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Exploring Calgary: 10 Must-Do Activities and Attractions in the Heart of Alberta

Photo things to do in calgary

Calgary, located in the province of Alberta, Canada, is a vibrant and diverse city that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for travelers. Known for its stunning natural beauty, Calgary is surrounded by majestic mountains and boasts numerous parks and scenic views. In addition to its natural wonders, the city also offers adventure sports, rich history and culture, world-class dining and nightlife, premier shopping destinations, top entertainment venues, a renowned zoo, exciting festivals and events, educational institutions and attractions, as well as relaxing spas and wellness centers. With so much to offer, Calgary is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a diverse and memorable experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Calgary’s natural parks and scenic views offer breathtaking beauty to explore.
  • Adventure sports enthusiasts can find plenty of thrills in Calgary’s outdoors.
  • Calgary’s museums and galleries provide a rich cultural experience for visitors.
  • Downtown Calgary boasts world-class dining and nightlife options.
  • Premier retail destinations in Calgary offer a shopping experience like no other.

Discover the Beauty of Calgary’s Natural Parks and Scenic Views

Calgary is blessed with an abundance of natural parks and scenic views that showcase the city’s stunning beauty. One of the most popular parks in Calgary is Fish Creek Provincial Park, which spans over 13 square kilometers and offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, and birdwatching. The park is home to numerous trails that wind through forests, meadows, and along the banks of the Bow River, providing visitors with breathtaking views of nature.

Another must-visit park in Calgary is Nose Hill Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. This expansive park covers over 11 square kilometers and offers panoramic views of the city skyline, as well as opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and enjoying a peaceful picnic.

For those seeking even more adventure, Calgary is also a gateway to the Canadian Rockies. Just a short drive from the city, visitors can explore Banff National Park and Lake Louise, two iconic destinations known for their stunning mountain landscapes, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife. Whether it’s hiking through alpine meadows, skiing down powdery slopes, or simply taking in the awe-inspiring views, Calgary’s natural parks and scenic views offer something for everyone.

Experience the Thrill of Adventure Sports in Calgary’s Outdoors

Calgary is a haven for adventure sports enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities that take advantage of its natural surroundings. In the winter months, skiing and snowboarding are popular activities, with several world-class ski resorts located just a short drive from the city. Resorts such as Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Nakiska Ski Area offer a variety of slopes for all skill levels, as well as stunning mountain views.

In the summer months, hiking and mountain biking are popular activities in Calgary. With an extensive network of trails in and around the city, outdoor enthusiasts can explore the beautiful landscapes and enjoy breathtaking views. Popular hiking destinations include the Grotto Canyon, Grassi Lakes, and Johnston Canyon, each offering unique experiences and stunning natural beauty.

For those seeking a more adrenaline-pumping adventure, Calgary also offers opportunities for rock climbing, white-water rafting, and zip-lining. Whether you’re a seasoned thrill-seeker or a beginner looking to try something new, Calgary’s outdoors provide endless opportunities for adventure.

Explore Calgary’s Rich History and Culture Through its Museums and Galleries

Museum/Gallery Location Admission Fee Hours of Operation
Glenbow Museum Downtown Calgary 18 for adults Monday-Saturday: 9am-5pm, Sunday: 12pm-5pm
The Military Museums Southwest Calgary 15 for adults Monday-Sunday: 9am-5pm
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre East Village, Calgary 18 for adults Monday-Sunday: 10am-5pm
Celebrity Walk of Fame Stephen Avenue, Downtown Calgary Free Open 24/7
The Hangar Flight Museum Northeast Calgary 12 for adults Monday-Sunday: 10am-4pm

Calgary has a rich history and vibrant culture that can be explored through its numerous museums and galleries. The Glenbow Museum is one of the city’s top cultural attractions, housing a vast collection of art, artifacts, and historical documents that tell the story of Alberta’s past. From Indigenous history to the development of the oil industry, the museum offers a comprehensive look at the region’s heritage.

