Madi wearing her Edmonton winter clothes

Graeme and I have lived in Edmonton for over 10 years.  We attended medical school, completed our residencies and started our practices here. We love this city!

I am biased, but I think Edmonton is one of the best cities to raise a family. It is true that the winter months can be hard with the short days and extremely cold weather, but there is so much to do with kids.

For winter months, this is what we do for family activities:

  • Get outside: I really don’t like the cold, but Madi and Graeme don’t mind it. We all dress up in our parkas and winter gear and do a brisk 30 minute walk around our neighbourhood.  It can feel very refreshing and cozy coming back into a warm house afterwards. Hot chocolate always tastes extra good after being outside in the cold.
  • Sweet Pea Cafe and Playhouse: Madi and I go here for play dates with friends. The food is good and the play area is clean and entertains the kids a lot! The main disadvantage is that you have to pay to play in the play area and make reservations.
  • Hide N Seek Indoor Playground: Madi loves slides and ball pits and when she needs to burn energy I take her here. The main disadvantage is the limited food options.
  • Community recreation centres:  We plan on teaching Madi how to skate this year and we plan to utilize the rec centres to do so.  On weekends we also take her swimming here too.
  • Telus World of Science (TWOS): TWOS is a wonderful place for playing and learning for the whole family.  There is a fantastic kids play area called CuriousCITY that is modeled after famous Edmonton landmarks.  The rest of the facility also has many interactive activities for the whole family.  The café is pretty good here too!
  • Royal Alberta Museum (RAM): Another fantastic kids play area in the city with tons of interactive areas for children of all ages.  It is wonderful knowing the children are learning something while playing and mom and dad will also appreciate some of the other areas of the museum.  The café is also very good.
  • West Edmonton Mall (WEM): There is lots of activities in WEM, but it can get quite busy on weekends. I try to avoid peak times, but this is a great place to walk around when the weather is bad.  We still haven’t taken Madi to Galaxyland, the indoor amusement park or the World Waterpark yet but I suspect we will soon.
  • On cold nights when Graeme and I work late we go to a McDonald’s with a play area for dinner. Madi gets to run around and have fun in the play area and I don’t need to worry about cooking or cleanup.

In the summer months, this is what we do for family activities:

  • Parks: One of my favourite things to do after work is take Madi to the park near our house. There are lots of neighbourhood and community parks in Edmonton. It is such an easy and carefree outing.
  • Festivals:  Edmonton is unofficially called the Festival City!  Every summer, Edmonton has lots of festivals, food and art festivals.  Some of our favourites for kids are the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, Heritage Days, Taste of Edmonton and the Whyte Avenue Art Walk.
  • Whyte Avenue:  On weekends, we love strolling down Whyte Ave and checking out stores and restaurants. 
  • Community pools:  For the last number of years, all of the community outdoor pools are free! 
  • Spray Parks: A number of the large community parks also have spray parks in them as well so we have fun afternoons splashing and playing. 
  • River valley:  Edmonton has a beautiful system of trails and parks all along the river valley.  We often go for nature walks and explore different areas of the city connected through the parks and trails.

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP.


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