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17 MUST-DO Indoor Activities in Calgary

17 MUST-DO Indoor Activities in Calgary

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Calgary sits on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains and is also home to a large international airport making it one of the most common places to fly into when exploring the Rocky Mountains. While it’s location allows it to have a ton of amazing outdoor activities, there are also a number of great indoor activities to do in Calgary as well!

That’s right, there are plenty of fun things to do completely indoors in Calgary that I’m sure you’ll love. This is important because, let’s face it, Calgary doesn’t always have the best weather. In fact, Calgary in the winter is very cold and you’ll likely be searching for ways to enjoy your time indoors.

In case you encounter rain, snow, or other weather mishaps during your trip to Calgary, here is a list of the best indoor activities in Calgary to choose from!

Indoor Activities in Calgary

1. Watch a Flames NHL game

The Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary
This unique-looking stadium is an icon in Calgary! Photo credit – Depositphotos Rcliff

The Calgary Flames are the pride of the city and only one of two NHL teams in Alberta. So, it should come as no surprise that one of the best indoor activities in Calgary is watching a game!

NHL games in Calgary are held at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The venue allows you to stay indoors and enjoy the game no matter the weather. The Saddledome is somewhat of a landmark in Calgary, it’s the only building with a roof that curves like a saddle and has been compared to the brim of a cowboy’s hat.

Be sure to show up early to pick up your Calgary Flames gear and browse all the sports memorabilia on display throughout the building. Getting tickets to a game can be hard. You can try on the official website, however, if not available, try Stub Hub for second-hand tickets off a trusted site, or, local Facebook groups such as Calgary Marketplace (although risky if you have no experience buying safely.)

2. Indoor rock climbing

the inside of one of the Calgary Climbing Centres
A popular place in Calgary! Photo Credit: Calgary Climbing Centre

Rock climbing is a great indoor adventure activity! Just because you’re inside, doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting things to do, and indoor rock climbing is the perfect example of that.

In Calgary, you’ll find the Calgary Climbing Centre, a large company offering multiple facilities located throughout the city. Their locations include Chinook, Stronghold, Hanger, Rocky Mountain, and South Calgary. Each facility offers a wide variety of programs suitable for all age groups and skill levels. They have anything from beginner lessons to competitive, and everything in between.

My favorite location has to be their newest gym, the Rocky Mountain location on the west side of Calgary. This gym is seriously huge with a unique Climb Park unlike anything else you’ve probably ever seen before in a climbing gym. Plus, they also have an onsite bar serving up local brews on tap that you can enjoy after some climbing. – bonus!

A day climbing pass starts at $22 CAD for an adult with discounted rates available for youth and children. If you plan on visiting more than once, consider getting a month-long pass or a 10 visit pass that works out cheaper per visit.

3. Experience The Locked Room

people trying to solve a clue at The Locked Room in Calgary
Do you think you’re up for the challenge? Photo Credit: The Locked Room

The Locked Room is Calgary’s own escape room! This is definitely one of the most unique indoor activities to check out in Calgary and perfect for anybody who’s up for a challenge.

The cool thing about The Locked Room is they have twelve different escape room themes you can choose from! A couple of examples are: Forbidden Temple, Prison Break, and The Great Train Heist. They also change these periodically, so even if you’ve visited before, be sure to check back and see if new ones are available.

There are 3 different locations for you to choose from in Calgary including in the Northeast, Southeast, and Southland.

The cost for the Locked Room experience varies from $27-35 CAD per person depending on how many players you have. Book your tickets in advance here.

4. Go swimming

If you’re in the mood to go for a dip, cold or rainy weather doesn’t have to stop you! There are several public swimming pool facilities throughout Calgary that have indoor swimming pools, and they’re heated!

My personal favorite has to be Southland Leisure Centre. It is a huge facility that actually won the 2019 Calgary’s Child Magazine’s Parents’ Choice Awards for “Best Family Recreation Facility.” Inside, you’ll not only find a heated indoor pool, but also a kiddie pool, a waterpark and wave pool, an AquaPlay structure, and a hot tub!

Prices vary depending on the swimming pool you choose to visit as well as your age, but range from $3.65-8.00 CAD. Children 5 and under are free. Be sure to check public swim hours before you go as they often change.

