Calgary’s claim to fame is definitely the exhilarating Calgary Stampede that is held every year in July. But there’s a lot more to the city than that. Outside of July it’s a popular stop off for people wanting to explore the Rocky Mountains, but who would prefer a city-vibe as opposed to the rustic feel of Banff and Jasper. Not sure what to do when you’re enjoying the Stampede or driving through the mountains? We have you covered.
1. Explore Prince Island Park
Prince Edward Park is the perfect place to spend a bright summer’s day. Here you’ll find bike paths, grassy fields and the upscale River Island restaurant. Plus, if you visit in July you’ll find the Folk Music Festival, and Shakespearean productions are a common occurrence throughout the summer.
2. Visit Heritage Park
Head 10km south of downtown Calgary, and step more than a century back in time. Here you’ll find 10 hectares of re-created town, with a fort, grain mill, church and school. This is always a great hit with families, and it a must-do if you’re in Calgary on a family holiday.
3. Walk around the exhibits at Glenbow Museum
Whether you prefer history, art or modern pop culture – the Glenbow Museum has something for you. Permanent exhibitions tend to focus on times gone by, while the temporary exhibitions are contemporary – and sometimes a little daring.
4. Play a guitar at National Music Centre
It’s impossible to miss this futuristic building in the East Village of Calgary – but what is inside is even more amazing. Their collection spans more than 450 years of music technology and innovation, including the guitar Guess Who used to record American Woman and a harmonica signed by Alanis Morissette.
5. Ski at Canada Olympic Park
If you’re into winter and outdoor sports, make sure you visit the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. It is still used for athletic training, but is open to the general public for recreational purposes. In the winter you will find facilities for downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, bobsleigh and luge. While summer activities include mountain biking, summer festivals, zip-lining and summer camps. It is also home to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
6. Climb the Calgary Tower
Experience a 360° view of the city, the Bow River and Rocky Mountains from the 626 foot tall Calgary Tower. At the top you’ll also find SKY 360 – a rotating restaurant with lunch, dinner, brunch, children’s and cocktails menus.
7. Discover history at Fort Calgary Historic Park
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. Learn at the Telus World of Science
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. Escape it all at Fish Creek Provincial Park
Hidden in the southwest corner of Calgary, you’ll feel a million miles away from the bustle of city in this sanctuary. Perfect for an afternoon stroll, you’ll find a labyrinth of intertwining paths, as well as the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, Sikome Aquatic Facility and Annie’s Bakery.
If you’ve visited Calgary outside of the Stampede, what was your favourite thing to do?