dive deeper into our city’s history and vibrant mosaic of communities, best experienced through its many cafes, restaurants, breweries, shops, art galleries, and museums.

For even more ideas, head over to my guides to 99 things to do in Edmonton and the best things to do in Edmonton with kids!

Old Strathcona & Whyte Ave

Brick buildings in Old Strathcona, Edmonton's coolest neighborhood
Beautiful brick buildings of Strathcona Library and Knox Evangelical Church

It should come as no surprise that Old Strathcona tops the list as the best neighbourhood in Edmonton to explore. Old Strathcona is Edmonton’s most atmospheric historic district, dotted with early 20th-century brick buildings.

A town of its own until it was incorporated into Edmonton in 1912, Old Strathcona was built up around the terminus of the Calgary-to-Edmonton railway line.

Enjoy a pint in the original Strathcona Train Station, which dates to 1908, at MKT Fresh Food | Beer Market, or admire it from the patio of Situation Brewing across the street.

In the lot in front of the station, fronting Whyte Avenue, a few shipping containers mark the beginnings of what is soon to be Station Park YEG, a collection of local vendors housed in a building made of shipping containers, slated for opening in summer of 2022.

Exterior of Strathcona Hotel on Whyte Ave, in Strathcona, Edmonton's coolest neighborhood
Stathcona Hotel, or “The Strat”

Kitty-corner to Station Park YEG, Strathcona Hotel (or “The Strat”) dates to 1891. Some of the earliest visitors to Edmonton stayed here or enjoyed a beer in its tavern. You can do the same today at Leopold’s Tavern on the ground floor.

A mural on Whyte Ave showing the importance of music in Old Strathcona
Artwork reflecting the importance of music and performance art in the area

The large space across from the Strat, and stretching all the way to the Roxy Theatre and Yardbird Suite (jazz bar), is ground central for the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, the largest in the world beyond the original one in Edinburgh.

Front of Old Strathcona Farmers Market with many shoppers in front
The most well-known farmers’ market in Edmonton

Behind the Strat, Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market is the city’s most well-known. From the entrance to the market, look across the street for the iconic 6-story mural by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel on the back of Crawford Block, seen in the below photo.

A painted mural in Old Strathcona by Okuda San Miguel on the back of Crawford Block
Stunning mural in Old Strathcona

The High Level Bridge Street Streetcar stops right at the back of the market. Hop on the streetcar in summer for one of the city’s most exhilarating and scenic rides across the River Valley to downtown.

A driver getting on a High Level Streetcar in Edmonton
Boarding the streetcar at Old Strathcona Station

Whyte Avenue (82 Ave), Edmonton’s trendiest strip, runs east-to-west along the southern border of Strathcona neighborhood. The hottest section is between Gateway Boulevard (Station Park YEG) in the east to 109 street in the west.

Lights from cars zipping down Whyte Avenue at night
Whyte Avenue, Edmonton’s most well-known street

Highlights along Whyte include the following:

These are just a small sample of what’s on offer on Whyte; don’t be surprised if I missed your favorite spot – there are too many to include everything. Explore for yourself and see what you can find!

Along the northern border of Strathcona, Saskatchewan Drive offers some of the best views of Edmonton, as below.

View of downtown Edmonton from Saskatchwan Drive, Strathcona neighborhood
Downtown Edmonton viewed from Saskatchewan Drive on the edge of Strathcona

For more explorations in Alberta, see my guides to Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Canmore, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Drumheller, Waterton National Park, and Dinosaur Provincial Park!

Downtown Edmonton

Buildings of downtown Edmonton with a river in the foreground
The North Saskatchewan River meanders past Downtown Edmonton

Often written off by locals for its lack of parking, Downtown Edmonton actually has loads going for it, and it’s only getting better as the area continues to be revitalized.  

Water fountains spraying in front of Edmonton City Hall
Fountains in front of City Hall

Start your explorations at Churchill Square, downtown’s main square. Bordering the square are the newly renovated Stanley A. Milner Library, the new location (2010) of the Art Gallery of Alberta with its contemporary design (the flowing metal exterior is meant to replicate the bends of the North Saskatchewan and Northern Lights), and the inviting water fountains in front of pyramid-topped Edmonton City Hall.  

