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As the largest city in Alberta, it’s no surprise there is so much to see in Calgary!
This city sits on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains and some of the best places to visit in Alberta. Plus, it’s also home to a big international airport – making it a breeze to travel to.
Calgary is often known by its nickname “Cowtown” for the area’s cattle ranching history. Even today, Alberta has the most cattle of any Canadian province!
Calgary also hosts the world-famous Stampede in the summer and if you’re a steak person, you’ll find some of the tastiest beef in the world around here.
Whether you choose to visit Calgary in winter or check out the summer activities, Calgary is a great destination all year long. It’s also a good starting point for popular road trips like the drive from Calgary to Banff or heading north to explore the endless activities at the West Edmonton Mall.
You’ve got tons of options in Calgary, so we’ve put together a complete guide of sights to see, the best tours to go on, things to do, top places to grab a bite to eat, and everything in between!
So let’s get right to it.
- About Calgary, Alberta
- The BEST Things to do in Calgary
- 1. Go downhill karting
- 2. Go to the top of the Calgary Tower
- 3. Eat Alberta beef!
- 4. Visit the Calgary Zoo
- 5. Go to an event
- 6. Walk/bike along the river
- 7. Mini-golf and dinner/drinks at Taiko Canteen
- 8. Go on rides at Calaway Park
- 9. See beautiful Banff!
- 10. Catch a football or hockey game
- 11. Heritage Park
- 12. Skate at Olympic Plaza
- 13. Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
- 14. See showjumping at Spruce Meadows
- 15. Walk Stephens Ave/ArtWalk
- 16. Check out local breweries
- 17. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre
- 18. Telus Spark Science Center
- 19. Take a photo at the Wonderland Statue in front of the Bow Building
- 20. Go to Lake Louise for the weekend
- 21. Fort Calgary
- 22. Eat at River Café
- 23. Visit a museum or two
- 24. Go indoor skydiving
- 25. Village Ice Cream
- 26. Head to Edmonton for some shopping
- 27. Mohkinstsis walking tour
- 28. Take a free walking tour
- 29. Hike in the Kananaskis
- 30. See the dueling pianos at Aussie Rules Piano Bar
- 31. Take in a show at a local theatre
- 32. Stargaze
- 33. Devonian Gardens
- Where to Stay in Calgary
- Thanks for reading!
About Calgary, Alberta
It’s a diverse city, home to 1.4 million people and an impressive 140 different languages are spoken around the city.
June, July, and August draw the most visitors to Calgary (especially for Stampede!), but there are plenty of things to do here, no matter the season.
If you visit in winter, don’t worry – Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada, with an impressive 333 days of sunshine. You can always check out some of the many indoor activities in Calgary or you might even get lucky and experience a Chinook. These warm winds from the Pacific Coast can warm up the city an entire 20 degrees!
Calgarians are a friendly bunch, and there are tons of activities for all travelers and every budget.
The BEST Things to do in Calgary
1. Go downhill karting
We love fun-filled activities, so when we heard about downhill go-karting – we were locked in!
Just off the Trans-Canada Highway, Downhill Karting by Skyline Luge Calgary is one of the best activities to enjoy at Canada Olympic Park. After hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, it became a training center and a recreational park for activities like skating, mini-golf, and riding the go-karts.
It’s super fun, and also the longest go-kart track in the world, with a distance of over 5,905 feet (1,800 meters) – all downhill! You can control the speed, and we had loads of laughs whipping around the turns on the track.
Tickets are cheaper online, and the most budget-friendly option gives you 3 downhill rides for $31 CAD.
2. Go to the top of the Calgary Tower
One of the best ways to see the whole city (literally!) is to visit the famous Calgary Tower. Built in 1961, it’s 191 meters (626 feet) high and one of Calgary’s iconic landmarks.
Grab tickets online (Adults $19 CAD; Children $9 CAD), which gets you access to the main attraction: the observation deck. Get unbeatable 360° views stretching from the downtown core to the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Add a little extra thrill by stepping onto the glass floor section of the deck – it’s a long way down!
