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Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta and fifth largest in Canada, is an extremely kid-friendly city.
Some of the best things to do in Edmonton with kids include a huge indoor waterpark and amusement park, super interactive museums, excellent playcentres and swimming pools, dinosaur parks, and a national park right on our doorstep.
As a city with pretty extreme seasons, we also have a constantly changing variety of kids activities and festivals to enjoy.
I was born and raised in Edmonton. After living and travelling abroad for almost two decades, I now find myself back in my beloved hometown with two children of my own, Sage and Lavender. As a stay-at-home dad, I’m always on the lookout for new kid-friendly attractions, hikes, and places to go, so I will be constantly updating this article with new tips.
Top Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Edmonton
The following are the best kid-friendly attractions in Edmonton, in no particular order.
Sleepover @ Fantasyland Hotel
One of our most memorable experiences with our kids in Edmonton has been our staycation at the Fantasyland Hotel in West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America. The hotel has a variety of themed rooms on offer, but we highly recommend the newest one: the space-themed room (see on Booking / TripAdvisor / Agoda).
Our kids absolutely loved the in-room hot tub, changeable multi-colored room lights, and especially their space-pod beds. We were thoroughly impressed with how well the room was designed, and really felt we were stepping into space.
There were even two separate huge television screens for parents and kids. We also loved having direct access to the Mall, with its many dining choices and loads of things to do with kids.
West Edmonton Mall’s enormous World Waterpark is the largest indoor waterpark (and largest wave pool) in the world. You really have to see it and spend a day here with your kids to fully appreciate it.
The waterpark has something for kids of all ages. Toddlers can enjoy the Caribbean Cove spray park, Splash Pad, Dolphin Kiddie Pool, and the waves at the shallow end of the main pool, just off the “beach”. Older kids like ours can’t get enough of the Sun Runner tube ride and variety of easier water slides.
Free life jackets and swimming diapers are available on site. Although pricey, I recommend renting a poolside cabana if you’ve got a large family. You get your own private changing area, eating area, and place to store your things right by the pool, which is super convenient.
World Waterpark also offers Toddler Time, with a reduced price with limited access to certain rides.
We aren’t leaving West Edmonton Mall quite yet. There’s yet another attraction in the Mall that can provide a full day of awesomeness with kids: Galaxyland amusement park.
North America’s largest indoor amusement park is guaranteed not to disappoint. There are nearly 30 major rides, including four rollercoasters, the ultimate being the Mindbender, which does three full loops.
For younger kids, Galaxyland also features a fun house, a huge multi-level playpark with ballroom, carousel and several more easy rides. There are also mirror maze and mini golf add-ons.
You can pay for individual rides, but really the all-day pass is a must. Also consider getting the two-day pass, which includes the World Waterpark, Galxyland, and several other kid-friendly attractions in West Edmonton Mall, such as Sea Life Caverns, Sea Lions’ Rock, the Santa Maria Ship, Ice Palace, Professor Wem’s Adventure Golf, Dragon’s Tale, Ed’s Bowling, and Crystal Labyrinth Mirror Maze.
Telus World of Science
We love Telus World of Science so much that we have an annual pass. Once a space-themed museum (I still can’t help but call it by its original name, Edmonton Space Science Centre), the museum now covers various scientific fields, including environment, health, robotics, space, and more.
Telus World of Science is especially fun for kids. It’s super interactive and even has a dedicated indoor playcentre. Our kids also love lying on their backs in the domed Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre (included in admission) and watching nature documentaries in the enormous IMAX Theatre (extra fee).
There are also rotating feature exhibits that tend to be kid-friendly, with the most recent one focusing on dinosaurs. Telus World of Science is currently going major renovations, so check the website to see what’s open.
Royal Alberta Museum
Reopened in downtown Edmonton in 2018, Royal Alberta Museum is Edmonton’s top museum of natural and human history. The museum is both fun and educational for kids of all ages, as well as adults.
I have fond childhood memories of the animal scenes and the indigenous displays at RAM, and fortunately these are still part of big the experience. The live insect room is another major draw, while the new RAM now includes a huge dedicated children’s room filled with interactive activities.