Extrior of the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton
Unique contemporary design of the new Art Gallery of Alberta
Albertosaurus in the lobby of the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton
Visitors are greeted by an Albertosaurus in the lobby of the Royal Alberta Museum

A few steps to the north, the new (2018) location of Royal Alberta Museum shouldn’t be missed; it is now the largest museum in Western Canada!

At the northeastern edge of downtown, the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market runs every weekends, with roots going back over a century.

Produce for sale at Downtown Edmonton Farmers Market
Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market

Just west of RAM, check out The Backyard, a new outdoor art & music venue where you’ll find local food vendors and a wide variety of events.

Buildings of the Ice District in downtown Edmonton
Edmonton Ice District

A few blocks further west, Ice District is Edmonton’s new testament to hockey; watch for the Wayne Gretzky statue at the 104 ave entrance to enormous Rogers Place. Opposite the statue, follow the walkway between buildings toward 103 ave to find the statue of Bob and Doug McKenzie, two more Canadian legends.

A statue of Wayne Gretzky in the Edmonton Ice District
Statue of Wayne Gretzky in Ice District
Bob and Doug McKenzie Statue in Edmonton
Stars of the Canadian film Strange Brew

A few steps away, take a stroll down 104 Street, starting at Neon Sign Museum, a collection of 20 vintage signs from all over the city.

Edmonton Neon Sign Museum
Neon Sign Museum on 104st downtown

Follow 104 Street all the way to Jasper Avenue; this is Downtown’s prettiest strip, with red brick building’s housing some excellent restaurants and bars. Notable ones include Baijiu (modern Asian dishes and cocktails), Evolution Wonderlounge (Edmonton’s premier gay bar), Bottega 104 (for fine Italian), and Cavern (wine and artisanal cheese).

On Saturdays in summer, the 104 Street Promenade hosts Alfresco on 4th, closing off to traffic and filled with local vendors.

A pedestrian street called 104st Promenade (Alfresco on 4th) in downtown Edmonton
Edmonton 104st Promenade (Alfresco on 4th)

Last but not least, you can’t forget Jasper Avenue, Downtown’s main strip. From the historic wedge-shaped Gibson Block Building east of downtown all the way to 124 street in the west (see next section), Jasper Ave is known for its many restaurants and historic buildings.

Notable highlights along the way include Community Medicine Wheel Garden, River Valley-facing Fairmont Hotel Macdonald (Edmonton’s most iconic hotel), and the 100 Street Funicular (providing access from downtown to the River Valley and Louise McKinney Riverfront Park, with its Chinese Garden).

Edmonton Funicular with Hotel Macdonald in background
The Edmonton Funicular up to Hotel Macdonald and Downtown

For food & drink along Jasper Ave, don’t miss Bistro Praha (Czech cuisine), Remedy Café, Dorinku Osaka, and the Russian Tea Room.

On cute little Rice Howard Way, there’s also Tres Carnales Taqueria, Dalla Tavola Zenari, and Craft Beer Market.

Tray of tacos from Tres Carnales Taqueria on Rice Howard Way in downtown Edmonton
Tacos from Tres Carnales Taqueria on Rice Howard Way downtown

At the southwestern edge of downtown, the Alberta Legislature Grounds are one of the city’s best hangout spots, with water fountains to play in and a large grassy space at the back ideal for secluded picnics. In winter, the grounds host Christmas lights and ice sculptures.

Fountain in front of Alberta Legislature building
The calm Alberta Legislature Grounds are on the edge of downtown

Oliver & 124 Street

Oliver is a primarily residential neighborhood just west of downtown. It is intersected by two main roads, Jasper Avenue and 104 Avenue.

At the southeastern corner of Oliver, Grandin (currently undergoing renaming) is a lovely, leafy neighborhood. Hop on the High Level Bridge Streetcar from here, or enjoy the River Valley views from Constable Ezio Farone Park.

View of the High Level and LRT Bridge from Constable Ezio Farone Park
View of the High Level and LRT Bridge from Constable Ezio Farone Park

The Common and Central Social Hall have two of the best outdoor patios in the city. On 113 street, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is one of the city’s most impressive.

