Having just spent the last couple of months acting as tourists in our home city, we came up with a list of experiences you’ll need to have when you visit Calgary. The city may be known for the Stampede, but we can assure you that it has much more to offer visitors. Truly, it is a city that has something for everyone. Check out our list below and let us know what you think.
Spend time at Glenmore Reservoir
A glorious, peaceful body of water in the south of Calgary, Glenmore Reservoir offers a getaway from the everyday. There are opportunities to canoe, kayak, and sail here. Renting a canoe costs just $35 for the day from the Calgary Canoe Club . For the less adventurous, there’s a biking/walking path all the way around the reservoir too. It’s also a great place to just sit on one of the many benches and watch others go by. There are plenty of opportunities to catch unforgettable sunsets here. We love this area because we feel like we’re miles away from the big city when we are here.
Catch epic skyline views
Offering fantastic views of Calgary’s downtown skyline, Scotsman’s Hill is a popular spot to take photos and enjoy sunset views. It is just 5 minutes away from trendy Inglewood as well. Other spots to check out Calgary’s gorgeous skyline include Nosehill Park and Crescent Heights. These locations are great for watching Canada Day fireworks as well.
Visit the Calgary Tower
A cultural icon within the city, the Calgary Tower is a 190.8 metre free-standing observation tower on 9th Avenue and 2nd Street downtown. There is a glass observation deck to check out awesome views of the city for $18 CDN per person, as well as a revolving restaurant, Sky 360, that rotates to give customers epic views of the downtown area. The prices are expensive, but the experience is worth it at least once in a lifetime.
Hit up downtown’s Stephen Avenue
There’s always activity on Stephen Avenue, so it’s definitely a great place to explore. Set in the middle of downtown Calgary, Stephen Avenue is a pedestrian-only street that is filled with bars, restaurants and the like. In the summer it is bustling with activity from live performers to food trucks. It’s fantastic for people watching too, so make sure to find a spot on one of the many patios and enjoy a drink to take it all in. Near the Bankers Hall buildings, check out the giant 10 “tree” sculptures, which reach up to 26 metres high. The Hudson’s Bay building on 1st Street S.W. has become somewhat iconic as well. The walkway there is beautiful for portraits or wedding photos.
Walk along the famous Peace Bridge
At first the Peace bridge was controversial, as many art pieces in Calgary are, because of it’s $25 million price tag. Since opening in 2012, it has become one of the most photographed spots in the entire city. The bright red beams definitely cause the bridge to pop in photos. Walking along this bridge also allows people to travel all the way from Eau Claire Market to the trendy neighbourhood of Kensington.
Check out the giant head sculpture
This funky piece of art downtown was just as controversial as the Peace Bridge, but like the bridge, Calgarians have grown to love this spot. Entitled, “Wonderland,” the portrait sculpture sits 12 metres high and is made soley from bent metal. The head can be found in front of the massive Bow Tower on Centre Street and 6th Avenue.
Do something fun at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park
This park hosted several of the fan-favourite winter sports in the 1988 Olympics, and now offers a variety of fun-filled activities for Calgarians all year long. The park is very popular in the winter for skiing and snowboarding. While you can’t use the old ski jumping towers from the ‘88 Olympics, there are tours available to check out the facility. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Cool Runnings,” you’ve seen glimpses of them already. The venue also features many summer activities like zip-lining, mountain biking, bobsleigh rides, and mini golf.
Enjoy the peace and quiet of Fish Creek Park
A hidden gem within south Calgary, Fish Creek Provincial Park boasts walking and bike paths galore. Wildlife is also abundant here, often littered with deer chomping on the berries from the trees. The park is huge, but the best spot to start is Bebo Grove off of 24th Street S.W. There are picnic tables along the creek for summer BBQs and a number of rough mountain biking trails for the more adventurous. Either way, spending time here will feel like a vacation from city life.
