Ten Things to Do on Your Edmonton Staycation

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collage of edmonton staycation square
From Webster’s Dictionary:
  • A vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

I love a good staycation, relaxing in your own home and exploring your own city, so I have no idea why I haven’t written about this before. True to form, the idea was born last night in the middle of our road trip home from Wisconsin (I’m writing this in the car, in North Dakota, right now) when a friend of mine messaged me asking which diner it was that we went to and took part in the filming of the Food Network’s ” You Gotta Eat Here” show. ( see #3 for the answer to that!). She said that she was having a two week staycation at home here in Edmonton and wanted to know some of my ideas for fun things to so.

A staycation here in Edmonton is the perfect time to enjoy all those places that are too busy on weekends to really take your time to enjoy. This is what you have to remember when you’re thinking about a staycation here in Edmonton.

The key to a successful staycation is of course, planning what you are going to do.

There are a ton of things that I have left off this list, because let’s face it, we have read all of the (many) lists that tell us to take the High Level Bridge Street Car and swim at the Legislature, or go to the Edmonton Valley zoo. We know, we know. Really. We got it now.

This list is about 50% food based and 50% activity based, because of course I’m neck deep in the Edmonton food scene. I’m trying to give you all some food based destinations and different things to do, so here goes:

My list of ten things that I would do on my own Edmonton staycation!

#1. Hit the City Market Downtown

mom and daughter at the City Market Downtown

On the very first Saturday of your Edmonton Staycation, head on downtown to the 104th st Farmer’s Market, or the City Market downtown. Load up on all sorts of delicious food, vegetables and fruit to offset all the decadent meals you’re going to eat in the next week. (keep on reading to learn about those)

My personal favorites: produce from Riverbend Gardens, bread from Prairie Mills, back bacon from Irvings Farm Fresh and sausages from Serben’s Organic Farm. 

#2. Go to Duchess Bakeshop
lots of cakes and pastry products inside Duchess Bakeshop

Go to Duchess nice and early in the morning during the week. While it is always busy, it’s far better during the week than it is on weekends when everyone else in Edmonton is also trying to pop by.

While Duchess is on every food list, I want you to go and sit down with a delicious coffee and relax in Duchess. Very few of us actually do this. Be sure to have a nice late breakfast, ( I suggest the key lime tart and the brioche pepin) buy a cookbook ( do you have the Duchess cookbook yet? You should!)  in their adorable little store that’s attached to the bakery called Provisions then go home and have a carb nap.

woman wearing a coat, holding a Duchess cookbook

Tip: Make sure to order everything you want in the first go-around at the counter ( including some treats to go). The line-up can get very long!

Duchess Bakeshop Location & Hours:

10718-124 Street NW
Edmonton AB T5M 0H1

Monday Closed
Tues—Fri 9am—7pm
Saturday 10am—6pm
Sunday 10am—5pm

#3. Go to the Muttart Conservatory

a boy with pen and sketchpad in the middle of garden

But wait, there’s more! We don’t just visit the Muttart and wander around, our favourite family activity since the kids were toddlers is to go with with sketch pads in hand (adults included!) and sit and sketch some of the gorgeous plants that are at the Muttart. Each person picks a plant in each pavilion and sketches it. Make sure to bring some cheap Crayola oil pastels to color the sketches as well.

little girl standing, holding her sketchpad and pencil in the garden

Let me assure you, I’m not an artist by any means, so you can believe me when I say that even for the artistically challenged, this is one of the best mornings you can have together! Have lunch at Culina Muttart and then go home and have a nap. ( are you seeing a pattern here yet? Staycation = naps!)

You don’t need kids for this activity, you’d be surprised how fun it is for a adult date to go and see how bad (or good!) you are at drawing the different plants. Hilarity usually ensues, as there’s almost always an inappropriate drawing. Or three.