Further down Jasper Ave, try An Chay for vegetarian Vietnamese, Teddy’s (a nostalgic, friendly local bar-restaurant dating to 1932), Normand’s (a French bistro), and just off Jasper Ave, Odd Company Brewing.

104 Ave is mostly lined with strip malls and chain stores, but a few gems include Sofra Turkish Restaurant, Brits Fish & Chips, and Beer Revolution. At the western end of 104 Ave, Brewery District is a collection of shops housed in the old Molson Canadian brewery; don’t miss the creative donuts at Doughnut Party.

Food vendors and shoppers on 124 Grand Market
Thursdays and Sundays are bustling on 124 street thanks to the 124 Grand Market

Delineating the western border of Oliver, 124 Street is Whyte Ave’s main competitor for coolest street in Edmonton. It is especially known for its many art galleries, including indigenous Bearclaw Gallery, Alberta Craft Gallery, Peter Robertson Gallery, and more.

Vendors at 124st Grand Market in Oliver, Edmonton
124 Street Grand Market

124 Street is also well known for the excellent 124 Grand Market. The market rotates between two locations on 124 street: 108 avenue on Thursdays (4-8 p.m., mid-May to early-October) and 102 avenue on Sundays (11 a.m. to 3 p.m., early-June to late-September).

A box of one dozen donuts from Destination Doughnuts on 124 st in Edmonton
Creative donuts from Destination Doughnuts on 124 st

Beginning at the point where Jasper Ave curves into 124 street, here are some other great places to seek out:

Food trucks at The Lot in Edmonton
Food truck at The Lot, a new collection of food trucks and vendors on 124 st
A plate of pastries from Duchess Bakery on 124 street
Pastries from Duchess Bakery, considered one of Canada’s best
Beer samples on a table at Irrational Brewing, one of the best breweries in Edmonton
A dozen beer samples at Irrational Brewing, housed in a former power substation on 124 street

Also don’t miss The Lot, a new square of food trucks with live music in summer at the corner of 107 ave and 104 st. A few blocks east of it, Manchester Square is an up-and-coming complex of local businesses that looks straight out of Europe. Arcadia Brewing, one of the city’s best, is in the corner by the water fountain.

Row of buildings at Manchester Square in Edmonton
European architecture at Manchester Square in Oliver

Last but not least, head to little Paul Kane Park for a tranquil oasis built around a pond, and Oliver Outdoor Pool.

A girl standing by a pond on Paul Kane Park, Oliver neighborhood, Edmonton
My daughter at serene Paul Kane Park in Oliver

Ritchie

Heading east from Strathcona, Whyte Ave continues on into Ritchie neighborhood.

A cat looking out the window at Edmonton Cat Cafe on Whyte Ave
Edmonton’s only Cat Cafe is on Whyte Ave in Ritchie

Some of Whyte Ave’s best spots are actually in Ritchie, including Yelo’d Ice Cream & Bake Shoppe, Cat Café on Whyte, and further down, Earth’s General Store, Edmonton’s best spot for all things organic and environmentally friendly. Bring your own bags!

99 Street and surroundings has so many breweries that they have banded together to dub it Happy Beer Street. The seven breweries on or around the street include Bent Stick, Blind Enthusiasm & the Monolith, Longroof, and stretching south of Ritchie, there’s Omen, Sea Change, and Alley Kat, Edmonton’s original craft brewery.

A can of Prairie Fairy beer from Sea Change, a brewery in Edmonton
Prairie Fairy, one of my favorite Edmonton beers, comes from Sea Change on Happy Beer Street

Other spots in Ritchie neighborhood to check out include Boocha Kombucha, Ace Coffee Roasters, and Barb & Ernie’s Old Country Inn for old-school German food & beer.

Running along the eastern edge of Ritchie all the way to the North Saskatchewan, Mill Creek Ravine is green escape lined with hiking and cycling trails, plus Mill Creek Ravine Outdoor Pool.

A walking trail in Mill Creek Ravine, Edmonton
Mill Creek Ravine is a green oasis bordering Ritchie neighborhood

Garneau & University of Alberta

Billboard of Garneau Theatre in Edmonton
Still-running Garneau Theatre

Garneau is another extension of Old Strathcona, but to the west. There you’ll find atmospheric, leafy streets, more historic buildings, and some lovely old houses.

