Segway Fun: Exploring the Legislature Lights with River Valley Adventure Company

My first taste of riding a Segway came six years ago, when we partnered up with River Valley Adventure Company for our pop-up Blink: Urban Picnic event held in Louise McKinney Park. During that event, the owner of the company, Chris Szydlowski, gave our attendees mini lessons on Segways, which they were using to lead tours on the area’s trails. I was only able to try the Segway for a few minutes, but I remember not feeling all that comfortable on the vehicle.

Fast forward to now: River Valley Adventure Company is not only leading tours in green spaces, but starting last year, they also began hosting the Legislature Lights Adventure! The 60-minute tour combines a few of my favourite things – Mack and I are frequent visitors to the grounds during the holidays, as we find that the lights and music create a magical effect. Also, being that he is a very passionate Edmontonian, Chris delights in being able to share fun and interesting facts about the area throughout the journey. He invited us to experience the Adventure for ourselves last Friday.

We met him in the visitor parking lot south of the Terrace Building, where he had positioned three Segways. Because neither Mack or I were experienced Segway riders, Chris added a 30-minute introduction clinic to get us started.

Legislature Lights Segway Tour

Chris Szydlowski

It was the mark of a great teacher, because after that lesson, I felt surprisingly confident on the Segway. I had been afraid of tipping or losing control of the machine, but with his expert instructions, I was able to trust in using what I had learned to ride, stop, and safely disembark the Segway.

Something I should have done was listened to his advice on layering up for the conditions! He had recommended dressing like we were “headed for the mountains”, but at -8C that evening, we didn’t think it was necessary. However, at times, when we were cruising along at the top speed of 20km/hour, it was a bit more biting than what we are used to as pedestrians. Our feet, in spite of not standing directly on the cold pavement, also could have used proper snow boots.

Chris shared that in its second year, the Legislature Lights Adventure had already more than doubled its bookings when compared with the previous year. And while many who have attended the tour have been from out of town, some were playing tourist in their own home. Certainly for us, we learned many facts that we did not know – Chris took us to the spot (commemorated by a plaque) that was the home to one of the previous Fort Edmontons. In addition, we found out that the domed fountain that operates in the summer is actually an exact sized replica of the Legislature’s dome!

Legislature Lights Segway Tour

Holiday lights at the Legislature

Chris told us that Edmonton is one of the most Segway-friendly cities in Canada; the vehicles are permitted on city sidewalks. It so happened that our tour coincided with rush hour, so for our brief trek up Capital Boulevard to admire the public art, Chris was adept at guiding us to cross streets safely and warning pedestrians of our presence with a bike bell.

Legislature Lights Segway Tour

On Capital Boulevard

For those hoping to document their experience, Chris makes sure to build in a number of photo opportunities along the way. As we started in the late afternoon, the lights didn’t have as dark of a backdrop to shine against. The public tours are offered later in the evening, however, so would be adventurers needn’t worry!

Legislature Lights Segway Tour

Our favourite vantage point at the Legislature

Overall, the tour was a fun way to explore one of my favourite places Downtown, and one that I would highly recommend! Thanks again to Chris for the invitation to experience the Legislature grounds on a unique set of two wheels.

The Legislature Lights Adventure is available until January 31, 2019.

Date Night: The Common and Holiday Lights and the Legislature

When The Common relocated to the larger storefront on 109 Street in the spring, they took advantage of the space by enhancing their food menu. Although it’s unlikely I would frequent The Common in its nightclub incarnation, as a restaurant, I had been wanting to check out the creative dishes put together by Chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier for some time. Mack and I had dinner there last weekend on a chilly Saturday night.

It wasn’t terribly busy when we arrived, but it did fill up over the course of our meal. The Common is separated into three loosely divided rooms – one anchored with a bar, another with a DJ booth, and the dining space where we were seated. I loved the dining space – well lit, it felt like The Common didn’t have anything to hide. And on the contrary, it illuminated the feminine touches in the crispy black and white room: the wall of gilded frames and leaf-tipped gold light fixtures. It felt intimate, relaxed and sophisticated.

The Common


Similar to Mercer Tavern, we encountered a drinks menu that was split between vintage and modern cocktails. I tried the Negroni, which probably was better suited for Mack, but fared better with the sweeter blackberry cinnamon mojito.

The Common

Our happy hour

Looking at the menu rife with comforting dishes, it really was difficult to decide – no doubt, we will have to return at least a few times to try all of the items that caught our eye! We ended up sharing the mac & cheese ($8.50). The panko crust was crispy and well seasoned, and I liked the florets of cauliflower buried between noodles.

The Common

Mac & cheese

My chicken & waffles ($17) was a pretty satisfying dish. The chicken was excellent, fried hot, moist, and I loved the sweetness from the blackberry sauce. The waffles could have been a little warmer though, and I thought the goat cheese was unnecessary, and overpowered everything else.

