The North Saskatchewan River diagonally bisects the city, and Edmontonians are very (oddly) proud of their valley.
Networks of 'multi-use' trails (for bicycles, rollerblades, joggers, etc) abound up and down the river, and some parts of the valley are very popular and can get fairly crowded.
But it isn't hard to find a serene spot to gaze at nature. Not talking about tiny little animals.. I've seen a deer jump right in front of me before! The valley is so 'wild' that it doesn't seem like you are in the middle of the city at all. This picture for example was taken just downstream from Quesnell Bridge of Whitemud Drive (this city's best attempt at a freeway) - you can only barely make out some distant buildings on the U of A campus.
I had a friend that showed a part of Edmonton to me that I would have completely missed. Rent a bike a ride all through the River Valley. Their bike paths are wonderful! They connect so easily. I can not believe how far I went on my bike!
Go see the major parks, tour the Parliment grounds and their wonderful parks... It is truley off the beaten path in Edmonton. This city is very big on outdoor activities.
The North Saskatchewan River snakes its way through the city with a long green belt of parkland running along both banks. This is North America’s largest stretch of city parkland, one long recreational area strewn with cycling paths and trails. Imagine a city park 30 km (19miles) long that has all kinds of facilities, including network of jogging, running and cycling trails. On the picture - Whitemud Park - is a part of the system and one of our favorites in Edmonton.
Very nice are the River Valley Parks. They provide BBQ-places and settled on the bank of the North Saskatchewan RIver some of the provide a perfect view through the whole valley.
For a great view of the River Valley (you'll see the University across the River and also the Victoria Golf course), park your car around 100 AVe and 116 Street and walk along the Victoria Promenade.