When I saw The Alberta Legislature was offering free in-person tours again this summer, I was excited to check it out! I knew it would be something my husband and I would enjoy, but was slightly hesitant to bring the kids remembering how incredibly boring I found it as a grade 6 student on a class trip. To thwart any potential for grumpy kids and complaints of boredom, I decided to bookend our tour with a streetcar ride and a stop to try a new frozen treat spot! No one can complain when there are train rides and gelato involved, right?
Trip: Alberta Legislature Tour
Our free Alberta Legislature tour was easy to book ahead online through their website. I decided on an early Sunday afternoon timeslot and my husband we suggested we bring a packed lunch to enjoy a picnic in the Legislature Grounds before the tour. We could have driven and parked downtown, but I had being wanting to ride the High Level Bridge Streetcar again and I knew it conveniently stopped right across the street from the Legislature Grounds.
We caught the streetcar from the new stop on Whyte Avenue and enjoyed seeing the sites as we made our way over North Saskatchewan river. The Edmonton Radial Railway Society is completely volunteer run and an added perk of the journey is getting to listen to them speak enthusiastically about the history of the streetcars and the railway line. I was also rather excited that the car we got to ride a car that was all new to us. We learned this one originally comes to the collection all the way from Australia!
After our picnic in the park as planned, we made out way to the west entrance of the Legislature building where we were warmly greeted by our tour guide and led through a quick security check. Since it was a Sunday, the building was very quiet and made for a nice intimate tour with our family and a few other groups. We were led through each of the floors starting at the beautiful rotunda and fountain on the main floor, and got to learn about the architectural details and artwork in the building. We also got to go into the viewing gallery of the chambers to see where all the action happens! As expected, my 10 year old daughter seemed somewhat bored, but I was pleasantly surprised as my son stepped up to answer the guide’s questions. It was great hearing some of the things he had just learned about our legislative process in Grade 6 social studies.
TIP: If you want to actually be able to walk on the Chamber floor, they open it up to the public for one day only each year as part of the annual Canada Day celebrations at the Legislature.
Back outside, I led the family to the nearby Legislative Assembly Visitor Centre to check out the Our People Our Province musical film being shown in the Pehonan Theatre. I had high hopes for this after reading it was an immersive 4D experience being shown on a unique round screen, and it did not disappoint with several fun surprises throughout the 11 minute film. It was a truly a delight for all senses with effects like wind and falling “snow” that you could see and feel. They have taken what could be deemed a very boring topic – Alberta’s social and political history – and turned it into something fun and exciting for all ages. This free hidden little gem is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area!
Treat: La Carraia Gelato
Then it was time to cool down with a treat. We walked just a few blocks north of the Visitor Centre to try the selection of amazing gelato at La Carraia Gelato. After reading the flavour list on their website I knew for sure there would be something to easily please every member of the family. My son and I both ended up getting the pineapple basil with a side of lime mojito for me and milk chocolate for him. My husband opted for the surprisingly delicious dark chocolate with raspberry cheesecake, and my daughter went with a fruity combo of peach and strawberry. Of course I had to sample a bit of everyone’s and they were all amazing!
After, it was just a quick easy walk to the Jasper streetcar stop right across from La Carraia to make our journey back to our car. All in all it was a great day! Between the streetcar ride, the Legislature tour and the 4D movie, it was a full afternoon of history and learning, with just enough fun elements to keep everyone engaged and happy.