5. Check out Flying Squirrel

the trampolines at the Flying Squirrel in South Calgary
Such a cool place! Photo Credit: Flying Squirrel

If you’re looking for a day indoors filled with excitement, look no further! Flying Squirrel is a world-class indoor trampoline fun park.

There are activities for all ages which include: foam pits, dodgeball, battle beams, climbing walls, and so much more! You will truly be able to be entertained for hours in this fun spot!

Flying Squirrel is open every day, and its operating hours are Sunday-Monday 10 am to 9 pm, Tuesday-Thursday 2 pm to 9 pm, Friday 2 pm to 11 pm, and Saturday 10 am to 11 pm. General admission ranges from $20-40 CAD depending on how much time you want to have (60-120 minutes). Children 6 and under range from $10-20 CAD.

You’ll find Flying Squirrel located in South Calgary.

6. Visit Fort Calgary

the outside of Fort Calgary
Fort Calgary is an important historic site in Calgary.

Fort Calgary is a historic site in Calgary where you can step back in time and learn all about the development of the city. The Fort, which is a replica of the original, is located where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet. Back in the day, this was a significant spot for trading and travel. But today, The Fort is a place to learn all about the history of the area, it’s people, and how it shaped Calgary.

When you visit you can explore the Fort as well as enjoy the museum filled with information and artifacts. Kids can even dress up like the Royal Mounted Police or serve “jail time.” There are often special events as well as frequent Sunday brunch. Head to the oldest structure, the Deane House, where there is a restaurant that serves delicious food!

Fort Calgary is open Friday-Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. Ages 17 and under are free, and 18+ is $10, making this a cheap indoor activity to do in Calgary!

7. Step back in time at Heritage Park

Gasoline Alley Museum at Heritage Park
Gasoline Alley Museum

So, it is a little rain or cold today in Calgary? Why not head indoors and explore one of the many museums around the city?

Heritage Park is Canada’s largest living heritage museum. The museum spans over 127 acres and is home to the Heritage Park Historical Village, Gasoline Alley Museum, and Heritage Town Square.

The Heritage Park remains open during winter in Calgary from 10 am to 4 pm. However, the Historical Village is closed with the exception of special winter events like Ghouls’ Night Out and Once Upon a Christmas, which are family favorites. 

Gasoline Alley remains open all year and also hosts a Winter CARnival around the holidays that includes memorable activities like Pin the Heart on the Grinch and snow fort building among its usual breathtaking displays of old cars and oil and gas memorabilia. Special off-season rates apply. 

The Heritage Town Square is also open all year round and is home to 4 unique retail shops and an old-fashioned soda shop, a counter service restaurant, the Railway Cafe, and the Selkirk – a full-service restaurant open for lunch and dinner. The best part is, no park admission is required for Heritage Town Square.

Heritage Park is a cool indoor place to visit and there is plenty to see and do. You can book tickets in advance here for $10.

8. Visit the Glenbow

A display at the Glenbow Museum, Calgary
A display at the Glenbow Museum, Calgary!

The Glenbow might just be Calgary’s most well-known museum and is one of the top indoor activities to do in Calgary, especially in the colder months when you want to escape the freezing temperatures.

The Glenbow is the place to go to learn about Canada’s Indigenous people and to see a wide range of art from top Canadian artists that the Glenbow holds in its collection of over 33,000 artworks. So, if you are a lover of art (like I am,) make sure to stop by the Glenbow Museum. Admission is $10 CAD with kids under 6 free.

9. Visit the National Music Centre

Visiting the National Music Centre is a must-do indoor activity as well. Studio Bell has five floors of exhibits including interactive exhibits with instruments you can actually play. The Rolling Stones mobile recording bus is kept in the building too. Make sure to check out an evening concert while you are there too. Studio Bell is only open Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is currently free.

Related Read: For the absolute best museum, be sure to go on a day trip from Calgary to Drumheller. One of the best things to do in Drumheller is to visit the famous Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum!

10. Take in the views from the Calgary Tower

Views of the city and Rocky Mountains from Calgary Tower
On a clear day, you can even see the Rocky Mountains!