Muttart Hours:

Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri – 10 am-5pm
Thursday 1oam-9 pm
Weekends 10am-5pm

Culina Hours:

Mon-Fri 10 am-3pm
Thursday nights 5pm-8pm
Saturday & Sunday Brunch 10 am-3 pm
Holidays 11 am-3 pm

#4. Drive out to Fort Saskatchewan& Eat at the Downtown Diner

red signage at the Downtown Diner

Definitely do this during the week. If it’s on the menu, eat the chicken and waffles and save some room for a milkshake. You basically can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

mom and daughter enjoying their drinks

Pro Tip: Always get your milk shake to go for the car trip home, you might have some room for it before you get home. You can also walk the downtown area of Fort Saskatchewan, there are quite a few nice little shops to visit when you are out there!

Karlynn’s Pro Pro Tip: Chocolate ice cream with Oreos milkshake = Heaven

Visit them on Facebook to see their daily specials!

Downtown Diner’s Address & Hours

10209a 100 ave, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta T8L 1Y7

Mon:11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tue-Wed: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Thu-Fri:11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sat:12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

#5. Go Geocaching in the River Valleylittle kids standing behind wood trunk

To make up for all of the food that you’re eating on this staycation, install the geocaching app (iTunes or Android) and read up on geocaching here. Then get thyself out there and geocache! The Edmonton river valley is teeming with geocaches, but my very favorite place to go is in the Whitemud Ravine. Remember to abide by the geocaching code of ethics (don’t destroy anything, clean up as you go, don’t let anyone see you geocaching) and if you want to be a super geocacher, head to the dollar store, load up on small little toys/erasers/etc and load up the geocaches that you find, making the cache better than you found it.


#6 Local Steak n’ Beer Dinner at Home

logo of Acme Meat Market

Buy some steaks from Acme Meat Market and hit up Alley Kat Brewery and grab some of their amazing LOCALLY made beer and take it all home for a delicious steak dinner (or lunch, we won’t judge you, it’s your staycation, after all). Did I mention that you should also nap this day? Do it.

Before you even buy the beer, how about a Brewery tour at Alley Kat?  Tours are every Thursday and Friday between 1-5, every half hour. They are located at 9929 60 Ave NW, Edmonton and you can give them a call at  780-436-8922 to book a tour!

 logo of alley kat

Use the Alley Kat Brew Finder to find your beer HERE.

PS the Aprikat is an amazing fruit beer and one of my favorites!

ACME Hours:

Monday – CLOSED
Tuesday – 9am-6pm
Wednesday – 9am-6pm
Thursday – 9am-6pm
Friday – 9am-6pm
Saturday – 8:30am-5pm
Sunday – CLOSED


#7  Cocktails at North 53

a glass of cocktail with ice and cherries

Get a babysitter and head out for a night of cocktails at North 53 with some friends. I recommend that you shut the bar down that night, making sure to order the late night fried chicken after 11 pm – only available on Friday and Saturday nights.

Make sure to try my favourite cocktail in Edmonton, the Smokin’ Oak Old Fashioned, because it’s not often you get to see things lit on fire in a bar, just for you.

Smokin' Oak Old Fashioned cocktail

North 53 Hours and Location:

10240-124th St, Edmonton, AB
Tues-Thurs: 5pm-Late * Fri-Sat: 5pm-2am

#8 Spend a Day at the World Waterpark at West Ed

Edmontonians tend to slink to West Edmonton Mall, furtively glancing over their shoulder’s in case someone sees that they, a local, are actually going to THE MALL. Admit it, you’re the same. We wrinkle our noses and say ” Oh, phhht, that tourist trap?” then sneak to the mall at a later date, because it does have many of the stores we need to go to.

The Waterpark is no exception to the nose wrinkling, but I’m here to tell you, it’s one helluva way to spend the day, especially if you have kids. Think for a moment: if you didn’t live here and this waterpark was in another city, you’d totally go, wouldn’t you?

