The Edmonton Oilers have one of the most passionate fan bases in the National Hockey League. The team drew strong attendance during the Decade of Darkness and even though a regular season game at Rogers Place might not have the most boisterous atmosphere, each spring, Oilers fans show that their lives consist of eating, sleeping, and hockey.
There’s no place like home, but the loyalty of Oilers fans have seen many make trips to go watch the team on the road. Not only is it a great way to watch the team featuring the league’s top two forwards, but it provides an avenue to escape the slog that is an Albertan winter.
What makes a good road trip
Like every regular season, the Oilers will play 41 of their 82 games on the road, with some games making for better experiences than others. What makes a good road trip? Here’s what we think:
- warmer weather is better: As mentioned, Edmonton is cold. Gary Bettman’s sun belt expansion provides multiple stop on the NHL circuit that can provide a reprieve from the cold.
- weekends when possible: Paid time off is scarce, so getting away while utilizing as many built in days off is preferred taking as few days off as possible is the best possible way to do it.
- ease of travel: Edmonton isn’t the easiest hub to travel from, especially during the winter when flight delays can make a mess of well kept plans. Trips that minimize travel connections and lower travel time will be prioritized.
- optimizing the number of games to catch: The more games you can catch on the road the better.
- non-hockey activities: A winter vacation centered around hockey might not make the entire family happy, so destinations where there’s more to see and do were kept in higher regard. Whether that’s other sports, theme parks, or a tourist destination, these trips should be able to have a well rounded itinerary.
Without further ado, here are the top Oilers’ sports trips for 2023–24.
Drive down for a Battle of Alberta
Oilers at Calgary Flames: Saturday, January 20 and Saturday, April 6
The Battle of Alberta might be the best rivalry in the NHL. And while the Oilers have the edge when it comes to their facility and the team on the ice, each game continues to be a battle with some iconic moments coming in the games between the two.
Calgary is about a three hour drive from Edmonton, and with the two games coming on Saturday nights, it can turn into a convenient weekend trip to get away. Calgary itself has a bunch to do, or one could choose to extend the drive another hour to get to Banff, but southern Alberta will have more than enough for a full weekend.
There are more than enough hotels in downtown Calgary that are within walking distance from the Saddledome. Alternatively, C-Train service provides access to other parts of the city while limiting driving so that a few Dome Foams could be enjoyed.
Divisional battles in the Pacific Northwest
Oilers at Vancouver Canucks: Wednesday, October 11 and Monday, November 6
Oilers at Seattle Kraken: Saturday, November 11 and Saturday, March 2
After Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle are the next two closest franchises geographically to Edmonton. Both with direct flights under two hours. Combined that with the fact that the Pacific Northwest has moderate temperatures through the winter season and that both cities offer direct transit from their airports to their downtown cores, each laden with hotels and arenas makes it an easier travel itinerary.
Last year, the Oilers appeared once in Vancouver in what is a convenient Saturday night game for a quick weekend trip. This year, the Oilers open the season in the lower mainland on a Wednesday then return for an early November Monday game, which might take away some of the appeal that comes with the easier trip to Vancouver.
Seattle might be the better option this year. The Oilers play on Remembrance Day, a Saturday night this year during mid-November then follow that up with a Saturday matinee date in the Emerald City on March 2. Whether it be flying into Vancouver then making the three-ish hour drive down or flying right into Seattle, the two games present the opportunity for manageable weekend trips. To add to the excitement, The Seattle Seahawks are set to host the Washington Commanders on November 12, setting the weekend up for multi-sport double-header.
Oilers at Vegas Golden Knights: Tuesday, February 6
Las Vegas is one of the more popular tourist destinations for Albertans come winter time outside of beach destinations. Sin City not only present endless opportunities for entertainment, gambling and more, but the resident Golden Knights will be bringing break a great team to defend their Stanley Cup title.
The Oilers only have three total games against Vegas during the 2023–24 season as they look to avenge their second-round loss. They return to T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, February 6 with a 7:00 PM local puck drop. It might not ideal in terms of conserving vacations day, but February will likely be the perfect time to escape the Edmonton weather.
