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Home Story Here’s what not to miss in Yellowknife

Here's what not to miss in Yellowknife

Yellowknife is one of the most popular destinations for visitors travelling to the NWT. The capital is where the natural beauty of the North meets the lively pace of city life. With non-stop flights from Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Ottawa, it’s never been easier to plan your Northern adventure. Whether you’re flying into the city to spend some time before continuing onwards to another community, a private lodge, or just a secluded fishing spot, you’ll find countless opportunities to experience  what life in the NWT is all about.

If it’s the final stop on your great Northern road trip or just a place to layover before your adventure continues, here are the things you absolutely cannot miss when you visit Yellowknife.

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

Start your Yellowknife experience with one of the North’s top showcases of art, culture, industry and history of the territory. The museum is situated near the banks of scenic Frame Lake – the prominent lake on the edge of downtown Yellowknife.The displays at The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre feature everything from mooseskin boats to old-time bush planes.

Best of all, the centre is a short walk from Yellowknife’s downtown and the city’s largest hotels. Without venturing far, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre provides a great introduction to the history of the city and territory, with a wealth of art and information about the Indigenous people who have called this land home since time immemorial.

Cameron Falls

One thing you’ll quickly discover about Yellowknife is that you don’t have to travel far to become immersed in the spectacular beauty of Canada’s Northern landscapes. The North’s most-photographed waterfall is an easy day trip from Yellowknife. After an hour-long drive down the scenic Ingraham Trail, a 20-minute trek through the evergreens brings hikers to the cusp of the cascade, where the Cameron River tumbles a dozen metres over the stony stairsteps of the Precambrian shield.

The spot is a popular destination for beginner hikers (many portions of the trail have a wooden boardwalk), and the day-use areas and parks along the Ingraham trail make for the perfect places to enjoy an outdoor lunch or water-based activities. This hike is offered as a day trip by many local tour providers including indigenous owned and operated tours that will take guests on  guided hikes in the boreal forest to see the falls.

Houseboat Bay

Back in Yellowknife, head to the heart of the city – where it was first established to meet the waters of Great Slave Lake – Old Town. The North’s most colourful neighbourhood bobs on the waves of Great Slave Lake, as a growing community of houseboats share the waters with passing kayakers and paddleboarders in the summer. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore this floating community – or bunk down at the houseboat bed-and-breakfast. For a bird’s eye view, the nearby Pilot’s Monument provides a 360° view of Houseboat Bay, Back Bay, Old Town, and a glimpse back towards downtown Yellowknife. Take advantage of the scenic vantage point for some incredible photo opportunities. Old town and pilots monument are included in many Yellowknife city tours which also include the Prince of Wales Heritage Center and Legislative Assembly.

Northern Lights

With crystal-clear skies and a perfect geographic location, Yellowknife is the world’s top destination for viewing the Northern Lights – referred to up here as the Aurora. The Aurora can be observed up to 240 nights of the year, and if you come during the peak Fall and Winter Aurora seasons, your chances of seeing the incredible ribbons of colour reach from horizon to horizon are quite high. Travellers from around the world come to the NWT to see the world’s best Northern Lights.

While some venture out to remote Aurora lodges to experience the Lights, Aurora hunting tours operate every night during the peak seasons to guide intrepid spectators just beyond the lights of the city to see the Aurora. Fill your days with adventure and activity before an equally exciting evening gazing upwards at an incredible display of natural beauty and wonder.

The Culinary Scene

If you’re trying to get a taste of Yellowknife’s culture, there’s no better way than by visiting a number of its most popular restaurants. From iconic eateries in historic log cabins like the  Wildcat Cafe in Old Town, to the equally unique Bullock’s Bistro just a quick walk down the road, Yellowknife is full of restaurants and cafes that serve up a mix of authentic Northern cuisine and mouth-watering takes on cuisine from around the world. Ask a local and you’re sure to hear a variety of recommendations – whether the ambience is rustic or refined, the food is sure to be divine.

Art and Galleries

Murals, banners, art installations, sculptures, and galleries can be found celebrating the culture of the North all around Yellowknife. Whether you come across a mural depicting a historic street view of Yellowknife or a vibrant and evocative piece of Indigenous art and storytelling, it’s easy to see Yellowknife’s history and diversity represented through the work of local artists and artists from around the territory.

Art galleries around Yellowknife provide a wide variety of art for sale. The work of the NWT’s Indigenous artists and non-Indigenous artists captures what makes life in the territory so unique – from traditional crafts like basket weaving and beading to photography and recorded musical performances and cultural demonstrations. Art has always been an important form of storytelling and knowledge sharing, and it continues today in the art and galleries you can find around Yellowknife.


Ready for the road to adventure? Plan your route along the best scenic road trips through the NWT – you’re sure to find a spectacular horizon calling to you.

The Northwest Territories is home to some of the most pristine national parks in Canada. The humbling beauty and wild landscapes of the North are on full display. Read our guide to the 6 Canadian national parks in the NWT  for a taste of what awaits you there.