Edmonton, AlbertaPhoto: Travel Alberta

Most people who have heard of Edmonton before will have done so in reference to the famous West Edmonton Mall - a retail behemoth that has long worn the crown for largest shopping mall in North America. However, anyone who has traveled there knows that Edmonton is more than just a mall and the picturesque city has gained many fans in RV community for its buzzing atmosphere and proximity to the Canadian Rockies and Jasper National Park.

The capital city of Alberta, Edmonton is the sixth-largest city in Canada and home to 1.1 million people. Well known for its thriving arts and culture scene, the city hosts numerous festivals each year (earning it the title of “The Festival City”) and holds a great deal of pride it's Arts District, which includes the Citadel Theatre, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the beautiful City Hall and a number of independent galleries.

Don't start thinking that Edmonton's beauty is confined to galleries and museums though; its CBD is the envy of city centers the world over due to its lush parklands and stunning views of the Saskatchewan River. Known as “The Ribbon of Green”, Edmonton's River Valley Parks System is the largest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America and provides locals and visitors alike with a sprinkling of inner-city escapes - ranging from quaint greens festooned with elms to huge urban playgrounds with ampitheatres, fish-able ponds and ice-skating rinks.

Natural wonders continue to abound just outside Edmonton's perimeters. Around four hours drive to the west are the breath-taking Canadian Rockies; standing resplendent with their snow-capped peaks and purple-dusted meadows. The vast area of the Rockies is made up of a number of National and Provincial parks, the oldest and most popular of which are Banff and Jasper. Both parks boast a number of campgrounds and a general sense of accessibility that's rare for areas of their size and environmental importance. Activities abound at both but even a general sight-seeing tour will result result in unforgettable memories of glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, hot springs and imposing mountain ranges. Wildlife in the area also includes elk, moose, mountain goats, deer, bighorn sheep, caribou, grizzly bears, mountain lions and grey wolves.

Finally, despite what I may have said earlier, West Edmonton Mall is worth a visit - even if it's just to say you've been there. After all, with a giant water park, man-made lake, skating rink, two mini-golf courses, 21 movie theatres, a Vegas-style casino and an amusement park with 25 rides and attractions, it's something of a man-made marvel. Oh, and it also has it's own RV park.

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