The Calgary Tower is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm, staying open until 10 pm in the summer. Even if you only have one day to spend in Calgary, this is one attraction I’d be sure to prioritize.
One of our favorite Calgary dining experiences is also located in the tower – Sky 360. The restaurant rotates (slowly!) while you dine, taking about 45 minutes to complete a full circle. It’s an awesome combo of great food and beautiful views, but make sure to reserve a table first!
3. Eat Alberta beef!
Foodies have come to the right place to chow down on some of the best! Beef is king in Alberta, and it’s long been recognized as some of the best in the world.
There are a few Calgary spots to get your taste test on, starting with Caesar’s Steakhouse + Lounge. They offer up Alberta beef aged for 28 days, cut to order, and ranging from Filet Mignon all the way up to Wagyu Rib Eye!
Vintage Chophouse & Tavern is another downtown fave – a super-stylish spot with live music and juicy prime cuts of local beef.
For something a little more casual, head to Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery for a cold one and some of their tender brisket served on their fresh, dark rye bun.
Wherever you take your first bite, you’ll definitely understand why Alberta beef is so hyped up!
4. Visit the Calgary Zoo
Visiting the Calgary Zoo is a nice low-key activity and a great place to take kids for a fun day checking out the animals.
Located east of downtown, you can drive here or hop on the C-Train and take Line 202 (Blue Line) to “Zoo” Station.
The Calgary Zoo spans a whopping 125 acres and is known for its conservation work and commitment to animal care. We checked out all corners of the zoo – they’ve got everything from a butterfly conservatory to gorillas and komodo dragons.
My favorite part was the Penguin Walk – at 10:30 am every day from mid-January to the end of March, the penguins go for their daily walk! You can follow along as these guys waddle on their way, and it’s included in your daily admission, so there are no extra fees.
The zoo is open daily, 9 am – 5 pm, with the last entry at 4 pm. Tickets are $29.95 CAD for adults and $19.95 CAD for kids.
Related read: If you have any dino-loving kids in your family, make sure to plan a stop in Drumheller, Alberta to see the fantastic musuem and world-largest dinosaur!
5. Go to an event
You can’t talk about Calgary without mentioning the famous Calgary Stampede! It’s a BIG deal, and tons of people come into the city every July to enjoy the 10-day event, which includes a parade, derby, and of course – the rodeo!
From bull riding to wild pony racing, the rodeo events draw huge crowds and are the mainstay of the Calgary Stampede. Get your tickets beforehand, and don’t forget to book a hotel well in advance!
If Stampede isn’t your vibe, Calgary has loads of other events to keep you busy. In late November and December, check out Glow Calgary. This indoor winter wonderland has thousands of light displays sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
Foodies will love August’s Taste of Calgary, a food festival with live music and loads of delicious foods to sample. Stick around for the epic Alberta Country Thunder, a 3-day festival that typically features big names in country music!
6. Walk/bike along the river
Stretch those legs and take in some views by checking out the extensive Calgary trail networks open to pedestrians and cyclists, including the well-known Bow River Pathway and Elbow River Pathway.
One of the highlights of these trails is the Peace Bridge, which opened in 2012 to connect downtown to the southern part of the Bow River Pathway.
The City of Calgary has a great map of the pathways and trails, which includes any closures or important information.
Or, you can amp it up a bit with a 3-hour bike tour along the Bow River with stops like Prince’s Island Park, Fort Calgary, and the Beltline. You’ll have a knowledgeable local guide to tell you the stories and history of Calgary, so it’s a great way to get to know the city. The tour is around $100 CAD and includes your bike rental.
Related read: Only an hour from Calgary, there are some amazing (easy) hiking trails in Canmore!
