What to see in Edmonton, Romantic dinner suggestions in Montreal.
August 1, 2006 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Hi everyone - first time questioner, and have a two-part question re travel.

Am from Melbourne Australia and am travelling with my wife on holiday to Canada and the US from Mid-Sept to Mid-Nov.

One of our stops in Canada is in Edmonton in early-October. We're staying at the mall, of all places! But wondering about suggestions of sights and things to see in Edmonton itself ... we are staying 5 days.

Second part - we're in Montreal for a few days as well, including our anniversary. As a surprise I wanted to find a place that's romantic, not hugely expensive and not hugely ostentatious. We're pretty willing to eat a wide range of foods, so that isn't a problem. Any suggestions?

Thanks in anticipation.
posted by chris88 to Travel & Transportation around Montréal, QC (6 answers total)
Apologies that I can't directly answer either of your two questions, since I've never been to Edmonton, and I've been to Montreal exactly once, on a school trip several years ago.

Even young as I was, I enjoyed looking at the architecture of the Olympic Park. The Biodome and Insectarium were also interesting, as were the Botanical Gardens (though I would have appreciated them more if I were a bit older).

We also visited one of the nearby Catholic churches; probably St. Josephs. Being used to congregations of no more than 100, I found its sheer size absolutely awe-inspiring. Even being an agnostic these days, I would not pass up an opportunity to visit these marvels of architecture... right after I visit the nearest full-contact strip club.

If you do one thing in Montreal, however, I would urge you to try a uniquely Quebeçois dish called Poutine. Any diner will serve it, and even most upper-class non-specialty restaurants will put their own unique twist on it. I'd link you to a description, but it really tastes better than it sounds.
posted by The Confessor at 7:55 PM on August 1, 2006

Wow. 5 days in Edmonton. That's a lot for a place that's not tremendously interesting. The mall is a basically an amusement park with bad shopping.

The space and science center in Edmonton is pretty damned cool though.

At that time of year, you could conceivably see a hockey or football game depending on schedules.

It's also the time of year when many curling clubs host open houses and beginners clinics as it's the start of the season. If you've ever wanted to try that, Edmonton has a number of clubs, and you could almost certainly find one with an open house where you could try it for a short time with no real expectation that you'd join a league. Curling in Alberta is a pretty quintessentially Canadian sort of thing to do, and a bit outside the usual tourist activity.

The Royall Tyrell Museum of Paleontology is a world class facility, and endlessly fascinating. It's a fairly longish trip out of Edmonton (about a 3 hour drive), but could be done as a day trip.

Calgary is also not that far from Edmonton - a couple of hours outside rush hours.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:57 PM on August 1, 2006

The most "happening" place in Edmonton is Whyte Ave. Being a native of Edmonton but living in Montreal the past 15 years I can tell you that there are dozens and dozens of streets in Montreal that are just as, if not more cool than Whyte Ave. Hockey season starts in October, and so you may want to get tickets to see the Edmonton Oilers who just missed winning the Stanley Cup by one game this year. There's no more exciting sport to watch than hockey. It's worth mentioning that tickets for the season won't go on sale until about mid-august.

If you're in Edmonton for five days, I suggest renting a car and driving out to Jasper for a night...see what small town stuff is like and enjoy a bit of the Rockies, all just a few hours west of Edmonton. I recently took my soon to be wife out west and we did Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Jasper in about a week. Calgary is definitely more interesting than Edmonton as far as cities go, while Banff is a picture perfect town and the drive between Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper is just incredible. I'd say it's worth it to make the detour. Here is a set of pictures from my trip.

As for Montreal...I'm a bit tired right now, so I'll get back to you in 24 hours.
posted by furtive at 9:51 PM on August 1, 2006

jacquilynne's pretty off-target on the Edmonton scene. It's not a glitzy big city or anything, but there's plenty to do.

Depending on your interests, you might find any of the following interesting:

The river valley in autumn is beautiful, if you're inclined to roam trails + nature. It is the longest continuous urban parkland of its kind in at least North America, if not the world.

The Jubilee Auditorium is, if I'm not mistaken, showing the Phantom of the Opera around that time.

If, by some chance, you end up in Edmonton on a Monday (which I highly recommend) you should come to Die Nasty, which is an improvised soap opera (first, and longest-running of its kind) that runs through the winter at the Varscona Theatre (http://www.die-nasty.com/). If you do come, I'm liable to be there, probably on the right (as you face the stage) about four rows from the front. Hold up a "Found this on ask.mefi" sign, and I'll pop over and say Hi.

As furitve notes, there's always hockey, if you're interested. Jasper is worth it, too, as the Rocky Mountains in this part of the world are fantastic. I'd skip the town of Jasper itself, in favour of camping, even that late. Cold, yes, but you're traveling with your honey, so you can huddle together for warmth.

That's a few ideas, at least. Hope it helps to keep you entertained. Although the mall is the king of the tourist holes, I really do recommend that you leave it for a bit. Definitely do the waterpark, first, though.
posted by ChrisR at 10:05 PM on August 1, 2006

Edmonton is a prosaic-looking city which is actually wildly romantic in that it has historically been the jumping-off point for the whole Canadian Far North West. You can still buy anything you need for your Klondike outfit there -- or for your billion-dollar mine site (and super furs, if they are your thing). It is worth looking for some of the museum history and Fort Edmonton.

I would second the idea of making a break to the Rockies although they are a couple of hundred miles away. There are trains from Edmonton to Jasper, but they may not fit your schedule.
posted by Idcoytco at 3:05 AM on August 2, 2006

A small expansion of the Die Nasty note -- Edmonton, in general, has a vibrant theatre community, both large and small (I prefer the small). On any given night, you can see plays by locally-famous (and prone to touring widely) playwrights Stuart Lemoine and others.

In addition, Edmonton is, apparently, a world-renowned improvisational theatre community. We export performers, including at least one former director of an improv troupe to Impro Melbourne, which may or may not be in your area.

So, yeah. Theatre is good, too.
posted by ChrisR at 7:21 AM on August 2, 2006

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