Situated approximately 50 miles east of the Canadian Rockies, with a population exceeding 1.1 million, Calgary forms Canada’s third largest municipality and is the biggest city in the province of Alberta. Known for its vast sprawl of grassland that conjures up images of the Wild West, ‘CowTown is a melting pot of diverse cultures and nationalities, comprising as many as 120 languages in total.
Annually, Calgary almost equals its population with respect to visitors, attracting nearly a million tourists, who come to enjoy everything the city has to offer, from the ‘Calgary Stampede’, to its high performance aerial trampoline at the indoor center. Despite the first settlers only arriving as recently as 1875, the city has steadily grown to become one of the most exciting destinations in Canada, securing its place on the list of top places to visit for vacationers and travelers alike.
Here are some of the top things to do in order to enjoy as memorable a trip to Calgary as possible.
Get the best views in town
Getting to know your surroundings is a great place to start when visiting a new city, and nowhere offers better views than from the top of the Calgary Tower. While it might not be able to compete with Toronto’s CN Tower – standing 363 meters shorter – you will still be able to get a fantastic bird’s eye view of downtown Calgary from the observation deck, as well as capturing a glimpse of the Canadian Rockies to the west.
However, its main attraction consists of a revolving restaurant, known as Sky 360, which makes a complete rotation every hour to give customers a full 360-degree view whilst they enjoy their food and drinks.
Entrance to the tower currently stands at 18 Canadian dollars, and includes an audio guide that reveals interesting details into the history, planning, construction and architecture of the building.
Take in some nature
Once you have made your way down (safely) from the tower, it is time to get a nature fix by heading over to one of Calgary’s numerous parks, taking up 20,000 acres of the region.
Nose Hill Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and recently underwent a program of revitalization that has seen it become immensely popular with hikers, cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, and other outdoor enthusiasts all year round.
Furthermore, if you are not already tired of checking out Calgary’s skyline from your visit to the tower, then you could follow the wooden stairs taking you up to McHugh’s Bluff – named after Felix McHugh, one of the city’s earliest entrepreneurs – to view CowTown from a different perspective.
Some of the city’s other parks worth visiting include:
- Fish Creek Provincial Park
- Bowness Park
- Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
- Edworthy Park
- Confederation Park
- Central Memorial Park
- Prince’s Island Park
Enjoy an evening of music
Home to the National Music Centre, Studio Bell is a 160,000 square foot structure housing five floors of interactive exhibitions, including a ‘Hall of Fame’ dedicated solely to Canadian artists and their music.
Furthermore, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a musician, there are lots of studios available to hire out, where you can test your vocals, have a strum of a guitar, or even try the famous Kimball Theatre Organ, one of the last remaining ones of its type in America.
The National Music Centre holds numerous festivals every year, as well as a regular program of concerts, including performances from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Like the tower, general admission costs $18 for adults and is cheaper if you go in a group.
Embark on an afternoon of shopping
Spanning three blocks and comprised of more than 150 retailers, The Core Shopping Centre is the perfect place to begin an afternoon of retail therapy in Calgary’s downtown area. It is estimated that close to a quarter of a million shoppers pass through Core each week, in search of everything from a designer handbag to a slice of cake.
Kensington Village, located nearby, offers a pedestrian-friendly zone principally made up of independent stores and cafes where people can spend entire weekends browsing old records, second-hand books and vintage clothing. The area is also host to a number of different outdoor festivals, including ‘Christmas in Kensington Village’, ‘Bizarre Bikes & Bazaar’, and the ‘Sun and Salsa festival’ every July.
All this makes for a wide-ranging hub of interesting and artsy things to see and do when you’re all done with shopping.