Onward!, the official motto of Calgary, is more apt than ever in the wake of the major flooding the city experienced in June 2013. A year later, the casual visitor would have been hard-pressed to find any traces of the flood. As of November 2016, the only changes visitors may notice are the closure of boating through the Harvie Passage section of the Bow River, and a few remaining sections of bike paths that are closed as a result of flood damage or for riverbank stabilization.
Calgary is‘s largest city and Canada’s fourth-largest, and is located near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for and , and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between and , with over 1,210,000 people as of 2011 (1.1 million within city limits), making it Canada’s fourth largest metropolitan area.
Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875 and was originally called Fort Brisebois. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, named afteron the Isle of Mull.) The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style “Wild West”. Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada by the NWMP to ensure a police presence before the arrival of settlers.
In 1883, the railway reached Calgary. It started to grow in every direction and became an agricultural and business hub. In 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town in what was then the North West Territories. By 1894, Calgary’s population had grown to 3900 people and it was incorporated as a city.
Alberta’s first major oil and natural gas field was discovered in 1914 at Turner Valley, 60 km south of Calgary. Subsequent discoveries kept the oil and gas scene active in the Turner Valley area for the next 30 years. When the Turner Valley fields were depleted, the next major oil and gas find was at Leduc (near Edmonton) in 1947. By then, Calgary was already established as a centre of oil and gas business.
During the 1950s, oil became big in Calgary and major American oil companies started heading to Calgary and opening offices. The boom extended into the next twenty years, bringing the city to 720,000 people in the metro area by 1985. The relatively low-key low-rise downtown became filled with a sea of skyscrapers, starting with the Calgary Tower and some other towers in the 1960s. By the 1980s, Calgary’s luck turned, and a drop in oil prices sent the Calgary metro economy downward. Unemployment raged, vacancies surged, and growth was slow or even negative in some years.
In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics and brought world attention to Calgary. By the 1990s, it was on the rebound and began growing again. Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.
Neighbourhoods of Interest
The Beltline and 17th Avenue: 17th Avenue SW is Calgary’s première place to see and be seen. It boasts a large and eclectic variety of restaurants, unique shops, boutiques, and bars. This street is where Calgary parties, most notably becoming the “Red Mile” during the 2004 Stanley Cup ice hockey playoffs, where up to 100,000 cheering fans gathered to celebrate victories by the hometown NHL Calgary Flames. While the Beltline spans from the Stampede Grounds and Victoria Park on the east to Mount Royal on the west, the dense nightlife on 17th Avenue starts at about 2nd Street SW and goes to 15th Street SW.
Bridgeland (Edmonton Trail on the west, Tom Campbell’s Hill on the east, Bridge Crescent NE on the north, and the Bow River/Memorial Drive/Zoo on the south) is an urban revitalization area northeast of the downtown. Although the community has long been Calgary’s “Little Italy” (hence the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area), the demolition of the old General Hospital in 1998 sparked a long-term project redevelop much of the era. The area is expected to be a family oriented Pearl District (see Portland, Oregon) and the initial phases are already done. The area includes posh shops, chic apartments, and beautiful lofts, while maintaining the old charm of the distinct houses. Eventually the neighbourhood will have more shops and some high rise buildings. It is a great area to walk through for those interested in architecture and planning. The far eastern end of Bridgeland connects with the Calgary Zoo and the newly opened TELUS Spark science centre.
Inglewood: Inglewood is Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood and the site of the city’s original downtown. It is also one of Calgary’s most culturally influenced and eclectic areas. Inglewood contains everything from stores targeted at bikers, to unique boutiques, antique stores, galleries, and restaurants. It is not as developed as some of the city’s downtown districts, but it is quickly becoming one of the city’s most popular “urban chic” neighbourhoods. It lies immediately east of downtown (east of 1st Street E) and is concentrated along 9th Avenue SE. Just to the north is the Bow River and the Calgary Zoo.
Forest Lawn International Avenue. Forest Lawn is known for its diverse culture, with the city’s best Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Central American eateries lining 17th Avenue SE between 26th St SE and 61 St SE. The nightlife of this area is a place to exercise caution. There are many pawn shops that line the streets, if you’re looking for a deal.
Kensington. Kensington is located along the Bow River on the north side of downtown. It is another one of Calgary’s notable shopping neighbourhoods, with a somewhat more bohemian feel than 17th Avenue (one particular store specializes in Birkenstocks and futons). It offers a good variety of restaurants, with more of an emphasis on coffee shops than on bars. Kensington runs along Kensington Road NW from 14th St NW to 10th St NW, and also north along 10th St NW to 5 Ave NW.
McKenzie Towne is located on the southeastern outskirts of Calgary (accessible via Deerfoot Trail and McKenzie Towne Boulevard). An exception to the “dull suburb” stereotype, this planned community features parks and classical home facades that come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Anchoring the area is High Street, a shopping centre disguised as a classic small-town main street. Worth checking out if you’ve rented a car to visit Spruce Meadows.
Marda Loop/Garrison Green (east of Crowchild Trail along 33rd Avenue SW), which contains a large number of quaint shops, restaurants, and services and is a real up and comer area and would be a great place to check out. Marda Loop, centered on the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street SW, is the older of the two areas and in mid-August hosts the Marda Gras Street Festival along 33 Avenue between 19 Street and 23 Street SW. Garrison Green is a newly developed residential/shopping district immediately to the south of 32 Avenue that features its own mix of eclectic shops and old-towne storefronts.
Mission: The Mission district was established as a French and Catholic settlement (later called Rouleauville) at the same time that Calgary was founded. Historic displays at Rouleauville Square and the Elbow River Promenade tell the story of the area. In many ways, Mission acts as an extension of 17th Avenue. Like the Beltline, it is packed full of interesting restaurants and shops. It does not share 17th Avenue’s late night reputation, however, and it generally lacks the bars and nightclubs. Mission extends from 4th Street SW to 1st Street SE and from 17th Avenue SW in the north to 26th Avenue and the Elbow River in the south.
Mount Royal is a neighbourhood south of the downtown with charming old homes on winding streets. The area houses some of Calgary’s elite. It is a nice area to do a quiet stroll through, admiring old residences. Driving around the community can be challenging due to the preponderance of traffic calming measures and street closures to prevent cut-through traffic.
Parkhill is a neighbourhood south of downtown. It is a quite wealthy area that once had many old homes. Today it is home to a range of modern designs, with few old homes still standing. It’s a very interesting neighbourhood to visit.
Calgary is sunny and rather dry, with wide seasonal and daily temperature ranges. Summers tend to be sunny and mild, highs averaging about 23°C (73°F) in July/August, usually accompanied by short afternoon storms. June is normally the wettest month. Hot weather (greater than 30°C / 86°F) is rare, occurring on average five times a year. Also, temperatures typically drop dramatically on wet days as well; there’s always a couple days in the summer months that barely manage highs over 10°C (50°F)).
Winter can also vary quite a bit. Temperatures can get extremely cold (below -20°C / -4°F) at times between November and March, while -30°C (-22°F) is possible (on average five times a year). Though average highs in January are about -2°C (28°F) based on a current 30-year average, there’s nothing average with Calgary’s weather. Because of the regular but unpredictable chinooks (warm Pacific winds), there’s no guarantee of when the cold weather may strike. One of the coldest months in the last ten years was a March (about -6°C / 21°F for average high), while one January was very mild (+6°C / 43°F average high). Temperatures can swell into the 15°C (59°F) range one day, and drop back into the sub-zero (sub 32°F) range several days later. A typical chinook rolls in fast and is very windy. The warming effects will usually linger for several days to more than a week. In strong chinooks, you can see a chinook arch to the west: an arch of cloud with clear sky below. Calgary can be very dry in winter, with humidity as low as 20%, causing dry skin and making it challenging for contact lens wearers.
Regardless of the time of year, temperatures usually drop quickly at night. Lows in summer hover around 8°C (46°F), while in winter they average about -13°C (9°F). Because of the higher elevation and dramatic temperature drops, snow can fall as late as June and as early as September. These unseasonable snowfalls usually result in just a trace of snow on the ground which soon melts.
Because of the temperature variation, having a variety of clothes is essential at all times in the year. Pack everything from shorts and sandals to light, windproof jacket or fleece for visits from mid-May to mid-October. From mid-October to mid-May, you may need a clothes ranging from T-shirts to fleece/ski jackets, gloves, winter hats, and scarves. There’s not typically a lot of snow on the ground in winter, because Calgary is located in a very dry region of North America and the regular chinooks melt any snow. This means that heavy or waterproof winter boots aren’t usually needed. The nearby Rockies are typically cooler year-round, so plan accordingly for any day trips.
First-time visitors to Calgary should be careful to bring sunglasses (even in winter) and prepare for very low humidity by bringing at least some chap stick, which most Calgarians carry at all times in winter.
- Calgary International Airport (YYC ). The single terminal has four lettered concourses (A,B,C,D), which are also labelled as meeting places, easy points of reference. The airport is well-served by Canadian and international carriers. The airport has “White Hat Volunteers” dressed in white cowboy hats and red vests who are quite friendly and more than happy to direct you and answer questions.
- WestJet. Calgary is both the headquarters and hub for Canada’s second largest airline. International destinations served by WestJet include , , , , , , , , and .
- Air Canada. Calgary International Airport is also a hub for Canada’s flag carrier. International destinations served by Air Canada include (seasonal), (seasonal), , , , , , , , -Heathrow, , and -Narita.
- American Airlines, multiple daily flights to/from /Ft. Worth.
- Alaska Airlines, multiple daily flights to/from .
- British Airways. Daily flights to/from London Heathrow.
- Delta, multiple daily flights to and .
- Horizon Airlines, multiple flights to . Owned by Alaska Airlines, but uses smaller aircraft.
- KLM. 5 weekly flights to/from .
- Lufthansa. Daily flights to/from .
- Thomas Cook Airlines, weekly flights to London-Gatwick.
- United. multiple daily flights to/from , , and .
Fromthere are non-stop charter flights from , , , , and .
While the airport is connected quite well to other Canadian cities, there are fewer options for Americans in neighbouring states, with most flights to the US going to major airline hubs. In some cases, it may be better to drive from locations just across the border—especially northwestern. The four closest U.S. airports that currently have service to Calgary are , , , and .
Since it’s a major Canadian airport, Calgary International has US border pre-clearance facilities; if your flight goes from Calgary to the States, you will go through American customs and immigration immediately after check in. Thus you get off the plane at your stateside destination as if you were on a domestic flight and make quicker connections there. The price for this perk is that you should budget more time when departing; most airlines recommend for you to check in at least 90 minutes before flight time when travelling to the U.S. Note however, that passengers are not permitted to access US security more than 90 minutes before their flight departs.
Like most large airports, there are many options for getting into the city:
- Simplest: Taxi ($40–45 typically) Should take 20 minutes on a good day.
- Easy: Private shuttles ($15 per person) These offer scheduled service to downtown hotels. Many airport-area hotels also have a free shuttle bus service to pick up and drop off their guests at the airport. As of September 2013, no downtown hotels have free shuttles.
- Still easy: Calgary Transit bus Route 300-Airport/City Centre ($9.50 if you board at the airport, $3.15 if you board at any other stop). Buy a ticket at Mac’s convenience stores in the terminal, or pay exact change on board). This fully accessible express bus leaves the airport every 30 minutes, on the :05s and :35s, running from 5:30AM to midnight every day. Board at bus bay 7 on the arrivals level. Travel time to downtown is estimated at 30–45 minutes.
- Cheapest (and slowest): Calgary Transit bus Route 100-Airport/McKnight Station and C-Train (LRT/tram) Route 202. ($3.15 /adult, exact change) Take the Rte 100-Airport/McKnight Station bus to McKnight-Westwinds LRT Station and board a downtown C-Train (tram). The bus runs every 20–30 minutes, stopping at 1AM on weekdays and earlier on the weekend. Since the train isn’t really designed for air travellers, there will be little room for luggage, especially during rush hour. However the bus and all stations are fully accessible and have elevators. Board the bus at bay 7 on the arrivals level of the terminal. Travel time is estimated at about 60 minutes.
- Also possible: Car rentals are also available as at any airport.
For connections to other parts of the city by transit, consult the Calgary Transit website, or call their service centre at +1 403-262-1000.