For less than the cost of two visits, you can get an annual Mammoth Pass, while kids six and under are free!
Fort Edmonton Park
Fort Edmonton Park is Edmonton’s top historic attraction. It is a sprawling living museum with the original Edmonton Fort and streets set up as they looked in 1885, 1905, and 1920.
You can easily spend a full day out with the kids at Fort Edmonton Park. Our recent visit included a ride on the train and streetcar, hours of exploring the fort and many shops, and rides in the recently upgraded midway. The costumed interpreters stay in character and do a great job interacting with kids.
Recently reopened in 2021, Fort Edmonton Park now includes an excellent Indigenous Experience building. Our kids loved the light shows & indigenous stories told on rotation inside.
Edmonton Valley Zoo
What kid doesn’t love a day at the zoo? The Edmonton Valley Zoo is of a very manageable size (it’s a fraction of the size of the Calgary Zoo). Highlights include snow leopards, Arctic wolves, lemurs, and (my personal favourite) red pandas.
Your kids will be happy to know that there’s a petting zoo inside, as well as several play areas and structures to climb. For mom and dad, as of summer 2021, you’re allowed to purchase and consume alcohol on site. And don’t forget about the zoo in winter, including the Zoominescence Christmas lights event.
Exploring the River Valley
The Edmonton River Valley, formed by the North Saskatchewan River, is the largest urban green space in North America. We love going for walks in the River Valley with our kids. There are well over 100 kilometers of walking trails in the river valley, ranging from wide, paved cycling trails to off-the-grid bush trails begging to be explored.
Besides all the trails, around 20 major Edmonton parks are located in the Edmonton River Valley. I’ll cover the best parks and playgrounds as well as best hikes in Edmonton for kids in below sections.
High Level Bridge Streetcar
Riding the High Level Streetcar was a real adventure for our kids. Operated by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society, this fleet of restored streetcars (ours was a 1947 streetcar from Melbourne, Australia) ply an old CPR line from downtown Edmonton to trendy Whyte Ave on the south side.
The most exciting part of the ride is of course crossing the Edmonton River Valley atop the High Level Bridge, with expansive views of the River Valley, University, and downtown Edmonton.
Consisting of one small and four large glass pyramids set in the River Valley, the Muttart Conservatory is a city-run greenhouse. Each of the four pyramids houses a totally unique biome, including arid, temperate, tropical, and a rotating fourth one, and they are all connected underground.
You wouldn’t think a greenhouse would be that fun for kids, but ours really enjoyed it. It really feels like you’re stepping into a different climate in each one, and the sheer array of plants and flowers is impressive, even for little ones. Where else can you step into a jungle or desert in Edmonton?
Cat Café on Whyte
Edmonton’s first (and so far only) Cat Café is located at the east end of the main section of Whyte Ave. The cafe welcomes children, but kids under 7 can only enter one of the two main rooms.
Our kids are cat lovers, so they really enjoyed this one. The entrance fee ($6 for age 1-6, $11 for 7-12, $16 for 13+) includes unlimited drinks and an hour-long visit. Socks are required, and a reservation is usually necessary.
Best Parks, Spray Parks, and Playgrounds
Below are a just a few of the best playgrounds and parks in Edmonton for kids. For several more ideas, including some awesome new playgrounds in suburb communities, see my more detailed guide to the best Edmonton playgrounds.
Kinsmen Park & Grizzly Bear Playground
One of our favorite playgrounds in Edmonton is Grizzly Bear Playground in Kinsmen Park. The large bear-themed park includes several natural climbing structures, and we love the views of the High Level Bridge above. There’s also a spray park, outdoor pool, and huge Kinsmen Sports Centre on site.
At the river end of the park, John Walter Museum is a small collection of historic buildings. In summer, there are often children’s activities being held there. Within short walking distance from Kinsmen, Queen Elizabeth Hill provides the classic Edmonton view of Walter Dale Bridge.
Sir Wilfred Laurier Park & Natural Playground
Right next to the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Sir Wilfred Laurier Park is one of the best parks in Edmonton for having a picnic. There are several large, reservable and first-come-first-serve spots with fire pits, and trails with lovely river views.