7. Mini-golf and dinner/drinks at Taiko Canteen
Drinks, food, and mini-golf all rolled into one – what’s not to love?! We grabbed a few friends and headed to Taiko Canteen, an awesome spot in SE Calgary. The highlight here is the “Lucky Putt” – 9 mini-golf holes and a whole lotta fun.
The food here is also a major draw, with their famous Hot Chicken Sandwich and creative twists like the Shaka Kimchi Dawg. I’m not sure the Watermelon Mules helped me out in our golf game, but they were absolutely delicious!
Drinks and food are reasonably priced and the mini-golf costs $10 CAD per person for 9 holes. The course is super fun but also challenging. Of course, Dan beat me but I had more cocktails, so that’s why!
8. Go on rides at Calaway Park
From May to October, head to Calaway Park – Western Canada’s largest amusement park!
It’s located just outside the city limits of Calgary, so your best bet is to get here by car on the Trans-Canada Highway. From the downtown core, it’s about 30 minutes or so – an easy quick drive for a fun-filled day!
This place is family-friendly with something for everyone. There are 32 rides in total with favorites like bumper boats and the merry-go-round to the Vortex roller coaster and Sky Wynder freefall drop for the braver ones in your group.
Other fair favorites like games and food are here too. So if mini donuts and cotton candy are calling your name, you’re in luck! There’s a spray park inside for those hot summer days, so bring a bathing suit. You can also catch a show in the 3D theatre or some of the performers like stilt walkers and jugglers around the park.
What’s great about this park is that you pay one admission price for everything – no pesky ride tickets to redeem or keep track of! Admission is $49.95 CAD for everyone ages 3-49, kids under 2 are free and seniors get a discount. You can also come after 2 pm for a reduced rate of $39.95 CAD.
Calaway Park is only daily from the end of June until early September from 10 am to 7 pm. You can also visit on weekends in May, June, September, and into October from 10 am to 7 pm. Parking is completely free!
9. See beautiful Banff!
If Banff isn’t on your bucket list while you’re in Alberta, you’ll wanna add it! Banff National Park is home to the postcard-worthy Lake Louise, tons of different hiking trails, and jaw-dropping views of the Rocky Mountains.
There are a few ways to get here. If you’re flying into Calgary, you can see all the options in our tips on how to get to Banff from the Calgary Airport. If you’re doing a good old-fashioned road trip from Calgary, it’s only 90 minutes and there are some amazing stops on the drive to Banff you should pull over for! You can also join one of the many tours that go from Calgary to Banff!
Once you’re here, there are so many epic things to do in Banff it’s almost overwhelming! For starters, the town of Banff is Insta-famous for a reason – make sure to check out the cafes, walk along pedestrian-friendly Bear Street, and grab a refreshing drink at our favorite spot – Banff Ave Brewing Co.
For the best views, take the 10-minute ride up the Banff Gondola and grab a coffee at the top. The views from the top are stunning and will inspire you to explore! The Banff Gondola is where we always take our friends who visit Canada.
Banff has tons of great lakes to visit (Lake Louise is the queen, of course, but we’ll get to her further down on our list!). The turquoise waters of Moraine Lake will wow you, and this popular spot is also free to visit – but you’ll need a plan for how to get here since parking at Moraine Lake is no longer allowed. A Moraine Lake shuttle booked ahead of time or an organized tour like this one is the best way to get around this issue.
As you might know (or could have guessed!), the hiking around Banff is top-tier. Some shorter routes include the 1.5 km (.9 mile) stroll to the Bow Falls Lookout and Tunnel Mountain Trail, which is 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of picture-perfect vistas. Or, visit Sunshine Village from June to September and check out the popular Sunshine Meadows trail on your own or via a guided hike for some rewarding views! Remember you’ll need to ride the Banff Sunshine Gondola up the mountain to get there!
We could go on and on, honestly, Banff is an amazing place with so much to offer. You’re going to want to plan to stay in Banff for at least a couple of days. It’s definitely one of the highlights of any Alberta visit and is so easy to get to from Calgary that you might as well take advantage!
