Having embraced the suburban life and no longer being of an age to sample Edmonton’s nightlife with any regularity, Whyte Ave is a summer-weekend-only destination for me. Now that summer looks like it’s finally on its way (after a few too many false starts if you ask me), Whyte Ave is once again the place to be on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. What better time to put together a guide to some of my favourite places on Whyte? Let’s go for a stroll!
Starting on the east (back) side of the Ave (across the street from the railway tracks), you have of course the Strathcona Farmers’ Market, open on Saturdays. Best place to get delicious fudge … and, like, vegetables and stuff. If you’re willing to venture another street north, you will hit the New York Bagel Café, a great for grabbing some brunch (shopping for fudge can be exhausting, you know). Ask for a patio table, it’s a cozy spot. Across from the farmers’ market, there is the Varscona Theatre, home of awesome improv theatre, including the always-worth-checking-out Die Nasty.
A block south of Whyte, across from the Iron Horse, you will find Old Strathcona Books, a used bookstore that is a must for any bibliophiles looking to expand their libraries. They have a good collection that includes classic and modern literature, non-fiction, history, philosophy and science. On Whyte Ave proper, you have the Wee Book Inn, where you can trade in your paperbacks. If you drop in, say hello to the cat.
If you are a bead-head like me, check out Beadworks in the old Dominion Hotel Building. It’s behind Two Rooms Café, which also happens to be a nice lunch spot.
Beadworks has an amazing selection of beads, as well as semi-precious stones and other jewelry supplies, but it’s definitely on the pricier side. [Ask for a card, it gets you $10 worth of merch once you spend $100. And, if you’re anything like me, that won’t take very long at all.] If you prefer to buy, rather than make, your jewelry, check out the Plaid Giraffe. Their (costume) jewelry is fun and funky and very affordable (although I’ve noticed recently that their prices have gone up a bit). Lately, I’ve also come to really like the jewelry selection at Avenue Clothing, especially for silver pieces and colourful brooches (only $15 a pop!).
Once you hit Calgary Trail, make a slight detour to your right. There’s C’est Cera, which has a nice mix of higher end labels, including Sweet Chemise. Sweet Chemise dresses are a weakness of mine; they’re very feminine and fit incredibly well. The only downside is the price, so it’s definitely worth waiting to take advantage of C’est Cera’s 50, 60, 70% sales. [First item is 50% off, second is 60% and third is 70%. The staff are usually happy to help you maximize your savings.] Across the street, there is Robes and Relics. While it’s not my favourite consignment store in Edmonton, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the neighbourhood. I remember seeing designer pieces (like Marc Jacobs and Holt Renfrew) for very reasonable prices. It’s an eclectic mix, though, so be prepared to browse.
Back on Whyte, just a few doors down from the Second Cup, there is Eden Lilly. The flower bouquets they sell are absolutely gorgeous, although they will certainly set you back a few bucks. For a special occasion, though, this is the place to go. (Hmm, maybe I need to start dropping hints about this closer to home …) On the same block, there is the Junque Cellar, which is a ‘must’ stop for anyone who loves vintage, and When Pigs Fly, for cute kitschy stuff (great for gifts).
Just past 105 Street, right next door to the Chapters, is The Tin Box, where you can find everything from home décor pieces to funky modern jewelry. Also a good place to browse if you’re looking for reasonably-priced gifts.
On the other side of Whyte Ave, you have Army & Navy. From time to time, it can be a veritable treasure trove for shoes, though you have to be really patient and persistent (and not mind coming away empty-handed 8 times out of 10). Heading east, make sure to stop at Block 1912, one of the best places to grab gelato in the city. As coincidence would have it, Block is almost directly across the street from Marble Slab, favourite of many ice cream afficionados in Edmonton. Their proximity invites you to ponder the age-old dilemma – ice cream or gelato? Me, I’m definitely a gelato girl. Dulce de leche and Hazelnut are my go-to flavours, but don’t be afraid to try the Chocolate tofulati – it tastes great!
That pretty much concludes the tour of my favourite places on Whyte. Of course, it’s entirely subjective, so feel free to point out the errors of my way and nominate some of your haunts in the comments.