Another must-visit museum in Calgary is the Heritage Park Historical Village. This living history museum takes visitors back in time to experience what life was like in Western Canada during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With over 180 exhibits, including historic buildings, costumed interpreters, and vintage vehicles, the park provides an immersive and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

In addition to museums, Calgary is also home to a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries showcasing the works of local and international artists. The Esker Foundation, located in the trendy neighborhood of Inglewood, is a contemporary art gallery that hosts rotating exhibitions and public programs. The Art Gallery of Calgary, located in the downtown core, is another notable gallery that features a diverse range of contemporary art exhibitions.

Enjoy World-Class Dining and Nightlife in Calgary’s Vibrant Downtown

Calgary’s downtown core is a hub of culinary delights and vibrant nightlife. The city boasts a wide range of restaurants offering cuisine from around the world, as well as local favorites. From fine dining establishments to casual eateries, foodies will find plenty to satisfy their taste buds in Calgary.

One popular dining destination in Calgary is Stephen Avenue Walk, a pedestrian-only street lined with restaurants, cafes, and bars. Here, visitors can indulge in everything from sushi to steak, and enjoy live music and entertainment in the evenings. Another popular area for dining is 17th Avenue SW, known as the “Red Mile,” which offers a variety of restaurants and bars catering to different tastes and budgets.

When it comes to nightlife, Calgary has a vibrant scene with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. The National Music Centre is a must-visit for music lovers, featuring interactive exhibits and live performances that showcase Canada’s rich musical heritage. For those looking for a more laid-back evening, Calgary also has a thriving craft beer scene, with several breweries offering tours and tastings.

Shop ’til You Drop at Calgary’s Premier Retail Destinations

Calgary is a shopper’s paradise, with a wide range of retail destinations catering to all tastes and budgets. The city offers everything from high-end luxury brands to unique boutiques and local artisans.

One of the premier shopping destinations in Calgary is the CORE Shopping Centre, located in the heart of downtown. This upscale mall features over 160 stores, including designer brands such as Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen, as well as popular retailers like H&M and Zara. The mall also boasts a selection of restaurants and cafes, making it a one-stop destination for shopping and dining.

For those looking for a more unique shopping experience, Calgary’s Kensington neighborhood is a must-visit. This trendy area is home to a variety of independent boutiques, vintage shops, and artisanal stores. Visitors can browse through clothing, jewelry, home decor, and more, all while supporting local businesses.

Take in a Show or Concert at One of Calgary’s Top Entertainment Venues

Calgary has a thriving entertainment scene, with numerous venues offering shows and concerts throughout the year. The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium is one of the city’s top entertainment venues, hosting a variety of performances including Broadway shows, ballets, operas, and concerts. With its state-of-the-art facilities and stunning architecture, the auditorium provides an unforgettable experience for theatergoers.

Another popular venue in Calgary is the Scotiabank Saddledome, home to the Calgary Flames hockey team. In addition to hockey games, the Saddledome also hosts concerts by top international artists and bands. With its unique design and capacity to hold over 19,000 spectators, the venue offers an electric atmosphere for music lovers.

For those looking for a more intimate setting, Calgary also has several smaller theaters and music venues that showcase local talent. The Loose Moose Theatre Company is known for its improvisational comedy shows, while the Ironwood Stage & Grill offers live music performances in a cozy setting.

Get Up Close and Personal with Calgary’s Wildlife at the Calgary Zoo

The Calgary Zoo is a must-visit attraction for families and animal lovers. Located on St. George’s Island in the Bow River, the zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from around the world. Visitors can explore various exhibits, including the Canadian Wilds, which showcases native wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars, and the Penguin Plunge, where visitors can watch penguins swim and play.

The zoo also offers interactive experiences such as behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with their favorite animals. In addition to its animal exhibits, the Calgary Zoo also features beautiful botanical gardens and a prehistoric park that showcases life-sized dinosaur replicas.

Immerse Yourself in Calgary’s Festivals and Events Throughout the Year

Calgary is known for its vibrant festivals and events that take place throughout the year. One of the most popular events is the Calgary Stampede, often referred to as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” This 10-day event celebrates Western heritage and includes rodeo competitions, chuckwagon races, live music performances, and a midway with thrilling rides and games.

Another notable festival in Calgary is the Calgary Folk Music Festival, which takes place in late July. This four-day event showcases a diverse range of folk music from around the world, with performances by both established artists and emerging talents. The festival also features workshops, food vendors, and a family area with activities for children.

In addition to these major events, Calgary also hosts numerous cultural festivals throughout the year that celebrate the city’s diverse communities. The GlobalFest Fireworks Festival, for example, showcases fireworks displays from different countries accompanied by live music performances. The Calgary International Film Festival is another notable event that showcases a wide range of films from around the world.

Learn Something New at Calgary’s Educational Institutions and Attractions

Calgary is home to several educational institutions and attractions that offer opportunities for learning and personal growth. The University of Calgary, one of Canada’s top research universities, offers a variety of programs and courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. Visitors can explore the campus and attend public lectures and events that cover a wide range of topics.

Another notable educational attraction in Calgary is the Telus Spark Science Centre. This interactive science museum features exhibits and programs that engage visitors of all ages in hands-on learning experiences. From exploring the wonders of outer space to conducting experiments in the chemistry lab, the science centre offers a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

For those interested in history and heritage, Calgary also has several historic sites and museums that provide insights into the city’s past. The Lougheed House, for example, is a historic mansion that showcases the lifestyle of Calgary’s early pioneers. The Fort Calgary Historic Park is another notable attraction that offers guided tours and interactive exhibits that tell the story of the city’s founding.

Relax and Unwind at Calgary’s Top Spas and Wellness Centers

After a day of exploring all that Calgary has to offer, visitors can relax and unwind at one of the city’s top spas and wellness centers. Calgary boasts a variety of establishments that offer a range of treatments and services to promote relaxation and rejuvenation.

One popular spa in Calgary is the Kananaskis Nordic Spa, located just outside the city in the picturesque Kananaskis Country. This Scandinavian-inspired spa features outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, and relaxation areas nestled among the natural surroundings. Visitors can enjoy hydrotherapy experiences, massages, and other wellness treatments while taking in the stunning mountain views.

For those looking for a more urban retreat, Calgary also has several luxury spas located in downtown hotels. The RnR Wellness Spa at The Fairmont Palliser offers a variety of treatments including massages, facials, and body wraps, as well as access to a fitness center and indoor pool. The Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt Regency Calgary is another notable spa that offers a range of services designed to promote relaxation and well-being.

Calgary is a city that offers something for everyone, from its stunning natural parks and scenic views to its thrilling adventure sports, rich history and culture, world-class dining and nightlife, premier shopping destinations, top entertainment venues, renowned zoo, exciting festivals and events, educational institutions and attractions, as well as relaxing spas and wellness centers. With its diverse range of activities and attractions, Calgary is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a memorable experience. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking to relax and unwind, Calgary has it all. So pack your bags and get ready to explore all that this vibrant city has to offer.


What is Calgary?

Calgary is a city in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is the largest city in the province and the fifth-largest city in Canada.

What are some popular tourist attractions in Calgary?

Some popular tourist attractions in Calgary include the Calgary Tower, the Calgary Zoo, the Glenbow Museum, and the Heritage Park Historical Village.

What are some outdoor activities to do in Calgary?

Calgary is known for its outdoor activities, such as hiking in the Rocky Mountains, skiing at nearby resorts, and exploring the city’s many parks and bike paths.

What is the best time of year to visit Calgary?

The best time of year to visit Calgary depends on what you want to do. Summer is the most popular time for outdoor activities, while winter is ideal for skiing and other winter sports.

What is the food scene like in Calgary?

Calgary has a diverse food scene, with many restaurants offering local and international cuisine. Some popular dishes in Calgary include Alberta beef, bison, and wild game.

What is the nightlife like in Calgary?

Calgary has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars, clubs, and music venues. The city is known for its live music and festivals, such as the Calgary Stampede.

What is the transportation system like in Calgary?

Calgary has a comprehensive public transportation system, including buses and a light rail system called the CTrain. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also available.