If you’re short on time or aren’t able to budget for the rental car, make sure you at least hop on a Discover Banff National Park Day Trip. They’ll show you the top spots and some lesser-known gems, get all the best photo-ops, and do all the driving for you! Tours start at $185 CAD and include transport, park entrance fee, ice cleats (yep!), and bottled water.
Related read: Traveling to Banff on a budget? Check out our HUGE list of all the free things to do in Banff!
10. Catch a football or hockey game
Calgary is home to some great teams, including the Calgary Flames NHL team and the Calgary Stampeders CFL team.
There’s nothing more Canadian than some brews and a hockey game, and it’s even better when it’s live at the Saddledome in downtown Calgary! Check out the Flames schedule here; single-game ticket prices can vary but start at around $50 CAD and upwards – book early for the best deals.
If football is more your style, Stampeders tickets start around $45 CAD and up; you can check out the season schedule here. McMahon Stadium is the home of the Stampeders; to get there, just hop on the C-Train Line 201 (Red Line) and get off at Lion’s Park station.
11. Heritage Park
Calgary’s Heritage Park Historical Village is a cool immersive experience, dubbed Canada’s largest “living history museum.”
Everyone here is committed to the re-enactment, so you’ll find antique buildings, staff dressed as historical figures, and horse-drawn carriages passing you by.
Gasoline Alley was one of our favorite stops, with perfectly-preserved antique automobiles to check out! Some areas of the park are seasonal, but you can grab an admission ticket to Gasoline Alley year-round for under $10 CAD.
The Heritage Town Square is also open year-round, and Harvey’s Confectionary is the place to go for some ice cream and old-fashioned sweets. Get here easily by hopping on the C-Train line 201 (Red Line) to Heritage station, then bus 306 to Heritage Park.
12. Skate at Olympic Plaza
Head downtown to Olympic Plaza to do some ice skating for a little winter weekend fun or a cute date-night activity.
As the name suggests, it was built as part of the Olympic games in 1988. This is where the medal presentation ceremonies were!
It’s the only refrigerated outdoor rink in Calgary – that means it’s perfect skating ice, even on slightly warmer winter days!
You can rent skates here for $15 CAD if you’re 13 or older and $10 CAD for the under-12 crowd. The rink is open Wednesday to Friday from 4 pm to 9 pm and from 2 pm to 9 pm on weekends.
13. Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
Animal lovers, this one’s for you! Head about 45 minutes northwest of Calgary to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
This hidden gem is a non-profit that cares for rescued wolfdogs. You have the opportunity to learn about the wolves and see them in their own environment.
If you do decide to go, be aware that no children under the age of 6, dogs, and faux fur or real fur clothing items are allowed in the sanctuary.
Once you arrive, there are a few different tour options like the self-guided Sanctuary Walk (Adults $25 CAD; Youth 6-11 yrs $15 CAD) or the Intro Tour ($38 CAD), with a trained guide and some awesome photo ops!
The Interactive Tour ($63 CAD) has to be booked in advance and gets you right up close with the wolfdogs – you might even get to hand-feed one!
The sanctuary is open Thursday – Monday from 10 am – 5 pm.
14. See showjumping at Spruce Meadows
Head out to Spruce Meadows to watch the equestrians and their horses as they clear some impressively high jumps! This world-class showjumping facility hosts around half a million visitors every year with enough stables to house 1,000 horses.
To catch some of the action here, head to one of their indoor or outdoor tournaments held throughout the year. There are millions of dollars of prize money up for grabs for these athletes, but tickets are only an unbelievable $5 CAD per person!
It’s one of the best outdoor equestrian venues in the world, so it’s worth a visit to Calgary to check it out.
15. Walk Stephens Ave/ArtWalk
If you’re downtown, you’re bound to find yourself on the famous Stephen Avenue. It’s Calgary’s main pedestrian-only street with lots of goodies – from beautiful historic buildings, cute shops, cafes, and some great restaurants to stop at for a bite.
