Calgary’s claim to fame is definitely the exhilarating Calgary Stampede, held for ten days each July. But there’s also so much more to explore in this vibrant city. Year round, it’s a popular basecamp to adventure, for people who want to explore the Rocky Mountains but who prefer an urban vibe. Not sure what to do in Calgary? We’ve got you covered.
1. Explore Prince Island Park
An urban oasis located on the Bow River, Prince’s Island Park is home to events throughout the year including the Calgary Folk Music Festival and Shakespeare by the Bow in the summer. Take a stroll, enjoy a picnic lunch at the upscale River Cafe, or cycle along the river pathway.
2. Visit Heritage Park Historical Village
Canada’s largest living history museum is where you may meet fur traders, First Nations people, railway workers and prairie town folk, while exploring over 180 buildings and exhibits on 127 scenic acres. Heritage Park is ‘How the West was Once’ and a perfect family adventure
3. Immerse yourself in the exhibits at the Glenbow Museum
Whether you prefer history, art or modern pop culture, the Glenbow Museum has something for you. Permanent exhibitions include an extensive collection of Indigenous art and temporary galleries feature a mix of historic and contemporary, like a Christian Dior fashion exhibition.
4. Play a Theremin (and learn what it is) at the National Music Centre
Don’t miss this futuristic building in Calgary’s East Village. Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, features five floors of interactive displays, exhibits and memorabilia, including Randy Bachman’s American Woman guitar and Elton John’s composition piano.
5. Get an adrenalin rush at Winsport (Canada Olympic Park)
If you’re into outdoor adventure, make sure you visit this sit of the 1988 Winter Olympics. WinSport is a year-round recreational and athletic training facility. In winter, experience the thrills of luge, tubing, skiing or snowboarding on the longest super pipe in Western Canada. In summer zoom down the zipline or Skyline luge. Winsport is also home to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
6. Enjoy the best views in the city at the Calgary Tower
This icon defines the Calgary skyline! See the 360° panoramic views of the city and Rocky Mountains from atop the Calgary Tower. Step out onto the glass floor and watch the bustle of the city 160 metres below and visit Sky 360, the revolving restaurant for brunch, lunch, dinner or cocktails.
7. Discover history at Fort Calgary
Fort Calgary National Historic Site is the birthplace of the city of Calgary, where in 1875, the North West Mounted Police built a fort at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. The centre and its exhibits focus on the first 100 years of Calgary, including a reconstructed 1888 Barracks.
8. Catch an indie film at Globe Cinema
If you consider yourself a bit of a film buff, this is where to spend your evenings. They specialise in foreign and Canadian films – usually the hard-to-find ones.
9. Discover the world around you at TELUS Spark e
Children will love the interactive exhibits at Telus Spark, and parents will love seeing their little ones learn more about the world. The workshops and exhibits cover a range of science including geology, meteorology, astronomy, human physiology, and the various forms of energy.
10. Check out the local culinary scene at the Simmons Building
Check out this historic mattress factory building in the hip East Village, now re-purposed into three artisanal culinary experiences – a delicious bakery, coffee roasterie and an award-winning grill restaurant.
If you’ve visited Calgary outside of the Stampede, what was your favourite thing to do?