The biggest city in western Canada, Calgary's proximity to the Rocky Mountains has made it an international tourist destination. Calgary is also the sunniest city in Canada, making it even more attractive to lovers of the outdoors. But there's more to Calgary than mountains and sunshine, as great as they are. Although not the capital of its province, Calgary serves as a cultural hub for the region and is home to art galleries, museums, fantastic restaurants, and a great variety of shopping.
Calgary has its roots in cowboy culture, and you can see this Western heritage on display every year at the Calgary Stampede, one of the most popular festivals in the entire country. But Calgary is also the hub for Canada's energy sector, making it a rapidly growing place that's facing the future. Calgary offers visitors a little bit of everything, and it's the perfect city to explore what Western Canada has to offer.
A weekend in Calgary
A weekend in Calgary gives you enough time to see some of the major sights without exhausting all there is to do. Drop off your bags at a Calgary luggage locker and travel light so you can experience the highlights of the city.
- It's hard to miss the Calgary Tower. This iconic red structure rises above the buildings of downtown. Although no longer the city's tallest building, having been eclipsed by recent skyscrapers, it's still a great place to get tremendous views of the city. On clear days, you can see all the way to the majestic mountains outside the city.
- See Canada's largest living museum at the Heritage Park Historical Village. This restored pioneer village contains over 200 exhibits and covers 127 acres of land. You can visit an 1880s First Nations encampment, delve into the lives of the people who built Canada's railways, and see how the city became what it is today.
- Calgary is the closest city to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and is only around an hour's drive from the popular mountain village of Banff. Endless hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities in the summer are matched by incredible skiing in the winter. Head out of the city on a day trip to the mountains and experience the Canadian wilderness for yourself.
Calgary is sunny throughout the year, making it a city with glorious summers and astonishingly cold winters. Albertan weather changes quickly, so you'll need to bring clothing fit for four seasons no matter when you visit. Make things easier on yourself by dropping off unneeded bags at a Calgary bag storage. You'll have a lot more fun in the city if you don't carry more than you need to. And you can travel with peace of mind knowing your belongings will be safely looked after until you return to pick them up.
Off the beaten path in Calgary
Beyond its better-known attractions, Calgary has a number of quirkier places well worth visiting. Drop off your bags at a Calgary luggage storage service and embrace a lesser-known side of the city.
- The boom and bust cycles of the oil industry have shaped modern Calgary. This wealthy city has plenty of money to spend on public art, and the downtown area is home to some stunning statues and sculptures. Visit the Stephen Avenue Walk to see beautiful treelike sculptures that also help reduce the wind.
- Thanks to the Stampede, Calgary's definitely on the map of Western culture, and some of the biggest country music artists in the world regularly play in the city. However, you can check out more up-and-coming artists at the city's many music venues. Catch a live show at the Tubby Dog or Wine-Ohs to see some of the city's undiscovered musical talent.
- Calgary is blessed with an abundance of parks. Prince's Island Park is an oasis of green space in Calgary's downtown, and is a great place to enjoy a picnic and a view of the city. In the winter, there's an outdoor skating rink, and in summer the park hosts concerts and other events.
What to do alone in Calgary
Calgary is a great place to explore by yourself. The city is remarkably safe and locals tend to be friendly to visitors. Visit during the Stampede, and you'll be welcomed as one of their own, especially if you don the de rigueur cowboy hat. But no matter when you visit, you’ll find plenty in Calgary to keep you occupied on a solo trip.
- Enjoy a Stampede vibe no matter what time of year you visit at Cowboys Nightclub. The official headquarters of the Calgary Stampede, this megabar has been recognized as one of the top nightlife spots in North America. Visit this bar at any time of year, and you won't be alone for long.
- Calgary is cowboy country, and there's no better way to celebrate that the with a horseback riding tour. Even if you've never ridden before, tour companies will help you learn the basics as you ride through the rolling grasslands and majestic mountains outside Calgary.
- Go fishing on the Bow River. This river runs right through the heart of Calgary and is home to some of the best trout fishing in the world. With incredible scenery and productive waters, you can enjoy a taste of the wilderness without leaving the city.
Best souvenirs in Calgary
In this cowboy town, Western wear is always popular. Check out Lammle's for an excellent selection. If you're looking for something a bit more trendy, Local Laundry is a Calgary brand that makes all its clothes in Canada and supports the local community. For souvenirs that celebrate Calgary's lively art scene, visit the Glenbow Museum shop for books, jewelry, tote bags, and all kinds of other items. Canada is also coffee crazy, and a bag of coffee from local roasters Heritage Roasting Company is a great souvenir of your Calgary trip.