For an immersive downtown experience, catch Calgary’s annual ArtWalk, a cool initiative that started decades ago. Every September for 2 days, Calgary galleries put on exhibitions, workshops, and tours for the general public to enjoy at their own pace – for free! Hit up as many galleries as you’d like and can create your own personal ArtWalk all over the city.
If you miss out on ArtWalk, don’t worry – the city of Calgary has your back with its Public Art Map! View information on public artworks throughout the city, and curate your very own free mini art tour.
16. Check out local breweries
If you’re craving a cold one, no fear – there are over 40 breweries in Calgary!
We’ll help you narrow it down with some of our favorites, starting with Prairie Dog Brewing. It’s a spacious spot with an awesome beer selection and some seriously delicious food. Plus, they have a dog friendly patio.
Try their core beers, like Tail-Twitcher IPA and Crispy Gurl Cold IPA, which ended up being one of my faves. Taste it all with a flight of 4, 5, or 6 choices from their core brews, seasonal brews, guest brews, cider, or mead! Grab n’ share “The $35 Poutine” with a few friends – topped with brisket, pulled pork, and all the fixins’.
For the best food in town, head to Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery. We loved their outdoor patio and the beer and brisket were amazing. We were a little disappointed with the service but we had to include them because the food is that good!
Next up is The Establishment Brewing Company, which won Canadian Brewery of the Year for 2021! This sleek, modern taproom has lots of indoor and outdoor space to enjoy beautifully crafted brews. Food here is limited to snacky items – the focus is all on the drinks! Our top picks are their Jam Rock, a Blackberry Sour with vanilla, and barrel-aged Potion Approaching with a bit of hibiscus for tartness and color.
If you’re a lover of Stouts and Sours, The Dandy Brewing Company is worth a visit. The Dandy: Wild Sour Ale is well-balanced and fermented with a wild year strain, and the Dandy in The Underworld is a traditional Oyster Stout that’s their most popular brew for a good reason!
For something super fun and a little different, bar-hop your way around to different breweries with Pedal Pub Calgary. Their U-shaped bike allows up to 15 people on each 2-hour tour, where your fearless leader will guide you to the best brews around. There are a few route options to pick from, and you can book as a group or grab an individual ticket ($52.50 CAD) and make some friends on the way!
17. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center is another addition to Calgary’s list of free parks and trails to enjoy. This beautiful spot is located along the Bow River and is a hangout for migratory birds passing through.
You can walk the trail and boardwalks, catching glimpses of ducks, geese, and maybe even deer. So far, 270 different species of birds have been spotted here!
It took us about 40 minutes or so to walk the entire loop, and it’s so peaceful you’ll forget you’re in the middle of Calgary!
The Nature Center is open from 10 am to 4 pm and has lots of good info, but the sanctuary and trail stay open daily from sunrise to sunset.
18. Telus Spark Science Center
Kids and kids-at-heart will love checking out the exhibits at the Telus Spark Science Center!
They have loads of different featured events that change frequently, as well as hands-on studios for all ages to explore. Visit the Brainasium, their outdoor playground, for problem-solving fun, or be wowed with a live 360 planetarium show from The Infinity Dome.
The center’s opening times vary by season, but you can check out the current times, exhibits, and displays online here. General admission is $26 CAD for adults and $19 CAD for kids 3-17. There’s also a handy family pass that includes 2 adults and up to 4 kids for $90 CAD.
19. Take a photo at the Wonderland Statue in front of the Bow Building
If you’re looking for a cool photo op, add the Wonderland Sculpture to your list. It’s not too far from Stephen Avenue, so it’s a quick add-on if you’re exploring that area!
The sculpture is made of bent wire in the shape of a girl’s head and stands around 12 meters (39 feet) high. What’s even cooler is that you can enter the sculpture to view it from the inside!
It’s a beautiful little stop at any time of day, but we think it’s a little more special around sunset and at night.
