‘What to do in Calgary?’ – this question often strikes tourists and visitors, and they believe that finding answers to it may be difficult. However, this is not the case!
Before answering what to do in Calgary, let’s talk a little about Calgary, Alberta, and its people.
This beautiful city is located in western Canada in Alberta. It is a major Canadian city and business hub. It’s located in the majestic Rocky Mountains and offers tourists and locals a brilliant view of the peaks and prairies. Calgary has a connected community with a lot of energy. The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2022, ranked Calgary as the world’s third most livable city.
It is a city with a diverse community and is home to more than 1.4 million people. Calgary is also the third most diverse major city in Canada. The major attractions of Calgary include the Canadian Rockies, Theatre Calgary, and the Calgary Zoo.
Here are some interesting facts to know about Calgary:
- Fish Creek Park, Calgary, is the second-largest urban park in Canada.
- It has the coldest temperature of -45°C.
- The Calgary stampede has the world’s largest rodeo.
- Calgary is a very young city since the median age here is only 36 years.
- Calgary has a quarter population of foreigners.
- It’s also the sunniest city in Canada, with 333 sunny days a year!
- The Chinook Blast can be very warm. The warm Chinook winds can raise Calgary’s temperature by at least 20 degrees in a few hours.
You can learn many things about Calgary, and having to shortlist them to only ten things seems like a lack of justice to everything Calgary offers. However, this article also mentions a few other tourist attractions of Calgary you can check out after visiting these ten places.
Now that we know a bit about Calgary, let’s talk about what to do in Calgary.
1) What to do in Calgary – 10 Great Things to do in Calgary
The list that comes as answers under the list of what to do in Calgary is endless, but here are a few of the best things to get you started.
1.1) Calgary Zoo
The first spot under the ‘What to do in Calgary’ list is to check out the Calgary zoo. It is operated by the Calgary Zoological Society and is the second-largest zoo in Canada. It is the leading Canadian center for the protection of many endangered animals.
Here, you can see penguins at the Penguin Plunge, meet animals at the Canadian Wilds, explore the tropical rainforests, see the gorillas, crocodiles, and snakes at Destination Africa, and meet the tigers and pandas at Eurasia.
Flora and fauna in Dorothy Harvie Botanical Gardens and ENMAX Conservatory provide an ideal space for your children to learn and improve their zoo knowledge. One of the noted events held in the Calgary zoo is ZooLights. It is western Canada’s most spectacular light show, with over 1.5 million twinkling lights.
Calgary zoo is east of the city’s downtown and adjacent to Inglewood. You can get there via Calgary C-train route 202, by car via Memorial Drive, and you can walk through the Bow River pathway.
Now, while the Calgary zoo has a ton of animals, here are a few most enjoyed by the public:
- African Lions
- Amur Tigers
- Bala Shark
- African Spoonbill
- Bald Ibis
- Bighorn Sheep
A few animals, hidden from the public, also live in the Karsten Discovery Centre. A few of these animals are:
- African Pancake Tortoise
- Alexandrine Parakeet
- American Woodland Caribou
- Ball Python
- Caribbean Giant Cockroach
- Children’s Python
- Red Tegu
- Whooping Cranes
- Wood Bison
It’ll take you two and a half hours to check out the zoo.
1.2) Calgary Tower
A historical place that falls under the ‘what to do in Calgary’ list is the Calgary Tower.
A founder of the World Federation of Great Towers., the Calgary Tower started getting created in 1967 and was completed in 1968. The construction cost a whole of 3.5 million dollars! There was also a time when this tower used to be called the ‘Husky tower.’
This spot falls on the list of ‘what to do in Calgary’ because of its marvelous light shows. People come to the Calgary tower to observe its exterior LED show each morning before sunrise and from dusk to late at night. These light shows celebrate national events and local festivals. They also help contribute to raising awareness for important purposes. There are 132 lights that can produce more than 16.5 million effects.
Calgary Tower was opened to the public on 30th June 1968 and was the tallest building in Calgary and the tallest building in Canada outside Toronto. The 360-degree view from the tower gives you a great scenic view of the Canadian Rockies, the Foothills, and the Prairies. Besides fantastic views, Calgary Tower is also a hotspot for great events, like cocktail receptions and holiday parties. This place is also equipped with an observation deck.
1.3) Banff National Park
A part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO,
Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park with majestic views of the Rocky mountains, glacial lakes, and abundant wildlife.
The Rocky Mountains and abundant wildlife are the stars of Banff National Park. An expansive network of trails, crystalline lakes, and national historic sites are great outdoor activities for history lovers and bikers.
Banff National Park has over 766 archaeological sites, a rich culture, and a history of being Canada’s first national park. By the fall of 2004, there were 766 archaeological findings recorded in this park!
