Calgary Destination Guide
A modern city with a traditional soul, charming Calgary is the gateway to Canada’s glorious Rocky Mountains. Home to national parks and a pioneering spirit that really comes to life for the annual Calgary Stampede, Canada’s fourth most populated city is where to experience authentic Canada. With Mounties, cowboys, cattle and oil all making up a big part of the city’s culture, Calgary’s financial and population growth has also led to a cosmopolitan evolution. Much more than a place for a stopover, these days Calgary is also home to a burgeoning art, music, restaurant and café scene so make sure to leave plenty of time to unravel the city before strapping on the skis or hiking boots and heading for the hills.
Being situated where the prairies end the hills begins means Calgary is well endowed with beautiful natural beauty both within and beyond. The Rocky Mountain Park home to nearby Banff and Jasper are some of the main reasons people visit Calgary but the state of Alberta is home to many more national parks including the Dinosaur Provincial Park, home to some of the world’s most important dinosaur fossil finds. Calgary city itself also has many attractions including the Calgary Tower, Prince’s Island, and Stephen Avenue Walk, a historic district home to shops and restaurants restored in classic turn-of-the-20th century style. Save some time too for Heritage Park Historical Village which covers 127 acres in beautiful Glenmore Reservoir and gives visitors a glimpse into old world Calgary.
Visitors to Calgary are in for a gastric treat. Reflecting the city’s varied ethnic makeup, you’ll be able to taste everything from Ukrainian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Scandinavian, French and Japanese food on local menus. The most classic menu ingredient to look out for is the famous Alberta Beef, which is used in the Chinese-Canadian ginger beef dish, which was invented in Calgary in the 1970s. Location wise you’ll find the best and widest variety of restaurants in the city’s geographic core but Kensington, located north of the city, is quickly emerging as contender for the hippest if not best location to eat and drink in Calgary.
Where to Stay
Outside the peak tourist season in June and July you’ll have no problem finding somewhere excellent to stay in Calgary that suits your taste and budget. Downtown is where you’ll find most of the city’s lodging including Best Western, Sheraton and Hyatt Hotels. For something bounding with character, Hotel Le Germain in downtown Calgary is a welcome refuge for those that don’t like chain hotels, while Hotel Arts is a more budget friendly boutique hotel. The mid-range market is where travellers have by far the most choice and Hotel Alma and Delta Bow Valley Hotels are the pick of Calgary’s affordable hotel options and are perfectly suited to business travellers.
Shopping in Calgary matches the quality and prices found in Toronto and Vancouver and fashionistas will find plenty of outstanding items to fit into their shopping bags. Start your shopping spree at Calgary’s downtown shopping centre, The Core, before heading to Bankers Hall, one of Calgary’s most fashionable malls. From there, head to Kensington to trawl through a growing number of boutiques, or Stephen Avenue Walk, a historic outdoor pedestrian mall. When you’re getting low on dollars, don’t despair. Cross Iron Mills is home to many outlet stores and is one of the best places in Calgary to shop for a bargain.
Calgary like a Local
Time your trip well and you’ll be able to experience the Wild West without leaving the city. By far Calgary’s biggest local event is the 10-day Calgary Stampede. With rodeo, chuckwagon races, aboriginal dancing, live music and an agricultural fair, the rodeo brings around 1.25 million spectators and participants to the city each year and is billed as the “greatest outdoor show on earth”. Part of the annual calendar since 1912, the event takes place in locations all over town but Stampede Park, southeast of downtown is where the most exciting events like the rodeo competition take place.