5 great outdoor spaces at the University of Alberta

If you enjoy blue sky, sunshine, and fresh air, then the University of Alberta is the place to be!

Of course, there are 50+ buildings across campus where you can spend time indoors (like HUB Mall, CAB, the new PAW Centre, SUB, etc.) but when you want to get out and enjoy that fresh Alberta air and blue sky, these beautiful outdoor spaces can’t be beat! 

You can visit any of these areas year-round, but this article will focus on what you can enjoy during those months of the year when there is no snow on the ground.

Here are just 5 of the great areas where you can go to spend time outdoors when you’re at UAlberta:

1.  “Main Quad”

UAlberta Main Quad

“Quad” is basically a big beautiful park in the middle of campus. (“Quad” comes from the word “quadrangle,” which means a flat shape with four sides… or in this case, a flat space with four sides.)

The “Main Quad” at UAlberta is located in an area that  is surrounded by the Students’ Union Building (SUB), the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS), and several other major buildings.  It’s a large, green, grassy area surrounded by trees and it’s the perfect place to study, spend time with friends, eat, and play games like Frisbee.

It’s also a major social hub for the campus. Throughout the year students join there to enjoy BBQs, picnics, eat at food trucks, and more.

2.  The garden outside of the Humanities Building

UAlberta Humanities building garden

This area is a beautiful hidden gem on campus.  If you head out behind the Humanities building, you’ll find it – a scenic pond area surrounded by rocks and it even has a small dock where you can sit.  There are picnic tables when you can sit and enjoy nature.  You may even spot some birds, squirrels, and wild rabbits while you’re out there!

3. Geoscience Rock Garden

UAlberta geosciences garden

If you’re interested in geology, then this is the rock garden of your dreams!  Even if you are not studying geology or earth sciences, then you will still find this to be a beautiful and peaceful area to sit or take a walk.  Outside of the Earth Sciences building, you’ll find a series of large boulders (rocks) among the green grass and trees along the river valley. But these aren’t just a bunch of random boulders – they are specially selected, giant rock samples that geology students can examine and use to practice their techniques in preparation for fields.  When you’re in this garden, nature is your classroom! 

4. Community Garden at Campus Saint-Jean/Jardin Communautaire Campus Saint-Jean

campus saint-jean community garden

As you may know, UAlberta has a French-speaking campus: Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ), which is located about 10 minutes away from the North (main) Campus. 

If you go exploring behind the main CSJ buildings, you will find a beautiful outdoor area with a water feature and the “jardin communautaire,” which is French for “community garden.” 

In this “jardin,” CSJ staff work with members of the community to produce wholesome food, some of which is donated to community programs. If you have what’s called a “green thumb” (a talent for growing plants) then you will definitely want to check it out! 

5. The Quad with the Centennial Sculptures on Augustana Campus

augustana campus centennial sculpture

UAlberta is a big university, and if you’re looking for a smaller community feel, then check out Augustana Campus. It’s located in Camrose, Alberta, which is a city that is about an hour’s drive from Edmonton.

When you’re there, take a walk out into the Augustana Quad (note: remember from #1 that a quad is a park) and you’ll see an impressive, massive 3-piece art installation!  This installation, which includes a large ceremonial bell, was dedicated to the campus on its 100 year anniversary and its official name is “Augustana: Beyond a Certain Phrase.”  Enjoying art and the beautiful outdoors at the same time – it’s a perfect combination. 


Ready to discover these spaces and more at UAlberta?  Get more information on our programs and how to apply. 



Article by Julia Jones-Bourque




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