The Garneau Theatre is Garneau’s most iconic attraction, housing the still-running Metro Cinema. Dating to 1940, the theatre is one of the last of the Art Moderne architectural style in Canada.

Three hot dogs covered with unusual ingredients at It'Dog & Chicken in Garneau, one of the best areas in Edmonton
Unusual hot dogs at Korean It’Dog & Chicken

There’s a cluster of cool businesses on 109 street, just off the high level bridge, including:

  • It’Dog & Chicken: Doing creative Korean hot dogs and fried chicken
  • Remedy: One of the city’s best cafés, also serving great Indian food
  • Sugarbowl: Once another extremely popular café, it now focuses more on full meals and beer
  • High Level Diner: Always a favorite spot for brunch
  • La Poutine: Poutine with creative toppings
An old building at University of Alberta
One of several historic buildings on the U of A campus

West of Garneau neighborhood sits the sprawling University of Alberta. Take a stroll on campus to appreciate its large lawns and historic buildings, the oldest of which is Athabasca Hall, dating to 1911.

Facing Saskatchewan Drive and the River Valley, Rutherford House is the restored home of Alberta’s first premier, now a provincial historic site, and can be visited for a small fee.

There’s also a small Museum of Paleontology, while Dewey’s in the old North Power Plant is the main bar on campus.

Rutherford House, University of Alberta
Rutherford House on U of A campus is a provincial historic site.

Alberta Avenue

Mural of paintings on Alberta Avenue, one of the coolest areas in Edmonton
Impressive street art on Alberta Avenue (plus my son for scale…)

A 10-minute drive north of Downtown, the section of 118 ave from NAIT to the old Northlands Ice Coliseum is referred to as Alberta Avenue.

Having grown up in this area, I can say that it used to be pretty rough. It still isn’t perfect today, but has been slowly improving for a few years. Today it is known for its high concentration of ethnic grocery stores and restaurants, as well as some pretty cool murals and other street art.

A plate of Green onion cakes from Green Onion Cake Man on Alberta Avenue in Edmonton
Green onion cakes from Green Onion Cake Man on Alberta Avenue

Going from east to west, here are some spots along 118 avenue worth a visit:

A calzone sliced in two from Battista's Calzone on Alberta Avenue, Edmonton
Award-winning calzone from Battista’s

There are also local initiatives such as the Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse and Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts on 118 avenue.

Last but not least, you can’t miss the Giant Baseball Bat on 97 street, one of the Giants of the Prairies that Alberta is famous for.

McCauley

Vegan dishes on a table with a Buddha statue in the background at Padmanadi, Edmonton's best restaurant
All-vegan Padmanadi, often considered Edmonton’s best restaurant, is in McCauley

McCauley might be a surprising entry for some, as one of Edmonton’s poorest and least safe neighborhoods.

Still, I recommend giving McCauley a chance. In Chinatown, which runs between 97 and 101 streets, you’ll find staple Asian grocery stores like Lucky 97 and 99 Supermarket.

My family has been going to restaurants in Chinatown like All Happy and Thanh Thanh Noodle House since I was a kid. Meanwhile, Padmanadi (vegan Chinese & Indonesian) is often rated the best restaurant in Edmonton, and is one of my all-time favorites, run by my friend Kasim, one of the kindest humans I know.

Sign over the road demarkating Little Italy in Edmonton
Edmonton’s Little Italy

Then there’s Little Italy, which occupies 95 street between 109 and 108 avenues (you can’t miss the sign over the road, seen above). The original Italian Centre Shop (a grocery store and café/bakery that takes you right to Italy) is the focal point, while Sorrentino’s and Allegro Italian Kitchen are other staples.

For flowers and other pretty things, step into Zocalo, a small greenhouse & café, where you can have an espresso while you shop.

(As a side note, growing up nearby, I was on the McCauley soccer team as a kid, and we won the city championship because all my teammates belonged to Italian families that took the game so seriously!)

McCauley has one of the highest concentrations of churches in the world and is a protected Heritage Area.

One more cool thing about McCauley is that it has a huge concentration of churches and other religious buildings; 96 street was once listed in Ripley’s Believe it or Not for having more churches than any other street in the world! The whole street has thus been designated a protected Heritage Area.