There are multiple direct flights per day heading to Las Vegas, with numerous hotel options on the strip to choose from. The arena is situated right next to the Park MGM and New York New York resorts if you are trying to cut down on the walking distance. That week will be hectic in Vegas, as Super Bowl LVIII will take on the following Sunday, February 11.
Oilers at San Jose Sharks: Thursday, November 9 and Thursday, December 28
Oilers at Los Angeles Kings: Saturday, December 30 and Saturday, February 10
Oilers at Anaheim Ducks: Sunday, December 31 and Friday, February 9
The California swing might be the most popular out of town trip for Oilers fans. Between the history present in the Bay Area and the theme parks in SoCal, there is plenty to see and do in both parts of the state.
The one off game in the Shark Tank likely doesn’t make for a good trip, but the other five games in the Golden State line up perfect for an extended vacation. The Oilers come out of the Christmas break in NorCal as they visit the Sharks, followed by a back-to-back with the Kings and the Ducks on the weekend heading into New Year’s Eve. The Oilers then head back to southern California from Vegas for a Friday-Saturday back to back in February.
The SAP Center is somewhat removed from San Francisco proper, but the trip can be made using the CalTrain or BART system to San Jose Dridon station or by flying into the San Jose airport and staying there instead. The San Francisco 49ers will host the Baltimore Ravens in Santa Clara on Christmas day if wanting to turn into tis segment into an extended multi sport trip.
When it comes to visiting Crypto.com Arena in Downtown L.A., LAX is typically the easiest to fly into or out of. Universal Studios is closer to downtown L.A. among the theme parks, with Hollywood and Santa Monica rounding out the more common tourist stops for the area.
Anaheim is about a 45-minute trip down the freeway without traffic, but add in any traffic and it can take hours to travel between the two. Anaheim’s main attraction is Disneyland, which makes for a great option to add to a trip while providing a multitude of hotel options. The Honda Center is just a 10-minute drive away from the main hotel drag, but two freeways separate the two in what is usually about an hour walk to the arena.
A New York Christmas
Oilers at New York Islanders: Tuesday, December 19
Oilers at New Jersey Devils: Thursday, December 21
Oilers at New York Rangers: Friday, December 22
Visiting New York City during Christmas time as a tourist is an enchanting experience. The iconic landmarks, such as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the window displays along Fifth Avenue, Central Park’s Wollman Rink, catching a performance of the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, New York City’s offerings during this time of year are arguably second to none. Combine that with the many tourist hot spots that NYC has to offer outside of the festive season and it could become a great trip.
Flights will require a connection to one of the major NYC area airports. As the Oilers do on this part of their road trip, it’ll make the most sense to find accommodation based in Manhattan then commute to each arena from there. The New York Giants are on the road during the period but the New York Jets host the Washington Commanders on New Year’s Eve. This would make for a memorable trip while seeing three quality team sin one of the world’s premier cities.
A Florida vacation
Oilers at Tampa Bay Lightning: Saturday, November 18
Oilers at Florida Panthers: Monday, November 20
Florida boasts great weather during the colder months, meaning a November getaway might be just what the doctor ordered for an Oiler fan. Add in the theme parks of Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, the legendary Miami nightlife, and the endless beaches and there’s plenty to do in the state.
Based on the Oilers schedule and the location of the attractions, a rental car will likely be in order. Flying into Tampa and catching the Oilers game would be a likely start. The Miami Dolphins host the Las Vegas Raiders in Miami on the 19, followed by the Oilers playing in Sunrise against the Panthers on the 20. The logical next stop would be more attraction-based with the Space Center and/or Orlando Theme Parks coming into play. True diehards could follow the team through the old southeast division circuit and watch them play in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes and in Washington against the Capitals.
Winter in the desert
Oilers at Arizona Coyotes: Monday, February 19
Arizona has become a winter hot spot for Canadians, with many snowbirds making the state their home away from home. With the Coyotes’ future uncertain after the failed referendum in Tempe and the league saying the current arena situation isn’t feasible long term, there is a limited window to make the trip to see the Oilers playing in Mulllet Arena on Arizona State University’s campus. The small capacity makes it perhaps hockey’s most intimate and unique viewing experience.
There is an abundance of flights between Edmonton and Phoenix with numerous hotels and other accommodation options throughout the Valley. An escape to the heat of desert during the middle of the winter would be relatively easy.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire