There is no shortage of things to do in Calgary.
It’s the city where the Prairies end, and the foothills begin. The Heart of The New West. Cow Town. Stampede City. No Canadian city has as many nicknames as C-Town (that’s one more, for good measure).
Why is that? It’s because things happen here. If it’s not rolling out the red carpet for the Olympics, it’s hosting annually the world’s largest rodeo.
But there is more to Calgary than that — something more nuanced. This multicultural, vibrant, fun-loving city offers so much for residents and visitors alike that it can be difficult to find a place to start.
That’s why this list of 10 things to do in Calgary has been created. Now get out there and start enjoying Calgary!
1. Why the Stampede is one of the great things to do in Calgary.
This 10-day extravaganza usually kicks off in early July, and is one of the best things to do in Calgary each year.
Over one million people descend to the city to don their cowboy attire and enjoy the festival atmosphere. If you want to experience more of a carnival buzz, head down to the Stampede grounds (which can be accessed via the C-Train) and take it all in.
Events you should go to include the Rodeo and the Grandstand shows. If you do choose to go down to the Stampede grounds, try to arrive early and sample some of the unique foods on offer. You’ll find crocodile burgers, bacon wrapped corn, scorpion pizza, deep fried donut bacon cheeseburgers, skittles candy apples, and much more.
The food itself is always a very valid reason to get down to the Stampede grounds. The weather during Stampede is typically sunny and warm too, so it’s the perfect way to spend a July weekend.
2. Ascend the Calgary Tower.
This is undoubtedly one of the activities you should have at the top of your list of things to do in Calgary.
Situated more than 1,200 metres above sea level, the Calgary Tower is home to the highest 360° observation deck in the entire world. The Calgary Tower is conveniently located downtown, and has an awesome glass floor that enables you to see into the streets below.
The Calgary Tower also has some dining options, including Sky 360, which completes a full rotation during both lunches and dinners. With panorama views and unique features, it’s the perfect place to introduce friends and family to the city. A definite must-see during a visit to Calgary.
3. Say hello to the penguins at Calgary Zoo.
Calgary Zoo is the perfect place to visit during the warmer months of the year, especially if you have younger children.
The Penguin Plunge is a particular favourite. You’ll be able to get up close to the various penguin types in the zoo, and take part in programs dedicated to the penguins.
This is one of the great things to do in Calgary for adults too. Make sure you check out the conservatory and gardens, which are always kept in pristine condition.
The zoo also has a beautiful Zoo Lights event, which usually takes place from late November to early January each year. Over 1.5 million lights transform the zoo grounds into a magical experience.
4. Get your flame on at the Saddledome.
Whether it’s for a hockey game or a gig, the Saddledome should definitely be on the list of things to do in Calgary.
Hockey is huge in Calgary, and the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League host their home games in the stadium. The atmosphere is always really enjoyable for games — just make sure to wear red and support the Flames! It’s also interesting to see the transformation from the hockey rink to when artists play here.
5. Explore the outdoors in Banff.
Yes, this list is about things to do in Calgary. But you can’t really come to Calgary and not to go Banff.
Banff is just a 90-minute drive from the city, and it’s absolutely stunning. There’s something about the town that just makes you feel relaxed. Plus, there’s so much choice in terms of pubs and restaurants to visit.
During the summer, you can kayak, hike, and go mountain biking. In winter, you are extremely close to some of the mountain resorts, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try skiing or snowboarding.
A great lake to check out close to Banff is Lake Minnewanka — you can rent out a boat!
6. Delve into the Rocky Mountains.
Calgary is so close to the Rocky Mountains, and it would be a shame to not experience them. To be in such close proximity to these mountains can be taken for granted, but The Rockies are just stunning.
You have so much choice of activities throughout the year. During summer, you can go mountain biking, hike, camp, explore the wildlife, rock climb, try out white-water rafting.
If that doesn’t entice you to venture to the mountains, then I don’t know what will!
During the winter months, skiing and snowboarding are always great options, as are dog-sledding and snowshoeing. You can also make the bold choice of taking a dip in the lakes . . . if you’re brave enough, of course!