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16 Wonderful Things to Do in Calgary

things to do in Calgary
Photo by Mack Male from Flickr

The city of Calgary located in western Canada is an awesome destination for many well-known activities and locations in the world. At Calgary, visitors can experience the spectacular Stampede Festival, be a part of the Calgary Flames, explore the Rocky Mountains, and other things to do in Calgary.

The city of Calgary with its beautiful Bow and Elbow rivers flowing through it is also known for its exquisite public art and an amazing skyline.

16 Wonderful Things to Do in Calgary

1. Learn the Wonders of Wildlife at the Calgary Zoo

The Calgary zoo is not just a place to see animals but it is regarded as a Global Authority for Animal Stewardship and Conservation. The Calgary zoo is a global centre like many accredited zoos and aquariums across the world for animal welfare, wildlife conservation, protection for endangered wildlife both in Canada and Globally.

One of the top five zoos in the world for conservation research, the Calgary zoo is a must place to see in the list of things to do in Calgary. Nestled in Bridgeland, Calgary, Alberta, the Calgary zoo is found towards the east of Canada’s downtown Calgary.

It can be reached through the Calgary C-train system, by car through the Memorial drive, and by foot or cycle through the Bow river pathway. The Calgary zoo is divided into many interactive exhibits in its vast 92 acres of land.

Things to Do in Calgary- The Calgary Zoo

  • Explore Destination Africa – It features the African rainforest at the TransAlta Rainforest and the African Savannah is home to hippos, giraffes, red river hogs, and a baobab tree. The mountain zebras, grey-crowned cranes, ostriches from another part of the Savannah, the gorillas, guerezas and mandrills, and a number of reptiles would be seen in the TransAlta Rainforest.
  • Be a part of the Land of Lemurs – 3 varieties of species of Lemurs can be seen here, the black and white ruffed lemur, the right-tailed lemur, and the red-fronted lemur.
  • Encounter the Canadian Wilds – Collection of North American birds and mammals can be seen here. Some examples are dall sheep, swift foxes, grizzly bears, black bears, and grey wolves to name a few.
  • Enjoy Bird watching at the Rocky Mountain Bird Aviary.
  • Tour the Dorothy Harvie Botanical Gardens and Enmax Conservatory.
  • Survey Eurasia because there is a collection of Eurasian Animals and it is home to the giant Panda.
  • Walk with the dinosaurs at the Prehistoric Park – The zoo contains life-sized dinosaurs made from the most complete dinosaur skeletons in a recreated geographical environment.

There can never be a dull moment at the Calgary zoo as the place is big enough to have an entire day trip. Among the things to do in Calgary, a visit to the Zoo will keep the entire family entertained for many hours.

2. Experience the Spectacular Winter Olympics at the Canada Olympic park

The Canada Olympic Park is the winter sports venue of the 1988 Olympics. It is the place to visit to experience the glory of the Olympics.

The visitors to the Park have some spectacular treats waiting for them. The Park is being used to train athletics and as a winter sports venue.

Things to Do in Calgary – Canada Olympic Park

The Olympic Park is open to the general public for recreational purposes and it sure will thrill anyone looking for an outdoor adventure. Here are some of the things you can do here:

  1. Ski, snowboard, or bobsleigh in the Winter season right in the city by using any of the three sections on the hill, the downhill racing section, the casual section, and the terrain park.
  2. Adventurers looking to enjoy a day racing on a Tube track can visit Acura Tube Park. With its10 lanes, tubers are rarely going to have a dull moment during any race.
  3. Enjoy Mountain Biking, Zipline at the Park, Summer Bobsleigh rides, or Mini golf during summer at the Canada Olympic Park

3. Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at The Heritage Park Historical Village

A historical park in Calgary that is worth a visit is the Heritage park historical village. Among the most fun things to do in Calgary, Heritage park historical village is also Canada’s second-largest living history museum.

The museum transports visitors to 19th century western Canada. The park’s historical buildings are decorated and furnished with artefacts from the 1860s till the 1950s. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Calgary is a visit to the Heritage Park historical village and the visitor is bound to enjoy this awesome place.

