Set dramatically between prairies and rocky mountain peaks, Calgary is an incredible mix of chic urban cityscape surrounded by natural grandeur. It’s a place where you can savour the wilderness by day and world class cuisine and entertainment by night. Here are our top picks for things to do in Alberta’s second city:
Befriend the Badlands: Drive an hour east of downtown Calgary and you’ll leave the golden prairies behind for the mysterious Canadian Badlands, a moonscape of weird rock formations and dinosaur fossil beds. One hour east. For a sweeping view of the badlands and the Red Deer River valley, climb up inside the world’s biggest dinosaur and gaze out from its fearsome jaws in Drumheller, the “Dinosaur Capital of the World.” On a smaller scale, the town’s Little Church only seats six. Check out the coulees, kilns and concerts in Medicine Hat. Do dinner and theatre in the tiny town of Rosebud, home of Alberta’s only professional rural theatre company.
Channel the Olympic Spirit: 15 minutes west of downtown you’ll find the Olympic Park (Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988), where you should definitely take a ride on the skyline, a zipline that will shoot you at almost 50 miles an hour from the top of the ski jumps.
Eat and Drink: At Sidewalk Citizen, you’ll find daily sandwich creations — one meaty, one vegetarian offering each day — using creative combinations of high-quality ingredients, all loaded onto the bakery’s excellent bread. For authentic lebanese, locals rave about Aida’s Bistro, specifically their Mouhammara, the roasted red pepper, walnut, onion and pomegranate molasses dip. If you happen to be at the Calgary Farmer’s Market, try to find Wapiti Ways, who make finger-licking pies with tender Alberta Elk and delicious gravy.
Urban Escape: For an indoor urban oasis in the heart of town, head to Devonian Gardens, which boasts a mile of walkways, numerous sculptures and fountains, and thousands of plants and flowers, perfect for when the weather’s not conducive to outdoor wanderings. If the sun is on your side though, check out Prince’s Island park along the Bow River, perfect for picnics and stooping in on an outdoor theatre performance in Summer.