I would and we do. So on your Edmonton Staycation, it should definitely be one of this things you do – and I probably don’t have to tell you that you should go during the week because it’s not as busy, but I’ll tell you anyway.

Click HERE for the Waterpark’s Hours.

#9 The Royal Tea & Tour at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

 View of Fairmont Hotel MacDonald

This is actually still on my own bucket list! I haven’t been to the Royal Tea & Tour at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, but maybe this will be the summer! The event is every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 and consists of what looks to be a scrumptious afternoon tea followed by a historic tour that includes the spectacular Queen Elizabeth II Suite. ( I think this depends on whether or not it’s booked, if you get to see the suite). I love any historic tours and taking one in our own city should be on your Edmonton staycation to-do list!

If you just want to do the High Tea, you can go during the week and skip the tour (though that’s the coolest part in my opinion!) you can just do the Weekday Tea.

Reservations are required for both and you can call 780-429-6424 to book your spot.

#10 Head to the Beach

view at the beach with the colorful umbrella

We do have a lack of nice beaches right here in Edmonton, but there are a couple that are close enough for day trips. Make sure to click through and check for any rates or hours that may apply to each location!

Allen Beach Resort.  This was closed when I tried to go there a couple of years ago, but it looks like it’s open again! This is within half an hour of Edmonton, so it’s the closest family beach we have. Make sure to check out the hours and info before you go.

Wizard Lake– Very close as well in Leduc County and the Jubilee Park is a day use beach for all to use.

Ma-me-o Beach, Pigeon Lake – This is a very popular spot but it’s close enough for a day trip as well at only an hour away from Edmonton. The beach is beautiful BUT very prone to Algae in the summer.

Aspen Beach on Gull Lake–  only around an hour or so away, Aspen Beach has a nice beach and shallow water, making it a stress free day for parent and kids alike.

Always make sure to check the water situations (no algae problems) before you go!

Proof that I can nap anywhere, even on the beach.

napping at the beach, laying on the sand

So there it is folks. As I said, there is so much more to do in Edmonton than just this list, but I wanted to list things that aren’t on the usual lists to give everyone some new ideas.

What is on YOUR Edmonton staycation list? Share your ideas in the comments below! Maybe I’ll do another list up soon!

Happy summer everyone, start planning!

Love you more than travel,


Pinnable Picture Posts


My top things to do in Edmonton, Alberta if you're looking for a staycation at home! Or, if you are visiting Edmonton soon, save this interesting list of things to do that AREN'T the local zoo for a change!


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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Heather Shaw says

    Thank you for this and your definition of a Staycation! I googled Edmonton Staycation and the first five things that came up were hotels to book. Hellooo, it’s a Staycation, probably to avoid high-cost accommodation. I too appreciate a good Old Fashioned cocktail so will be checking that out.

    Just one suggestion: if you are driving as far as Gull Lake why not go all the way to Sylvan Lake? There are so many things to do there and it’s a nice lake, too. Busy, though.

  2. tanappy says

    Would have been nice to see the cost of the relevant posts

  3. Kari says

    Interesting list and not typical ones like the Zoo etc like you said. Excited to see Irvings Farm Fresh on there as they are local to us here in Camrose and have awesome products! Another idea – go to see a movie at the IMAX at Telus World of Science. Last year we took the kids to see Back to the Future there and they loved it and it was great to see it on the big screen again! And you get to pick your seat ahead of time. Check their website for movie listings.

  4. Christina Friesen says

    Chuckling at number 8. Had no idea Edmontonians hate their waterpark! We drive from Calgary specifically to go to the waterpark and nothing else. Nice to see some tips for other things to do on our next waterpark trip.

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      Hahah I knew that people would snicker at that!! It’s SO true, we don’t go to THE MALL. Or at least we don’t admit it \U0001f609. Glad you have some more ideas next time you visit!!

  5. Fairmont Hotel Macdonald says

    Great to see our Tea and Tour made the list!

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      I have to try and make it in this summer sometime! It’s been on my to-do list for a while now!

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