Anyone wishing an experience of living in the 19th century will seldom return disappointed from the Heritage park historical village.

Gasoline Alley Museum

The museum captures the rich history of western Canada. The vintage vehicles, antique gas pumps, and memorabilia of the automobile industry will leave visitors to the Gasoline alley museum a memorable day to remember.

4. Venture Out in Downtown Calgary

Downtown Calgary is located in central Calgary, Alberta, and population-wise it is the fourth largest city in Canada. With several residential, commercial, corporate, and multiple neighbourhoods such as Eau Claire, Chinatown, East village, Beltline, and the West End, Downtown Calgary is the commercial core of the city.

The west part of downtown Calgary is bordered by 14th street, the bow river, and the Prince’s island park on its north side. Elbow river is found on the east and on the south side of Downtown Calgary is the CPR mainline tracks.

Downtown Calgary’s commercial core is divided into the following districts:

  1. Government District – It is the informal subdivision of the downtown core. It is home to City Hall, the Calgary Public Library, and Calgary Police headquarters among the famous buildings in the city.
  2. Cultural District – Centered on Burns Building and the Olympic Plaza, the Cultural District has some of the city’s best cultural and educational venues. The Bow valley college, Glenbow Museum, and the Arts Commons to name a few.
  3. Entertainment District – Located on the 8th Avenue South, Entertainment District has several shopping centers such as Scotia Centre, The Core, and The Bay and is lined with many eco-friendly restaurants and shops.

Things to Do in Calgary – Downtown Calgary

Downtown Calgary is an area that offers visitors a host of activities and places to visit. With historical buildings, modern skyscrapers, art installations, and displays, and an endless number of eco-friendly restaurants, Downtown Calgary has much to offer to an enthusiastic traveller.

5. Experience the City of Calgary on Top of The Calgary Tower

To commemorate Canada’s centennial in the year 1967 and as a part of the urban renewal plan, the Husky Tower or the Calgary tower was set up and built-in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The tallest building in Calgary, the Calgary tower is 191 meters tall and has a free-standing observation deck on top.

A visit to the Calgary tower is among the top of the list of things to do in Calgary as it remains one of the favourite Calgary attractions open to the public. A great place for kids to enjoy, the Calgary tower is free for kids aged 3 and below. Kids would love to learn more about this major Canadian city from the top of the tower that is 191 meters up in the air.

The Chinese Cultural Centre, the Fort Calgary, the Heritage park historical village and Winsport are some of the landmarks in Calgary city that can be viewed from the observation gallery

The LED show at the Calgary Tower has 132 LED lights that perform a light show daily from 5 am to sunrise and once again from dusk until midnight. The light show also celebrates major holidays, cheers sports teams, and local festivals. Apart from the 360-degree view of the city, the Calgary Tower standing on top of the glass floor offers multimedia tours of the city.

The ultimate place to see and a wonderful place to experience the major Canadian city, visiting the Calgary Tower is one of the most awesome things to do in Calgary.

6. Take a Fun Day Trip to The Eau Claire Neighbourhood

The Eau Claire neighbourhood is in the North part of Downtown and south of the Bow River. One can never miss the riverside condominiums, shopping, restaurants, public plaza, and ever-popular urban parkland.

The area is popularly named the Festival District as a large urban park. The Prince’s island park plays host to many summer festivals such as the Calgary Folk Music Festival, Carifest, and Shakespeare in the Park.

7. Take a Much-needed Break at The Eau Claire Park

The parks at Eau Claire are lovely with their enormous playgrounds, picturesque riverside views, breathtaking art installations, and the perfect picnic spots. It can ever be a dull moment for the whole family at the Eau claire park as there are many creative ways to spend an eventful day.

The parks have some of the best spots to enjoy great outdoor activities that can never leave anyone bored. Some of the greatest outdoor experiences can become a reality with a trip to Lowes County Park.

If the passion is art then head straight to the Sculpture Tour Eau Claire or if it is to be a relaxing day on a hammock, then Owen Park would be the answer with its trees that are a perfect distance for a comfortable mock sesh.