It is also possible to fly into theInternational Airport, three hours away by ground transport.
Calgary is roughly 90 minutes’ drive east of Banff (on the Trans-Canada Highway, aka Highway 1), and about 3 hours south of Edmonton on Queen Elizabeth II Highway, aka Highway 2. From the U.S., use the I-15 Freeway (east side) or U.S. Hwy 93 (west side) fromor U.S. Hwy 95 from . Calgary is about 320 km (200 miles) north of the border.
- Banff Airporter. A year-round scheduled shuttle service between the Calgary airport, Canmore, and Banff.
- Brewster Banff Airport Express. A year-round scheduled shuttle service between the Calgary airport, downtown Calgary, Canmore, and Banff. In summer, also connects to Kananaskis and Jasper.
- Greyhound. The main terminal is located 1 km west of the edge of downtown (877 Greyhound Way SW). To get to downtown, take the pedestrian overpass to Sunalta station (just to the south) and board a downtown C-Train (LRT/tram).
- Red Arrow. Provides service to several Alberta cities, including , with a somewhat more accessible bus stop on 9th Ave at 1st St SE. It’s best to book seats a few days prior to departure as the bus may be fully booked by departure time.
There has been no VIA Rail passenger service to Calgary since 1990. In the summer, the runs to Banff, Lake Louise, and Vancouver, but is slow and expensive as this is a daytime-only sightseeing train. CP runs a luxury excursion as the “Royal Canadian Pacific” but service is infrequent and prices exorbitant (thousands of dollars) as this is nostalgia, not practical transportation.
Map of Calgary
By transit (LRT/tram & bus)
It can be fairly easy to get to most destinations of interest by bus and/or light rail transit (LRT, trams). In the downtown core, 7th Avenue South is for public transit only.
Calgary’s public transit system was first established in 1909. The first leg of Calgary’s LRT (tram) system was completed in 1987 as part of preparation for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Today, the LRT lines are the backbone of Calgary Transit. Calgary’s LRT is called the C-Train (or CTrain) and runs reliably, frequently, and is entirely accessible, with elevators at every station. In the downtown, you can ride the C-Train for free for 14 city blocks along the length of 7th Avenue.
There are two LRT lines, both of which run on 7th Ave downtown: Route 201 (red on Calgary Transit maps) will be most useful to visitors, while Route 202 (blue) is more useful for locals. Route 201 runs from Tuscany Station in the northwest to Somerset/Bridlewood station in the southern suburbs, passing through the city centre and serving attractions such as the Stampede grounds. Route 202 serves mostly residents and runs from Saddletowne station in the northeast, passes through downtown, and ends at 69th St station in the southwest. LRT platforms are labelled with reference to downtown rather than by compass direction, and the trains are well signed.
Trains run every 10 minutes (5 minutes or less in rush hour and 15 minutes on holidays). First trains are between 4 and 5AM, and last trains are between 1 and 2AM—slightly earlier on Sundays. During the Calgary Stampede and on New Year’s Eve, the C-Train runs all night and some bus routes have extended hours of service. Check Calgary Transit’s website for details if you’ll be visiting at this time.
Although buses come along less often, and tend to serve commuters more than tourists, it is still possible to get around to the main places without too much difficulty. Bus routes usually service either downtown or an LRT station, and run from around 5AM-1AM. Depending on the route, frequencies can be as low as one per hour in outlying suburbs, although 20 or 30 minutes is more typical. Buses numbered in the 300-399 range are rapid buses intended to provide service like a train: they only stop at major streets and large bus terminals, and run relatively frequently. Bus routes with word ‘express’ in their name only run during rush hour and take commuters to and from downtown. Most major bus routes use low-floor buses equipped with ramps; the express routes are the exception, using 1970s-era buses.
Transit tickets are $3.15 for adults, and permit 90 minutes of travel on trains and buses, with round trips allowed. Day passes ($9.50 for adults) and books of 10 transit tickets ($31.50) are also available at most convenience stores. Ticket machines at C-Train stations and platforms sell day passes and regular tickets. These machines accept cash, credit cards, and debit cards. A monthly pass can also be purchased for unlimited usage within the pass’s designated month ($99.00), but is not cost justified unless you intend to commute to downtown daily. The ticket machines allow you to purchase multiple tickets (eg 2 day passes) in one transaction but you must press the “Multiple” button before selecting the type of ticket.
The C-Train operates on a “proof of payment” honour system. This means there are no turnstiles, but inspectors (usually ‘peace officers’ employed by Calgary Transit) randomly check for valid tickets, transfers, or passes. There is a $250 fine for transit riders unable to present proof of payment. There is no charge for travel on the C-Train in the downtown free fare zone. An automated onboard announcement is made when trains enter and leave this zone.
Information about the transit system is available on Calgary Transit’s website, or by phoning their information line +1 403-262-1000 from 6AM-9PM, local time. Train times are displayed on large electronic signs at stations, using Calgary Transit’s real-time information system. Next bus information can be obtained by calling Teleride at +1 403-974-4000, or texting 74000 with the bus stop number, which can be found on the bus stop sign. This information is based solely on bus schedules, and times are not adjusted if buses are delayed by weather or other factors.
In August 2014, Calgary Transit began testing a real-time bus information system that displays stop and schedule information on some buses, but the system is not fully implemented. This will eventually provide a much-needed update to the existing Teleride system.
It is easy to be confused by Calgary’s quadrant address system at first, but it is very logical, and, well, systematic.
Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. Centre Street divides the city into east and west, while the Bow River (west of Deerfoot Trail) and Centre Avenue and Memorial Drive (east of Deerfoot Trail) divide the city into north and south. Together these split the city into NE, NW, SE, and SW: the four quadrants. Thus any time you get an address on a numbered street, you MUST get whether it was NE, NW, SE, or SW. Street and avenue numbers—and thus addresses—increase as you move away from Centre St or Centre Ave.
Many of Calgary’s roads are numbered, but this is less common in the newer developments. Important roads are often named “Trails,” but there are many exceptions. Note that newly-built neighbourhoods may not yet appear on maps, either paper or GPS. If you are travelling to these places, it may be a good idea to ask for directions beforehand.
The names of small suburban roads usually incorporate the community name at the start of the names of all roads in that community. This means that Taralake Garden, Taralea Place, Taralea Bay, Taralea Way, Taralea Green, Taralea Circle, and Taralea Crescent are all separate roads, in the same community – Taradale. It can be very confusing for tourists and locals alike to navigate an area where very small differences in street names are so important to finding your way. If travelling in the suburban communities, have a map or directions and pay attention to the full, exact name.
Calgary’s downtown core is bounded by the Bow River to the north, the railway tracks to the south (between 9th Ave S and 10th Ave S), 11 St W, and 4 St E. Almost all of the roads in the downtown core are one-way, so look carefully at your map for the direction of traffic on each road when planning your trip. When driving in downtown, watch for one-way signs. 7th Avenue S in the downtown core is for Calgary Transit buses and C-Trains (trams) only; cars driving on 7th Ave may be ticketed and will definitely draw stares and glares from waiting transit commuters.
For many years, parking in downtown Calgary has been the second most expensive in North America, after New York City’s. Parking fees of over $25/day are not unusual. Street parking in downtown (and many other parts of the city) is through the city’s ParkPlus system. Instead of meters at every downtown parking spot, you will find a ParkPlus pay station in every block. Before you leave your parking spot, you need to note the 4-digit ParkPlus zone number on a sign near your car. Also note your rental car’s licence plate number. Go to the ParkPlus pay station, where you will need to type in that information, and pay for your parking either with a credit card or with coins ($2, $1, $0.25). If you set up a ParkPlus account before your visit, you can pay using your cell phone. The MyParking app can help you find available parking more quickly.
In general, the city’s driving situation is a result of rapid, unanticipated growth, so prepare for the roads being grossly inadequate and gridlocked during rush hour. Outside of rush hour, traffic is not usually a problem. Also watch for lane reversals during peak times on weekdays (6:30AM–8:30AM and 3:30PM–6:30PM) when going in and out of downtown on some larger streets (e.g. Memorial Drive, 10th St NW). This increases the traffic flow in one direction by “borrowing” a lane normally going the other way.
Winter driving is very different from driving in other seasons. Major roads are ploughed, salted, and sanded, but smaller residential streets have very little snow removal or winter maintenance. In Fall 2011, the city instituted snow route parking bans. This means after a heavy snowfall certain priority routes in the city – marked as snow removal routes with blue snowflake street signs – become no parking zones for 72 hours; this includes some residential streets, so bear this in mind if you’re visiting family and have parked on the street during the winter.
As confounding as driving in Calgary may be, driving is still the best way to explore and see the city.
If you need to hire a car to explore the city or head out into the surrounding area check the prices from agencies on Macleod Trail, you may get a better deal than in downtown or at the airport.
Downtown Calgary is a compact area which is easily accessible on foot. The pathway system, Eau Claire Market area and Stephen Avenue Walk (8th Avenue) are the primary walking destinations of downtown workers in the warmer months. In the wintertime, everyone navigates their way around the downtown core via the Plus 15 system, so called because the enclosed walkways joining buildings are approximately 15 feet above ground.
With approximately 760 km of paved pathways and 260 km of on-street bikeways within its boundaries, the City of Calgary boasts the most extensive urban pathway and bikeway network in North America. Pathway maps are available online and are available from Calgary swimming pools and leisure centres in the warmer months. The June 2013 flooding affected Calgary’s bike paths. As of February 2014, roughly 36 km of bike paths remain closed due to flood damage and detours, so check the City of Calgary’s website for current pathway closures. If you choose to walk or cycle on closed pathways, you may receive a $150 ticket.
In 2013, Calgary introduced its first cycle track in the downtown core. (A cycle track is a bike lane that is protected from other traffic by physical barriers, such as concrete medians.) The 7th St SW cycle track goes from the Bow River to 8th Ave SW. In 2014, cycle tracks along 5th St W, 8th Ave S-Stephen Avenue Walk-9th Ave S, and 12th Ave S were also added to the system. Check the City of Calgary’s cycle track map for details.
Downtown, there are many pathways along the rivers and park areas. Though Calgary can be thought of as a safe city, use common sense when biking at dusk and at night. This is particularly true on the east side of downtown along the river (close to the neighbourhood of East Village), which is a rougher end of town.
Calgary has a good network of off-street bike paths, although motorists are sometimes less than courteous. Weather is unpredictable, and snowy cycling conditions may occur any time from September to May. Some bike paths are cleared of snow in winter. Bike racks are fairly common, especially in shopping areas. Be sure to use the bike racks provided, or another solid object to lock you bike to; as simply locking your back wheel will not provide sufficient security. Calgary Transit has bike racks at C-Train stations and allows bikes on the C-Trains during off-peak hours (at no additional fee). Folding bikes can be taken on C-Trains and buses at any time when folded and stored in a case that protects other travellers from dirt and grease. All buses on Route 20—Heritage/Northmount are equipped with bike racks on the front. Cycling is not allowed on 7th Avenue SE/SW in downtown Calgary, between 1st St SE and 8th St SW. This section of 7th Avenue is reserved for Calgary Transit vehicles and emergency vehicles; offenders risk a $350 ticket. Bicycles are also prohibited from using the Deerfoot Trail freeway (Hwy 2).
Cyclists must obey the same rules of the road as other vehicles. All cyclists must have a working bell on their bike, and cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. Only cyclists under 14 may ride on sidewalks.
Each major body of water in the city (Bow River, Elbow River, Glenmore Reservoir) has city parks with bike paths. These bike paths are heavily used during the morning rush hour to work, but can provide hours of scenic pedalling. A scenic route starts in downtown and head along the Bow River pathway as it heads south to Fish Creek Provincial Park. Here, leave the banks of the Bow River and cycle though Fish Creek park along the main cycle path path until you reach the Glenmore Reservoir (a good place for lunch). At the reservoir, as the bike path crosses the dam, leave the Bow River pathway for the Elbow River pathway. This highly scenic path will take you back to downtown. Cycle time: 4–6 hours (with lunch).
Another major pathway extends north up Nose Creek valley just east of the zoo, including two overpasses to cross Deerfoot Trail (a busy freeway). While there is a pathway that leads to the airport, connecting to it requires crossing an industrial area, which is not recommended for novice cyclists.
The pamphlet titled “Calgary attractions” has discount coupons for 14 tourist attractions. Some coupons are modest such as $1 off Calgary Tower admission, but others can be substantial such as 50% off a second admission to Heritage Park Historical Village. The pamphlet is available at the Tourism Calgary airport kiosk (arrival level) or in the ground floor lobby of the Calgary Tower.(Jun 2016)
- Calgary Tower, 101 9 Ave SW (corner of 9 Ave SW & Centre St), ☎ . The Calgary Tower may not be quite as impressive as the CN Tower in Toronto, but it still commands a great view over the city and the surroundings. On a clear day you can see the Rockies to the west. It features a revolving gourmet restaurant, a bar, and an observation deck. The tower is best approached from 8th Avenue, as the 10th Avenue side is dominated by railway tracks, parking lots, & parkades.
- Saddledome. Located on the Stampede Grounds, Calgary’s largest hockey arena plays host to the Calgary Flames (ice hockey), the Calgary Hitmen (junior ice hockey), the Calgary Roughnecks (box lacrosse), and many concerts.
- Stampede Grounds, 1410 Olympic Way SE (from the C-Train Rte 201, get off at either Victoria Park/Stampede Station (N end of Stampede grounds) or Erlton/Stampede Station (S end of Stampede grounds)). The site of Calgary’s world-famous exhibition and rodeo, the Calgary Stampede grounds are located east of the Beltline in Victoria Park. Not only are the grounds the site of the excitement of every July’s Calgary Stampede, they also house a conference and exhibition centre (the BMO Centre) and a casino.
Museums & Educational Attractions
- Calgary Zoo, 1300 Zoo Rd NE (LRT Rte 202 to Zoo Station), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily. The world-class Calgary Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from all over the world, as well as to the Botanical Garden and a Prehistoric Park for dinosaur lovers. It is the second largest zoo in Canada. Although the St George’s Island section of the zoo was temporarily forced to close immediately after the June 2013 flood, the zoo was once again fully open by the end of Nov 2013. General Admission: $23/$24.95; $15/$16.95; $21/$22.95 (low season adult/high season adult; low season child/high season child; low season senior/high season senior) Prices are current as of 2016.
- Firefighters Museum of Calgary, 4124 – 11th St SE, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. CLOSED pending a search for a new facility. This small, professionally-run museum focuses on the history of firefighting in Calgary, with exhibits such as a Calgary invention for fighting basement fires, and Calgary’s first 9-1-1 switchboard. The collection also includes many antique firetrucks, including a rare 1929 Magirus Aerial. $7 recommended donation.
- Fort Calgary, 750 9 Ave SE, ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily. Fort Calgary, a Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP, now RCMP) fort was built in 1875 at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers (near modern Inglewood). It became the nucleus around which Calgary grew. The original fort was destroyed decades ago. Today’s Fort Calgary is a museum and historic site focusing on the history of the city and of the RCMP. $12/7 (adult/youth).
- Glenbow Museum, 130 — 9 Ave SE, ☎ . Tu-Th 9AM-5PM, F 11:30AM-7:30PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su noon–5PM. Western Canada’s largest museum, with over 93,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors. More than 20 galleries are filled with artifacts from Glenbow’s collection of over a million objects, emphasizing local history. Regularly changing visiting exhibits focus on art or more distant cultures. ARC Discovery Room has hands-on activities daily for all ages. $14/9 (adult/youth).
- Heritage Park, Heritage Dr and 14 St SW (Macleod Tr south to Heritage Dr, Heritage Dr west to Heritage Park. Transit: LRT Rte 201 south to Heritage Station, bus Rte 502–Heritage Park to Heritage Park), ☎ , fax: . One of the largest living historical villages in North America, on 66 acres of land near the Glenmore Reservoir. Attractions include a working passenger train, 155 historical exhibits, a candy store and bakery, old fashioned amusement park, and riding on the S.S. Moyie, a paddlewheel boat.
- The Military Museums, 4520 Crowchild Trail SW, ☎ . The most extensive military museum in Canada outside of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, this facility houses galleries devoted to four local army regiments, galleries for the air force and navy, and several general interest galleries. It covers Canadians’ service in the Boer War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, and post-1945 operations with the UN and NATO including Cyprus, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. There is an outdoor historical vehicle display. Formerly the Museum of the Regiments.
- TELUS Spark, 220 St. George’s Dr NE (located in the NE at the crossing of Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Su-F 9AM-4PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, first Th of each month 9AM-9PM, second Th 9AM-4PM, then reopens to 18+ only 6PM-10PM. (Formerly named the TELUS World of Science at previous location) Canada’s first purpose-built new science centre in over 25 years is a place where people of all ages and abilities can put their imagination into action. Constructed on over 18 acres of reclaimed land, the new 153,000 square foot facility features over one hundred hands-on exhibits, four exhibit galleries, plus a travelling exhibition gallery, an expanded and enhanced Creative Kids Museum, Calgary’s only HD digital Dome Theatre, a new Presentation Theatre and Learning Centre, a 10,000 square-foot atrium, and a four-acre outdoor park. $19.95 (adult/youth).
- Battalion Park (road access is via Signal Hill Dr SW). A tribute to local soldiers that trained for the First World War at the former Sarcee Camp, this small park has an interpretive 500 m long walking trail / staircase up the side of a steep hill. Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force left enormous battalion numerals spelled out in whitewashed stones on the hillside, which have been restored as a permanent memorial. The trail also includes a monument and a self-guided tour with historical tablets and photographs. Most of the numbers are easily seen from the parking lots of the nearby Signal Hill and West Hills shopping centres.
- Century Gardens, 826 8 St SW (at 8 Street CTrain Stn). Century Gardens features waterfalls and sculptures. It was developed in 1975 to celebrate Calgary’s Centennial.
- Devonian Gardens, 317 7 Ave SW (4th floor of TD Square), ☎ . The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor urban park located in TD Square, above the shopping area. After closing for several years for extensive renovations, Calgary’s Devonian Gardens reopened for visitors in 2012. Free.
- Fish Creek Provincial Park, toll-free: . 8AM to sunset. Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of North America’s largest urban parks, covering 13.5 square kilometres. This natural area park stretches along the banks of Fish Creek and the Bow River in south Calgary, from roughly 14 St SW in the west to the Bow River in the east. The park includes the Sikome Lake Aquatic Facility (a man-made lake open in summer), the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, The Ranche Restaurant and Annie’s Café (both privately operated), picnic sites, group use areas, trails for walking, bicycling, mountain biking, and horseback riding, a native garden, and a sculpture garden. Free.
- Inglewood Bird Sanctuary & Nature Centre, 2425 9 Ave SE. Trails open sunrise-sunset, Nature Centre Tu-Su 10AM-4PM, closed M and statutory holidays, closed at noon on Dec 24. Due to the June 2013 flooding, in 2014 the bird sanctuary will only be accessible through daily guided tours. Pre-registration for tours is recommended. The Nature Centre building is open. This 32-hectare wildlife reserve offers more than two kilometres of walking trails throughout the riverine forest. More than 250 species of birds and 300 species of plants, plus several kinds of mammals, have been observed in the area. Free.
- Olympic Plaza, 800 block of Macleod Trail SE (corner of 8 Ave SE and Macleod Trail). This public square was built as the site of medal presentations during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. It continues to host free public events and festivals. During the summer, waders can enjoy the water-filled plaza, while winter visitors can go skating. Also the site of Calgary’s “Women are Persons!” sculpture, celebrating a landmark achievement in the status of women in Canada. Calgary’s quaint old City Hall is across the street from the north-east corner of Olympic Park.
- Prince’s Island Park, immediately north of Eau Claire in the Bow River (from downtown, there are bridges to the park near the end of 2 St SW, 3 St SW and 6 St SW). Calgary’s largest inner city park is an island with a number of pleasant trails for walking and relaxing. In the summer, it plays host to Shakespeare by the Bow and it is also the site of one of the city’s largest annual festivals: the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
- Nose Hill Park, 5620 14 St NW. Nose Hill Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Canada and North America, is located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, Alberta. It is a natural environment park, commonly regarded as a retreat from city life and a place to enjoy nature. It is the second-largest park in Calgary, surpassed in size only by Fish Creek Provincial Park. Although large sections of the park are off-leash areas, dog owners should be aware that on a few occasions coyotes have attacked and killed dogs in the park. Your dog’s best protection is to be on a leash at all times. Free.
- Canada Olympic Park (COP), 88 Canada Olympic Rd (On Trans-Canada Hwy (Hwy 1 aka 16 Ave NW) on far west side of city. Catch the LRT to Brentwood station, then Route 408 bus to the park), ☎ . Take a tour of the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, which includes going to the top of the ski jump for a fantastic view. Four runs are available for your skiing pleasure during the winter months, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame museum is open year-round. The halfpipe and rail park are frequented by some very talented skiers and snowboarders, making for interesting viewing. The COP hosts Canada’s first bobsleigh track and you can pay to take a bobsleigh ride in winter. There is also a summer “luge” run (Skyline Luge) and a zipline runs from the top of the ski jump tower.
- Spruce Meadows. Located just south of the city on Highway 22X, Spruce Meadows is a world-renowned show jumping and equestrian facility. When there are major events at Spruce Meadows, a free shuttle takes visitors from the Somerset/Bridlewood C-Train station (Route 201)to Spruce Meadows. Check Spruce Meadows website for dates and times. Free when there are no events; some events are also free. Tickets for major events start at $5 per person..
- Talisman Centre, 2225 Macleod Trail S, ☎ . M-F 5AM-11PM, Sa 6AM-10PM, Su 7AM-10PM. Located near the Stampede Grounds and just south of downtown, Talisman Centre is a multi-sport centre used by both recreational and Olympic-level athletes. Facilities include two 8-lane 50 m long Olympic-size swimming pools, a dive tank with spring boards and platforms for 3 m, 5 m, 7 m, and 10 m dives, shallow teaching pool, 5 full-size gyms, 2 running tracks, fitness centre for cardio & weight training, basketball and volleyball courts, classes, and much more. $14 adult/$8.75 youth.
Walk & Shop
- Barclay Parade (3 St SW between Eau Claire Ave SW and 8/Stephen Ave SW). Barclay Parade (3 St SW) is a pedestrian-friendly section of downtown street that runs from Eau Claire Market in the north to Stephen Avenue (8 Ave S) in the south. It is home to a number of high end shops.
- Chinatown (Area around Centre St S and 2 Ave S). Canada’s third largest Chinatown is in the northeast portion of downtown Calgary. It is the heart of Calgary’s Asian diaspora, although much of northeast Calgary has a Pacific Rim influence. The area of about a half-dozen blocks is located along Centre Street S, from 4 Ave S (on the south) to the Bow River (on the north). Calgary’s Chinatown packs in a dense network of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and other Asian restaurants, shops, housing and cultural facilities. The area along Centre Street on the north side of the river almost functions as a loosely organized “second Chinatown” with Chinese-oriented businesses stretching for 20 or more blocks.
- Stephen Avenue Walk (Stephen/8 Ave between Macleod Trail and 3 St SW). One of Calgary’s most famous streets, Stephen Avenue was declared a National Historic District by the Canadian government. The street is lined with many attractive older buildings. It is a major venue for boutique shopping, bars, pubs and restaurants. The mall is closed to vehicle traffic from 6AM-6PM daily.
Many Calgarians are understandably proud of the city’s collection of skyscrapers. What’s more impressive are the clear views you can get of downtown from certain spots around the city, sometimes with the mountains in the background.
- Crescent Road viewpoint (From 16 Ave NW, turn south on 8 St NW until 13 Avenue NW where you turn east until 7 A St NW where you turn south, then go until Crescent Road NW where you turn west onto said street, then take your first left (or south) turn and then drive down that a tiny bit until you think it is okay, then stop and admire. Do not go past 13 Ave.). This ridgetop gives a great view of Prince’s Island Park and downtown Calgary. Follow the pathway to a staircase going down the hillside for more varied perspectives.
- ENMAX Park, Elbow River Pathway (View from Salisbury St SE south of 9th Ave SE). Salisbury Street is in a residential area on the east side of ENMAX Park. There are houses on one side of the street and, on the other, a great view of the Saddledome, Stampede Grandstand, Calgary skyline and the Calgary Tower.
- Nose Hill viewpoint. The views of downtown Calgary from Nose Hill Park can only be accessed on foot or by bicycle. Park your car at one of the parking lots near the top of the hill (opposite Edgemont Blvd NW or Berkely Gate NW) and then head towards the southern edge of the hill.
- Scotsman’s Hill viewpoint (6 St SE between Salisbury Rd SE and Spiller Rd SE). The top of this very high riverbank overlooks the Stampede Grandstand. It is a good place to watch the fireworks which are scheduled every evening during Stampede week after the chuckwagon races and the stage show (11PM). The parking in the neighborhood is ‘permit only’ so you must park elsewhere, walk up the hill and watch the fireworks for free. That’s why it’s called Scotsman’s Hill.
- Tom Campbell’s Hill Park viewpoint, 25 Saint George’s Drive (Take Calgary Zoo exit from Memorial Drive, then head toward the top of the prominent hill just north of the Bow River and the zoo.). Views of the confluence of the Bow River and Nose Creek, with the towers of downtown Calgary off to the southwest.
- River Park viewpoint, 4500 14A St SW. 5AM-11PM. In Calgary’s southwest on ridge above Sandy Beach, large designated off-leash area.
While Calgary is no, , or for architecture, Calgary does have some interesting highlights those interested in architecture. The Bow is a modern masterpiece of glass and steel and would be a shame to miss. (But really how could you? The crescent-shaped Bow building pierces through the skyline from pretty much any angle). Stephen Avenue(8th Ave S in downtown core) and Atlantic Avenue (9th Ave S in Inglewood) both have an abundance of tightly packed, small, old commercial buildings with great architectural details; follow the links for downloadable self-guided historic walking tours. Calgary’s Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge crossing the Bow River from the downtown core, opened in 2012. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is a change from the cable-stayed bridges he is known for. The Calgary Tower is a beautiful early modern tower with a minimalist design. Even if you don’t care for the design, you shouldn’t miss the views from the top. Talisman Centre, a large sports complex opposite the Stampede grounds just south of the downtown core, has a unique arch-shaped roofline which is the suspension point for a fabric roof. One could also stroll the construction mazes of Macleod Trail and Scarth St/1 Street SE for many beautiful modern condominiums. Out in suburbia, the pyramid-shaped Fish Creek Library (near Southcentre Mall) is a local landmark.
Events and Festivals (in date order)
- High Performance Rodeo. (January, 3 weeks) This unconventional international festival of theatre, dance, music, comedy, visual art, and more has been gracing Calgary venues of all sorts for over 25 years.
- Calgary International Salsa Congress, Hyatt Regency Calgary, 700 Centre St SE, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (March, 2 days) Weekend of all night salsa parties and Latin dance performances featuring both world-class and local talent. Includes qualifiers for the World Latin Dance Cup. $50-$80.
- Calgary Spoken Word Festival. (April, 2 weeks) Canada’s largest spoken word festival takes place in bars, pubs, bookshops, and an intimate theatre setting. Poetry slams, workshops, and the Golden Beret Award.
- Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, Stampede Park, e-mail: email@example.com. (April, 3 days) Pop culture festival featuring fantasy, sci-fi, horror, gaming, comics, anime, manga, and much more.
- Funny Fest (Various locations around Calgary), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Late May, early June; 11 days) A festival of comedy in halls, clubs, pubs, and bars across Calgary. Free to $25.
- Calgary International Children’s Festival, Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, Olympic Plaza, ☎ . (May, 4 days) Performing and visual arts festival for children, with many free activities at Olympic Plaza. Paid performances of music, dance, and more take place in the nearby Centre for the Performing Arts.
- Sled Island Festival, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. (June, 4 days) Independent music and visual arts festival, which takes place at over 30 venues.
- Carifest, Shaw Millennium Park, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (June, 1 day) Calgary’s annual festival celebrating the city’s large West Indian population starts with a parade downtown to Shaw Millennium Park for the day’s festivities. Free.
- Calgary Stampede, ☎ , toll-free: . (July, 10 days). During Stampede Week, the whole city goes western! During “the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, there are events all around the city, but the highlights are the rodeo and chuckwagon races which boast the world’s richest prizes.
- Calgary Folk Music Festival (Prince’s Island Park), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. (July, 4 days) An extremely broad definition of “folk music” is used for this well-established festival. In addition to seven different stages with dozens of international performers, there is an area with performances & activities for kids, a market, food, and lots more.
- Sun and Salsa Festival (Kensington Rd NW between 10 St NW & 13 St NW, 10 St NW between Memorial Dr and 5 St NW), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (July, 1 day) A salsa-tasting contest is the focus of this street festival, but there are also five stages with a variety of performances, plus lots of other activities. Free.
- Shakespeare by the Bow, Prince’s Island Park. (July & August, 4 weeks) Shakespeare presented in an outdoor setting, an annual co-production of Mount Royal University and Theatre Calgary. Donations welcomed.
- Historic Calgary Week (Various locations in and around Calgary), ☎ . (Late July & early August, 10 days) Learn about local history through talks, behind the scenes tours, and walks. Free, donations welcome.
- Calgary International Bluesfest. (late July & early August, 4 days) Calgary’s got the blues! Many performers at a variety of venues.
- Calgary Fringe Festival, ☎ , e-mail: Info@calgaryfringe.ca. (August, 10 days) Calgary’s festival of uncensored & unjuried theatre takes place at a variety of traditional and unconventional venues.
- GlobalFest, 1827 68 St SE (Elliston Park), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 6PM-11:30PM. (August, 5 days) Fireworks competition and multi-cultural festival at Elliston Park. Note that there is no parking at Elliston Park, but there is a shuttle bus from Marlborough Mall for $6. $20 per night, or $75 for 5 nights (early bird pricing also available).
- Taste of Calgary, Eau Claire Festival Plaza, 200 Barclay Parade SW, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM-9PM. (August, 4 days) Enjoy a wide variety of foods at Calgary’s outdoor dining festival. Music at the Taste Stage. $1 per sampling ticket; each sample requires 2-5 tickets.
- Dragon Boat Race and Festival, North Glenmore Park (Catch shuttle bus from Mount Royal University). (August, 2 days) Dozens of 20-person dragon boat crews race to the beat of their drummers on Glenmore Reservoir. Kids’ activities, food, and entertainment are all available in the park. Free.
- WordFest. (October, 7 days) Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival includes readings, panel discussions, performances, interviews. Festival des mots in French, some programming in Spanish.
- Marda Loop Justice Film Festival. (November)
Places to Visit
- Calaway Park, 245033 Range Rd 33, T3Z 2E9 (Highway 1 (Trans-Canada) exit 169, just west of Calgary’s city limits), ☎ , fax: . 10AM-7PM, daily (summer), weekends only (spring/fall). Western Canada’s largest amusement park, located roughly 15 minutes west of Calgary. Gate admission pays for all rides; games, food cost extra. $36/person.
- Harvie Passage, On Bow River downstream of Calgary Zoo. Temporarily closed since June 2013. The area around Calgary Bow River Weir, which killed many boaters, was remade into a Class II and III white water park for paddlers. Harvie Passage is meant only for experienced canoe and kayak paddlers; all others should portage around it. The multi-year Harvie Passage project opened in Summer 2012, but the Harvie Passage section closed for the 2013 season due to damage from the June flooding on the Bow River. As of May 2014, it is expected that the Harvie Passage will be under repair until 2016. Free.
- Calgary Flames Hockey Club, Saddledome, 555 Saddledome Rise SE. Ice hockey. Yearly, October to June. Calgary’s National Hockey League (NHL) team is very popular, and tickets may be hard to come by. Expect a great atmosphere and game if you’re lucky enough to get tickets. $60-$240.
- Calgary Stampeders Football Club, McMahon Stadium, 1817 Crowchild Trail NW, ☎ , toll-free: . June to November. Calgary’s local Canadian Football League (CFL) team, and the current holders of the Grey Cup (league champions). CFL plays 3 down football with only 20 seconds between plays, so watching a CFL game is quite different to watching an NFL game. $32 – $97.
- Calgary Hitmen, Saddledome, 555 Saddledome Rise SE. Ice hockey. Yearly, September to May. Calgary’s Junior Hockey team play in the Western Hockey League and at the Saddledome when the Flames are not in town. Junior Hockey serves as a feeder league for the NHL. Usually as fun as the Flames, but cheaper! $15-40.
- Calgary Roughnecks, Saddledome, 555 Saddledome Rise SE, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. January–May.. Box lacrosse. Calgary’s National Lacrosse League team were Champions Cup winners in 2004 and 2009. The sport is fast, rough and tough with loud music throughout. A great experience. $15-60.
- University of Calgary Dinos, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr NW. Varsity athletics. Ice hockey (men’s & women’s teams), field hockey (women), Canadian football (men), basketball (men & women), rugby (women), soccer (men’s & women’s), swimming, track & field/x-country, volleyball (men & women), wrestling.
- Mount Royal University Cougars, Mount Royal University, 4825 Mt Royal Gate SW. Varsity athletics. Ice hockey (men’s & women’s teams), basketball (men & women), soccer (men & women), volleyball (men & women).
- SAIT Trojans, SAIT Polytechnic, 1301 16 Ave NW. Varsity athletics. Ice hockey (men’s & women’s teams), basketball (men & women), soccer (men & women), volleyball (men & women).
Calgary has a very vibrant theatre scene. It seems that Calgary has live theatre for every taste: avante-garde (One Yellow Rabbit), traditional (Theatre Calgary, ATP), mystery (Vertigo), lunch breaks (Lunchbox), improv (Loose Moose), clown arts (Green Fools), and more. The two daily newspapers provide some theatre coverage, but the best coverage and listings are found in free weekly Fast Forward magazine.
- Arts Commons, 205 8 Ave SE (adjacent to Olympic Plaza), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ats Commons hosts the three best-known professional theatre groups; the conservative Theatre Calgary, the more adventurous Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP), and the downright avant-garde One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre (OYR). The facility has two additional theatres, so other companies often produce shows here. Of special note is OYR’s High Performance Rodeo festival, which runs for January and provides a wildly eclectic mix of performing arts (and performance art). Arts Commons is also home to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra which presents everything from buttoned-down traditional classical music to pops to symphonies for children. Finally, Arts Commons is the venue for many other concerts and events throughout the year. $10–99.
- Vertigo Theatre, 161, 115-9 Ave SE (at the base of the Calgary Tower), ☎ . is dedicated to producing mystery plays, ranging from musicals to straight-up whodunnits. A second studio theatre frequently hosts other companies.
- Theatre Junction, 608 1 St SW, ☎ . Offers a slate of highly contemporary theatre and performing arts, and the venue also hosts music and other events. $20-30.
- Pumphouse Theatre, 2140 Pumphouse Ave SW, ☎ . Two theatres contained inside a historic brick waterworks building play host to a large part of Calgary’s semi-pro and community theatre scene, with new productions here every week. $20-$40.
- , 1235 26 Ave SE (in the Crossroads Market), ☎ . One of the originators of, and international leaders in, short-form improvisation and Theatresports (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?). Loose Moose does improv weekly, as well as the occasional original children’s show or comedy. $10-15.
- Lunchbox Theatre, 160, 115 9 Ave SW (in the Calgary Tower), ☎ . Shows at 12:10PM M-Sa and 6:10PM on F. This unique theatre company produces exclusively one-act plays, during the weekday noon lunch hour. Typically lighter fare suitable for a downtown corporate crowd. $22.
- Stage West Theatre Restaurant (Stage West Dinner Theatre), 727 42 Ave SE, ☎ . Offers unchallenging, tried-and-true shows, kids’ theatre, and tribute concerts, along with a generic buffet dinner. $32-105.
- Jubilations Dinner Theatre, 1002 37 St SW (next to Westbrook Mall), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Similar to Stage West, with more of a focus on musical parodies of popular television shows. $65-75.
- The Comedy Cave, 9206 Macleod Trail S (Travelodge Hotel Calgary Macleod Trail), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $10.
- Laugh Shop Comedy Club, 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE (Hotel Blackfoot), ☎ .
- Yuk Yuks (Mark Breslin’s Yuk Yuks), 218 18 Ave SE (Elbow River Casino), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Stand-up comedy. $12-39.
- Aussie Rules Foodhouse and Bar, 1002 – 37 St SW (next to Westbrook Mall), ☎ . Piano bar with a comic twist, sing-a-longs, dance routines. $12 cover charge for duelling pianos.
- Calgary Opera, 1315 – 7 St SW (Arrata Opera Centre), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Calgary’s oldest opera company presents several operas each year at their Arrata Opera Centre and the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. $37-163.
- Cowtown Opera Company, 1401 10 Ave SE (Lantern Community Church). The first new opera company to be established in Western Canada in 20 years, Cowtown Opera presents classic operas, sung in English, with a saucy twist. Past shows include Die Fledermaus: Revenge of the Bat, Phantom of the Opera Sing-a-Long, and The Magic Flute: Revised and in English. $45.
- National Music Centre (Studio Bell), 850 4 Street SE, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. Wed–Sun 10:00AM–5P:00M, Tours 11:00AM, 12:30PM, and 2:00PM, open all of July and Christmas Day and Boxing Day. A collection of antique and notable musical instruments is available to the public by guided tour. The collection includes the Elton John songwriting piano and the famous TONTO synthesizer, as well as many antique pianos and organs, and the artifacts of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Housed in Studio Bell, a $191 million building designed by the Portland architect Brad Cloepfil. $0-18.
- Big Rock Brewery, 5555 – 76 Ave SE, ☎ , toll-free: . Tours Tu-Th 1:30PM, prebook by phone. Tours of the Big Rock Brewery include tastings. Must be age 18 or older to participate. $25.
- Eau Claire Market, 200 Barclay Parade (corner of 2 St and 2 Ave SW), ☎ . M-W, Sa 10AM-6PM, Th-F 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-5PM. A unique market-style mall with interesting shops, restaurants and cinemas. The mall has recently (2014) begun an extensive, multi-year redevelopment.
- Inglewood. Centered on Atlantic Avenue (9 Ave SE), east of the Elbow River, this quirky neighbourhood is almost devoid of chain businesses (save maybe a Starbucks), leaving a sea of unique businesses. The highlights are the coffee shops, art galleries, trendy clothiers, and upscale furniture shops. This is arguably Calgary’s best urban shopping area.
- Stephen Avenue Walk, 8 Ave S between 1 St SE and 4 St SW. Stephen Avenue Walk is a pedestrianized section of 8 Ave SW in the heart of Calgary’s downtown core. It is home mostly to restaurants and some bars, but you will still find some major retail shops fronting it. Stephen Avenue is also home to most of the downtown mall called the Core. Stephen Avenue is also a Canadian National Historic District. A downloadable self-guided walking tour is available.
- 17th Ave (Uptown 17). Calgary’s best-known urban business street is home to chains like Best Buy and Pet Planet, and independent businesses like Gravity Pope. If you’re dropping from all the shopping, the heart of the strip is little Tomkins Park at 17th Ave near 8th St, filled with nice shade and cozy benches.
- Kensington Village. Centered on 10 Street NW and Kensington Road NW, Kensington is home to art galleries, fashion retailers, and antiques. It is somewhat more upscale than say Stephen Avenue Walk or Inglewood, but not in a snobby way.
- Chinook Centre, 6455 Macleod Trail SW (Macleod Trail at 58 Ave S, near Chinook C-Train station). M-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa-Su 11:00AM-7PM. Calgary’s largest indoor mall and one of the best shopping experiences in the city for variety and amount of retail shops. An extension opened in 2010. Check out the “flying” sculptures in the food court!
- CrossIron Mills, 261055 CrossIron Blvd, Rocky View, AB (10 minutes north of the city on Highway 2 (Deerfoot Trail)), ☎ . This large indoor mall is in the neighbouring hamlet of Balzac, north of Calgary. Similar in format to other “mills” malls, it opened in 2009 with many well-known stores and outlets as the first new enclosed mall to be built in the Calgary area in a generation. Construction on an expansion will begin in 2015. Plan on driving; it’s the only way to get there.
- Crowfoot Crossing Shopping Centre, Crowfoot Way at Nose Hill Drive NW. Crowfoot is a very large outdoor shopping centre (power centre) located in NW Calgary.
- Deerfoot Mall (Deerfoot Outlet Mall), At Deerfoot Trail and 64 Ave NE. Anchor tenants include Wal-Mart Supercentre, Winners, and Sport Chek. Outlet stores include Bowling Depot, Bianca Amor’s Liquidation Supercentre, Laura Outlet, and Lammle’s Western Wear Outlet. Deerfoot Mall began a 5-year redevelopment and renovation plan in November 2013.
- Deerfoot Meadows, Heritage Dr SE at 11 St SE (Take Deerfoot Trail southbound to the Southland Drive exit or northbound to the Heritage Drive exit). This sprawling outdoor shopping centre (power centre) includes big box stores like Ikea, Best Buy, Michael’s, Real Canadian Superstore and Future Shop.
- Market Mall, 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW. M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. In the northwest, near the University of Calgary. This very large indoor mall also has a playground inside for pre-schoolers.
- Signal Hill Shopping Centre, Near the junction of Glenmore Trail, Highway 8 and Sarcee Trail. A large outdoor shopping centre (power centre) in SW Calgary. Located just north of the very similar Westhills Shopping Centre.
- Southcentre Mall, 100 Anderson Road SE (At Macleod Trail and Anderson Road, a five minute walk from the Anderson C-Train LRT station.). M-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa 9:30AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A very large indoor mall in south Calgary.
- Westhills Shoppping Centre (junction of Glenmore Trail, Highway 8 and Sarcee Trail). A large outdoor mall (power centre) in SW Calgary. Includes a small outdoor toddler playground in the southernmost part of the shopping centre, near Plum. Located next to (just south of) the very similar Signal Hill Shopping Centre.
- Calgary Farmers’ Market, 510 77 Ave SE (Just off of Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive SE), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-Su 9AM-5PM. Market with 75 vendors providing a variety of products such as fresh local meat and produce, art, organic goods and jewelry. There is also a large food court with two outdoor patios. The market includes special events like storytelling, demonstrations, dance shows and live music.
- Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Ave SE (Blackfoot Trail and Ogden Rd), ☎ . Indoor Market: F-Su 9AM-5PM, Outdoor Market: F-Su 8AM-5PM (summer). Less than 5 minutes from downtown with ample free parking, Crossroads Markets is located in an eclectic 100,000 square foot historical building. Crossroads Market is home to a flea market, antique market, indoor farmer`s market, international food fair and a seasonal outdoor farmer’s market.
- Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers’ Market, 1320 5 Ave NW (Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 3PM-7PM every W, late May/early Jun to early Oct; Nov-May first W of month only.
- Hillhurst-Sunnyside Flea Market, 1320 5 Ave NW (Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre), ☎ . Su 7AM-3PM.
- Market on Macleod (Kingsland Farmers Market), 7711 Macleod Trail S (West side of Macleod Trail, north of Heritage Dr). Th-Su 9AM-5PM. Year-round indoor farmers’ market with a variety of vendors.
Farmers’ Markets in Calgary Area
- Calgary Bearspaw Farmers’ Market, 25240 Nagway Rd (Bearspaw Lions Hall – Take Crowchild Trail (Highway 1A) west from Calgary to Bearspaw Rd, just west of the Calgary city limits. Turn north onto Bearspaw Rd and immediately east onto Nagway Rd, Bearspaw Lions Hall is on the north side), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jun-Sep: Su 10AM-2PM; also open pre-Christmas. The small community of Bearspaw in Rocky View County is just a few minutes west of the Calgary city limits.
- Cochrane Farmers’ Market, Cochrane Ranche Historic Site parking lot (near junction of Hwy 1A & Hwy 22), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Jun-Sep: Sa 9AM-1PM. The town of Cochrane is roughly 30 minutes west of Calgary via Crowchild Trail (Hwy 1A) or 16th Ave NW (Hwy 1, Trans-Canada Hwy).
- Strathmore Farmers’ Market, Strathmore Exhibition Grounds, ☎ . Jun-Sep: F 3PM-6:30PM. The town of Strathmore is roughly 40 minutes east of Calgary on Hwy 1 (Trans-Canada Hwy). Indoor Mother’s Day Market near the end of Apr, outdoor market every Friday from mid-June to mid-Sep, indoor Christmas market last Saturday in November.
- Millarville Farmers’ Market, Millarville Race Track (20 minutes south of Calgary), Millarville, ☎ . Jun-Nov: Sa 9AM-2PM. The hamlet of Millarville is roughly 45 minutes SW of Calgary. Millarville holds the largest farmers market in Southern Alberta, with fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, home-baked pies, cut and potted flowers, crafts and original jewelry and artwork. Take some time to enjoy free entertainment, grab some breakfast, or browse the craft stands and chat with the artists.
- Alberta Boot Company, 50 50 Ave SE, ☎ . M-Sa 9AM-6PM. Get the right gear for the Stampede with the only manufacturer of Western boots in Alberta. Custom orders are available.
- Crown Surplus, 1005 11 St SE (Inglewood), ☎ . M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM, Sa noon-5PM. Calgary’s oldest (only?) army surplus store, Crown Surplus occupies a quonset hut and several adjoining buildings. A good place to look for camping and hunting gear, with plenty of military memorabilia on display. Where else can you buy a 100′ diameter parachute?
- Daily Globe News Shop, 1004 17 Ave SW, ☎ . 9AM-9PM daily. International newspapers and magazines.
- Fair’s Fair Books, 1609 – 14 St SW, ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su-M 10AM-6PM. Main shop for this Calgary chain of second hand book stores. Other stores are in Inglewood, Ranchlands, Macleod Trail, and near Chinook Centre.
- Mountain Equipment Co-op, 830 10 Ave SW, ☎ . M-W 10AM-7PM, Th-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Good place to get outdoor equipment and clothing before heading out to the Rockies. They’re all about self-propelled outdoor activities, so expect to find gear for climbing, canoeing, cycling, and kaying, but don’t expect to find gear for water skiing, downhill skiing, or snowmobiling. Sales are only to members, but it’s just $5 for a lifetime membership.
- Smithbilt Hats, 1103 12 St SE (in Inglewood, near Festival Hall), ☎ . M-Th 9AM-5PM, F 8AM-4:30PM. The manufacturer of Calgary’s famous white cowboy hat also makes other felt and straw hat styles.
Calgary offers a wide variety of dining options. While Calgary doesn’t have a single signature dish, residents are very proud of Alberta beef, and Calgarians are discerning clients of steakhouses. Speaking of beef, the popular Chinese-Canadian dish of ginger beef was invented in Calgary in the 1970s. Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut (also called Cococo), winner of international awards for chocolate-making, is based in Calgary, with many stores in the city.
Calgary is also home to a very culturally diverse population, with a very wide selection of international restaurants, especially from East and Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean from Italy through Lebanon. Calgary is, however, generally lacking in decent Mexican food (see exceptions below), and the inland location means that a good meal of seafood is sometimes hard to find.
Restaurants in the downtown area are very busy between noon and 1PM on weekdays due to the lunch crowd of office workers; if you can, try to stagger your lunch to start around 11:15 or 1:30. You’ll face much shorter lineups. Buffets are often only prepared once for lunchtime, and visiting a buffet after 12:15 or so will typically be a depressing dining experience.
Calgary is also the city of founding for major Canadian restaurant chains Hy’s, Original Joe’s, and Moxies. (The original Calgary Hy’s Steakhouse closed in 2006.)
Calgary’s most abundant ethnic specialty is Vietnamese. Most neighbourhoods have at least one Vietnamese noodle shop or Vietnamese sub (banh mi) joint. See the “Take Out Only” section below for some more budget options.
- Banzai Sushi & Teriyaki House, 526A – 4 Ave SW, ☎ , fax: . Competently-executed, low-priced Japanese food in an efficient cafeteria-like setting. A good choice for a fast, cheap, satisfying lunch. Branches in Southland and Downtown. $7-9.
- The Big Cheese Poutinerie, 738 17 Ave SW, ☎ . Basic indoor seating, lots of options on those Poutine fries
- Boogies Burgers, A-908 Edmonton Trail NE, ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-8PM. Large burgers on a fresh bun served in many one of a kind creations. Shakes made with real ice cream & milk; regular, spicy & yam fries. $5-10.
