The darkness of winter can feel crushing at times, but when the sun is out it’s usually shining at maximum solar power. We live in one of Canada’s sunniest regions, with an average of 2,345 hours of sunlight per year. Yet, during winter, it can be tough to get a healthy dose of sunlight, which we need for boosting Vitamin D and serotonin—a mood-regulating hormone that could lead to depression if levels dip too low. Here are eight of our favourite sunny spots for soaking up winter sunlight in St. Albert and Edmonton—and staying warm while we’re at it.
This gathering spot is full of activity year-round, and there are plenty of places to bask in the sunlight throughout the building. Inside at the fountain window near the main entrance is a great location to take a moment and enjoy the sun’s warmth as you pass through the building. Consider taking an art class, and enjoy the sunny view of the Sturgeon River from the studio.
Literally built to maximize sunlight, this architectural lightscape is exactly what you might expect for a business that specializes in growing plants. But even though gardening season is over, there’s no reason all that sunlight should go to waste. At the Enjoy Centre, you can shop, have coffee with a friend, or attend a number of events—all in a bright, warm, sunlit glow.
For many, swimming is a summertime activity. But there’s no reason you can’t continue wading into the winter. The pool at Servus Place has a fabulous wall of windows that shine in on you while you’re doing laps or just taking a leisurely dip.
A visit here is an utterly restorative experience. The fresh air and natural sunlight wash over you as you step into one of the four greenhouse pyramids. Even after you’ve had your fill of exotic plants, it can be hard to step back out into the cold. Luckily, the conservatory’s Culina Café is a most delicious way to extend your visit just a little bit longer.
The idea of spending time in Edmonton’s City Hall might seem strange, until you consider that it’s a central hub to some of the biggest cultural attractions in the city. Across the street from the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Royal Alberta Museum, Winspear Centre, and more, City Hall is perfect for catching indoor sun and warming up if you’ve been skating at Churchill Square.
While Servus place is a great for laps and getting in a quick swim close to home, nothing quite matches the beach-turned-amusement park experience of West Edmonton Mall’s World Water Park. You could easily spend a whole day exploring the waterslides, the wave pool, or relaxing in one of the many hot tubs, all in natural sunlight, thanks to their enormous windowed ceiling.
Rock climbing is another summertime activity that we tend to forget about once the snow falls. And although there are plenty of indoor walls, for climbing enthusiasts, they never quite match the outdoor experience. The Wilson Climbing Centre at the University of Alberta, however, is a close approximation. With its gorgeous, floor-to-ceiling south-facing window, it gives you the chance to keep climbing with the sun at your back all winter long.
There’s no shortage of things to do at Telus World of Science. Thanks to the beautiful feature windows on almost every wall, you can learn about the solar system while enjoying beams of light emit by its very same sun. And if you’re really serious about it, head to RASC Observatory, where, with the help of protective telescopic lenses, you can get a close-up view. t8n