What Do People Like to Do in Yellowknife?

August 1, 2017

Currently sitting at a sunny 23°, summer in Yellowknife is something everyone must experience. With about 18 hours of sunshine per day, there are plenty of opportunities to fit in as many activities as you’d like. So what exactly do people like to do here?

Northern Lights

Yellowknife is internationally known for being the best place in the world to view the Aurora Borealis. With over 20 tour companies dedicated to helping you view the unique light display, the opportunity to experience something truly remarkable is made very easy.

Green light of aurora borealis seen in sky above coniferous trees
Aurora Borealis


Cameron Falls

Not only is Cameron Falls a great location to view the northern lights, it’s also a fantastic tourist destination on its own. Made of ancient volcanic rocks from four billion years ago and a beautiful cascading waterfall, Cameron Falls gives you the perfect opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the Northwest Territories. Guided tours show you around the area and highlight the wildlife –both flora and fauna – in the area.

Cameron Falls, cascades down rock formation with coniferous fir trees surrounding it
Cameron Falls, Yellowknife North West Territories
Photo Courtesy of Explore North

Mountain Buffalo Tour

A guided tour will take you to Behchoko, a community located approximately 80km northwest of Yellowknife. There, you’ll have the opportunity to see the elusive mountain buffalo, also known as wood bison, as well as other animals that call northern Canada their home.

A herd of wood bison stand on snow covered banks with a river in the background
Wood Bison

Great Slave Lake

Already mentioned in some of my previous posts, Great Slave Lake surrounds Yellowknife and is a hub of activity all year round. Summer activities include boating, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. As I walk around my neighbourhood, most homes have some sort of watercraft parked in the driveway. It’s obvious that Yellowknife residents love to take advantage of the unfrozen lake and explore their beautiful territory on water.

View of Great Slave Lake, surrounded by trees, as seen through kitchen window of blog author
View of Great Slave Lake from my kitchen window! Photo by Allie Margaret May

Hiking Trails

There are many beautiful hiking trails in Yellowknife. On my daily walks on the Niven Lake trail, I’ve run into many familiar faces who love to go for an evening walk with their dogs (this is definitely a pet-friendly city!). Some of the most popular trails include The Prospector’s Trail, Frame Lake Trail (beautiful way to walk to Stanton Territorial Hospital), Niven Lake Trail (my personal favourite), and Tin Can Hill (which includes an off-leash area for dogs).

Glassy lake reflecting low clouds on a sunny day, with evergreen trees surrounding it
Frame Lake, Photo Courtesy of Tripadvisor
Niven Lake in foreground with bright blue sky overhead, across the lake rows of houses and trees are seen
View of Niven Lake from the trail. Photo by Allie Margaret May

Yellowknife Farmers Market

The market is active on Tuesday evenings from June 6th – September 19th and sits right in front of City Hall (another great attraction to check out!). If you’re interested in locally grown produce, meats, and artisanal crafts (as well as a chance to meet lots of locals), it’s definitely the place to check out.

Guests mill about in the sunshine at the farmer's market, a big chalk board sign is in the foreground announcing music for the day
Photo Courtesy of Yellowknife Farmer’s Market

The Legislative Assembly Building

Representatives from 19 electoral districts within the NWT come together to make decisions on behalf of residents within this architecturally unique building. Free hourly tours are available and allow you to learn about NWT’s unique consensus government structure. There’s also a must-see bear rug!

Circular architecture with two levels of chairs, a polar bear rug lies in the centre of the chamber
Photo Courtesy of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories

Art Galleries

There are a variety of beautiful art galleries within Yellowknife that provide a great opportunity to support local artists.

My top recommendations are:

Down to Earth Gallery; Specializing in Original Northern Art

Photo Courtesy of Down To Earth Gallery

Gallery of the Midnight Sun; YK’s Largest Gallery and Gift Shop

Wooden gallery in foreground with artwork around the outside walls, a totem to the left and an array of Canadian Geese cutouts on the roof
Photo Courtesy of Gallery of the Midnight Sun

Old Town Glassworks; Co-op Space Dedicated to Transforming Bottles into Glass Art

A display of glass artwork inside the gallery with cashier packaging purchases
Photo Courtesy of Visit Yellowknife

NWT Brewing Company

A beautiful craft brewpub and brewery holds the honour of being Yellowknife’s sole destination for local craft beer. It’s also Canada’s northernmost brewery. Yellowknife residents are proud patrons – keep an eye out and you’ll spot the NWT Brewing Company logo on many t-shirts worn in town! This is a great spot for post-work drinks with colleagues and friends.

A male bartender stands behind a counter mixing drinks, behind him are an array of bottles and a large skull of a moose mounted to a wooden board
Photo Courtesy of NWT Brewing Company
View of the outside of NWT Brewing Company, showing entrance and young woman walking out of brewery.
NWT Brewing Company, Photo Courtesy of Field and Forest

I’ve been lucky to explore many of these attractions and hope to check all of them off my to-see list by the end of the summer! Although there’s lots of guidance online on YK attractions, I find that speaking to locals is the best way to learn about attractions and activities. I’m sure I’ll discover more attractions as the summer goes on.

– Allie Margaret May, MHI