The Calgary Stampede and the city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains help put Calgary on the map, but the city has much more to offer.
When you think of Calgary, it’s often in reference to the Calgary Stampede or the city’s proximity to the mountains—yes, those two things help to put Calgary on the map, but there is so much more to do and see.
TLW Tip: Pack layers regardless of the time of year you choose to visit. Calgary is notorious for having all-four seasons in a single day!
Day One: East Village
Calgary’s East Village is a central city neighbourhood featuring beautiful pathways, places to eat and local shops. You could easily spend a whole day wandering around—and we think you should!
Begin your day with a stop at the Simmons Building. Situated on the banks of the Bow River, this century-old building is home to three of the city’s food and drink establishments. Grab a pastry from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and a coffee from Phil & Sebastien Coffee Roasters, then head outside! There’s plenty of outdoor seating for you to sit and enjoy a light breakfast with a view of the river.
Once you’re satiated, it’s time to explore. Wander just a few short blocks and make a stop at the Calgary Central Library.
As a tourist, you may not think that a library should be high on your list of things to do, but the Calgary Central Library is a display of modern architecture—and was even recognized by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Places in 2019. Following the library, continue heading south to the Bell National Music Centre. The Centre is home to Canada’s Music Hall of Fame, and also features an interactive experience with musical instruments and memorabilia. Book a “Behind-The-Glass” tour ($10 for adults and only offered on the weekend)—during these 45 minutes you’ll get a closer look at the exhibits and artifacts with a musically trained tour guide.
After that, you’ll probably need to refuel and the weekend brunch at The Deane House is a must. The restaurant is within walking distance from the National Music Centre and is an experience in itself. The grounds are meticulously kept and the menu changes regularly to feature what’s in season.
Following lunch, spend the afternoon wandering along 9th Avenue through Inglewood. You can spend hours browsing through the array of local shops.
Cap off the day with dinner and cocktails at The Nash. Everything is made in-house and features local products, where possible. Reservations are recommended.
Day Two: The City’s Core
Start day two with some fresh air and get your steps in while exploring Prince’s Island Park. The park is beautiful year-round but is also home to many festivals and events—often during the summer months.
Wander the meticulously maintained pathways, take a photo on the Peace Bridge, and when you’re hungry make your way to Alforno Bakery & Cafe (located across the river from Prince’s Island Park). Whether you’re craving a freshly made pastry, or a hearty meal—Alforno has something for everyone.
With a full belly, you can make your way by foot to the Glenbow Museum and spend your afternoon exploring an exceptional collection of art and historical objects (admission is free). The main building is currently closed for renovations, but the satellite location in the heart of downtown Calgary is scheduled to open April 9, 2022.
After you’ve wandered through the museum, make your way to Major Tom Bar for delicious food and creative cocktails. This is one of Calgary’s newest restaurants and is quickly becoming a favourite for many! Reservations are recommended if you’re looking to dine at a peak time.
Being from Calgary, I don’t often explore the “touristy” areas and since the pandemic, I haven’t done much exploring at all. However, as of late it’s been lovely to get back to enjoying all that the city has to offer.