Grande Prairie

Destination Location

Grande Prairie, AB
  • 55.18, -118.884722:primary

Overview

Grande Prairie is the largest city in Alberta north of Edmonton but the main tourist draw is anything but urban. This city and surrounding region is a big game hunter's paradise – home to an abundance of moose, elk, deer and bears. Area lakes, rivers and streams also provide many a great fishing spot where trout, jack and walleye flourish.

But if hunting or angling isn't your thing, there are still plenty of other attractions and activities available to you in Grande Prairie. Downtown on 100th Avenue, you'll find a variety of shops and boutiques selling everything from vintage clothing to collectible furniture and antiques. You'll also find quaint coffee houses and a good selection of restaurants.

Want to spend a day exploring local culture? Visit the Prairie Art Gallery – the only major art gallery in northern Alberta. Here you can explore the main gallery as well as 10 other historic buildings located on-site. Nearby, the Grande Prairie Museum, Heritage Discovery Centre and 2nd Street Theatre provide other enriching cultural experiences.

There is also the Grande Prairie Stompede, a May event that takes over the city, complete with chuckwagon races, a midway and plenty of exciting rodeo events.

For a more low-key afternoon activity, head to the Red Willow Gardens. Located 65 km west of Grande Prairie in the town of Elmworth, the gardens offer a unique take on a farmers market. Here, you can stroll through gardens, picking veggies as you go. Top off your afternoon with a refreshing cup of tea at the gardens' tea house that sits atop the riverbank.

Grande Prairie is a fantastic destination for:

  • Outdoor adventure

Destination basics

Cool is a good word to describe the weather in Grande Prairie. Winters here are typically cold and summers generally bring mild daytime temperatures, cooling off substantially in the evenings. With average January temperatures around -15 C and average July temperatures around 15 C, it’s not difficult to figure out that this city is in the great Canadian North.

Climate continued

But due to Grande Prairie's geographic location near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, weather patterns in any season can quickly shift. Some winters see lots of snowfall with few mild periods. Other winters see little snow with many periods of warmer weather. Visitors should keep an eye on the forecast and pack appropriately.

 

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie offers a fairly diverse range of dining options for the hungry traveler. From classic Canadian comfort food to ethnic cuisine and contemporary fare, the city’s culinary offer presents a varied smorgasbord of experiences to choose from.

Downtown
You’ll find a host of restaurants and bars to choose from as you stroll the streets of the downtown district. For a quick, gourmet meal on the go try Ramona’s Pizza. This local eatery has been delighting diners since it first opened its doors in 1981. The restaurant served up hot and fresh gourmet pizzas, piled high with delicious toppings of your choice, alongside a selection of pasta, salads, and entrees. Nearby, the Acropolis Restaurant serves up fresh Mediterranean and Greek staples like souvlaki, moussaka, and donair, packed with the goodness of authentic, homestyle cooking. For a classic, steak dinner and succulent prime ribs, the Sawmill is a local favorite, while Tito’s is a fine choice for Mediterranean fare and live music. Another downtown favorite is Better Than Fred’s. This local bar and restaurant serves up succulent, smokey BBQ and chicken wings, alongside live music, theme nights, and free pool. For Mexican try El Norteno, while the Imperial Garden and Golden Star are downtown’s best choices for Asian cuisine. All this and so much more makes downtown Grande Prairie the city’s core hub for culinary pursuits.

College Park
Although the neighborhood’s culinary offer is modest at best, it is home to a few restaurants that are nonetheless worthy of mention. The Keg is the neighborhood’s top choice for a formal meal. This popular chain offers a delectable menu of steak and seafood, serves in a relaxed, upscale ambiance. Nearby, Maddhatters features an award-winning menu of sandwiches, apps, and entrees, alongside a dazzling variety of cocktails, wine, and beer. As the sun goes down, the restaurant transforms into a stylish lounge that is one of the city’s most popular nightlife destinations. The heart of the neighborhood’s culinary offer, however, is the GP Brewing Company, a local microbrewery that offers a variety of unique brews. Sample local craft beer at the tasting room, or join in a tour of the facility in College Park.

Gateway and Westgate
Amidst fast food eateries and chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Swiss Chalet, Boston Pizza, Wok Box, and the Canadian Brewhouse, you will find a few local eateries that attract a following of their own at the RioCan Centre. At the top of the list is Soto, a local restaurant that offers a staggering selection of sushi, teppanyaki, sashimi, tempura, and other Japanese classics alongside fusion cuisine. Nearby, Jax Grill & Lounge at the Podollan Inn is one of the city’s top choices for fine dining. This elite steakhouse offers classic Canadian fare, alongside International cuisine in a refined setting. For elevated pub fare in laid-back digs, head to Brown’s Socialhouse in Westgate.