While at the park, you can also explore the town of Banff. It’s a great tourist attraction with various accommodation options, gift shops, and restaurants. It also has Banff Springs Hotel, a historic hotel with castle-like glory. You can also check out Sulphur Mountain, which offers amazing town views.
1.4) Fort Calgary
Amongst the historical places that fall under the list of ‘what to do in Calgary,’ Fort Calgary rises to the top.
Fort Calgary has always been a significant site and has many complex tales. The confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers is spoken about in oral histories, written about in documents, and is mapped as a place of rest, trade, and celebration. Fort Calgary continues to be a place for Indigenous people.
The Fort Calgary Preservation Society operates Fort Calgary and preserves, utilizes, and promotes Fort Calgary for the benefit of Calgary’s citizens. You can do many things at Fort Calgary; visit the displays, learn about the history of North West Mounted Police, dine at the Deane House, and participate in interactive exhibits.
1.5) Royal Tyrrell Museum
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is one of the top attractions in Calgary and amongst the most educative places to answer the question of ‘What to do in Calgary. It is a center of palaeontological research and is the host of the most complete dinosaur skeletons in the world. It has thousands of fossils and is a great spot for dinosaur enthusiasts.
It’s considered one of the best Calgary attractions because it’s fun for all ages. People, regardless of their age, can learn many informative and interesting things about paleontology. Its interactive exhibits make it a great spot for a versatile outing with family.
Additionally, it has a lot of public programs. In Fossil casting, you can learn to create your own fossils in an indoor workshop. In Seven Wonders of Badlands, you can hike and engage in outdoor activities to learn the history of the Badlands. The greatest outdoor activity the Royal Tyrrell Museum has to offer is The Dig Experience, where you can uncover fossil replicas and check out real fossils, too.
A famous exhibit in the Royal Tyrrell Museum is the Cretaceous Alberta. It provides a chance to see Alberta over 69 million years ago. It features four Albertosaurus individuals and is based on scientific evidence gathered from a grave with at least 12 Albertosaurus sarcophagus skeletons unearthed.
Another of these great exhibits is the Fossils in Focus, which highlights the majority of fossils found in Alberta. You can also explore a 505-million-year-old underwater exhibit featuring 46 creatures from the Burgess Shale. This is one of the most important fossil sites ever discovered, with more than 140 species of soft-bodied marine animals.
1.6) Prince’s Island Park
Prince’s Island Park is a wonderful place in downtown Calgary that holds celebrations like the Calgary Folk Festival, which is full of Calgary folk music.
Prince’s Island Park is recognized as a contributor to the cultural capital of Calgary. Prince’s Island Park provides a chance for recreation for many locals. In the island park is the Chevron Learning Pathway. It’s an educational pathway on the east end of the park, and it was designed to treat stormwater before it went back into the Bow river. It’s an environmental and educational resource that connects people with nature as interactive exhibits do.
The park has many features, including picnic areas, playgrounds, hiking trails, flower gardens, washrooms, fountains, cross-country skiing, outdoor skiing, a river café, and an on-leash dog park. It can be accessed by three footbridges linking it to Downtown Calgary and Eau Claire. You can also get here from Kensington.
The best time to visit this park is in summer. The park is full of festivals, expos, and outdoor theatre during this time. It’s also a great lunchtime space for people working in downtown Calgary. Pet owners love this park for their pets and some daily exercise. In the winter, the park becomes a friendly skating area maintained by the City center. It also has an elite restaurant, The River Café, open year-round.
1.7) Canada Olympic Park
When making a list of what to do in Calgary, Canada Olympic Park is one of the attractions in Calgary that can’t be missed! It has been a venue for some spectacular winter sports of the 1988 Olympics. It was initially called Paskapoo Ski Hill, and WinSport Canada operates it. It is used for athletic training, winter sports, and recreational purposes. There are three hill sections – the downhill racing, the casual section, and the terrain park.
Acura Tube Park is the largest in Western Canada and features 10 lanes, 200 meters in length. It is located on the main hill, and people can use the washrooms, eateries, amenities, and retail stores. In summer, you can engage in activities like mountain biking, ziplining, summer bobsleighing, challenge course, and mini golf.
There’s also a children’s activity area with a climbing wall and spiderweb. The park also has the Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. It also holds summer and winter camps for children. For any activity, it will take you at least an hour to visit the park and spend some time there. The Canada Olympic Park also has wheelchair access, free parking, and restrooms.
Besides the activities above, Canada Olympic Park offers downhill skiing, free falling, and skyline luging. Canada Olympic Park also has a Sports Hall of Fame with 12 galleries and more than 50 interactive exhibits.
1.8) Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
If you’re interested in learning about Canada’s sports history, your’ what to do in Calgary’ list must have this perfect destination for sports lovers!