- Chianti Café (Chianti), 1438 17 Ave SW, ☎ . Regional Italian restaurant chain with four locations in Calgary (17 Ave SW, 32 Ave NE, Willow Park, and Crowfoot). Appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, seafood, veal, chicken. Lunch menu and takeout available. $12+ ($9 pasta all day Su-Tu).
- Falafel King, 225 8 Ave SW, ☎ . Middle Eastern food, falafel, chicken and beef shawarma, and the best hummus in the city. Fresh-squeezed juice on tap. $5–12.
- Pho Pasteur Saigon, 207 1 St SE (Chinatown), ☎ . Pho Pasteur Saigon is a favourite Vietnamese noodle joint. Filling and tasty and all for around $8. If they’re busy, try Pho Hoai, located inside the mall.
- Rocky’s Burger Bus, 1235 26 Ave SE (Crossroads Market parking lot), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10AM-3PM, F-Su 9AM-5PM. An old transit bus parked next to Crossroads Market in SE Calgary. They proudly serve AAA Alberta beef to huge lineups at lunch time on any given day, regardless of the weather. Burgers, hot dogs, smokies, bacon on a bun. Fries, poutine, onion rings. Milkshakes, pop. One of the best burgers in town made from fresh, hand formed 1/3 pound 100% Alberta beef. $10 for cheeseburger, fries, & pop.
- Spolumbo’s Fine Foods and Deli (Spolumbo’s), 1308 9 Ave SE (Inglewood district), ☎ . M-Sa 8:30AM-5:30PM. Owned by former Calgary Stampeders football players, Spolumbo’s offers delicious Italian style deli foods: sandwiches, soups and salads. An in-house sausage plant makes some of Calgary’s finest sausage, available here and in Calgary grocery stores. Try the Spolumbo’s Special, a panini sandwich featuring mortadella, capicolla and genoa salami. Fresh and delicious. $9-11.
- Tubby Dog, 1022 17 Ave SW, ☎ . Su-Th 11:30AM-late, F-Sa 11:30AM-1:30AM; window service only F-Sa 1:30AM-3:30AM. Tubby Dog is a hot dog restaurant right on 17th Avenue, close to many of the bars. They offer huge hotdogs with toppings like nacho cheese, bacon bits, peanut butter and jelly, breakfast cereal, fried eggs, sausage, and potato chips. Some nights they have a DJ spinning in the corner, and other nights they have video game tournaments. Expect to wait in line if planning on going on a Friday or Saturday after partying on 17th. Second location at 731 10 Ave SW. $9-11 per dog.
- Wicked Wedge, 6455 Macleod Trail SW (Chinook Centre food court), ☎ . M-Sa 9:30AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. The Wedge offers pizza-by-the-slice, as well as whole pizzas and take and bake pizzas. Innovative pizzas, lots of toppings and hand made crusts have made the Wicked Wedge’s reputation.
- Belmont Diner, 2008 33 Ave SW (Marda Loop), ☎ . M-F 7AM-3PM, Sa-Su 7AM-4PM. A traditional style diner serving breakfast all day and lunch after about noon. On weekends be sure to get there early as the line can be half a block long because of its popularity and smaller seating capacity. Breakfast can run you up to $15 but it’s well worth it because there are generous portions and all made for your order. $9-15.
- Bodega, 318 10 St NW (south from Sunnyside CTrain Station), ☎ . Closed Mondays. Caribbean cuisine. By 7pm Friday, most tables were reserved.
- The Coup, 924B 17 Ave SW (Door off a railed-in sidewalk area.), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Lunch: M-F 11AM-3PM; brunch: Sa-Su 9AM-3PM; dinner: M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM. This all-vegetarian restaurant serves a variety of interesting flavours from largely organic and local ingredients. You may have to wait to get a seat in the cozy 32-seat dining room, since they take no reservations and seat at most six per table, but ask for a drink from their bar (called “Meet”) as you wait. Try the yam fries as a side to the El Taco grilled tortilla wrap with shredded beets, or the War and Peas soba noodle salad. Plenty of vegan options. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. dinner entrée $11-15 plus drinks and tax.
- La Brezza Ristorante, 990 1 Ave NE, ☎ . Lunch: Tu-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: Su-Th 5:30PM-9PM, F-Sa 5PM-10PM. This Italian restaurant in Bridgeland has been in business since 1987. Main dishes $16-31.
- James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant, 114 8 Ave SW (between 1 St SW & Centre St S), ☎ . 11am to 2am or midnight Sundays. The pub is located in a historic building and its interior has a nice vintage decor. Mixed review on food: Jalapeño & bacon burger was nice; Atlantic Salmon was overcooked.
- Laurier Lounge, 1111 7 St SW, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu 11AM-10PM, W-F 11AM-11PM, Sa 10AM-11PM, Su 10AM-10PM. French influenced cuisine, located in historic George Stanley house. Lunch dishes include Poutine ($12) and the Warren Buffet Burger ($15) , while the pricier dinner menu starts at $25 (Boulangere Potato) and continues on up Bouillabaisse ($39) and the Beef Fondue for Two ($67, includes 30-day aged beef, simmering beef & onion broth, baked potato, raw vegetables, mixed green salad & a trio of dipping sauces). Supper main courses $32-67.
- Lolita’s Lounge (Salt & Pepper Mexican Restaurant), 1413 9 Ave SE, ☎ . Mexican food, drink, and various shows as entertainment. Cover charge for entertainment. $17-20 for main dishes.
- Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant, 130 10 St NW (Kensington Village), ☎ . Lunch buffet: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: 5:30PM-10PM daily. Calgary’s oldest and finest Ethiopian restaurant, lunch buffet on weekdays, vegetarian options. Often slow service but the tasty and filling food makes up for it. $17/main dish.
- Moti Mahal, 1805 14 St SW, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-1:30PM; dinner: Su-Tu 5:30PM-9PM; W-Th 5:30PM-9:30PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. Excellent Kashmiri Indian restaurant. Second location in Midnapore Mall. Main dishes $10-17.
- Nick’s Steakhouse, 2430 Crowchild Trail NW (Across from McMahon Stadium), ☎ . Best known for Alberta steaks and tasty pizzas. $15-20 for pizzas, burgers, pasta. Steaks $23-50.
- Orchid Room Fusion Cuisine, 513 8 Ave SW (Bankers Hall – 2nd floor), ☎ . M-W 10AM-6PM, Th-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-5:30PM, Su closed. A fusion of Vietnamese, Thai, and French cuisine with dishes like seafood phó soup, caramelized salmon, coconut prawn soup, and salad rolls stuffed with mango and shrimp. $18-24 per main dish.
- Una Pizza + Wine, 618 17 Ave SW, e-mail: email@example.com. 11:30AM-1AM daily. Very popular creative pizzas. No reservations, so go early, order take out, or line up. $17-20 per pizza.
Traditional – Steak, seafood, and French cuisine
- Caesar’s (Julius Caesar’s Steakhouse and Lounge), 512 4 Ave SW, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11AM-2PM; dinner: M-Sa 4:30PM-10PM. A downtown Calgary institution since 1972, some say that Caesar’s is a classic steakhouse, while others feel it’s outdated & tacky. Second location in south Calgary.
- Cassis Bistro, #105, 2505 17 Ave SW, ☎ . Lunch: Su,Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM, Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: Tu-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su 5PM-9PM; M closed. Cuisine of southern France. $28-32 per main dish.
- Catch & the Oyster Bar, 100 8 Ave SE (Hyatt Regency Hotel on Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-10PM, Sa 4PM-10PM. Calgary’s classic seafood restaurant. Catch is their more formal dining room while the Oyster Bar is more relaxed. Uses Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise guidelines for sustainable seafood. Main dishes $26-50.
- CharCUT, #101, 899 Centre St SW (Across from the Calgary Tower, in Hotel Le Germain), ☎ . M-Tu 11AM-11PM, W-F 11AM-1AM, Sa 5PM-1AM, Su 5PM-10PM. An great place for lunch or dinner if you’re looking for meat; very few options for vegetarians. The slow roasted prime rib and chicken are their specialties, as well as the made-in-house cured meats. The wine list is varied and there is a selection of microbrews from across Canada. Mains $20-35.
- La Chaumière, 139 17 Ave SW (Next to Rouleauville Square), ☎ . M-F 11:45AM-2:30PM, 5:45PM-midnight, Sa 5:30PM-midnight, Su closed. French haute cuisine, local Alberta meats, game, and produce, excellent wine cellar. Banquet rooms for 14-100 people, patio in summer, business casual dress code. Reservations required. $26-40 per dinner main dish per person.
- Rush Ocean Prime, #100, 207 – 9 Ave SW, ☎ . M-F 11AM-midnight, Sa 5PM-2AM. The focus is on seafood and steaks, with few dinner options for vegetarians. $24-90 per main dish (dinner).
- Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, #294, 115 9 Ave SE (Base of the Calgary Tower), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch: M-F 11AM-2PM; dinner: M-Sa 4PM-10PM, Su 4PM-9PM. Carnivorous delight, with your choice of Alberta or US beef. $42-59 per main dish; main dish does not include side dishes (potatoes, vegs, etc.).
- Saltlik Steakhouse, 101 8 Ave SW (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ . A high-end steakhouse in the core of downtown, extremely popular with the people working in the core for good reason. Food and service are generally excellent with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Steak is, as expected, quite good. More extravagant steak houses exist, but tend to be for the expense account crowd. $16-37 per main dish (dinner).
Eclectic – Great cuisine from around the world
- Alloy, 220 42 Ave SE, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner: 5PM-10PM daily. $32-39 per main dish.
- The Belvedere, 107 8 Ave SW (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The only restaurant to win the coveted Birks Silver Spoon Award for best service in Calgary for two consecutive years. Flawless service and atmosphere. Well-stocked bar and lounge with a nice selection of Cuban cigars. $24-38 per main dish, tasting menus for $120 and $160..
- , 111 8 Ave SW (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11AM-2PM; dinner: M-Sa 5PM-11PM. Canadian cuisine.
- Chef’s Table, 1126 Memorial Dr NW (Kensington Riverside Inn, in Kensington Village), ☎ . Breakfast: M-F 7AM-10AM; brunch: Sa-Su 8AM-1PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30PM-9:30PM. The fine dining restaurant at Calgary’s Relais et Chateaux hotel. $35-39 per main dish at dinner; tasting menu available.
- Japanese Village, 317 10 Ave SW, ☎ . A teppan and steak house, they offer meals cooked with flair in front of your eyes. Tends to rush diners through.
- Model Milk, 308 17 Ave SW, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lactophobes need not fear a dairy-heavy menu. The restaurant’s name is taken from the name of the dairy which occupied this building from 1932 until 1965. The restaurant’s very popular fixed-menu Sunday supper ($35) is served until 10PM. $20-75.
- NOtaBLE the Restaurant, 4611 Bowness Rd NW (Montgomery district), ☎ . Tu-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Rotisserie dishes are their specialty. $18-39 per main dish (dinner).
- Q Haute Cuisine (formerly La Caille), 100 La Caille Pl SW, ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-1:30PM; dinner: M-Sa 5:30PM-9PM. An epicurean journey of discovery that will make your tastebuds very happy.
- River Café, 25 Prince’s Island Park (Prince’s Island Park), ☎ . M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa-Su 10AM-10PM; open until 11PM nightly during summer. One of Calgary’s first locavore restaurants, River Cafe is located in the middle of Prince’s Island Park (see map). It’s right on the lagoon where the Bow River passes though downtown, thus has no parking. Nearest parking lot is not far, but this can cause problems in bad weather or for diners with mobility issues. $32-52 per main dish (dinner).
- Rouge, 1240 8 Ave SE (Inglewood), ☎ . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-1:30PM; dinner: M-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. Located in the historic A.E. Cross House (1891), Rouge’s focus has long been on excellent cuisine with local food, including some grown in their own on-site garden. Tasting menu available. Bistro Rouge is their more casual & affordable restaurant in southwest Calgary. $38-48 per main dish (dinner).
- Sky 360, 101 9 Ave SW (Top of the Calgary Tower), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Lunch: M-Sa 11AM-2PM; brunch: Su 10AM-2PM; dinner: Su-Th 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 5PM-10PM. Revolving restaurant with a view. Ride up the Calgary Tower to restaurant is free with purchase of main dish. $25-43 per main dish (dinner).
