Edmonton and Jasper National Park, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is the perfect starting point for a romantic vacation to the beautiful Alberta province. Canada’s festival city welcomes couples the entire year through, with thriving arts and festivals attracting visiting couples from around the world.

A natural beauty with not only eclectic shops and neighborhoods, museums, parks and the North Saskatchewan River, its iconic landmarks like the West Edmonton Mall, and the biggest indoor water park in North America, this diverse and cultural hub was named the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2007.

Edmonton is a couples paradise in every sense of the word.

While exploring downtown, the Holiday Inn Express Edmonton Downtown offers the perfect central location for exploring on foot, by car, or taxi. Complimentary High Speed Internet in each guestroom as well as a deluxe breakfast, make this a great lodging venue close to all the local festivals, dining, and museums.

Fort Edmonton Park is another favorite historic and fun adventure where various time periods are depicted by costumed docents. A wonderful train takes visitors through various parts of the park and an amusement area with rides and carnival attractions adds to the fun.

After immersing yourselves in the culture and arts of Edmonton, hop on the VIA Rail system for a romantic three day jaunt or weekender to Jasper National Park, one of the crown jewels of Canada.

The spectacular rail adventure takes only a few hours and is some of the most breathtaking and gorgeous scenery a couple can experience anywhere. Every second of the journey is to be savored as you take in the majestic snow covered Canadian Rocky mountains. The train offers a great vantage point to enjoy the majesty from a glass domed car.

Jasper is a serene small town in a big park, a historic settlement that seemingly without effort, strikes a complex balance between conservation and development, ecology and economics. This gateway to adventure and unsurpassed beauty is part of a World Heritage Site where you’ll likely commune with elk, deer, bear, and eagles.

Jasper offers world class luxury married with rugged wilderness and gourmet dining paired with the simple beauty of blanketed skies dotted with millions of stars.

We enjoyed dinner at Evil Dave’s downtown where a locally owned, funky and laid back restaurant offers globally inspired dishes that share elegance and comfort food.

We stayed at the Tonquin Inn surrounded by snow peaked mountains and located right in the heart of Jasper, convenient to the train station and with easy access to hiking trails, rafting, shopping, and dining. Cozy, comfortable, rustic, and with pool and spas, this should be any traveling couple’s top pick.

One of the best highlights of our Jasper visit was our float rip down the Athabasca River. We were glad we tried Jasper Raft Tours. This operation was highly organized, safe, and our guide was very informed and competent. The scenery was lovely and a great time was had by all the young and old in our group who came from nearly a half dozen different countries.

After rafting all morning, we worked up an appetite for a great dinner at Tekarra Lodge, a favorite by celebrities and locals alike. A warm, rustic ambiance with delicious hearty entrees and a spectacular view of the rivers and wilderness made this a great all around experience.

photo courtesy of Jasper Motorcycle Tours

The highlight of our entire Jasper trip was taking a Harley Davidson motorcycle and sidecar tour of Jasper National Park. Jasper Motorcycle Tours outfitted us with complete riding gear and the experience was truly the thrill of the trip.

We also took the tram at Jasper and we thoroughly enjoyed the views from the top as well as watching the local wildlife. Hiking trails abound so plan a few hours to enjoy the various vistas.

After a few wonderful days in glorious Jasper, we opted to return to Edmonton to take in some more festivals and to explore more of the fun there. Staying at the beautiful Fantasyland Hotel right inside the West Edmonton Mall, is by far, the best “fun” choice anywhere. All the rooms are themed with anything from cowboy western, to igloo, to Africa Safari, to race car, Roman, and Hollywood Star styles. You’ll delight in this experience which includes huge in-room jacuzzi tubs, fresh chocolates and liqueurs, fresh fruit, and a sumptuous gourmet buffet breakfast in the mall.

If you like pools, you won’t have to look far for the biggest and most spectacular indoor water park in North America, which happens to be in the mall right by the hotel. The mall has dozens of the best restaurants in the city along with shopping, Olympic size ice rink, life sized models of famous pirate and sailing ships, and an ocean animal performance and aquatic museum. And don’t forget Galaxyland where couples can “play kid” and enjoy an indoor theme park complete with train and huge indoor thrill rides, roller coasters, and attractions.

You’ll want to eat at Earl’s, one of the best Canadian dining experiences we have ever encountered. Earl’s food is superb, and the staff offers impeccable service. They offer educational, hands on cooking/dining experiences. When we were there, they taught us about sushi making and we loved trying our hand with Earl’s best chefs. Each and every delightful morsel at Earl’s is meticulously prepared with delectable homemade sauces and spices and attention to detail. It is, hands down, in our opinion, the very best food in Edmonton. The company has great vision for growth and it’s evident why.

The beauty of this hotel and mall is that a couple can be as involved in the noisy merry-making and excitement as they want while the relaxing and peaceful hotel waits at the edge of the mall, to pamper the weary or those in need of a nap or some down time. You really get the best of both worlds.

If planning your trip in the summer, you won’t want to miss CapitalEx, Canada’s huge fair of excitement with loads of fun, rides, and education.

When planning your trip to Edmonton, plan your trip around some of the world famous festivals offered throughout the year so you can enjoy a real taste of Edmonton. Whether you plan to stay during the Folk Music, Street Performers, Heritage, Jazz, or Literary Festival, you’ll find Edmonton’s festivals fascinating.