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I put down my blanket and settled into the grassy hillside of the ski resort in Edmonton Canada with fellow folk music lovers. We were old and young, mellow and magnanimous.  My spirit soared to the music of Arlo Guthrie and Dougie MacLean – one of Scotland’s biggest stars and creator of the music for Braveheart and Last of the Mohicans. We sang along with the musicians as we watched the golden sun set behind the clean, crisp skyline of Edmonton.

Where is Edmonton?

Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta, almost in the center of the province on the North Saskatchewan River and is the fifth largest city in Canada.

Leaving Jasper early in the morning , I cruised into the bustling small metropolis of Edmonton by noon. My first thought was, “where’s the traffic?” Everything in Edmonton is close and the traffic, compared to where I live in San Francisco, was a breeze. Parking is also easy, available and affordable.

Although Edmonton is located in “prairie country” in Alberta, Canada, about 4 hours east of Jasper, don’t underestimate its appeal with a thriving downtown arts district, world-renown architecture and a very lively music and theater scene.

Edmonton is known as “Canada’s Festival City”.

One glance at the extensive “Festival Schedule” for the year will catch your attention with all the famous performers who you can see –  at a very reasonable prices.   So if you plan a trip to Western Canada, check out the Edmonton Festival schedule.

Stay in a cool neighborhood

“Location, location, location” in a city are ultra-important in my choice of a hotel.  I headed for the historic and hip district of Old Strathcona, a stone’s throw from the city’s best restaurants, nightlife, theater and shopping. It’s been voted “One of the Top Ten Coolest Neighborhoods in Canada.”

Personally, If I’m visiting a city on a weekend, I prefer to stay in a neighborhood because  the downtown areas that are often deserted.

I chose to stay on Whyte Street in the heart of Old Strathcona at a boutique hotel highly recommend by fellow travelers and TripAdvisor. The  Metterra  is hip, artsy, modern, and well located.

Canadians fill the hotel on festival weekends and with good reason. Services include free parking (Valet), free wireless Internet, local phone calls, and egg and bacon breakfast, wine tasting, newspaper delivery and fitness and business center.  All are complimentary.

Every Sat. the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market is teaming with fresh produce and families.

Fabulous Farmer’s Market

Don’t miss the Saturday morning Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market and the eclectic shops and art galleries before you head out for one of the many music festivals that fill the summer months.

A City of Parks

If you value large parks within the city limits, you’ll appreciate Edmonton. I’ve never seen a city with as many parks.

Edmonton is renowned as “North America’s Largest Urban Parkland”.  I would have dismissed that as marketing hyperbole before I actually experienced it on a Segway Tour. I toured on a Segway around Angel Island in San Francisco Bay several years ago, but that wasn’t half as much fun as zipping, in “Speed”, not “Turtle  Mode”, along the forested paths around the city of Edmonton.

Where can you find a world class dining experience?

Zinc Restaurant, located at the Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton, focuses on fresh Alberta ingredients fused with local artisan food products. It was voted One of Canada’s Best Restaurants in 2010 and still earns the accolades of locals. I recommend the pan seared scallops with sweet Potato maple ginger puree.

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