- Teatro, 200 8 Ave SE (On Stephen Avenue Walk, next to Olympic Plaza), ☎ . M-W 11:30AM-10PM, Th 11:30AM-10:30PM, F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM. Italian fine cuisine in a magnificent heritage building. Tasting menu available. $24-50 per person for main dish (dinner).
Take-out Only Restaurants
These food outlets have no tables inside. You pick up your order and take it away to eat elsewhere: your hotel room, your car, a picnic table at a park.
- A & A Deli (Jimmy’s A & A Mediterranean Deli), 1401 – 20 Ave NW, ☎ . M-F 9AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8PM. This corner store and deli is known for serving up some of the biggest, drippiest, tastiest shawarmas in town, as well as other Mediterranean delights. A few tables outside.
- Bon Ton Meat Market, 28 Crowfoot Circle NW, ☎ . M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa 8:30AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Locally famous for their hot meat pies ($3 each), Bon Ton also has a selection of cold salads and hot ready-to-eat meat dishes, all prepared in-house. Worth a visit just to see their butchers hard at work in their bow ties and bright blue aprons. $5-10.
- Chicken On The Way, 1443 Kensington Rd NW, ☎ . M-Th 10:30AM-12:30AM, F-Sa 10:30AM-1:30AM, Su 10:30AM-11PM. This is the original location of one of the longest-running fast food institutions in Calgary (opened 1958). Chicken On The Way delivers wonderful deep-fried chicken, french fries and corn fritters, at a fair price. This is an old-school joint; no frills, nothing fancy, and none of that new-fangled low-fat junk. The dining space here is two picnic tables next to busy 14th St. But it’s still hands-down the best fried chicken in the city. A meal runs in the $8-10 range. Other locations have recently opened in Mackenzie Towne, Macleod Trail (in Brick Plaza), Forest Lawn, and Temple; the new locations have tables so that you can dine in.
- Peter’s Drive-in, 219 16 Ave NE, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-midnight daily. Classic drive-through burger joint. Locally-famous burgers, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes at very affordable prices. Big portions – a large fry is the size of a shoebox, a large onion ring order is the size of a lunch bag. Park in the adjacent lot and walk up to the front windows; you’ll get faster service than in the drive-through and you can eat at one of their picnic tables. The finest milkshake in the city; thick and made with real fruit (over 20 flavours!). Some feel that the quality of the hot food has gone down recently, but most agree that the shakes still rock. $10/meal (burger, shake, onion rings)’.
- Saffron Fine Indian Take-Out, #136, 3604 – 52 Ave NW (Dalbrent Professional Plaza, across from Northland Village Mall), ☎ . Tu-Sa 11:30AM-8:30PM, Su 3PM-8PM, M closed. Butter chicken and daal soup are offered every day. Samosas, rice, breads, kababs, pakoras, raita, chutneys, and desserts are also on the menu every day. In addition, two vegetarian and two non-vegetarian main dishes are featured each day; phone to ask what is available that day. Most dishes are not prepared very spicy-hot. Take out only. $11-13 per main dish.
Coffee and Tea
Starbucks and Tim Horton’s are everywhere in Calgary. If you’re looking for something different, try one of these.
- Bumpy’s Cafe, 1040 – 8 St SW, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 6:30AM-5PM, Sa-Su 7:30AM-4PM. Great espresso in a retro-fifties setting. Two-time winner of the Krups Kup of Excellence.
- Caffe Artigiano, #103, 400 4 Ave SW (Shell Oil building). M-F 6AM-6PM, Sa-Su 7:30AM-5PM. Calgary outlet of Vancouver-based artisan coffee chain.
- DeVille Luxury Coffee and Pastries, 807 – 1 St SW (Fashion Central), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W 7AM-6PM, Th-F 7AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su closed. Second location in Bridgeland.
- Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery (Good Earth Café), 1502 11 St SW (Locations across Calgary), ☎ . M-F 6:30AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 8AM-8PM. Calgary-based Good Earth has nearly 30 locations across Calgary, and others across Western Canada. Many of their cafes have patios.
- Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters, 2043 33 Ave SW (Marda Loop), ☎ . M-F 6:30AM-9PM, Sa 7:30AM-9PM, Su 7:30AM-6PM. Phil & Sebastian buy green coffee and operate their own roasterie. Three additional locations in Calgary.
- Purple Perk Coffee Market, 2212 4 St SW (Mission / Rouleauville), ☎ . Good place for coffee and cake or a meal.
- Waves Coffee House, #205, 400 5 Ave SW (Roslyn), ☎ . “Waves” refers both to the Vancouver origin of this coffee chain, and also to the fact that every location has free wi-fi. Nearly 10 locations across Calgary.
Calgary is the original home of the Caesar cocktail, sometimes called Canada’s national cocktail. There are many bars located throughout the city, although the core is where the trendiest clubs are located. There is also the ever-popular 17th Avenue SW, home to the Red Mile.
- The Blues Can, 1429 9 Ave SE (Inglewood), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Calgary’s home of live blues music, also serves drinks.
- Cat ‘n Fiddle, 540 16 Ave NW, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 11AM-1AM, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-2AM, Su 10AM-midnight. Great place to head for a pint of almost any brew you can think of, sometimes with a touch of Irish
- Ceili’s Modern Irish Pub, 803 8 Ave SW, ☎ . M-F 11AM-Late, Sa 6PM-Late, Su closed. Three other locations in Calgary: Royal Oak, Southland, & 4th Avenue downtown.
- HiFi Club, 219 10 Ave SW, ☎ . Live music venue, dance club and art gallery for those who aren’t cowboys/cowgirls and want some different, alternative music.
- Ironwood Stage & Grill (Garry Theatre), 1229 9 Ave SE, ☎ . Live music every night: folk, pop, country, and more. Shows usually start by 8PM Su-Tu, Th. Shows usually start by 9PM W, F-Sa.
- Moose McGuire’s, #25, 1941 Uxbridge Dr NW, in Stadium Shopping Centre (Off University Drive, near McMahon Stadium and the U of C campus), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-1AM, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa noon–2AM, Su noon-1AM. Pub near McMahon Stadium (home of the Calgary Stampeders, the local Canadian Football League team) and the university uampus. As a result the prices are great and it’s an excellent place to enjoy a game or head to after class.
- Morgan’s, 1324 17 Ave SW, ☎ . A great live music pub with cheaper drinks than most places on 17th Ave. Tuesdays host the must-see Broken Toyz, an exceptionally talented glam-rock band who have become local legends. Get there before 9PM to avoid long line-ups. Often has a slightly older crowd than other establishments on 17th Ave, with more late 30s and 40s drinkers.
- The Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club, 109 7 Ave SW, ☎ . Upstairs is a BBQ restaurant featuring various meats smoked over apple and cherry wood along with an expansive selection of bourbon, tequila and whisky. Fridays feature live rock-a-billy from 5-9PM while the downstairs bar features live music every Friday and Saturday evening.
- Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dance Hall, 9615 Macleod Trail S, ☎ . Year-round destination for all things Western: line dancing, country music, and more. Very popular during Stampede Week.
- Rose & Crown Pub, 1503 4 St SW, ☎ . M-W 11AM-midnight, Th-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Two level pub with a large wood fireplace during the winter. Live music, large beer selection. Once a funeral home, it is rumoured to be haunted.
- Ship and Anchor Pub, 534 17 Ave SW, ☎ . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa-Su 10AM-2AM. An excellent place for live music, a lively young crowd, and cheap eats.
- Wine-Ohs Bistro and Cellar ((formerly BeatNiq)), 811 1 St SW (Grain Exchange building (sandstone)), ☎ . Wine tastings are offered upstairs, while the cellar has an eclectic mix of live music and entertainment, from jazz to folk to burlesque.
- Best Western Airport Inn, 1947 18 Ave NE, ☎ , fax: . 24-hour airport shuttle.
- Canada’s Best Value Inn ((formerly Royal Wayne Motor Inn)), 2416 16 Ave NW (Motel Village), ☎ . Discounts for CAA/AAA, AARP, military, government, seniors (60+). ID required for discounts. $84+.
- Econo Lodge Inn and Suites University, 2231 Banff Trail NW (Motel Village), ☎ .
- Hostelling International-Calgary City Centre (HI Calgary Hostel), 520 7 Ave SE, ☎ , fax: . On the edge of the East Village district, near bars, restaurants, shopping centres and transit. Free breakfast and wifi. Very clean and friendly, lots of space inside and outside. There are no age restrictions, so be prepared for the possibility of sharing a room with a retiree and an 18 year old! Dorm beds and private rooms available. $38-54/dormitory bed, $96-138 for private room with ensuite (prices depend on season).
- Hotel Alma, 169 University Gate NW, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. On the U of C campus in northwestern Calgary. Offers 81 Euro-style hotel rooms and 15 one-bedroom suites year round. These rooms were built to be hotel rooms for the university hospitality management program, and have never been student residences. The Alma Seasonal Residence program also has hundreds of apartments and student dorm rooms from early May to late August. Access to on-campus services like fitness facilities, laundry, parking, cafeterias. $89/queen, $109/queen+twin, plus tax.
- Mount Royal University Guest & Visitor Housing, 200 Mount Royal Circle SW, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Fully furnished one-, two- and four-bedroom apartment and townhouse units on the Mount Royal campus in southwestern Calgary (address is for the administrative office, not the residences). Two- and four-bedroom units have private bedroom keys, and include local phone calls, voice mail, and wireless internet. 1 bedroom studio $98.10, 4-bedroom townhouse (shared) $54.50/room, inc tax.
- SAIT Conference Housing, 151 Dr Carpenter Circle NW (SAIT Polytechnic), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. On the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) campus in southwestern Calgary (address is for the administrative office, not the residences). May only be available in summer months.
- Wicked Hostels, 1505 MacLeod Tr SE, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 63 bed independently-owned boutique backpacker/international youth hostel. Free amenities include breakfast, wifi, long-distance calling, parking, golf clubs, and bicycles. Rooms are quite small and crowded; a party atmosphere is prevalent (even encouraged) on weekends. Located across from the Calgary Stampede grounds and the Victoria Park/Stampede LRT (tram) station. It is also near the 17th Ave entertainment district. $32.50/8-bed dorm, $34.50/6-bed dorm, $36.50/4-bed dorm, $90 private double room plus tax.
- Acclaim Hotel Calgary Airport, 123 Freeport Blvd NE, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . 24 hour airport shuttle, rooftop jetted spas, restaurant, meeting & banquet facilities, wifi, fitness centre.
- Best Western Plus Calgary Centre Inn ((formerly Holiday Inn)), 3630 Macleod Trail SE, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. 5 min walk to 39th Ave LRT (tram) platform. No pets. Complimentary breakfast, indoor pool. $140+.
- Best Western Plus Port O’ Call, 1935 McKnight Blvd NE, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Airport shuttle. Indoor water park, very popular with families. $140+.
- Best Western Premium Freeport Inn and Suites, 86 Freeport Blvd NE, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. Very close to airport. Pool with waterslide. Airport shuttle, free breakfast. $145+.
- Carriage House Inn, 9030 Macleod Trail S, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Large desk, TV, mini-refrigerator. Pet-friendly. $130+.
- Centro Motel Calgary, 4540 16 Ave NW (Montgomery district), ☎ , fax: . 32-room boutique motel, modern decor. Free amenities include wi-fi, phone calls, parking and breakfast. $115+.
- Courtyard Calgary Airport, 2500 48 Ave NE, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . 100% non-smoking, no pets. $110+ (F-Sa), $240-400 (Su-Th).
- Days Inn Calgary Airport, 2799 Sunridge Way NE, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. In northeast. Vacation packages, pool and water slide, fitness centre, airport shuttle. $127-150.
- Days Inn Calgary Northwest, 4420 16 Ave NW (Montgomery district), ☎ . Pet friendly, 100% non-smoking. Breakfast, parking, laundromat. $125+.
- Delta Calgary South Hotel, 135 Southland Dr SE, toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Near Southland Drive and MacLeod Trail, suites. 10 min walk to Southland LRT (tram) Station. $130+.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Calgary-Airport, 2420 37 Ave, ☎ , fax: . From the (Highway 1) head north on Barlow Trail to 37th Avenue then take a left and it will be about the last building on the right. $120+.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Calgary-University, 2231 Banff Trail NW (Motel Village), ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. From Vancouver, go east on the (Highway 1) then turn left (northwest on Banff Trail, Calgary); it will be the 2nd or 3rd building on the left. $160+.