Come indoors from the cold or rain and see Calgary from a whole new perspective. At the Calgary Tower, a glass floor suspended 200m above the ground will give you a bird’s eye view of Calgary as well as the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

While you are there, eat at the tower’s famous Sky 360 Restaurant and Lounge that slowly rotates as you view Calgary while you eat. The restaurant makes one full rotation every 45 minutes. It’s open every day except Mondays from 5 pm till late as well as Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm for brunch. There are also gift shops where you can purchase souvenirs to always remind you of your Calgary winter holiday. 

A visit to the Calgary Tower costs $18 CAD for adults and children are only $9.

11. Go the Spark Science Centre

Telus Spark Science Centre is one of my favorite indoor activities in Calgary, hands-down.

The latest experience to check out at Telus Spark is the new digital gallery that promises a brand new immersive technological experience. No headset required! Telus Spark also has a planetarium with the largest globe theatre in western Canada. Here, you can watch a movie about space that is an experience like no other. 

The best thing about Telus Spark is the hands-on opportunities for all ages. Step on a scale and watch a tube fill with water in front of you to show you how much water is in your body or record your voice on a loop as you try to harmonize with yourself.

Lastly, be sure to experience one of the nine decadent astronaut ice cream flavors. There is one for every planet. Toppings include cotton candy, cookies, and donuts. The earth cone includes a cake pop to represent the moon.

Entrance to the Spark Science Centre costs $26 CAD for adults and $19 for children.

12. Visit the local breweries

A beer at Outcast Brewing
Seriously though, have you? Photo credit: Outcast Brewing

Calgary has 44 (yes, that many) unique breweries scattered throughout the city. There is a brewery for every taste pallet and likely one nearby wherever you are in the city. 

Outcast Brewing keeps ten beers on tap and is famous for its slushie sours that contain so much fruit you might think you are drinking a smoothie. A must-try is the cherry cheesecake, made with real cream cheese. Try it to believe it! 

Big Rock Brewery is the most established local brewery in Calgary and is also the oldest. Tour the brewery and order lunch from their beer-inspired menu. Try a strawberry rhubarb cider, the traditional brown ale, or my favorite, the Grasshopper wheat ale that has a light citrusy taste. 

Related Read: IF you love breweries be sure to make your way to Banff. There are a few really excellent breweries in and around Banff.

13. Wander around downtown

Stephen Avenue (aka 8 Ave SW) is a pedestrian-only walkway in Calgary that boasts some of the city’s best shopping and dining. In the wintertime, Stephen Ave gets dressed up in its holiday finest with thousands of Christmas lights. 

17th Ave South, also known as the Red Mile, is your best destination if you want to hit the nightlife in Calgary. It is home to many restaurants and clubs and the go-to destination for young party-goers after a Flames hockey game. 

14. Enjoy the nightlife

There is one thing that Calgary knows how to do right, and that’s party!

Do you enjoy live music? Check out the best bands the city of Calgary has to offer at Broken City or a slightly more alternative scene at Dickens PubThe Palomino is easy to access and is right on the train tracks. It also offers two floors and an eclectic mix of live music.

A local favorite hangout is the Ship & Anchor Pub if you are looking for a hip, sit-down place.

If clubbing is your thing try a Habitat Living Sound or Twisted Element for an inclusive LGBTQIA+ experience. 

15. Visit delicious local cafes

beautiful coffee with foam art
Doesn;t that look delicious?!

Delicious cafes are dotted all over downtown Calgary. The small locally owned cafes are cozy and the perfect indoor escape. Some cafes definitely worth checking out in Calgary include:

The Regal Cat Cafe partners with the MEOW Foundation to give cats a temporary home while they wait for their forever home. The cats are kept in a separate room but can be watched from the cafe through a plexiglass barrier, giving you the option to interact with the cats or not, and keeping the cats separate from the eating area.

The cafe offers cat-themed human treats and souvenirs. The cat room can get busy so the option to book a timeslot is available online.

Hexagon Board Game Cafe is another great option on a winter’s day in Calgary if you have a few hours to play games with friends. There are so many games available you won’t get bored here!

