The Perfect Day: Interior designer Amanda Hamilton shares her secret spots in Edmonton

The downtown core of Edmonton has been rejuvenated with new restaurants, lounges, boutiques and art centres, so it makes sense that Amanda Hamilton — an interior designer and founder of Amanda Hamilton Interior Design, which specializes in restaurants and retail — spends a lot of time here. Hamilton, who recently launched an accessories line including wallpaper and a candle, was born in the city, so she is more than qualified to share her hometown’s designer-approved gems.

Taste the best cinnamon bun on the planet
No trip to Edmonton is complete without taking down one of the award-winning cinnamon buns from the Highlevel Diner. I’ve been coming here since I was a child and it has been a family favourite of many locals since it opened in the mid-’80s. With a wonderfully eclectic interior, unchanged over the years, the diner features  antique furnishings and a revolving art show of local artists. Frequently lineups are out the door, but you can take those cinnamon buns to go.”

Adventure in the Ribbon of Green
“If weather permits, take a long walk along the River Valley. At 48 kilometres in length, the ‘Ribbon of Green’ that lines the North Saskatchewan River is the largest urban parkland in all of Canada with over 18,000 acres of land, and it’s home to more than 20 major parks and attractions. My favourites include Hermitage, Rundle Park, the Muttart Conservatory (also worth a visit!) and, last but not least, Gold Bar Park. It’s the perfect spot for a bike ride and midday picnic and these ravines never fail to inspire and re-energize.”

Take in some art
“I recommend visiting the Art Gallery of Alberta. The twisting exterior of zinc, glass and steel is inspired by Edmonton’s northern environment and reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis. Designed by Los Angeles-based architect Randall Stout, the structure provides an opportunity for visitors to enjoy both the inside and out. The AGA showcases everything from original contemporary art to historical exhibitions from local, national and international artists. The gallery shop is worth a visit as it also carries a selection of goods made from Albertans, giving it a connection to the local community.” 

‘I always swing by Dwell Modern and LightForm to drool over the latest in furnishings, lighting and decor’

Gift shopping
“Edmonton is recognized for its commitment to investing in the visual and performing arts and hosts many festivals throughout the year, earning it the nickname ‘Canada’s Festival City.’ This endeavour to support the growing culture unites many creative people, including Peter Turner and Wendy Lahtl behind the boutique The Artworks. The store sells modern and classic design decor, one-of-a-kind pieces, found objects, unconventional gifts, jewellery and fresh flowers.”

Midday refuel
“My favourite midday snack can be found at Zenari’s, which has been an Edmonton institution since it was opened by Glenda Zenari in 1984. Influenced by Italy’s celebrated trattorias, this casual deli is located in Manulife Place and is stocked with classic Italian fare like homemade soups, sandwiches, pasta and risottos. Pick up a grilled muffaletta and Orangina for the win.”

Shop on 124th Street
“124th Street is home to some of Edmonton’s greatest restaurants, boutiques and galleries. I always swing by Dwell Modern and LightForm to drool over the latest in furnishings, lighting and decor. There are a slew of art galleries to wander through, including my favourites Douglas Udell Gallery and Peter Robertson Gallery. Most visits include a trip to the Wine Cellar to pick up something to enjoy at the hotel later in the evening and some sweet treats for breakfast from the highly celebrated Duchess Bakeshop.”

Sample local delicacies
“After all of this retail therapy, it’s time to hit up RGE RD owned by chef Blair Lebsack and partner Caitlin Fulton. The restaurant [prounounced Range Road] pays homage to its Alberta roots where the local farms inform the menu. This ‘untamed’ cuisine and an ever-changing menu features items like ‘Questionable Bits,’ and ‘Grizzly Gouda & Potato Perogies.’ The room is simple but charming and the best seats are at the bar so you can scope out the action in the kitchen.”

Post-dinner cocktails and snacks
“Even with a full belly, the night isn’t complete without a visit to both — yes both — of my favourite post-dinner spots. For cocktails, I dig late night drinks at Woodwork where the bartenders know how to make a perfectly shaken Bourbon Sour with just the right amount of froth. For an incredible wine, grappa, amaro and digestive selection make sure you head over to Bar Bricco — you won’t be disappointed.” 

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