I’ve been to British Columbia many times, but that’s actually the only province in Canada I’ve visited. I got on a kick this winter to make it a goal to visit as many provinces in Canada as possible, and when Alaska Airlines had a cheap ticket to Calgary, I instantly booked it. I didn’t know much about the city, so I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know, there’s a lot to do in this city.
Calgary is a very interesting city. It had quick growth due to being the center of Canada’s oil industry, and almost all of the buildings look very new and modern. It’s mainly a business city so while it’s busy during the weekday, it completely dies down during the weekend. I was surprised to walk around on a Saturday without seeing anyone until I got to the main shopping and restaurant street, Stephen Avenue. It was pretty cold, so make sure to bundle up if you go there in the winter.
The Bow building is the tallest in Calgary, and the second tallest in Canada next to one in Toronto. It has a view of the Bow River, which is where it gets its name from. I love the giant head outside of it, although I’m not sure the significance. If you go at night, it lights up and you can walk inside it for a great photo-op.
There’s a small island across from the city called Prince’s Island. It was a nice surprise, as it has a decent sized park and even a restaurant. I imagine it’d be nice to sit out there in the summer and enjoy the views of the city. I loved walking along the Bow River and seeing it frozen. There were parts of it where you could even ice skate at your own risk, although I didn’t feel brave enough to try it.
West of Prince’s Island is the Peace Bridge, a pedestrian and cycling bridge. It’s only 20 feet long, but I loved walking along it and seeing the design. At night, it lights up and you feel like you’re in a tunnel in space.
The Calgary Tower is to Calgary what the Space Needle is to Seattle. It also lights up at night and changes colors, which I loved when walking around at night. It reminded me of a space ship! You can go to the top of the third tallest structure in Canada for a 360-degree view of the city. You even eat at the rotating restaurant, Sky 360, for a unique experience.
Calgary Flames Game
This was by far the highlight of my trip. I love attending sporting events, and since Seattle doesn’t have a professional hockey team, I’ve never had a chance to see it played live. Let me tell you, Canadians LOVE their hockey! You’d think it was a playoff game with how excited everyone was going into the game and how completely decked out they were in Flames gear. If you’re in town during a game, try to get tickets if it fits within your budget. It’s one of the most exciting live sporting events I’ve been to.
Drink A Caesar
As I quickly found out from talking to the locals, Calgary is the home of the Caesar drink. It was supposedly invented there, and they are very proud of that! I’ve only had Bloody Marys in the past but was pleasantly surprised with how much lighter this tasted. There are many bars to choose from along Stephen Avenue that will be happy to serve you one.
The Calgary Zoo is rated one of the best in North America, and I can see why. They had huge exhibits from all over the world, and even though it was full of families on a Sunday, I always felt like I had enough room to walk around from exhibit to exhibit. I especially liked the Canadian wildlife section, as they’re not normally animals I see in Seattle or in other zoos.
The penguin walk was a huge reason I wanted to come here. Every day at 11 AM, weather permitting, the penguins are let out of their exhibit and walk around with their trainers to “stretch their legs.” It was cute watching them waddle around, and watching the trainers trying to guide the slower and distracted ones.
This is the best place to come for a view of the city. You can see the skyscrapers and even the Rocky Mountains in the distance. My only regret is not coming here at night, but I didn’t have a car and it wouldn’t have been as easy as hopping on a bus since it’s further away. I can only imagine the night views are stunning.
Just a side note, save your cab money and take public transportation when you’re here. I found it very easy to use, and the machines even take both cash and cards for your fare. I was able to get everywhere I needed to get to by just using the bus and rapid light system. The platforms and buses themselves were very clean as well.
The perfect place to go from Calgary is Banff National Park! Check out my post on my time there.
Where’s your favorite place to visit in the winter?
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