Recently, a beautifully designed new playground was added, called “Natural Playground” on GoogleMaps. One large climbing structure is shaped like a howling coyote.
Rundle Park & Music-Themed Playground
Rundle Park is a large park in east Edmonton known for its large ponds and many walking trails. We especially enjoy walking the footbridge across the river to Goldbar Park, where we like to explore the rocky beach by the river.
Rundle Park also has a small music-themed playground beside ACT Aquatic and Recreation Centre. But our favorite thing to do at Rundle Park is actually in winter (see the winter activities for kids section below)!
Castle Downs Park & Playground
The main draw of the playground in Castle Downs Park is that it is simply huge. Besides the playground itself, there’s a skateboard/scooter park, spray park, baseball diamond, rugby pitch, plus indoor and outdoor skating rinks.
Jackie Parker Park & Spray Park
Jackie Parker is another huge park, located in Mill Woods on the south side. There’s an awesome park, especially awesome spray park, off-leash area for dogs, and large pond that becomes a skating rink in winter.
Best Indoor Playcentres, Children’s Cafés, and Swimming Pools
While Edmonton winters can be painfully long, fortunately for parents we have some great indoor playcentres and swimming pools.
Our Favorite Indoor Playcentres
Our go-to indoor playcentre in Edmonton is Treehouse. There’s one on the north and south side of Edmonton. They include a huge playing tower, toddler zone, and arcade where kids can win tickets to exchange for prizes. Socks are required and outside food is not allowed.
Sweet Pea Café & Playhouse
Sweet Pea is a café for parents with a large connected children’s play area. It includes themed stations where kids can play roles like cook, fire fighter, veterinarian, and so on. They offer 90-minute slots that should be booked in advance online.
The service is super friendly, and unlike what we’ve experienced at other kid-focused restaurants and cafés, the food and drinks are actually good.
If you happen to live on the south side, you can also check out Pom Pom Play Café, which is especially aimed at toddlers (recommended age up to 7).
Our favorite Swimming Pools in Edmonton
Edmonton has some really great swimming pools for toddlers and young kids. Our favorite is the pool at Clareview Recreation Centre, which has a lazy river, large waterslide, and diving boards up to 5 meters. There’s also a decent indoor playground on site.
In summer, outdoor swimming pools in Edmonton include Mill Creek Outdoor Pool, Queen Elizabeth (Kinsmen) Outdoor Pool, Borden Park Outdoor Pool, Fred Broadstock Outdoor Pool, and Oliver Outdoor Pool.
Awesome Day Trips from Edmonton with Kids
Some of the best places to visit in Edmonton with kids are located just out of town. The following are all within short driving distance of Edmonton. Find even more ideas, see my list of best places to visit in Alberta and my guide to quirky Alberta roadside attractions.
Elk Island National Park
We simply love visiting Elk Island National Park, the smallest of Alberta’s five national parks, throughout the year with our kids.
Only 30 minutes east of the city, Elk Island is a natural escape that preserves our local landscape as it originally looked. You are almost guaranteed to see bison in the park, as well as many other types of wildlife (we even saw a porcupine!)
Most of the park’s dozen or so trails are doable with kids. We especially recommend the Lakeview and Shoreline Trails on Astotin Lake (where you’ll also find a playground and docks on the lake), and Amisk Wuche Trail, which has boardwalks across swamps that are perfect for kids to spot critters from.
In fall, the park’s foliage is stunning, while in winter our kids love tramping through the snow and walking on frozen lakes. In summer, the park is perfect kayaking, camping, and more.
Read about all 38 of Canada’s national parks here.
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
Just past Elk Island National Park, Ukrainian Village is another living museum, similar to Fort Edmonton Park. This one recreates a Ukrainian settlement in Central Alberta from 1892 to 1930.
The interpreters here also take their roles quite seriously. Kids learn a lot about local history here, including how difficult life back then would have been. Our kids especially enjoyed spotting all the hidden flags when we visited, and we all loved our Ukrainian feast at the end (especially the pyrogy poutine!)