Analog Coffee tops many lists for best cafes in Calgary. A local favorite, it now boasts several locations throughout the city. The first-ever location being on 17th Ave. Their coffee is so amazing and my go-to place when I’m in Calgary and want a delicious cappuccino!

16. Try ice fishing

An ice fishing tent from Alberta Fishing Charters, Calgary
This is the actual tent you’ll fish in. It comes complete with a heater! Photo credit: Alberta Fishing Charters

Technically, this is indoors, but the doors just so happen to be to a tent. This is a really fun activity, and you do get the tent along with a heater!

Calgary’s Alberta Fishing Charters offers unique ice fishing packages near the city. Starting at $399 CAD per couple ($75 per extra guest), you’ll get access to an ice fishing set-up, tent, and your own personal guide for up to 7 hours as you try ice fishing. A very uniquely Canadian activity to try in Calgary in winter. If I have one tip though…dress warm!

17. Visit the Calgary Zoo

a couple of hippos at an indoor exhibit at the Calgary Zoo
Many of the best exhibits at the Calgary Zoo are indoors!

You can do some pretty neat animal watching in Calgary even without leaving the city. And while some of the exhibits are outdoors, there are also several indoor exhibits and centers to check out – like the hippos pictured above!

My favorite attraction at the Calgary Zoo is the penguin walk that happens every day, weather dependent, at 10:00 a.m. The penguin walk is a short 15-minute walk where you get to follow the king penguins through the park as they get their daily exercise. It’s a great photo opportunity!

Some of the other animals at the zoo include Amur Tigers, African Lions, Grey Wolves, Bison, and many more. Be aware that in the winter, some animals will be in hibernation including bears.

Be sure to stick around the Calgary Zoo after it gets dark during the holiday season for the wonderful display of Christmas lights throughout the park called Zoolights – an attraction in Calgary not to be missed around Christmas time. 

Adult tickets to the zoo cost $34.95 CAD, seniors $29.95, Children (3-15) $24.95, and kids under 3 are free. There is also a daily parking fee of $12 CAD.

Hot Tip: If you’re visiting Calgary in December then you need to go to the zoo! They often put on special festive events leading up to the holidays!

Where to Stay in Calgary

Calgary City
Calgary Skyline in Winter

Calgary is a large city so there are plenty of places to stay within the city. The trick is to pick a hotel with a great location depending on the activities you plan on doing. For example, staying downtown is perfect for most visitors, however, those wanting to spend more time exploring the Kananaskis, Banff, or Canmore should stay on the westside of Calgary.

Within the central city area, the Wicked Hostels – Calgary is a good choice for budget travelers. The hostel is clean, comfortable, and located in a good area. There are cheaper places to stay in Calgary but this place is great value for money.

If you can spend a bit more the Regency Suites Hotel is perfect. The suites have a full kitchen which is perfect for homemade meals which can save you a lot of money. The rooms are beautiful, breakfast is included, and they even have a fitness center. On top of that, the hotel’s location is perfect.

For luxury travelers, check out the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire. This hotel overlooks the river valley, comes with an indoor pool (with waterslide), hot tub, fitness center, hair salon, and gift shop. Obviously, the rooms are extremely beautiful and the views are spectacular.

If you’re looking for a place in west Calgary Along River Ridge Bed & Breakfast is my choice. Located along the Bow River but also not far from Highway 1, the hotel will save you 15 minutes each way on adventures west. However, you’re still close enough to easily explore Calgary. It’s a small bed and breakfast with amazing reviews!

Renting a Car in Alberta

The Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park
The Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to the best attractions within them requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada and using crown land and campsites you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Canada Travel Essentials

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
A windproof jacket and Buff will save you in the mountains!

Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.

Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!

Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!

Bear bells: These are a must and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $12 and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.

Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.

Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.

Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.

Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!

Before you go…

man trying beers
Thanks for reading!

Regardless of the weather in Calgary, there really are plenty of amazing things to do. I mean who would have thought you’d have so many great indoor activities?!

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this blog has helped plan your upcoming trip to Calgary! If it has, then be sure to check out more of our blogs such as:

Things to do in Banff in winter

How to spend one day in Vancouver

Things to do in Whistler

27 Fun & Unique Things to do in Drumheller, Alberta
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