Be sure to walk around the entire sculpture to get all the angles. Although most get a photo from the front, the sculpture looks even better from the side.
20. Go to Lake Louise for the weekend
We’ve talked a bit about Banff, but Lake Louise truly deserves some hype on its own!
Whether it’s your first time or your 20th, there are so many ways to explore this gem that’s not far from Calgary. The drive from Calgary to Lake Louise is only 2 hours and has plenty of scenic spots along the way. Parking can be a challenge, so make sure to read up on our Lake Louise parking tips if you are driving yourself.
Once you’re here, this lake is gorgeous in every season. Summer in Lake Louise is prime time for heading to the lake, renting a canoe, and seeing the powder-blue water from different viewpoints.
It’s also a great time to enjoy the Lakefront Trail – a 4 km (2.5 mile) trail that takes you to the far end of Lake Louise, giving a birds-eye view of the Fairmont Lake Louise. This trail also doubles as the beginning of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail, and in my opinion, they’re both awesome trails that are more spectacular in the Fall!
Once the snow falls, winter in Lake Louise is truly magical. The lake freezes over and you can skate here surrounded by epic mountain views! Bring your own skates or you can rent some from the Fairmont Hotel from mid-December to mid-April.
Of course, a huge attraction here is the awesome skiing and snowboarding! Hit the slopes and find some fresh powder at Lake Louise Ski Resort – one of the largest in Canada. It’s perfect for beginners, intermediates, and pros. I love the tree runs and the gondola is a lifesaver on cooler days!
If you don’t have a car but want to visit Lake Louise, there are a few tour options available. Jump on the Lake Louise and Abraham Lake Tour (the famous bubble lake!) for a day of exploration with optional activities like tubing or heli- tours. Prices start around $160 CAD per person and include all park fees and gratuities.
Feeling extra fancy? Take your own Private Tour from Calgary for up to 4 people for $1,299 CAD. This one gets you your very own private ride from and back to Calgary, park fees, snacks, wi-fi onboard, and stops at Lake Louise, Banff mountain gondola, and beautiful Lake Minnewanka.
Related read: With these views, it’s no surprise Lake Louise can be a pretty romantic spot – our guide to planning a honeymoon in Lake Louise has some great ideas if you’re coming here after your wedding.
21. Fort Calgary
Calgary has lots of neat history, and you can stop in at Fort Calgary to dig a little deeper.
They have great exhibits about the Indigenous history of Alberta, the early settlement and establishment of Calgary, and self-guided tours of the historically significant lands surrounding the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
Fort Calgary is just a few blocks East of City Hall LRT station; hop on the Red or Blue line to get there, or opt for a nice 15 minutes stroll along the River Walk.
It’s open Friday-Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. General admission is $10 CAD, youth 5-17 years old are $5 CAD and it’s free to enter for Indigenous peoples and kids under 4.
22. Eat at River Café
Hidden away in Prince’s Island Park, River Cafe is a great place to grab a delicious meal!
The cafe has a beautiful rustic interior dining room, but we enjoyed sitting on the patio, surrounded by trees and overlooking the Bow River. They’re committed to serving up fresh, local meats and produce, so the menu changes seasonally – but it’s always amazing!
Our weekend brunch here was delicious, with some of the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had – served on fresh garlic and rosemary biscuit. So good!
Reservations are a good idea here – they’re open on weekdays for lunch 11 am – 4 pm and dinner 5 pm – 10 pm. You can also opt for brunch (which we recommend!) on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 am – 4 pm.
23. Visit a museum or two
Museums are great for slow-paced or rainy days, and Calgary has some great ones to see.
Start out near the Olympic Plaza with the Glenbow Museum. Exhibits here change constantly and their public art collection is the largest in Western Canada! Admission is completely free and it’s open Wednesday to Friday 11 am to 7 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 6 pm.
