I love being outdoors, but knee issues prevent me from taking long walks as well as climb hills and stairs as I did for years and years. This is my new normal, so have had to change my thinking and find ways to get outdoors.
As it happens, it was an easy solution. Michael and I love having coffee, but with summer here, the idea of sitting inside a coffee shop, or even on a dusty, noisy road-side patio, has lost its allure.
The quest began to combine our coffee break with the outdoors. We have taken to purchasing our coffee to-go and finding a nice place in Edmonton to enjoy it.
If the weather is inclement, we find a nice place to park with a view, and enjoy our coffee in the confines of our car. We can chat, listen to our own playlist, or read. It’s nice to have control of our own environment. This also reminds us when we first met back in the 80’s and would spend a lot of time in the car. Coffee and talking wasn’t as important as music, flexibility and a cigarette to cap things off, if you know what I mean.
When the weather is nice, it’s great to get out and walk a short distance to a picnic table or park bench and enjoy the great outdoors.
I have done several Google searches finding accessible, pleasing places to visit in Edmonton for people with mobility issues. There is some information available, but I find it is limited.
Here I will document our favourite places, and hope it helps you decide if it will work for you. I will add to this list if I remember to take photos.
Located and accessed from Grierson Hill Rd, below the Edmonton Convention Centre. Parking is free, limited to 2 hours. Decent washrooms are available, but require a jaunt down a hill or stairs. If you can’t do hills or stairs, then forget washroom availability. There are bushes for the desperate adventurous.
For the fully mobile, there is access to the river valley, the funicular, and the Chinese Garden. The paved pathway has shaded benches overlooking the river and the Edmonton Riverboat.
For those who can’t walk far, there are lovely comfortable benches anywhere from 25 – 80 meters from the parking lot (depending where you park). You will find beautiful views of downtown, the river, and the south side of Edmonton. If you can walk some distance, you will find paved pathways with a gradual grade downhill. Again, benches are available so if you need to rest your aching knees, there’s places to do so.
Things to look out for are people on bikes, Segway tours, and the #@!^&*!!! leaf curler caterpillars, dangling in wait to slap you in the face or get stuck in your hair (middle-end of June only).
William Hawrelak Park (we incorrectly pronounce it with a slight drunken sailor slur so it sounds like Harrrrrrrrrrrrlak Park – we are from Calgary, no offense to the Hawrelak family) is an energetic, popular place to visit. It is easily accessible for all levels of mobility.
There are great parking spots to tuck into and enjoy the view, plus there are easily accessible benches, picnic tables and raised wood stoves if you are inclined to roast a wiener. Some spots are reserved, and sometimes the entire park is accessible for special events only, such as Heritage Days. Please check the website in advance, especially on weekends if venturing to this popular Edmonton park.
There is an unpaved path along the river, which connects with the river valley pathway system. You will encounter walkers, joggers, dogs, waterfowl, and cyclists along this. Within the park, the roadway is used for walkers, joggers, dogs, waterfowl, and cyclists as well, so be aware and don’t ruin a great day out by running over someone. Take a deep breath and relax as you crawl 20 km/h through the people and greenery.
There are accessible washrooms throughout, some closer to the parking lot than others. The roadway loops through the park, so I suggest doing a complete loop to orient yourself, then park appropriately to your abilities.
Do be cautious of pedestrians, cyclists, ducks and….. geese. They love it here and can be mean and attack if you act like a jerk. These little fellas were fun to watch. Notice Mom in the back there keeping an eye on us.
There is a bridge behind the most southern shelter, #2, which takes you across the mighty North Saskatchewan river. It’s a short, flat walk and is a nice destination with a bench, plop, in the middle of the bridge. You can sit here and take in the setting sun, watch the dragon boats, speed boats, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and other water craft and people on the river. It’s a busy place, but so much fun with so much activity to take in.
Bookmark this site. I will update it as we have our coffees in our favourite places.