Northgate
Northgate boasts a varied culinary offer that is rivaled only by that of Downtown Grande Prairie. Centered around the Prairie Mall, the neighborhood’s culinary offer extends beyond the confines of the shopping center to showcase a healthy mix of local restaurants and fast food eateries. The Office,  at the Pomeroy Hotel, is the neighborhood’s very own culinary gem. Helmed by the talented Chef Alexander Herbert, the Office presents a rotating selection of innovative, modern dishes and traditional, regional fare. Nearby, you’ll find a variety of fine choices for a family dinner, such as Mr. Mikes casual steakhouse and Hong Fah Thai Restaurant. For gourmet and traditional Italian cuisine, dine at Padrino’s Italian Restaurant.

Grande Prairie is a fairly compact city that is centered around a core downtown district. From here, the city expands outwards into a mix of commercial and residential neighborhoods, interspersed with parks and green spaces.

Downtown
Home to some of the city’s best restaurants, specialty shops, and cultural attractions, Downtown Grand Prairie is the heart and soul of the city. The neighborhood hums with a youthful energy that lends this place an inviting charm. In downtown, dine at popular restaurants like Acropolis and the Sawmill Steakhouse, groove along to live music at Better than Fred’s, delve into the magical world of the performing arts at the Grand Prairie Live Theatre, and experience the visual arts at the Art Gallery of Grand Prairie. Downtown has much to offer shopaholics as well at its many specialty shops and quaint boutiques.

College Park
To the west of Muskoseepi Park, this neighborhood is best known as the home of the Grand Prairie Regional College and the Douglas J. Cardinal Performing Arts Centre. Popular restaurants nearby include the Keg and Madhatters. The GP Brewing Company is the neighborhood’s most well-known attraction. This local microbrewery boasts a tasting room and retail store on-site and also offers guided tours of the facility.

Gateway and Westgate
The Gateway is a neighborhood located to directly the west of College Park. Centered around the RioCan Centre, this neighborhood is a popular commercial district, and home to various big-box retailers and ethnic restaurants. Here, you will also find the Great Northern Casino, Grande Prairie’s premier destination for gaming action. To the west of Gateway is Westgate, another small neighborhood that encompasses a part of the sprawling RioCan Centre and a few car dealerships.

Northgate
Northgate is one of the city’s most popular shopping districts and is home to the Prairie Mall. The sprawling shopping center hosts numerous brand-name stores and restaurants under a single roof. Nearby, you’ll find several big-box stores, hotels, and a mix of chain and local restaurants.

From scenic trails and recreation centers to theaters, live music venues, museums, and galleries, Grande Prairie’s entertainment offer has a little something to suit every taste. You’ll also find specialty shops and shopping centers, as well as a casino, golf courses, and fitness centers in Grande Prairie.

Performing Arts and Live Music
The Grande Prairie Live Theatre is the city’s premier venue for the performing arts. Located at the Second Street Theatre in downtown Grande Prairie, the theater hosts a diverse variety of live performances, including live theater, concerts, dance recitals, and film screenings. Nearby, Revolution Place is a popular venue for large scale concerts featuring top national musicians and bands. With a scenic location by the shore of the Bear Creek Reservoir, at the Grande Prairie Regional College, the Douglas J. Cardinal Performing Arts Centre is a grand contemporary venue designed by the center’s namesake, the architect Douglas J. Cardinal. The center is another of the city’s most popular performance venues with an entertainment program that runs the full gamut of the performing arts and has featured some truly unforgettable acts on stage. Local bars and pubs like the Crown & Anchor, Better than Fred’s, the Industry, Madhatters, and the Great Northern Casino Lounge also showcase live music, alongside comedians and other live acts.

Museums and Galleries
The city has much to offer history buffs and lovers of the visual arts. The best place to begin an exploration of the city’s past is the Heritage Discovery Centre at Muskoseepi Park’s Centre 2000. The museum offers a brief presentation of local history, while the Grande Prairie Museum nearby showcases the region’s past in greater detail with a special focus on the lives of the pioneers who helped shaped Grande Prairie into the thriving city that it is today. Home to one of the city’s oldest log buildings, the Forbes Homestead Heritage Site is an important piece of the city’s past that chronicles the life of some of the city’s original settlers. 

On the artistic side, the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie is a must visit for all those who enjoy the visual arts. The art gallery is one of Alberta’s largest, and showcases a varied collection of local artwork, alongside touring exhibitions and artwork from around the world. The gallery is located at the Montrose Cultural Centre, just minutes away from another of the city’s most popular galleries, the Centre for Creative Arts. The center features a program of 24 exhibitions each year, alongside workshops and art classes for budding artists of every age. The gallery is unique in that it showcases the artwork of only local artists and artisans. A little further away, you’ll find the Grant Berg Gallery. Here, browse through a diverse collection of paintings, Aboriginal art, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, and other crafts.