So we are pretty biased here…My two kids are quite possibly the biggest dinosaur lovers in the world. But we had a blast at Jurassic Forest, a dino-themed park with life-sized, moving, growling dinosaurs hidden along paths through the forest.
The dinos themselves are of course the main draw, but we liked it more than the usual dinosaur museum experience because it got us outside and walking in nature. And there’s dinosaur mini-golf!
Near Jurassic Forest, Prairie Gardens is a leisure farm with a variety of children’s activities on offer. Depending on when you visit, these may include U-pick berries, bonfires, gelato, meeting the farm animals, hay rides, a Hallowen pumpkin festival, and a variety of workshops.
Edmonton Corn Maze
For more farm fun, we especially enjoyed the Edmonton Corn Maze. The maze itself is enormous; we didn’t go too far in, but enough to get lost several times. The design changes every year, and there’s a large poster with a photo of the whole maze shot from above that you can (try to) use as a map.
There’s much more to do there besides the corn maze; the sunflowers were especially beautiful, while the kids were entertained for hours by the games, farm animal feeding, potato, and hay stacks to climb. The best time to visit for the maze and sunflowers is in August.
U of A and St. Albert Botanic Gardens
The University of Albert Botanic Garden near Devon covers a huge area and is great for a relaxing stroll, fresh air, and picnic with the kids. It’s a little pricey and hasn’t been fully maintained in recent years, though.
For this reason, we prefer to visit the free St. Albert Botanic Park, which is much smaller, but very pretty nonetheless.
Best Walking Trails for Kids in Edmonton
One of our favorite things to do with our kids in Edmonton is to go hiking. OK, so most of these are more like walks or casual strolls than hikes, but the kids feel like real hikers when we do them.
Whitemud Creek Ravine
One of our favorite areas to take our kids hiking is Whitemud Creek, which flows through southwest Edmonton and empties into the North Saskatchewan.
We usually park at Snow Valley Ski Club (which also has Rainbow Valley Campground and the new Aerial Park, see below) to access Whitemud Creek Trail. Here’s a map of the full hiking trail, but we usually just do small parts of it. It’s an easy, flat walk, and you can even see some hoodoos in the making!
You can also access the ravine further south at Mactaggart Sanctuary Trail Parking Lot on 23 ave. The Mactaggart Sanctuary Trail is more remote and difficult, including one scary bit where you have to cross a small ravine on a shaky ladder.
Still, my daughter Lavender absolutely loved this challenging experience (even though I pretty much carried her across…) and talked about it for months after!
Mill Creek Ravine
Mill Creek is another tributary of the North Saskatchewan, and a 10-km-return trail runs along it from the eastern end of Whyte Avenue all the way to the river and back. It’s a paved cycling trail, with some smaller trails branching off from it into the bus. Here’s the full map of the main trail.
The ravine is also home to the popular Mill Creek Ravine Outdoor Pool.
Emily Murphy to Kinsmen Park
We quite enjoy the casual stroll along the river from Emily Murphy to Kinsmen Park. The trail is mostly flat and right at river level; we always find the kids enjoy being closer to the action that seeing views of it from afar.
This trail is even doable in winter, and our kids loved seeing the huge chunks of ice on the river at that time. Emily Murphy Park has a small tobogganing hill as well, while Kinsmen has the excellent Grizzly Bear Playground.
Elk Island National Park Trails
As I already mentioned above, there are numerous hiking trails in Elk Island National Park. Lakeview, Shoreline, and Amisk Wuche Trails are especially good for kids.
These trails can get quite busy on weekends, so we always arrive early to get a parking space (let’s be honest…we always arrive early because our kids wake up so early).
Here’s a full list of walking trails in Elk Island National Park. They’re almost all flat and easy, but just vary in terms of length.
Clifford E. Lee Sanctuary
A far lesser known alternative to Elk Island National Park, but with a similar marshy landscape, is Clifford E. Lee Sanctuary.
The small sanctuary is located west of the city near Devon. A small collection of super easy walking trails and boardwalks lead provide access to the swampy area. We always see tons of birds and other wildlife when we visit.
Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area
Another lesser-known place to go hiking with kids west of Edmonton is Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area. There are several different trails on offer, and we found them to be perfect for our (at the time) 5 and 7 year old.
They were just challenging and long enough, with some ups and downs, but not too much or too long. The scenery is also similar to Elk Island, but with far fewer people.
More Fun Places to Visit with Kids in Edmonton
Here are a few other fun places to visit in Edmonton with kids that didn’t quite make it into the top spot for us, but we still recommend visiting if you have more time in the city.
Alberta Aviation Museum
We’d driven past the Alberta Aviation Museum in the now defunct Blatchford Airport a thousands times before my son and I finally decided to stop in one day for a look.
We were pleasantly impressed with the large number of historic aircrafts on display. Sage enjoyed navigating us through on the map provided which shows every plane on site, and there were several kid-friendly computer games and simulated flights.
The price was a little steep considering we spent less than an hour inside. On certain days, they allow children to sit in the cockpits, so if you do go, try to make it on one of these days.
100 Street Funicular
Lavender really enjoyed going for a ride on the Edmonton Funicular. The funicular connects Edmonton’s downtown to the Funicular Promenade Bridge. The bridge itself has a great view looking up at downtown and the Fairmont Macdonald Hotel.
At the end of the bridge, Frederick G. Todd Lookout has a great view in the opposite direction, looking at the river. From there, an elevator goes down to the river valley trail, from where you can walk over to the Chinese Garden in Louise McKinney Riverfront Park.
Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market
So our kids have been to way more farmers’ markets than they would care to. But if you’re going to visit one in Edmonton with kids, then I’d recommend Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market (Saturdays only).
The market is fully indoors, and there are lots of treats on offer suitable for kids. For a fun way to arrive, ride the High Level Bridge Streetcar there in summer – it stops right at the back.
Alberta Railway Museum
If your kid loves trains or vehicles, then consider paying a visit to the Alberta Railway Museum a short drive northeast of the city. For us, our rides on the High Level Bridge Streetcar and on the train and streetcar at Fort Edmonton Park were enough. The museum is open on summer weekends only.
John Janzen Nature Centre
When I was a kid, we used to love going to John Janzen Nature Centre to peer at little critters in the ponds. The kid-focused centre is right beside Fort Edmonton park, but it has been closed and undergoing renovations for a few years. It is supposed to reopen in fall of 2021; I’ll report back here once we visit!
Art Gallery of Alberta
While art galleries aren’t ideal for younger kids, the Art Gallery of Alberta does offer a variety of art classes, art camps, and drop-in activities for toddlers and kids.
Edmonton Summer Activities for Kids
Besides the parks, spray park, and playgrounds I already mentioned above, here are more ideas for things to do in summer in Edmonton with kids.
Rainbow Valley Campground & Aerial Park
Did you know that you don’t even have to leave Edmonton to go camping? The Rainbow Valley Campground is right in the city, at the base of Snow Valley Ski Club.
Campers gain access to the new Aerial Park on site, as well as the network of walking trails in Whitemud Creek Ravine.
Alberta Legislature Grounds
The Alberta Legislature Grounds have always been one of our favorite spots to hang out in summer, with or without kids.
On the front (downtown-facing) side, there are several water pools and fountains to play in, while the back (river-face) side has a huge lawn with many trees, ideal for a secluded picnic.
City Hall Water Fountains
For even more water fun in summer, the large fountains in front of City Hall on Churchill Square are great. The water is super shallow so it’s suitable even for babies or toddlers, while the huge fountains allow bigger kids to get soaked.
Canoeing or Kayaking on the North Saskatchewan
One of the best ways to experience Edmonton is by paddling through it on the North Saskatchewan River. Even if you don’t have your own kayak/canoe or transportation to the drop-off spot, you can let Edmonton Canoe handle the arrangements for you.
Kid-Friendly Summer Events
Edmonton has so many festivals that it is known as Festival City. Most of them are kid-friendly, too!
K-Days (formerly Klondike Days) is one of the biggest events of the years, with tons of rides, midway, fireworks, and more.
In early June, also don’t miss the International Children’s Festival of the Arts in St. Albert, just north of Edmonton.
