Photos provided by Panoramio are under the copyright of their owners
Calgary Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in CalgaryWhere to Stay
Calgary has a cosmopolitan downtown which makes it a great place to stay if you want to be near the popular restaurants along Stephens Avenue or Prince’s Island Park. For outdoor adventure enthusiasts, head about an hour-and-a-half away to Banff, a resort town known for its mountainous surroundings, hot springs and Lake Louise for hiking, skiing and biking.
Caution: The LRT (light rail transit) stops running at midnight and doesn't start again until 5 am, and on the weekend only shows up every hour.
Hot Tips: Hotels in downtown Calgary give you easy access to Prince's Island which has a splash park for kids, Shakespeare in the Park, festivals, a sculpture garden, hiking trails and several picnic sites all within walking distance.
What to Eat
The Chinatown restaurant district, in downtown Calgary, is the fourth largest Chinatown in Canada with several Asian-influenced restaurants. Don’t forget to check out Stephen Avenue Mall situated along 8 Avenue SW (Stephen Avenue) and spans from 1 Street SE to 4 Street SW. In addition to an eclectic mix of boutiques, this bustling area features live performances, music, festivals as well as some of Calgary’s finest restaurants, pubs, cafés and bars. The 4th Street Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) is 13 short blocks of historic sites, 35 restaurants from around the world and original sculptures lining the streets.
Hot Tips: Calgary's oldest neighborhood, Inglewood, is in central Calgary and combines events, shopping and the arts within its dining experiences.
Things to See
For indoor fun, hit the Glenbow Museum (enjoy a hummus wrap at Manny's Cafe in Glenbow for a quick lunch) and then head to the Olympic Oval for ice skating. Or catch a lunchtime show at the Lunchbox Theatre in the Calgary Tower, then enjoy an afternoon snack or dinner at Sky 360, the revolving restaurant just 762 steps up the Calgary Tower. For nature lovers, Canada Olympic Park offers ski/snowboard lessons as well as ziplining and summer bobsleigh adventures. There is so much to see and do in and around Calgary, so think about your interests and plan!
Hot Tips: A trip to Calgary wouldn't be complete without a visit to Banff and the Canadian Rockies.
Places to Party
The Calgary Stampede hosts all sorts of events from musicians like Bon Jovi and Tim McGraw to hockey games. Dress up and head to West Restaurant & Bar, a mammoth-sized club in the Scotia Centre which spans three stories and features seven bars. Indie music lovers might want to check out the Marquee Room at the Uptown Stage and Screen where live bands play on Saturday. Uptown 17th Avenue is a densely populated area known for its restaurants and nightclubs. Prince’s Island Park is a great place to sip a glass of wine, dine in style or check out the nightlife.
Avoid: If you don't like crowds, avoid Uptown 17th Avenue; considered Calgary's primary "party street" by locals. The street also "dead-ends" at the Stampede Grounds on its east side, and is thus central to the party-like atmosphere that overtakes the city during the Calgary Stampede festival.
Hot Tips: Head to the second floor for dancing at West Restaurant & Bar, but be sure to make your way up the central staircase to a 15,000-square-foot rooftop patio dotted with cabanas and fireplaces.
Where to Shop
Stephen Avenue Mall is Calgary's only outdoor pedestrian mall set within a historic setting. Uptown 17th Avenue is a dense concentration of 400 one-of-a-kind retail stores, eateries, pubs, restaurants and coffee houses close to downtown Calgary and Stampede Park. For more local flavor, head to the eclectic and historic district of Calgary called Inglewood. Close to the zoo and only minutes from downtown, the Galleria represents more than 450 local and Canadian artists, potters and fine handcrafters. It is the largest store of its kind in Canada, with more than 8,000 square feet of display area to browse and enjoy.
Best Local Souvenir: Inukshuks, moccasins, maple products, jewelry, native art and other items handmade by local artisans which can be found at the Galleria in Inglewood.
Ready for Your Dream Vacation?
From quiet beginnings as an outpost for the North West Mounted Police, Calgary gained prestige after the railroad pushed through, linking the east and the west. Farming and ranching were prominent then, capitalizing on the wide expanses of prairie. In the early part of the century, oil was discovered, and the city's fortunes changed forever. An influx of money and people pushed Calgary's growth, and the city was largely built in a generation, thanks to oil and the money it produced. Much of that wealth was directed into the city, endowing it with recreational and cultural facilities to rival its shining office towers. Oil still drives the city, as does technology, and the money remains as well, giving the city a sophistication that rivals Canada's more established cities. It's also beautiful, a gateway between the prairies and the awesome grandeur of the Rockies. It's home to the University of Calgary and a proud cowboy culture that revels in the annual Stampede celebration. In a few incredible decades, the city has transformed itself into a world power and presence, evidenced in part by its hosting of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Friendly, magnanimous, young, and well-educated, it shows no signs of faltering in that climb.