The city of Calgary lies at the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The capital of Alberta is one of the largest cities in Canada and is well known for the annual Stampede, the ’88 Winter Olympics, and being home to a large number of corporate headquarters. It’s also interesting to know that Calgary is young at heart, with a population that has an average age of 32. The city boasts a growing list of award-winning restaurants, bars, jazz clubs, casinos, and parks. It’s no surprise then that Calgary has been ranked on the global list of one of the best places to live. Here’s how you can spend a great weekend in this charming, vibrant, and laid-back city.
Calgary downtown is only a 20-minute drive from the airport. Stay close to 17th Avenue Retail and Entertainment District (RED), also known as Red Mile, home to several bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
Hotel Elan is a small boutique hotel that allows walking distance access to RED. It offers spacious suites with modern décor, at affordable prices. For more luxurious lodging, book a room at the historic Fairmont Palliser that was built in 1914, located in the heart of downtown adjacent to the Calgary Tower.
Calgary’s beer scene has picked up a lot in the past few years with 20 micro craft breweries currently in town – and that number is expected to double by next year. A great way to get introduced to the city’s breweries is through Calgary Brewery Tours, which provides tours that include transport, beer tastings, and snacks.
Some of the best places to drink craft beer in Calgary include Brewsters Brewing Company, Wild Rose Brewery, Bottlescrew Bill’s Pub, National Beer Hall, and The Craft Beer Market (which has over 100 beers on tap).
There are also eclectic cocktail and wine bars that are usually packed over the weekends, the latest being Trolley No 5 and Milk Tiger Lounge.
For a city its size, Calgary has quite a broad selection of casual cafés, farm-to-table eateries, trendy steakhouses, and restaurants that serve up international cuisine. Orient yourself with a Sunday morning visit to the Calgary Farmers Market. This year-round indoor food and art market sells fresh produce by Alberta area farms. There is also an international food court serving breakfast and lunch. Fuel up with coffee from Fratello Analog Café, warm croissants from Yum Bakery, sweet or savory pies from Simple Simon Pies, and fresh fruit juices or popsicles at Cherry Pit.
Have brunch at Sidewalk Citizens, located in newly restored Simmons building. The casual café serves delicious bourekas, shakshuka, Mediterranean-style salads, sandwiches, and handcrafted pastries.
Dining at Pigeonhole, rated the best new restaurant in Canada in 2015 by enRoute Magazine, is a must. This cozy restaurant serves unique combinations of local products in shareable tapas-size portions, such as foothills pine mushrooms with scrambled eggs, charred cabbage with Mimolette cheese, and Russian caviar service, to pair with an extensive spirits list from all over the world.
The award-winning Argentine wood fire grill restaurant Charbar features sustainably sourced meat and seafood, cooked to perfection, as well as a rooftop bar that has spectacular views of the Bow River.
With 30 public golf courses (open May – Oct), family-friendly activity parks, two fishing rivers flowing through the city, scenic neighborhoods, and a thriving arts and music scene, there is plenty to do during a weekend in Calgary.
Spend a day exploring Heritage Park, Fort Calgary, and the East Village. Visit the newly opened Studio Bell, home of the National Music Center, which houses Canadian music history artifacts, memorabilia, awards, as well as the Rolling Stones Mobile Recording Studio. This is also where Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Fleetwood Mac recorded classic albums. While there are many live music venues in the city, Jubilations Dinner Theatre’s original three-act musical comedies combined with delicious four-course meals is very unique, while next door, Aussie Rules Piano Bar is perfect for a sing-along with friends or just to request your favorite songs.
A photo posted by Calgary Stampede Rodeo (@cs_rodeo) on
Calgary Stampede is the biggest rodeo event in North America and takes place over 10 days in July. The entire city comes alive as shops and restaurants are decorated with hay, locals dress up like cowboys, and contestants from all over the world fly in to win big sums of cash. Spectators can enjoy grandstand show, concerts, midway rides, food, shopping, art displays, and much more.
In the winter, head a few minutes outside the city to Canada Olympic Park, site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, where you can bobsleigh, luge, ski, skate, and snowboard. The park is also open in the summer for summer bobsleigh, mini golf, zip lining, and hockey.
For a full day or weekend trip from Calgary, drive to Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park. Mountains, glaciers, ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine lakes are a few of the landscapes that span through 2,500 square miles of the park. Adventure and nature enthusiast can enjoy a range of summer and winter activities. There are many lodges and a few upscale hotels in the park, though some visitors opt to stay at the more affordable ones in Calgary and commute for the day.
Do you have a favorite spot in Calgary we should know about? If so, please ley us know in the comments section below.