Calgary Travel Guide

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There are a lot of words that fit Calgary: Youthful. Dynamic. Enterprising. Independent. Pioneering. Innovative. From our spectacular Rocky Mountain backyard to our lively Stampede spirit, Calgary has a pace of life that is vibrant and energetic. Calgary is quickly becoming Canada's economic power-house. It is second only to Toronto in its number of Corporate Head Offices and is clearly the hub of Canada's petroleum industry, making Calgary a boom town like none other.

The city is a massive urban-sprawl, taking up approximately 215,000 acres (4.6 persons per acre), which is divided up into four quadrants (NE, NW, SE, SW) which meet in the Downtown Core. It can make getting around town difficult, but it's easy to navigate with a car. Calgary has huge open parkland, including Fish Creek Park, Nose Hill Park, and the Bow River pathways, and maintains world-class athletic facilities, which are remnants of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Downtown Core

Downtown Calgary is always on the move. From Stephen Ave. to Eau Claire Market, there's always business being done. While you enjoy a coffee at a Starbucks, it's very likely the group next to you is putting together a deal to drill for oil! The industry operates at a frenetic pace. But for 10 days in July, that is. Downtown ceases working during Stampede week, as there's a party on every corner! Don't even think about wearing professional business attire; it's jeans and cowboy duds, only!

The Calgary Tower remains an icon from the Olympic era, although it's now dwarfed by other buildings, including the newly built Bow Tower. A trip up the Calgary Tower is still great, though, especially on clear days when the Rocky Mountains look close enough to touch. Olympic Plaza is ideal for skating in December, as the city drapes Christmas lights over the trees. It's an easy stroll to get a coffee or hot chocolate on Stephen Ave. In the summer, the Eau Claire Market and the trails around Prince's Island Park provide a refreshing break from downtown, and are popular lunch spots with downtown office workers.

Southwest

The Southwest is the most affluent quadrant of the city. It includes the haute couture shopping of 17th Ave, aka the Red Mile, and 4th Street. The Elbow River winds its way from the Glenmore Reservoir to the Stampede Grounds, where it meets up with the Bow River. It's a fun afternoon to float from Sandy Beach past Stanley Park to the Talisman Centre. North Glenmore Park is also a great spot for a picnic, and Heritage Park is a favorite for locals. And, don't miss out on the world famous Spruce Meadows!

Southeast

The Southeast is largely an industrial center. The Scotiabank Saddledome and the Stampede Grounds are in the SE near the Core, and are easily accessible by the C-train. There's also the shopping district of Inglewood, which has some unique stores, as well as Fort Calgary. Just down McLeod Trail from the Saddledome, you can find Chinook Centre, which is one of Calgary's best shopping malls.

Northeast


Sadly, the Northeast is a largely 'forgotten' about quadrant, separated from the rest of the city by Deerfoot Trail. It is a largely residential area, except for the Calgary International Airport. Also, the Calgary Zoo is in the NE, near the Core. If you want shopping, Canada's largest mall, CrossIron Mills, recently opened in Balzac, just a few minutes north of the airport.

Northwest

The Northwest is home to the University of Calgary, which boasts over 30,000 students! The Calgary Stampeders, our beloved Canada Football League team, play at McMahon Stadium, which is the home of the U of C Dinos, as well. Canada Olympic Park is an in-city ski hill and world-class athletic training facility. Nearer to the Core you can find Kensington Village, a small collection of shops, galleries and restaurants. It's one of Calgary's most trendy, artistic areas. Check out Crave Cupcakes for something uniquely Calgarian (and delicious!).

Where to Go in Calgary

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Hyatt Regency Calgary

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expert pick

700 Centre Street SE

A great hotel near the convention center.

High Performance Rodeo

expert pick

225 8th Avenue SE

Calgary art & culture at its very finest - an exciting, innovative and diverse festival featuring performers from around the world, in every medium imaginable!

Phil & Sebastian Coffee Co.

expert pick

Quesnay Wood Dr SW

Fresh-roasted, direct-trade coffee made by Calgary's top baristas

Beatniq Jazz and Social Club

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expert pick

811 1st Street South West
SW

Calgary's premier jazz venue - the place to go for the hottest local and touring jazz acts

Calgary Blog Posts

UPDATES FROM OUR TRAVEL TEAM

Arts and music in the mountains
There‚Äôs still over six weeks of events at the The Banff Summer Arts Festival. There are dozens of free or donation-at-the-door events staged at the Banff Centre or in downtown Banff. from May until the end of September. This annual arts event in the Canadian Rockies includes close to 200 events with... Read more

Camping Season Comes to Alberta
Traditionally, the Victoria Day long weekend kicks off the camping season in Alberta, because it's the first long weekend of the warm season. It's a long time between the end of camping season in October and the start of camping season in May. Victoria Day, therefore, sees a lot of camping traffic.  Read more

Calgary International Children's Festival
The Calgary International Children's Festival is an annual celebration of performing arts and childhood. It takes over Olympic Plaza and the EPCOR Centre for five days every May, just after the Victoria Day long weekend. The Festival is a big draw, attracting over 50,000 visitors, making it North America's... Read more


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