The Common

Chicken & waffles

Mack’s lobster pot pie ($17) was deceiving in size, as by the end, he was struggling to finish the serving. There was a fair amount of lobster, and Mack commented on the depth of seafood flavour in the filling. Mack also loved the side of tomato turkey soup, too cute presented in a mason jar.

The Common

Lobster pot pie

Service was excellent (with a surprisingly good ratio of servers to tables for a restaurant/nightclub), and we felt well taken care of the entire night. With an interesting menu, good execution, and a laid back atmosphere, The Common is another one of downtown’s dining destinations. We will be back!

Afterwards, we grabbed a hot drink from the nearby Starbucks and wandered over to the Legislature grounds. It’s been a holiday tradition for Mack and I over the past few years to take in the beautifully decorated grounds.

Holiday at the Legislature

Holiday at the Legislature

It was a chilly night, so we were grateful that the indoor visitor areas were still open so we could warm up. Mack was a good sport and posted in the Speaker’s chair in the mock government set-up next to the gift shop.

Holiday at the Legislature

Playing the Speaker

On our way home, we made our way through the bedazzled trees once again, losing ourselves in the Christmas music piped through the outdoor speakers. Although the nightly holiday musical performances wrap up on December 23, the lights will be up until early January. Make sure to check them out if you can!

Holiday at the Legislature

The Common
9910 109 Street
(780) 452-7333

Winter Wonderland in Downtown Edmonton

It was another unseasonably warm winter day on Friday, perfect to explore the freshly decorated Legislature grounds. It’s one of the most magical places in Edmonton in the holiday season, and taking a stroll through the tree-lined paths have become an annual tradition for us.

We first stopped at Second Cup for some hot drinks (I’m really enjoying their salted caramel hot chocolate), and en route to the Legislature, passed by the Christmas lights display at the Edmonton General.

Second Cup

A part of their Lights of Hope campaign, the continuing care facility is giving the Bright Nights displays (last seen in Hawrelak Park in 2008) new life. The 400 lights are intended to boost staff and patient morale and draw attention to the frail senior population.

Lights of Hope

Santa and his reindeer

The lights aren’t only on the front of the building, however – they line the entire perimeter of the facility, as well as the parkade behind it. We recognized some of our favourites from Bright Nights, including the hockey player who shoots and scores, and the duck-duck-goose parade.

Lights of Hope

Mack couldn’t help but pose with Santa

It was then onward to the Legislature, which had just been lit for the season on December 1. It was great to see many other couples and families enjoying the park as well that night.

Alberta Legislature

The lights are great, but I think what really makes the display special is the music that is piped in – Edmonton’s very own winter wonderland.

Alberta Legislature

A visit to Candy Cane Lane might be in your family’s holiday repertoire, but think about incorporating a stroll downtown this year as well – you won’t regret it!

Alberta Legislature

Holiday Lights at the Legislature

After another hectic day at work, I couldn’t think of a better way to relax then to wander the decorated grounds at the Legislature.

The Legislature grounds, all decked out

The Legislature grounds are one of my favourite places to visit during the holidays – it’s the perfect place to stroll with a loved one, cup of coffee in hand. I could get lost in along paths of light-strewn trees, listening to the soft “twirling music” (Mack’s term, not mine) being piped through outdoor speakers.

Lots of lights

If the lights weren’t enough, there are always fun ice sculptures to admire, created by the Sculptors’ Association of Alberta.


And though we were there too late for the evening choir performance or check out the decorated trees indoors, there are still a few opportunities to do so until December 23.

If you’re looking for a serene place to enjoy (or escape) the holidays – you may find it at the Legislature.

Bright Nights at the Legislature

After dinner at the Wildflower Grill, Mack and I grabbed a hot drink at the Starbucks next to the restaurant and walked to the Legislature grounds. Earlier in the day, the official light-up had taken place, but we were more than happy simply to explore the lights without the fanfare.


Approaching the Legislature

I have been to the grounds once before, but walking underneath the multicolored lights, with holiday songs piping in the background, will never get old. The ice sculptures, lit from behind, were out for display already as well.


Ice sculptures


Mack with Santa

The lights are typically on until at least the first week in January, both in the morning, from 6:30-8:30am and in the evenings from 5-11pm.

It was a pretty chilly night, so we were more than happy that the annex building was open so we could warm up a bit before heading outside again. Inside, we found a Lego-version of the Legislature building, sponsored by the Northern Alberta Lego Users Group. On a related note, watch for the Art of the Brick at the Telus World of Science, an exhibit that opens on December 20 that will feature a variety of life-size pieces built by a Lego artist.


Legislature in miniature

Make sure to take some time this holiday season to explore some of the great things to do in the city!