Me and my hubby spent over a month in Calgary, enjoying the beauty of this diverse and international city. This is what we found to be the best things to do for your time and your buck.
Where to stay
It really depends how long you want to stay, how many people are traveling, and your form of transportation.
AirBnB is going to be the best option for your money. Very nice apartments in the center of the town are very reasonably priced. If you plan to be there around a major event (such as the Calgary Stampede, book at least several months in advance for best options and availability). If pictures are unclear, definitely contact the person who is renting out the property. They are more than happy to answer all your questions.Hotels
There are many great hotels in the downtown area of Calgary. Staying in a hotel that you are a member of has its perks and privileges and raking up hotel points for free stays is also a big plus.
I recommend Westin or the Sheraton Suites, if you are part of the Bonvoy membership, both have great locations, incredible service, delicious breakfast, but things like parking are not free of charge.
Where to Eat
Calgary is a very mutli-cultural and diverse city. I was blown away by the Chinatown in the center and all its food options. Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, vegan or all you can eat meat, it’s all there. Tantalizing dim-sum, fragrant soups, sticky buns, fried noodles, crispy duck and everything in between can be found here.
We ate at the Silver Dragon, which serves Cantonese and Szechuan food. The food, ambiance, and service are all top notch. https://www.silverdragoncalgary.com/For Vietnamese flavors, try Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House. The most fragrant pho broth I have ever tried! So good with thinly sliced beef, fresh basil, freshly squeezed lime, and bean sprouts. YUM! https://www.phohoaivietnamese.com/For a European flare, try one of the great Irish pubs, I really liked the James Joyce Irish Pub in downtown. I recommend that you try their sampler platters with charcuterie and cheeses. Their authentic Irish beef and Guinness pie is also a must! http://jamesjoycepub.com/
You can find the River Café in the heart of Prince’s Island Park. An enchanting venue with delicious food and incredible service. Just make sure you call ahead as this place books out fast and early.
What to See
The whole downtown area of Calgary is extremely nice and walkable. If you are tired of walking, the city has an extensive light rail transit called the CTrain. https://www.calgarytransit.com/plans-projects/lrt
Canada Olympic Park Calgary, also known as WinSport
This place is a lot of fun for everyone young or young at heart at any time of year. Get your adrenaline pumping with activities such as summer bobsleighing, take a slide on a monster zip line tour or take a leap from the free-fall bungee jump.
For less heart pumping activities, there is a mini-golf course, scenic chairlift ride, or downhill karting (this one was a favorite of Dana’s – I didn’t go, since I chickened out and I am not a huge fan of heights).
The main building has a wonderful gift shop and is full of history about the Olympic park, the athletes, and the city.
Heritage Park Calgary
Or How the West Was Once. One of the best heritage parks I’ve ever been to and I have visited quite a few. After purchasing an entrance ticker, everything inside the park is free. The historical railway takes you around the park, making stops at various points around the park.
Reserve a whole day, because there is a lot to see and experience. Start your day at the Gasoline Alley Museum that takes you back to simpler times. The historical village is a lot of fun to stroll through – you get to experience a true frontier and meet characters from that era. The staff is well versed in the history and you get to see them perform old timer tasks. Talk to a fur trader, watch biscuits being baked in the open fire oven, or experience how a life worked on a living farm.
There is also a wonderful boat ride around the lake. The gift shops are a great place to stock up on unique gifts. When you get hungry, there are many cafes and eateries to choose from.
Downtown Calgary & Prince’s Island Park
Downtown Calgary is a lot of fun to walk through, such as the Chinatown or the historical Stephen Avenue.
Parks around Calgary
There are numerous city and state parks around Calgary.
We spent some time in Bowness park, where we rented out a paddle boat and putted around the Bow River, which was extremely relaxing. There is a large dock with picnic tables and benches if you bring your own food or you can buy some tasty baked goods and coffee at the café right next to the dock.
Another great park I would recommend for picnic or just to stroll around is Edworthy Park. The park is very popular with the locals – the extensive trail system is also great for walking, skating and biking as well. The Angel’s Café is right across the bridge and its location by the water is the perfect spot to people watch and to relax after all the exercising.
Banff National Park
Banff NP is only an hour and a half away by car from Calgary. I would definitely recommend spending at least a few days in the area, otherwise you end up rushing around to see everything and won’t be able to enjoy it as much.
During the summer months, don’t forget to book your stay several months in advance. The town of Banff is small and lodging books out fast.
Thank you for reading. Wish you fun and safe travels!!