Looking for all the best things to do in Calgary? This guide has got you covered!
Exploring this large city in Alberta, Canada, is a fantastic cultural and historical experience. Calgary is a diverse city full of unique experiences and people. And, with all the different cultures, Calgary also has an incredible food and nightlife scene.
Whether you are exploring various parts of Canada or just planning to visit Alberta, Calgary is a great city to add to your itinerary. You’ll get a good mix of indoor and outdoor activities, making it the perfect city to visit in any season.
You’ll surely dread leaving when the time comes. No matter why or when you’re visiting Calgary though, make sure to add these top eight things to your itinerary!
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Explore Downtown Calgary
While many of the other attractions on this list are in downtown Calgary, spending time exploring downtown’s food and drink scene is a must. Pubs, coffee shops, and diverse restaurants are on almost every street.
Downtown also has many green spaces, including Humpy Hollow and Peace Park that are perfect for relaxing. They’re also free if you need a break from spending or are on a budget. Check out Devonian Gardens for an indoor botanical garden with over 100 different trees and 500 different species.
In the evening, there’s almost always live music at one of the many bars or restaurants. Make sure to grab a seat on a patio so you can get incredible views of the Calgary skyline to enjoy the music and sounds of the city.
Art galleries are also throughout the city, offering free viewings. Support local artists by stopping in. Sometimes the artists are even there discussing the thoughts and inspiration behind their art.
Glenbow Museum is one of the top Calgary tourist spots. Along with permanent exhibits, each month features a new art topic. Many of the revolving exhibits are based on political and societal movements. It’s a great chance to see art and learn about current Canadian events.
The best way to visit the museum is to take a self-guided tour. Audio headsets and pamphlets are available so you can stroll through the exhibits while listening to the recordings. You can also learn about the history of the Glenbow house and how the past and present renovations have made it one of the most visited places in Canada.
Glenbow is currently undergoing renovations to make the museum even larger and to allow it to better serve the community. They are currently expected to be closed until February 2022. Check before you go to make sure they’re open!
Canada Olympic Park (WinSport)
Canada Olympic Park is open for all seasons and has activities for summer and winter to keep you entertained! Winsport is part of the Olympic Park. It’s still used for professional training, so you might be able to witness athletes performing while you’re there.
If you’re visiting in the warm months, you can visit the Acura Tube Park and slide down ten different waterslides. They also have mountain biking and zip lining in the summer months. All equipment for biking and tubing can be rented, so no need to bring your own.
In the winter, you can bobsleigh, snowboard, or ski. This is a perfect option for those who want to experience winter sports without actually leaving the city. Many ski destinations are outside of Calgary, but Canada Olympic Park is right in the middle of the city.
Canada Olympic Park is located at 88 Canada Olympic Rd SW, Calgary, AB T3B 5R5, Canada. They’re open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Single-day passes start at $43.00.
Heritage Park Historical Village
For history buffs, the Heritage Park Historical Village is one of the top places to visit in Calgary. Not only is it considered a museum, but it’s also an entire village is dedicated to the history and culture of Canada. It’s sprawled across 127 acres of land with over 180 exhibits.
The village showcases different periods of history from the 1860s to the 1930s. You can climb aboard the antique steam train or sail on the paddleboard ship to explore the park. There’s also an entire farm ranch where you can feed animals and learn about the history of ranching in Canada.
All the workers in the village wear traditional 1800s and 1900s clothing. When you visit, you really feel like you’ve been brought back in time to enjoy Canada’s western history.
Located right in downtown Calgary, you’ll find Calgary Tower. If you’re not afraid of heights, you can go to the top of the 190.8-meter (626 feet) tower to get a stunning view of the city and Alberta skyline. The top of the tower also has a restaurant and lounge with an award-winning wine list and seasonal chef specials.
For those afraid of heights, you can still enjoy the tower from below. Every morning before sunrise and every night from sunset to midnight, the tower has an LED light show. You can catch the daily standard light show or a special show for holidays.
On every national holiday or when raising awareness for certain causes, the light shows will use more than 132 colors.
Prince’s Island Park
Prince’s Island Park is a huge green space right in Downtown Calgary. You can tour the park on one of the main trails that guide you through the history of Calgary. All the walking and hiking trails have plaques and interpretive signs explaining Prince Island Park’s habitats and wildlife.
Calgarians often use the park for recreational activities or for exercising, so you’ll feel just like a local as you wander around and explore the park activities. During the summer, you can have a picnic or take the kids to play on one of the many playgrounds. The flower gardens are also exquisitely designed and vibrant in the spring and summer months.
