Calgary has so much more to explore than a ten-day cowboy event. Here are 52 things that could keep you busy in Calgary without having to step a foot onto Stampede grounds.
Calgary gets thousands of visitors every year in July for the Calgary Stampede. To those looking to vacation in Calgary, it may seem as if this much-hyped event dominates the attractions in the city. Sure you have the mountains to the West, but the Stampede is pretty much the standard when it comes to tourists in the city.
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1. Eat at Chicken on the Way. This tiny take-out chicken joint is a favorite among the locals, and has been around forever, so you can say you took in a little piece of culinary history during your visit.
2. Dine at Jubilations Dinner Theatre. This small venue combines your night’s entertainment with upscale dining. Most plays are family-friendly and tickets won’t break your travel budget.
3. Catch a Flames Game at the Saddle Dome. If you decide to brave the cold Canadian winter, make sure you get some tickets to see the Calgary Flames in action. And if you do go, make sure to have some flames gear.
4. Check out Kensington. The hot spot for everything yuppie in Calgary, Kensington has some of the most fabulous shops and restaurants that cannot be passed over.
5. Get a little Vietnamese culture without leaving the city. Calgary is chosen home of thousands of Vietnamese immigrants, meaning that delicious Vietnamese food can be had on almost every corner, offering incredibly low prices for fantastic food.
6. Try your hand at fly-fishing on the Bow River. One of the benefits to building a city on the bank of a river is you can fish without leaving city limits. Click here if in deed of some pointers or gear.
7. Tour the Glenbow museum. Filled to the brims with every kind of museum concept you could think of. Several stories feature cultural history, artwork, and natural sciences.
8. Explore the Military Museums. Situated in Calgary’s old military base, these museums offer a nice look into Canada’s military history.
9. Check out CrossIron Mills shopping center. Just outside of Calgary this will rival West Edmonton Mall for shopping and entertainment with some of the largest outlet stores in the country.
10. Stroll down Stephen Avenue and grab a bite. Crawling with panhandlers and unique entertainment, Stephen Avenue boasts some of the best patios in the city.
11. Spend an afternoon at Prince’s Island Park. In the middle of the Bow River next to the downtown core, Prince’s Island lends some peaceful tranquility and beautiful walking paths.
12. Shop at Eau Claire. Full of one-of-a-kind stores owned by local vendors, Eau Claire is a great place to look for souvenirs and gifts.
13. Go skating at the Olympic Oval. Designed for the ‘88 Olympics, the Olympic Oval now offers public skate times year round. Skate rentals are also available.
14. Dine at Peters’ Drive-In. Peters’ has been serving up perfect burgers, delicious fries and the best milkshakes in the province for 45 years. It is a staple of the Calgarian diet. Just make sure you have some cash, since Peter’s has been so dedicated to maintaining the historic vibe they neglected to install debit machines.
15. Cool down with the locals rafting down the Bow River. Make sure you wear a life jacket though because there are always police ready to hand out fines to those not practicing safe rafting.
16. Check out the Telus World of Science. This is a great destination, especially if you are traveling with children or those who are young at heart.
17. Grab a double scoop from My Favorite Ice Cream. Near the Military Museums, this little shop offers live piano music and incredible ice cream. You can even get yourself a free scoop if you entertain the shop with your musical prowess for 10 minutes!
18. Explore Heritage Park. Fun for kids and adults alike, Heritage Park is a summer destination for most Calgarians. Ride the steamboat, hop on the train or visit the many heritage points within the park.
19. Stroll the Red Mile. Once known as party central during the Calgary Flames’ playoff streak, the Red Mile is also one of the shopping and eating hubs in the city. Packed with funky independent shops and a blend of fine dining and clubs, it is a must on any visitor’s itinerary.
20. Find your groove at Folk Fest. Every summer Calgary is lucky enough to play host to one of the largest folk music festivals in Canada. Every year amazing bands are featured in the line-up and the atmosphere is unrivaled.
21. Chow down at Tubby Dog. Located on 17th avenue in downtown Calgary, Tubby Dog provides some of the weirdest hot dogs known to man. They are open incredibly late and occasionally have live music.
22. Buy fresh at the Farmer’s Market. If you are planning an extended stay in the city make sure to stop by the Farmer’s Market to stock up on fresh and locally grown fare.
23. Climb the Calgary Tower. It is true, if you take the stairs you can get to the top of the Calgary Tower for free, but rest assured there are also functioning elevators. Providing a beautiful view of the city, the Tower is also home to revolving restaurants.
24. Tour Fort Calgary. Situated between Inglewood and the downtown core, Fort Calgary offers a glimpse into the history of Calgary.
25. See the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Featuring nature trails and a chance to see over 270 varieties of bird, the Bird Sanctuary is a free activity everyone can enjoy.