Camping & Beaches
One of our favorite things to do with kids in summer in Edmonton is to take a day trip to the lake. Some of the best lakes for camping and going to the beach within short drive of Edmonton include Wabamun Lake, Miquelon Lake, Pigeon Lake, Gull Lake, Sylvan Lake, and Buffalo Lake.
There’s also a campsite in Elk Island National Park, as well as Elk Island Retreat, a private campground just outside the park that has cool accommodations like teepees, geodomes, cabins, and yurts.
Edmonton Winter Activities for Kids
The harsh winters seldom stop Edmontonions from getting outside with their kids (except when it gets really, really cold!) Here some of our favorite outdoor activities to do with kids in winter in Edmonton.
Thanks to COVID and almost everything being closed, we spent pretty much the whole winter of 2020-2021 ice skating. Fortunately, there are some excellent skating rinks in Edmonton!
Here are our favorite rinks to go skating in Edmonton with out kids:
- Victoria Park: a very large rink with new skating paths through the woods that are lit up with colorful lights at night
- Hawrelak Park: Edmonton’s largest skating rink
- Rundle Park: a new series of ice paths through the woods plus a large rink for hockey
Christmas Lights Spotting
Edmontonians take their Christmas lights seriously, and it seems to get better every year. Going for drives to see famous Christmas light spots is one of our favorite things to do with the kids in the holiday season. Here are some of the best spots for Christmas lights in Edmonton:
- Alberta Legislature Grounds
- Edmonton City Hall
- Candy Cane Lane
- Christmas at Bob’s (7421-108 Street NW)
- Magic of Lights (at Castrol Raceway)
- Zoominescence (at the Edmonton Valley Zoo)
- Luminaria (at U of A Botanic Garden in Devon)
- Griswold’s Christmas Lights House (in Stony Plain, a suburb of Edmonton)
Edmonton Ice Castle
You really can’t miss the huge ice castle that is built at the peak of winter (usually opening after Christmas) in Hawrelak Park. Unfortunately, the US-based company didn’t make it to Canada in 2020-2021, but hopefully we’ll see it return in future years.
Skiing in Edmonton
Just out of town, there’s the slightly larger Rabbit Hill, or you can make the four-hour journey to Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park. The latter is comparatively huge, so you should save it for when your kids have got the hang of skiing.
Kids seem to universally love tobogganing. For small hills, we recommend Emily Murphy Park or Griesbach Central Park. Older/braver kids can try the enormous hills at Rundle Park, Government House Park, or Gallagher Park.
Kid-Friendly Winter Events
In Edmonton, the first snowfall marks the start of winter, usually sometime around Halloween. Here are a variety of children’s Halloween events in Edmonton to look out for.
In winter, we loved skating and seeing the ice sculptures at Silver Skate Festival. You can also usually see ice sculptures at the Alberta Legislature Grounds and along Whyte Ave as a part of the Ice on Whyte event.
More Indoor Activities for Kids in Edmonton
Most families can only handle so many outdoor activities in winter in Edmonton, especially when the temperatures really plummet.
Fortunately we have loads of indoor children’s activities, besides all the museums, playcentres and play cafés I’ve already mentioned above. Here are some more ideas:
- Go rock climbing at Factory Climbing, Vertically Inclined Rock Gym, or Boulders Climbing
- For dinosaur lovers, check out the U of A Paleontology Museum (currently closed, but keep an eye on it for future reopening)
- Try Laser Tag at Laser City
- Race around on Go Karts at Fast Track Indoor Karting or at Drive in WEM
- Bounce on trampolines at LaunchPad Tampoline Park
- Ride a skateboard or scooter at House of Wheels Indoor Skateboard Park
- Try archery at Combat Archery
- Shoot Nerf guns at Foam Fighters
- Play paintball at Paintball Action Games
- Take a gymnastics class at the excellent North Edmonton Gymnastics Club
Well, that brings us to the end of this guide to visiting Edmonton with kids. I hope you’ve found more than enough ideas for things to do in Edmonton with babies, toddlers, or kids. If I’ve missed any fun activities, please let me know in the comments below!