So you see there is something for everyone at Eau claire park. A relaxing place to stroll by the banks of the Bow River, a unique shopping experience at the Eau claire market are some of the lovely things to do in Calgary Eau claire park.

8. Go on a Hiking Trail on Prince’s Island Park

An urban park named after Peter Anthony Prince, the founder of the Eau Claire Lumber Mill is a well-known park situated on an island on the Bow River. So if there is a dilemma on things to do in Calgary then please head straight to this urban park.

The Prince’s island park is part of the hiking trails system that lines both sides of the Bow River. A lovely piece of land that has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes creates a wetland environment

Some of the common birds that can be found at the park are the Canadian geese and the mallard ducks. As a host to many music festivals, the park is the place to visit Calgary during the Calgary music festival.

Things to Do in Calgary – Prince’s Island Park

  1. Cycle along the Peace bridge and enjoy the iconic landmark.
  2. Hike along the hiking trails system and enjoy the scenic location.
  3. Listen to world-class music at any of the music festivals organized at the park.

9. Float Down Leisurely Down the Bow River

A river in Alberta, Canada, the Bow River has its origins from within the Canadian Rockies and flows through the foothills onto the prairies and meets the Oldman River.

The Bow River runs through the city of Calgary. At Fort Calgary, the waters mingle with the Elbow River. Due to the moving water, Bow river is an amazing place to do paddle boarding.

Considered one of the most fun things to do in Calgary, Paddleboarding on the bow and elbow rivers would truly be an exhilarating activity for an outing at the river.

10. Have a Blast at The East village

Another terrific place located in Downtown Calgary is the East Village contained in the city’s Rivers District. Many believe that it has moved past the rough side of town and has become a favourite neighbourhood in Calgary.

Things to Do in Calgary- East Village

  1. Stroll down to the Simmons Building and have Coffee at the fine coffee shop Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. Then move on to the best bakery in town, The Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and have some of the best sourdough bread or any other sweet or savory treats.
  2. If you are keen to spend a lovely day trip with the family, then St Patrick Island park would be the best. Hiking Trails or a picnic would truly be enjoyable to parents and kids alike.
  3. Head to the EV Junction if you love food trucks or Street Shopping.
  4. All music buffs would love the Studio bell, home of the National music centre. The building is regarded as an architectural masterpiece and people enjoy a day spent here.
  5. Other interesting things to do in Calgary would be to have the specialty-rolled jelly cakes at the Mari Bakeshop. Owned by former pastry chefs from The French Laundry, it is a place not to be missed.

11. Take a Look at Calgary’s History at The Glenbow Museum

Some of the finest collections of Calgary’s history can be found at the Glenbow museum. For a history lover, this place is a must to visit to view its 30000 art pieces and over one million exceptional artefacts that will give a peek into Calgary history.

All one needs is half a day to visit this marvellous place that is so well organized despite the number of exhibits. This fascinating museum definitely would be one of the best things to do in Calgary.

12. Dive into Calgary History and Discover Fort Calgary

Northwest Mounted Police set up an indigenous site for colonial occupation called the Fort Calgary, which was prepared for the new settler-colonial community.

Fort Calgary remains a part of the significant history of Calgary that helps visitors to discover the past and create a better future for themselves.

Things to Do in Calgary – Fort Calgary

  1. Have a wonderful time looking at the interpretive center that gives a wonderful peek into the lives of Natives, early pioneers, and the northwest Mounted Police.
  2. Discover the history of the northwest Mounted Police.
  3. If you are interested in outside barracks, then take a look to view the exact replica of the fort.
  4. Enjoy a lovely Sunday brunch with the family at the Deane House.

Fort Calgary is a fun place that offers history buffs interactive exhibits, tours, and school trips.

13. Get Mesmerized Looking at the Mountains in The Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies have some of the most beautiful and highest mountains in Alberta. Spanning through the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the Canadian Rockies are a mountainous region that is filled with rugged, ice-capped mountain peaks, beautiful alpine lakes, a lovely nature centre to wildlife, and the best place for the greatest outdoor activities.