Then head on over to Studio Bell for a different kind of museum experience – stories shared through music! You can check out the various concerts and exhibitions and plan your visit around the Kimball Theatre Organ demonstration – it’s pretty awesome. They’re open from Thursday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm, and it’s “pay what you can” admission (the suggested rate is $15 CAD).
A short bus ride gets you to The Military Museums, another beautifully curated museum with tons of information on Canada’s Army, Navy, and Air Force history. You can see old equipment like tanks, and they’ve even got a whole Cold War Hangar for aviation lovers! They open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (the Hangar from 10 am to 4 pm), and tickets are $15 CAD for adults, $5 CAD for kids between 7-17 years old, and free for those under 7.
24. Go indoor skydiving
If you’ve always wanted to skydive but missed out (or maybe don’t wanna hop out of a plane!) – you’ve got options. Calgary’s iFly is an indoor skydiving company that lets you experience the feeling of skydiving in their indoor tunnel!
You’ll start with a full briefing from their friendly staff, and then get paired up with two instructors – one to accompany you in the tunnel, and the other controlling the airspeed.
They offer some pretty great deals, with Kick Start Experience flights starting at $84.95 CAD for 1 flyer doing 2 flights. They’re open weekdays 11 am – 9:30 pm and weekends 9 am – 8:30 pm – check out their flight packages here!
25. Village Ice Cream
Village Ice Cream is one of our favorite spots in Calgary to satisfy a sweet craving. They have locations throughout the city, so chances are you’ll find yourself close by one during your time here. Or make a special trip – no judgment here!
Made with love in small batches, they’ve got awesome flavors like toasted coconut, maple pecan, and salted caramel (even better in a perfectly rolled fresh waffle cone!). They’ve got seasonal and non-dairy options, too.
Check here for their daily flavors and locations before heading out.
26. Head to Edmonton for some shopping
You’ve probably heard about West Edmonton Mall, one of the largest malls in North America! With its 800 stores and numerous attractions, it’s a true destination. Plus it’s only 3 hours to drive from Calgary to Edmonton – a perfect weekend road trip.
As a teenager, I actually worked in the West Edmonton Mall for a while and I still come back whenever I’m visiting family since it’s one of the top Edmonton attractions.
Of course, you can shop to your heart’s content here, but there are so many other activities at the West Edmonton Mall. There’s an amusement park, indoor skating rink, epic waterpark, restaurants, live shows, mini-golf, and more. There are even accommodations on-site so you can spend the night at the Fantasyland Hotel (in one of their amazing theme rooms!) and keep the fun going the next day.
You’ll likely run out of time before you can experience all the WEM has to offer!
27. Mohkinstsis walking tour
Indigenous history and culture is an important part of Calgary’s identity, and the Mohkinstsis Walking Tour is a great way to learn more. The tour is named after the Blackfoot word for Calgary.
This 2-hour tour of the traditional Blackfoot territory is Indigenous-led and takes you around St. Patrick’s Island, surrounded by the beautiful Bow and Elbow Rivers. You’re welcome to ask your guide questions and you’ll hear some fascinating stories about this area.
The prices start at $42 CAD per adult, and we thought it was wonderful to learn important history while supporting the local Indigenous community, too!
28. Take a free walking tour
While it’s fun to stroll around Calgary on your own, one of our favorite ways to get to know a city is with the help of a local! You’ll scout out places you want to come back to and hear some unique stories and facts as you explore. Definitely try to do this early on in your trip!
One of our top picks is the local company Walk the YYC. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10 am, you can join in on their free 2-hour tour of Historic Stephen Avenue. You’ll learn all kinds of hidden secrets and cool stories about Calgary.
They also offer a Haunted Cowtown tour on Saturdays at 8 pm, full of ghoulish tales and haunted buildings!
Make sure you book ahead of time, wear comfy shoes, and bring water. The tours are free, but it’s a “pay if you’d like” system – so please tip your awesome guide for the job well done!