Glenora

An indigenous totem pole at Government House
BC-style totem pole at Government House Park in Glenora

Glenora is Edmonton’s original exclusive neighborhood, with street upon street of gorgeous historic homes and mansions; we sometimes like to drive through just to look at the houses.

This neighborhood was the original location of the Royal Alberta Museum (I worked there for a few years!) While the museum has relocated downtown, the old grounds remain a nice place to visit.

Government House historic building in Edmonton
Government House

Still standing on site, Government House is a historical landmark dating to 1913. It housed Alberta’s first six Lieutenant Governors, and is still used for government meetings and events today.

Korean Pavilion, Government House Park in Edmonton
Korean Pavilion at Government House Park in Glenora

In front of it, a Korean Pavilion and Hosaqami Totem Pole face the river valley. The 24-foot totem pole was carved from a solid 500-year-old cedar by BC Kwagiulth artist Chief Tony Hunt.

While there aren’t too many businesses operating in Glenora, Vi’s for Pies, a cozy shop with awesome pies and other meals, is a notable exception.     

Summerlea

Indoor sea and ship in West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton's most famous attraction
Ginormous West Edmonton Mall

Summerlea is synonymous with West Edmonton Mall, which takes up nearly 50% of the neighborhood. Love it or hate, North America’s largest mall is one of Alberta’s top attractions, and it features loads of things to do.

WEM is so big that it can definitely be considered a neighborhood of its own.

The West Edmonton Mall Waterpark
World Waterpark, the large indoor waterpark in the world.

Some of the more obvious things to do at “The Mall” include Galaxyland and World Waterpark, the world’s largest indoor amusement park and waterpark, respectively.

A boy looking excited as he stands in front of a huge indoor rollercoaster in Galaxyland, West Edmonton Mall
My son in front of the Mindbender, Galaxyland’s most notorious ride
Replica of the Santa Maria ship in West Edmonton Mall
Replica of the Santa Maria ship

But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are more interesting things to do at West Edmonton Mall:

A girl inside a space pod-themed bed in Fantasyland Hotel, West Edmonton Mall
My daughter in our space-themed room at Fantasyland Hotel
Chinatown, West Edmonton Mall
WEM is so big that it has its own Chinatown
Europa Boulevard in West Edmonton Mall
Europa Boulevard in WEM

Blatchford

The new Edmonton neighborhood of Blatchford with the old air traffic tower
New houses around the old Blatchford Airport air traffic control tower

Blatchford is an up-and-coming neighborhood that is currently being constructed on the site of the old Blatchford airport in central Edmonton.

Once completed, Blatchford will be a large sustainable community fuelled by renewable energy. The neighborhood will make use of various former airport structures and materials, including the old air traffic control tower.

Benches and a playground in Blatchford neighborhood, Edmonton
Chunks of the old runway were used to make these benches.

Some houses are already built and occupied in Blatchford, while many more have yet to come. You can already walk in and explore the grounds, with several new facilities beginning to take shape, including a Tomato-Themed Playground, which my kids enjoy playing in (see here for our other favorite playgrounds in Edmonton).

Eventually, the neighborhood will be connected to downtown via the LRT system.

A tomato-themed playground in Blatchford, one of the newest communities in Edmonton
Blatchford’s tomato-themed playground

To get a taste of Blatchford’s past, pop into the Alberta Aviation Museum on 118 avenue, the south side of the neighborhood. The museum highlights the history of airplanes and other aircraft in Edmonton and the far north.

There are dozens of old planes on displays, as well as interactive computer games and simulated flights for kids. You can’t miss the museum; just watch for the two large planes and rocket towering above ground out front on 118 ave.

Airplane display in the Alberta Aviation Museum in Blatchford, Edmonton
Old airplane in the Alberta Aviation Museum

While you’re in the area, finish off your day with a cold one at the Growlery Beer Co., Blatchford’s own craft brewery.

Well, that finished off my list of the 10 best neighbourhoods in Edmonton to explore. I realize this could be a controversial subject and you may totally disagree with my choices, so feel free to share your thoughts on the best and worst Edmonton neighbourhoods below! 

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