Shopping
Grande Prairie delights shoppers with a healthy mix of locally-owned specialty shops and brand name retailers. Downtown is the city’s main shopping district, and home to numerous specialty shops. From collectibles at Hangar 19 and books at the Rabbit Hole to trendy womenswear at Oh...I Have to Have That! and fine jewelry at Eternity, you’ll find everything you need and more in downtown. To treat yourself to a shopping spree without having to brave the winter chill, stop by the Prairie Mall. This sprawling shopping center offers a variety of brand-name retailers with something for everyone under a single roof. For fresh produce, artisanal food, and entertainment, visit the Grand Prairie Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for a taste of the Peace River Country’s agricultural bounty.

Sports and Recreation
Grande Prairie offers a variety of fabulous facilities for sports, fitness, and recreation. At the top of the list is the Eastlink Centre. At the heart of the facility lies a sprawling aquatic center with a dinosaur-themed water park, water slides, a swimming pool, hot tubs, a steam room, and a sauna. The aquatic center is perfectly complemented by sports and fitness facilities like squash and racquetball courts, a fieldhouse, a running track, weights, and cardio equipment. For spectator sports, visit the grand Revolution Place. Built in 1995, the multi-purpose arena is the home of the Grand Prairie Storm, the city’s junior hockey league team, and hosts all of the team’s home games. The arena also is also used for large-scale concerts featuring top national and international performers including the likes of Rihanna, Nelly Furtado, and Janet Jackson. For avid golfers, the Bear Creek Golf Club, The Dunes Golf Club, and the Grand Prairie Golf Club offer a chance to enjoy a rewarding day on the green amidst a scenic locale, while the Grande Prairie Curling Club is a great place to enjoy some time on the ice.

Outdoors
Outdoors enthusiasts will find a host of activities to enjoy both in and around the city. From hiking along Bear Creek at Muskoseepi Park to bird watching at Crystal Lake, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy on a warm summer’s day. Just beyond the city’s limits, less than half an hour away, is the Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, home of the beautiful and rare Trumpeter Swan and native wildlife like beavers, woodchucks, and deer.

Casino
The Great Northern Casino is Grande Prairie’s destination for gaming action. Try your hand at table games like roulette, poker, and blackjack or head for the slot machines for some classic gaming fun. The casino also features a poker room for Vegas-style tournaments, and an entertainment program featuring live music and stand-up comedy.

Grande Prairie

Province: Alberta

Country: Canada

Grande Prairie by the Numbers
Population: 63,166
Elevation: 650 meters / 2,130 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 44.5 centimeters / 17.52 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 154.3 centimeters / 60.7 inches
Average January Temperature: -13.6°C / 7.5°F 
Average July Temperature: 16.2°C / 61.2°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-7 (GMT-6 Daylight Saving Time); Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 780; 587

Did You Know?
Grande Prairie owes its nickname, “Swan City”, to a thriving population of the Trumpeter Swan discovered here in 1926. Through a steady commitment to responsible wildlife management, the city has helped revive the species’ dwindling numbers. Today, the Trumpeter Swan is the city’s official symbol.<

Orientation
Grande Prairie is located in Western Alberta, and lies at a distance of 456 kilometers (283 miles) to the northwest of Edmonton, AB. The city is a part of the Peace River Country.

Named after the sprawling prairie that surrounds it to the north, east, and west, Grande Prairie has been shaped by a history hewn from the region’s fertile land. The prairie was originally populated by the Dane-zaa people, who set up a booming trade with the North West Company in the early years of the 19th Century. In 1880, the Hudson Bay Company set up a trading post of their own just 24 kilometers (15 miles) to the northwest of the present day city. 

Soon after, the land was surveyed for homesteading and people began to arrive, to farm the fertile land. The opening up of the Edson Trail marks an important turn in the history of Grand Prairie as it opened up the region to settlers willing to make the arduous journey from Edson to the township of Grande Prairie. When the Edmonton, Dunvegan, and British Columbia Railway established a station at Grande Prairie, the doors were thrown open to settlers from near and far, drawn to the region by the promise of bountiful returns on their investment. 

For a time, the city grew in leaps and bounds, untouched by the Dust Bowl era, through the Second World War. Despite competition from the neighboring settlements of Peace River and Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie’s population continued to grow as the town’s economy was fed by the discovery of oil and natural gas nearby. Although Grande Prairie was incorporated as a city in 1958, it was the establishment of the Procter & Gamble kraft pulp mill in 1972 that gave rise to an economic boom that sent the city’s population spiraling into the thousands. Grande Prairie has never looked back and is today one of Alberta’s fastest growing cities.

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