During the winter, you can ice skate on the lagoon or go skiing in certain areas of the park. The River Cafe is open every month except January. Grab a bite to eat after a long day outdoors.
Prince’s Island Park is located at 698 Eau Claire Ave SW, Calgary, AB, Canada. They’re open every day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Entering the park is free, but you will have to pay for skating, skiing, or any other special event happening in the park.
Spend Some Time in the Canadian Rockies
Of course, you can see the Canadian Rockies from downtown Calgary. But, how do you get there? Making a day trip to the Rockies or spending a night there is a must since you are so close.
Calgary has daily shuttles to the mountains, or you can drive yourself. From Calgary to Banff (the closest part of the Rockies), it’s about a 2-hour drive.
You May Also Like The Best Banff Activities That You Will Love
Banff is full of activities perfect for summer and winter. Lake Louise in Banff is a popular destination in the summer for hiking, paddleboarding, or kayaking.
If you want to go skiing or snowboarding, Banff is also a resort town full of places to stay a night or two. You can rent gear to get cruising down the snow.
If sports are not your thing, spend time in Banff city full of restaurants, pubs, and souvenir shops. Going to the foothills of the Rockies is an amazing way to experience Canada and to get away from the business of the city—even if for just a day.
How to Get to Calgary
The easiest way to get to Calgary from other parts of Canada or from the United States is by plane. Calgary International Airport (YYC) is one of the largest airports in Canada. You can easily get a flight to YYC on most international airlines from many U.S. cities.
If you’re driving, Calgary has great connections to the Trans-Canada Highway and Alberta Highway 2.
How to Get Around Calgary
If you drove to Calgary or got a rental car from the airport, keeping the car is one of the best ways to get around the city. Calgary is huge. Chances are you will be going to attractions from various parts of the city. Having your own car makes it easier to get one from one place to another.
Calgary also has an extensive and reliable public transit system. They have a complete bus network and two light rail transit lines. You can also take day trips to and from Calgary using the ROAM transit system or the Airdrie Transit System.
When to Visit Calgary
The time of year to visit Calgary depends on what you want your itinerary to look like. Winter in Calgary is pretty harsh, but if you’re looking to ski or snowboard, it’s the perfect time to visit.
Prices for ski resorts will always be high during this time, but prices in town will drop because the freezing temperatures deter many people from visiting.
For the best weather, visit from June through August. The weather is mild and perfect for roaming around the city. Prices for hotels can be high during this time, though, since it’s the main tourist season. To visit Calgary before hotel prices soar, you can try going April to May, or September before it gets too cold.
Where to Stay in Calgary
Budget: Best Western Plus Village Park Inn is close to the Glenbow Museum, the Calgary Tower, and Devonian Garden. The rooms are basic but have everything you need including comfortable beds, mini-fridges, and microwaves. The suite options have separate living areas and pull-out sofas. Breakfast and parking are free!
Mid-range: The Westley Calgary Downtown is a great place to book a room if you plan to spend most of your time downtown. The light rail station is only a 5-minute walk away. Prince’s Island Park and the Calgary Zoo are less than a 15-minute drive away. The rooms are exquisitely decorated and offer rainfall showers and wet bars. There’s even a Mexican restaurant in the hotel!
Luxury: The Westin Calgary offers a refined stay only a 5-minute walk away from the Core Shopping Center. Enjoy the indoor pool and fitness center when you need a break from the city. The hotel has a fantastic bar, a cocktail lounge, and a steakhouse on-site.
Where to Eat in Calgary
Ten Foot Henry is one of the most popular restaurants in Calgary. Reservations are required, and they are strict about arrival times, so make sure to be on time! All the food is fresh and made with seasonal ingredients. Try the grilled striploin or seared scallops. They also have an extensive wine list and cocktail menu.
Himalayan Restaurant is a casual dining option with traditional Nepalese food. Try the clay oven-roasted lamb or chili stir fry chicken. The cream curries are also amazing. Their menu is extremely diet-friendly, with tons of gluten-free and vegan choices.
Native Tongues Taqueria is the place to go if you’re craving Mexican food while in Calgary. The tequila sampling is a great time, and going during happy hour is a must when visiting this restaurant. Try the carnitas tacos or the pork belly for the best flavors.
All of the Best Things to Do in Calgary are Waiting For You!
Ready to find all the best things to do in Calgary? Planning your trip has never been easier with this complete guide. Calgary is an incredible city full of culture, history, and sightseeing opportunities.
If you love winter sports, it’s also a top destination for skiing. No matter what you choose to do when you visit Calgary, you’re sure to have a great time.
Have you recently visited Calgary? What’s one activity you would recommend for first-time visitors?
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