- Hotel Elan, 1122 16 Ave SW, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $149+.
- Lakeview Signature Inn Calgary Airport, 2622 39 Ave NE, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. $135+.
- Nuvo Hotel Suites, 827 12 Ave SW, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Modern suites in the heart of the Beltine, furnished kitchen, free wi-fi and local phone. Weekly and monthly rate available. $150+/night.
- Ramada Calgary Downtown, 708 8th Ave SW (At 6th St SW near 7th Ave SW CTrain Stn), ☎ . Near airport bus 300 stop; 1 block from CTrain; close to Stephen Ave Walk; 15 minutes walk from Calgary Tower. The hotel’s buffet breakfast ($15/person) is available from 6:30am.
- Residence Inn Calgary Airport, 2530 48 Ave NE, ☎ , toll-free: . 100% non-smoking. Free breakfast, long stays. $120+.
- Calgary Marriott Hotel, 110 9 Ave SE (across from the Calgary Tower), ☎ , toll-free: . Downtown hotel with city’s largest rooms, indoor pool, whirlpool and outdoor patio. $136+/night.
- The Fairmont Palliser, 133 9 Ave SW (300 m from C-Train 1 St/Centre St stations), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The in downtown Calgary, originally built in 1914 by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the era when luxury was an art. Along with the other former CP hotels (The Banff Springs Hotel, The Empress, The Chateau Frontenac, Hotel York, etc.), this is one of the grand old dames. $180+.
- Hotel Le Germain, 899 Centre St SW, toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Hyatt Regency, 700 Centre St SE (Stephen Avenue Walk), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pet-friendly. Spa. $250+.
- Kensington Riverside Inn, 1126 Memorial Dr NW, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Boutique hotel in Kensington, just across the river from downtown, with an amazing exterior display of “Whoville” from “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” during the holidays. $210+.
- The Westin Calgary, 320 4 Ave SW (500 m from C-Train 3 St/4 St stations), ☎ , toll-free: . Modern 4-star hotel tower with 27 sqm rooms, in one of the more pleasant sections of central Calgary. Wireless internet free in lobby, available in-room for $13/daily. $200+.
Bed & Breakfast
- Blackmore’s Bed & Breakfast, 5024 Vanstone Crescent NW (Varsity Acres district), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 15 minute walk to Dalhousie LRT (tram) Station, simple healthy breakfast, non-smoking, no pets. $70-90.
- Calgary Mt Royal Bed and Breakfast, 809 18 Ave SW, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 15 minute walk to downtown or to Stampede grounds. Full breakfast. Non-smoking only, no pets. $85-153.
- Cozy Nest B&B, 908 Silverview Dr NW (Silver Springs district), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wheelchair ramp at rear entrance. 15 min bus ride to Dalhousie LRT (tram) Station. River valley view. Western breakfast. Long stays available in winter months. $55-80.
- Tuxedo House Bed & Breakfast, 121 21 Ave NE, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10 mins to downtown by car or by transit. Non-smoking only, no pets. Full breakfast included. $80-100.
Campgrounds and RV Parks
There are several campgrounds near Calgary, but only Calgary West Campground and Symons Valley RV Park are inside the city limits.
- Calgary West Campground ((formerly Calgary West KOA)), 221 101 St SW (Trans-Canada Hwy (16 Ave NW) west of Canada Olympic Park), ☎ , toll-free: . Open from April 15 to October 15. Take Valley Ridge Boulevard/Crestmont Boulevard exit from Hwy 1 (Trans-Canada Hwy) on west edge of Calgary. Hookup types available: 120 sites with power, water, & sewer; 120 sites power & water; 80 no hookups. 20 & 30 amps available. Some pull-through sites. Pet-friendly. Campfires prohibited by city bylaw. Free shuttle to Calgary Transit bus stop at Canada Olympic Park; express shuttle to Stampede grounds during Stampede Week. $36-48/night +tax (higher rates during Stampede Week).
- Calaway Park RV Park and Campground (Hwy 1 west of Calgary, Exit 169). Open Victoria Day weekend (late May) to Labour Day (early Sept). Located next to Calaway Park amusement park near Trans-Canada Hwy west of Calgary. Hookup types: power, water & sewer; power only; no hookups. All sewer hookups require rigid hose connector to campground receptacles. Gates locked from 10PM-6AM, Stampede Week locked midnight-6AM. No campfires, no charcoal BBQs. Pets welcome, day kennel services at campground for fee. $27-39/night +tax.
- Mountain View Camping, 244024 Range Rd 284 (3 km east of Calgary, just off Hwy 1), ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Service in English, German, French. Hookup types: Power, water, & sewer; power & water only; no hookups. Pull-through sites available. Power 15, 20, or 30 amps. Fire pits at some sites. Shuttle to Stampede grounds during Stampede Week. $38-47/night +tax.
- Symons Valley RV Park and Storage (Symons Valley Ranch), 14555 Symons Valley Rd NW, ☎ , e-mail: Long@symonsvalleyranch.com. Next to Symon’s Valley Farmers Market. Open year-round.
- Whispering Spruce RV Park and Storage, 262 195 Balzac Blvd (Hwy 2 north of Calgary near Balzac and CrossIron Mills), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Open May 1-Oct 31. Hookup types: Power, water & sewer; power & water; no hookups. $24-34/night +tax.
Although Calgary is generally a very safe place, walking at night should be avoided in the East Village and Victoria Park areas of downtown (generally speaking, this is the area adjacent to the Stampede Grounds and north to the Bow River). Calgary’s 2011 murder rate of 1.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants was, for example, roughly one-tenth the murder rate of Minneapolis and one-twentieth that of Memphis. Always keep your wits about you when the bars close, regardless of the area of town.
Calgary drivers are typical drivers for a mid-sized western North American city. Culturally, Calgary is a mash-up of small town culture and big city living, and driving in Calgary is no exception. If you come from a small town in rural North America, the drivers would be considerably more aggressive than you are used to. If you are from a larger busier urban area, or are from Europe for instance, Calgary drivers can be considered quite timid and under-skilled. A driver from New York, London or even Montreal and Toronto would consider the Calgary driver to lack confidence more than anything. Calgarians are generally quite aware of pedestrians and usually give pedestrians right of way, as required by law. Calgarians are generally safe and cautious (some consider overly cautious) drivers, though. Note though that Calgarians are probably some of the best inclement weather drivers in the world. Blizzards, storms, floods, etc. are where Calgary drivers shine compared to the rest of the world’s drivers and they can navigate them safely with the minimum of problems.
Calgary freeways are nowhere near as congested and confusing as L.A. freeways or the 401 in Toronto, but Deerfoot Trail is to be avoided if you’re not comfortable with 100 km/h freeway driving, and even by experts at rush hour (accidents occur on a daily basis). A second freeway, Stoney Trail, now exists on the northwest, north, and east sides of the city providing an alternate, less hectic route.
Be aware of lengthy wait times at the emergency rooms of the city’s hospitals. It may take 1 to 2 hours or more to see an emergency doctor. (Note: this is a province-wide problem.) There is a web page where Alberta Health tracks the current wait times for Calgary emergency departments.
Panhandlers are a sight in Calgary’s downtown core. The majority of them just need to be told ‘No’ but some can be persistent. A great number of agencies exist to assist the disadvantaged in Calgary and true charity cases receive assistance from them regularly; money is far better spent donating to these agencies as it ensures that those truly in need will receive it. For that reason, visitors are encouraged not to give money to strangers in the street. Panhandlers have also been found at signalized intersections, holding a cap or hand out to drivers stopped at red lights.
Take care when crossing LRT (tram) tracks, as the trains are quiet. There are no electrified rails. There are usually bells and barriers at pedestrian crossings; heed them.
Boaters on the Bow River should note the Calgary White Water Park (Harvie Passage) located just downstream of the Calgary Zoo; heed the warning signs. People have perished here, the strongest swimmers among them.
Although Calgary doesn’t get a lot of heavy snow, temperatures below freezing can allow ice to form on many roads. The most dangerous condition is when the ice is a clear sheet which resembles the road, called “black ice”. Black ice is most commonly seen on bridge decks and other elevated roadways such as on- and off-ramps, where the road surface cools more quickly and so is more prone to freezing. Black ice most dangerous times to drive in these conditions are the two or three days immediately following the first major snowfall of the year. Black ice can also form after a period of warmer weather, such as in late fall, early spring, or after a winter chinook, when melting snow can turn to ice overnight. Freezing rain is not often seen in the Calgary area, but sometimes happens in late fall or early spring, when an evening shower is followed by overnight lows that drop below freezing, covering the roads with ice.
Weather in Calgary is unpredictable from fall through spring. It is always best to dress in layers and come prepared for extremes, even within the same day.
- For emergencies, call 911
- Calgary Health Link, ☎ . 24 hours/7 days a week. (943-LINK.) Registered nurses provide telephone advice and information about health symptoms and concerns. Health Link nurses help find appropriate services and health information.
All hospitals operate 24-hour emergency departments.
- Alberta Children’s Hospital, 2888 Shaganappi Trail NW, ☎ . For patients aged 17 and under. Look for the multi-coloured building near the top of the hill. Patients over age 17 should go to the Foothills Medical Centre, which is close by.
- Foothills Medical Centre (Foothills Hospital), 1403-29 St NW, ☎ . For patients aged 15 and older. Patients under 15 years of age should go to Alberta Children’s Hospital, which is very close to Foothills Medical Centre.
- Peter Lougheed Centre (Peter Lougheed Hospital), 3500-26 Ave NE (Just north of Sunridge Mall), ☎ .
- Rockyview General Hospital, 7007-14 St SW, ☎ .
- South Health Campus, 4448 Front St SE, ☎ . 24-hour emergency, visiting hours 11AM-9PM. This new hospital was fully operational in July 2013. Located at southeastern edge of Calgary.
Urgent Care Centres
Urgent care centres deal with issues which are not life-threatening but require attention within the same day or evening. For serious and life-threatening health concerns always go to your nearest emergency department, or call 911. Problems which urgent care centres typically deal with include broken bones, sprains, asthma, cuts, dehydration, infections, and pain.
- South Calgary Health Centre, 31 Sunpark Plaza SE (Shawnessy district), ☎ . 8AM-10PM.
- Sheldon Chumir Health Centre, 1213 4 St SW (Next to Central Memorial Park), ☎ . 24hrs.
There are many walk-in medical clinics across the city that deal with routine medical concerns. Medi-Centre is a chain of walk-in clinics with locations across the city, but there are also many independent walk-in clinics.
The area codes in Calgary are 403 and 587, however calling between the codes does not involve long distance charges so long as the phones are located within the local calling area.
- Emergency Services 911 (City of Calgary only) – Fire, Police, Ambulance, Hazardous Materials Spills.
- Non-Emergency Ambulance (403) 261-4000
- Non-Emergency Police Service (403) 266-1234
- Turner Valley Gas Plant National and Provincial Historic Site, Sunset Blvd SE, Turner Valley, ☎ . A pioneering natural gas plant 45 minutes (by car) south of Calgary, where the Dingman No. 1 well’s centennial was celebrated on May 14, 2014. See how natural gas from Canada’s largest gas field was processed prior to WWII.
- and . Nearby, well-known winter ski areas and mountain summer escapes.
- and . Mountain destinations about an hour car travel away.
- . A 3-hour drive south of Calgary.
- . A well-known mountain destination about 4 hours drive northwest of Calgary.
- . The nearest urban, metropolitan centre to the North is host to North America’s largest mall and has a vibrant cultural scene. It is a 3-hour drive north of Calgary on Highway 2.
- . A city with its own list of attractions, located exactly halfway between Edmonton and Calgary.
- . A 90 minute drive south of Calgary. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, one of Alberta’s 5 , is 18 km NW of Fort Macleod with an excellent interpretive centre open year round.
- . 2 hours east of Calgary; a 73 km2 Dinosaur Provincial Park boasts one of the best dinosaur fossil beds in the world.
- . 90 minutes east of Calgary. The world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum houses many palaeontological specimens.
- . The Remington Carriage Museum houses the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in North America with over 250 carriages, wagons and sleighs.
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