Things to Do in Calgary- The Canadian Rockies

  1. Ride the Banff Gondola – Take an adventure ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola.
  2. Enjoy Mountain biking and Hiking – Great for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, the alpine mountains are wonderful for hiking and mountain biking.
  3. Take an Open top Tour of the rocky mountains – Experience landmark views and beautiful photo-ops on a fun 90-minute tout on vintage-inspired automobiles.
  4. Go fishing, Canoeing, Kayaking, or take a dip at the pristine alpine lakes around Banff national park and Jasper National Park. Pyramid Lake is a wonderful place for some world-class skiing.
  5. Head to the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum at Jasper and The Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff to have a history lesson on the Canadian rocky mountains.
  6. Take a boat ride to the intriguing Spirit Island to make the trip to the Canadian Rockies a memorable one.
  7. To all train lovers, the Rocky Mountaineer would be one of the best ways to explore the Canadian Rockies in all its wild beauty.
  8. Wildlife watchers can spot some large animals such as black bears, grizzlies, moose coyotes, deer, and the bighorn sheep.
  9. Take a warm dip at the Hot Springs- The Canadian Rocky Mountains are home to Banff Upper Springs, Radium Springs, and Miette Springs wherein the lovely steamy hot mineral water is bound to relax a tired hiker.
  10. Take a Cruise on Lake Minnewanka.

14. Have a Fun Day at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

A terrific place to enjoy as a family, the sports hall of fame is located at the heart of Calgary. Those interested in sports or are keen to learn more about the athletes will love the Sports Hall of Fame.

Things to Do in Calgary- Canada’s Hall of Fame

  1. Take a trip to the Museum at Canada’s Sports Hall- Each exhibit at the Museum is designed to learn about the history of sports in Canada.
  2. Try the simulated rowing experience, the auto race, or shadow box with a heavyweight champion.
  3. Choose to be a goalie, ski jumper, goalie, or sports announcer at the Bounce Gallery.

A dream come true feeling for any sports lover, the museum will thoroughly stimulate the minds of any individual visiting it.

15. National Music Centre – Studio bell

A cultural centre in Calgary, the Studio bell is 160000 square feet National music centre. It has five floors of interactive exhibits that include a museum, performance hall, a live music centre, studios, a radio station, and a media centre.

Things to Do in Calgary- Studio Bell

  1. Play guitar, mix a track, and sing at the vocal booth.
  2. Prepare to be awestruck looking at the memorabilia from Canadian music icons.
  3. Listen to Kimbal Theatre Organ (dates back to 1924)- the device required for sound effects for silent films.

16. Ride The Rodeo at The Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is a ten-day event held every July in Calgary. It combines an annual rodeo, an exhibition, and a festival that attracts over one million visitors every year.

The world-famous Calgary Stampede is a community organization that seeks to preserve and promote the heritage and culture of the western community.

The community desires to create a gathering area that is available all year round by inviting serious-minded volunteers to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Calgary Stampede.

Things to Do in Calgary – Calgary Stampede

  1. Enjoy the free all-you-can-eat pancakes.
  2. Watch the barrel racing, the bull riding rodeo and bring on the cowboy spirit.
  3. Be entertained at the TransAlta Grandstand Show- Featuring singing, acrobats, and fireworks.
  4. For those that love life living on the edge, visit to the Rotary Dreamhome will pump the adrenaline up. Death-defying stunts and athletic feats are some of the features of the entertainment in store for visitors.
  5. Listen to some of the greatest Calgary Folk Music and international country artists.
  6. Participate in the Stampede Talent Search and get a chance to win over $15000 in prizes.
  7. Attend the Midway fair to win big at the Midway games. Try your luck at the plenty of games at the Carnival.

For whatever reason, one is heading to the Calgary Stampede, be sure to be entertained at the greatest outdoor show on Earth.

Other Things to Do in Calgary

  • Visit the Active learning park with kids to enjoy interactive imaginative play areas in the shape of the giant spiders, bats and frogs.
  • Watch the wonders of nature at the Inglewood bird sanctuary.

Calgary is obviously a city that has much to offer to its visitors. Whether the city is visited for the vibrant inner-city parks or to explore the festival season, there are various things to do in Calgary and the city will welcome any number of visitors to its fold with open arms.

Written by Angeline

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