Stop at Peter’s Drive In for a burger and shake
An old-fashioned drive-in restaurant along 16th Ave in Northeast Calgary, Peter’s has been satisfying people for over 49 years. In the summer, Peter’s will be packed with droves of people wanting their mouth-watering burgers, tasty onion rings and super-thick milkshakes.
Cheer on the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome
Calgarians are passion-driven hockey fans. Living off the past of the 1989 Stanley Cup win, Calgary Flames fans are wild, fun and faithful. They are so passionate that at games you will often see a sea of red because they are all donning their team jersey. When the Flames make it to the playoffs, they will even extend this “C” of red onto 17th Avenue to celebrate with drinks. Calgary calls this “The Red Mile.” Hockey is huge in Canada, so whether you’re a Flames fan or not, attending one of their games will be a blast. Plus, it’s really awesome when the Flames score; flames literally blow out into the stadium as the crowd hollers and cheers at the top of their lungs.
Make a day of it at the Calgary Stampede
Even though the Stampede comes every year, our city still loves to get involved and have some fun during the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. There are a variety of things going on around the city during the 10-day event for those who want to join in. From the world-famous rodeo and midway rides to concerts and eclectic food choices, there’s something for everyone. Rowdy folk will love the beer gardens throughout the grounds. Even outside the grounds, most businesses get in the spirit and celebrate. Wherever you end up, don’t forget to don your cowboy hat and boots for this event (and bring a lot of cash)!
Enjoy good food, music and culture at many of Calgary’s festivals
Calgary has a number of must-see festivals throughout the year to satisfy nearly everyone from foodies and sports buffs to music lovers and artists. Popular ones include the Calgary International Film Festival, Globalfest for epic firework shows, Reggaefest for Caribbean vibes, and Sled Island Music & Arts Festival for great bands. Our favourites to attend include February’s YYC Hot Chocolate Fest, Virgin Fest for the music and the Banff Mountain Film Festival because it highlights epic adventure travellers’ stories and experiences.
Browse the windows at Calgary’s funky shopping districts
Calgary is becoming better known for its artistic culture and for good reason. There are a number of unique shopping districts in Calgary. Visit Inglewood for hipster, one-of-a-kind shops like North American Quality Purveyors. Started in Calgary, it’s a stylish spot for quality North American branded clothing for men. There are cute, independent shops in Kensington, Marda Loop, and along 17th Avenue as well. For instance, Cinder & Sage, a tranquil loft space in the Mission district started by a local Calgarian, is where you can find conversation-starting pieces of modern jewellery created from rare and vintage materials. Purr is another funky clothing store unique to Calgary. With 3 locations in the city, this local business sells one-of-a-kind casual wear and designer items. If you’re more mainstream, don’t miss the much-hyped Chinook Centre mall. It’s got hundreds of brand name stores and restaurants, plus entertainment in the form of a movie theatre and bowling alley. There’s even a cool time capsule in the centre court and an Albertosaurus dinosaur statue at the east entrance.
Check out Calgary’s local music talent
Without a doubt, the music scene in Calgary is growing. With the newly developed National Music Center and communities like Inglewood that house local shows in their many pubs, live, local music is here to stay. Don’t be fooled though, some of these musicians are seasoned veterans and internationally experienced. For instance, Aaron Young is a guitarist, composer and producer, who by the age of 23 had already produced, arranged and performed on over 15 albums. He currently plays for a band called Ghost Boy with the talented violinist Denis Dufresne. No matter who you watch though, enjoying live music with friends is always a good time.
Find cool street art
All over the city, you’ll find awesome street art that will make you wonder why there isn’t more. Our favourites spots to find street art include Kensington, Reid’s blue wall on 17th Avenue, and numerous spots downtown. The best way to find it though is to put down the map and explore. You’ll be amazed at what you find!
Done all of that?! Great! Now head to Banff National Park just 1 hour away and start exploring the Rocky Mountains.
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*Side note: This is not a sponsored post. These are our own thoughts, opinions and interests.