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is a charitable organization that has been an important contributor to the cultural richness of Canada, and it has been doing so for 65 years. They are one of North America’s oldest sports museums focusing on education, tourism, curation, recognition, and thought leadership. They have inducted over 673 Hall of Famers in their 65-year history. They award the Order of the sport, the highest level of recognition for sports in Canada. They also represent all sports in Canada which showcase the country’s diverse and inclusive culture.
Filled with 12 galleries, an 11-minute film about sports moments, a 125- seat theatre, and a chance to interact with visitors, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame covers over 40,000 square feet. This place also offers school programs to local schools and a virtual distance program to ensure that everyone can learn and acknowledge the eventful sports’ history of Canada.
An upcoming event people are looking forward to is an immersive event with interactive displays representing six of Canada’s Sports Hall of fame galleries.
1.9) Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge falls between Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, but it can be reached through Calgary, so it can be counted under the list of ‘what to do in Calgary.’
The Peace Bridge is a toll crossing over Niagara, and there are three other such crossings; the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. Since the Peace Bridge and Lewiston-Queenston bridge are connected to many arterials, they carry a lot of vehicles and have much more commercial traffic.
The main approach to the Peace Bridge is the New York State Thruway and Porter Avenue on the New York side, and the Queen Elizabeth Way, Highway 3, and the Niagara Parkway on the Canada side.
With the original structures designed to support 20-ton trucks and 40-ton trolleys, this bridge is 3,580 feet long, 36 feet in width, and has six-foot sidewalks for pedestrians. But now, the bridge has been restructured to a three-lane bridge with twelve-foot lanes to accommodate heavy commercial loads. The Peace Bridge is inspected annually and given a visual inspection after any seismic activity, flood, or impact event.
1.10) Eau Claire Park
For people who like parks, answering ‘what to do in Calgary’ shouldn’t be a task because of the amazing gardens Calgary has to offer. The parks in the Eau Claire Park set are among Calgary’s most beautiful gardens.
These parks consist of playgrounds, art installations, frequent live music, riverside views, perfect picnic spots, and many trails. You will surely find that each park has to offer a lot of space to utilize your creativity. There are a lot of these parks around Calgary, but let’s discuss five of them.
- Lowes Creek County Park: This park is located on S. Lowes Creek Road and has been expanded to welcome bikers for a beautiful road trip. Here, you’ll find every level of rider who would want to make the best of the 5 miles of cross-country riding and skiing. All these trails are multi-use, so they are enjoyed by trail runners, mountain bikers, and walkers.
- Phoenix Park: Phoenix Park is home to many concerts and an iconic bridge. You can observe the Phoenix Park bridge, Pablo Center, and Haymarket Plaza from this park.
- Owen Park: Owen Park is a beloved location for hammockers. It is located between Eau Claire’s campus and downtown Eau Claire. It is a great place for music, biking, and playing in playgrounds.
- River Prairie Park: Located around the Eau Claire River, River Prairie Park is considered the greatest outdoor spot for music, creative cuisine, and fun things for your family. It has three amphitheaters that host live music, a splash pad, walking and biking trails, and a play space to entertain the kids. There are a lot of green areas to kick back and get some sunshine. It also has a lot of restaurants like Za51, 44 North, and some eco-friendly restaurants and food trucks.
- Carson Park: The trail at this park is available for outdoor activities during summer, spring, and fall. You can walk, skate, and bike; you can also enjoy winter festivals during the winter.
- Putnam Park: Putnam park is small compared to the other parks mentioned. It has a lot of natural forested areas and a minuscule prairie area occupying its western end.
So, all parks that fall under Eau Claire’s parks are beautiful spaces connected wonderfully with nature. You’ll never run out of things to do in these parks, and it has something for everyone.
If you are a person who enjoys gardens in general and would love having day trips to gardens in Calgary
2) What to do in Calgary – A Conclusion
Beautiful places, amazing parks, fabulous museums, and a bit of something for everyone mark Calgary’s history. This list of things about what to do in Calgary contains only ten of these amazing things, but here are a few other mentionable places you need to visit when visiting Calgary.
- Calgary Stampede: In 886, the first Calgary stampede was held to share knowledge about agriculture and entertainment in Western Canada. For a century, the CS brand represented ‘Calgary Stampede,’ but it also stands for the Community Spirit they profess.
- Heritage Park Historical Village: With 127 acres of land, Heritage Park Historical Village is Canada’s largest city museum. Its location in Treat 7 territory has a historical link to this land by the people of Blackfoot, Metis, Îyârhe Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina. Heritage Park Historical Village is where visitors learn about Indigenous people’s history, culture, and traditions.
- National Music Centre: A great spot to learn about the music of Canada is The National Music Centre. National Music Centre is a museum, performance hall, recording studio, broadcast center, and interactive music education center.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot to see in Calgary, and checking off all these destinations from under ‘What to do in Calgary’ may require a lot of time and effort. But this list contains something for everyone. So, if you happen to visit Calgary, check out these 10 fabulous places it offers!