29. Hike in the Kananaskis
If you’re looking for a little escape from the city, visiting the Kananaskis is a great place to start. About an hour from Calgary, Kananaskis has over 4,000 square kilometers of hiking and mountain bike trails of varying lengths and difficulties.
My favorite hike in this area is the Troll Falls hike, an easy trail of about 3.4 km (2.1 miles) to the falls and back – so peaceful! The waterfall is stunning in the summer, but equally as spectacular when it freezes over in the winter. Just bring ice cleats or spikes along as the trail can be slippery in spots.
Another top winter spot in the area is Nakiska Ski Resort located just a 5-minute drive from Kananaskis Village. Built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, it has excellent groomed ski runs and a state-of-the-art snowmaking system. That system allows Nakiska to be one of the first ski resorts to open and last to close in Canada every year!
Another great way to get out and explore the winter wonderland around here is on a Snowshoeing tour! It’s around $80 per person and takes you on a 2-hour tour with a guide leading the way. You’ll learn some of the history of the Kananaskis Valley and get hot drinks and cookies along the way!
30. See the dueling pianos at Aussie Rules Piano Bar
Aussie Rules Piano Bar is an awesome way to switch up the vibe for a night out in Calgary!
This piano bar gives the audience loads of comedy, great music of all genres, and dueling pianos. They serve pub-style food, local brews, and cocktails, so you can eat, drink, and be entertained all night.
The piano show runs Fridays and Saturdays from 8 pm to Midnight, and tickets start at $13 CAD per person (18+ only!). Tickets can sell out fast, so book ahead of time!
31. Take in a show at a local theatre
Vertigo Theatre is at the base of the Calgary tower, perfect for a dinner and a show kinda night! It’s a smaller, cozy theatre, so you can kick back on the comfy chairs and enjoy a clear view of the stage. Value tickets go for $30 CAD per person, and they’ve got Standard ($51 CAD) and Premium ($69 CAD) options, too.
You can also catch a show at Pumphouse Theatre, which has been going strong for almost 50 years! Once upon a time, it was a water pumping station (hence the name), but it has totally been transformed into a performance venue. You can catch a show from various Alberta dance companies, with showtimes and prices varying – browse what’s on during your visit.
Calgary is an awesome city to check out, but don’t forget to look up at the night sky, too!
About 30 km (18.6 miles) SW of the city, the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory gives the public a chance to learn about the night sky through their telescopes and educational lectures.
Their Public Events page lists all their upcoming events you can sign up for, usually starting from $10 CAD. If you can catch one while you’re here, it’s a fantastic chance to glimpse the moon, stars, and distant galaxies!
33. Devonian Gardens
Devonian Gardens is another awesome free park in Calgary and is also a great place to escape the cold during winter!
Located indoors on the 4th floor of the CORE Shopping Center, the gardens span one full city block – or about 2.5 acres. It’s got a little of everything: a playground, waterfall, koi ponds, over 500 trees, 50 plant varieties, and a 900-square-foot living wall!
This is truly an amazing little nature getaway right in the heart of the city. It’s open the same hours as the shopping center – typically 10 am to 6 pm.
Related read: Another little oasis on the prairies to check out is the beautiful Japanese gardens in Lethbridge, Alberta!
Where to Stay in Calgary
Calgary is a large city so there are plenty of places to stay. 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 regions should stay on the west side of Calgary.
In the center of the city, 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. Plus you have the flexibility to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com to snag a great deal.
If you can spend a bit more the Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel and Suites is perfect. The suites have a full kitchen which is nice 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 ideal, in the middle of downtown.
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!
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully, this guide to Calgary has helped you fill up your itinerary for your upcoming visit! Calgary is one of our favorite destinations in Alberta. It seems like there’s always a fun event or festival happening and it’s a fantastic starting point for some of the best road trips in Canada.
Leave us a comment below on what you’re most looking forward to seeing in Calgary! If you’re going to be exploring Alberta or elsewhere in the country soon, have a peek at our other Canada posts before your trip.