26. Hike through Fish Creek or Carburn Park. Small hubs of forest within the city, these parks feature beautiful walking paths and a chance to see some wildlife. Deer, birds and all sorts of other animals call these parks home.
27. Enjoy Devonian Gardens. On the upper floors of TD Square, Devonian Gardens is a beautiful place to enjoy a coffee or a good book. You can also feed the giant fish that live in the artificial rivers.
28. Visit the animals at the Calgary Zoo. What trip is complete without visiting the local zoo? Not only does Calgary have your traditional zoo line-up, it also has a dinosaur park guests can saunter through.
29. Check out Afrikadey! This is a yearly summer event that celebrates the African community thought music, dance and artistry of all kinds. Held at Prince’s Island Park, it is a weeklong party that everyone is invited to.
30. Pee in the Robot Potty. Located on 17th avenue in downtown Calgary, the Robot Potty adds a new level of technology to your bathroom activities. Private and free, it is truly an experience to be had.
31. Indulge at Crave Cupcakes. A favorite indulgence among Calgarians, Crave offers a beautiful array of cupcakes perfect for any occasion. A must-have for any tourist with a sweet-tooth.
32. Traverse the Plus 15 System. Almost all of Calgary’s downtown buildings are connected by covered bridges. It’s an interesting way to see downtown Calgary and at times an adventure finding the next connection.
33. Take a stroll down Memorial Drive. Calgary’s monument to those who have died in war, Memorial provides an excellent place to bike, walk or rollerblade along the Bow River.
34. Dine on the patio at the River Café. Found in beautiful downtown Calgary on Prince’s Island Park, this is a fine dining establishment with a focus on great wine. Make sure to book your reservations, as this is one of the most popular spots in Calgary.
35. Play Wingo at Broken City. Combine your entertainment and a unique dining experience into one hipster adventure in downtown Calgary by eating wings as you score big at BINGO.
36. Grab lunch at Spolumbos. A perfect Italian Deli found in Inglewood, Spolumbo’s is a hit with Calgarians. It is a great place to get some lunch after a morning of shopping in Inglewood.
37. Visit Art Central. Located conveniently on a C-Train platform, Art Central carefully blends galleries and shopping into a wonderful mix.
38. Take in Canada Olympic Park. If you brave the Calgary winter, make sure to test the snow at COP, one of the best landmarks in all of Alberta. Even if you visit in the summer, this piece of Olympic history is a must-see.
39. Get your party on at Flame’s Central. Hockey season or not, Flames Central is a great place to meet local Calgarian hockey fans and enjoy all sorts of sporting events.
40. Party hard at Aussie Rules. Combining great food, drinking and dueling pianos, Aussie Rules literally has everything you need for a great night out. Make sure you get reservations since it is one of the most popular destinations in the city.
42. Have some fun at the Talisman Centre. Both a training and leisure centre, the Talisman boasts some of the best athletic facilities and is open to everyone. Perfect for athletic vacationers or those looking for a little recreational fun.
43. Enjoy the Youthlink Interpretive Centre. This attraction is run by the Calgary Police Service. It’s informative, fun and located in the downtown core. It is great for kids and families looking for something a little different to enjoy.
44. Use Calgary as your starting point for the Cowboy Trail. The Cowboy Trail is a scenic tour of the Alberta prairies, the foothills, and the Rocky Mountains that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
45. Catch an exhibition at Spruce Meadows. World renowned for its horse-jumping shows, Spruce Meadows offers a beautiful view of the Rockies and a unique activity to include in your travels.
46. Explore Chinatown. Calgary might not be known for Chinatown, but it has some of the best eating and shopping in the city. Best of all it is located along the Bow, so the view in any direction is lovely.
47. Play at the Silver Dollar Casino. It may be a casino, but the Silver Dollar also has the best bowling alley in the city. While minors cannot enter the casino, bowling is open to all.
48. Have fun at Calaway Park. It may be small as far as amusement parks go, but it is certainly big and entertaining enough to spend the day at! Calaway Park is just outside of the city but is well worth the drive.
49. Play at the Children’s Festival. Every spring the International Children’s Festival takes over the downtown area, with a vast array of performances and activities for child and adult alike.
50. Have a pint at the Wild Rose Brewery. Offering distinct and hand crafted brews, the Wild Rose is the perfect way to unwind or spend a Sunday in Calgary.
51. Head down to Inglewood. One of the shopping hotspots in Calgary, Inglewood features many adorable small shops that are independently owned and operated. After a day of shopping you can always grab a bite at one of the many fabulous restaurants.
52. Take in First Thursdays. On the first Thursday of every month, art and culture in Calgary is celebrated by a small arts collective that organizes and promotes events around the city. Check out the brochure to pick which events and exhibits to see.