From rags to riches, Calgary has experienced its very own Cinderella story. First founded as a Rocky Mountain outpost for the mounted police, this Canadian cow town went from honky-tonk to high-end with the discovery of oil in the early 1900s. Over the next century, shimmering office buildings replaced mom-and-pop businesses. By 1988, the city's reputation as a commercial powerhouse (plus its ideal location near the snowy Rocky peaks) earned it the honor of hosting the Winter Olympics. Since then, Calgary has been riding high.
Despite this transition, Calgarians continue to see their city from the eyes of the conventional cowboy: Here, leather boots and wide-brimmed hats still reign supreme. As Lonely Planet writes, "The vision of a Wrangler- and Stetson-clad urban cowboy stepping out of a Ferrari or Hummer isn’t uncommon." If your inner buckaroo still isn't satisfied, visit during the summer's annual Calgary Stampede, which summons bronco-busters from all walks of life to try their hands at wrangling. As any cattleman (or woman) will tell you, it's the most fun you can have with your boots on.
The best times to visit Calgary are June through August, when most of the city's special events take place; and November through March when skiing conditions are in their prime. The winter months mark the city's low season with freezing temperatures that deter sightseers and force room rates down (at those hotels that aren't closed). Hotels re-open to greet summer visitors, but you can expect to find prices at their highest. You will find some good deals; however, if you book a few weeks in advance. If you're looking to save money without facing arctic temperatures, plan a visit for April or October when the city is free of tourists and winter's icy grip.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
The best way to get around Calgary is by using public transportation. The Calgary Transit System provides efficient and affordable light-rail and bus service throughout the city. As such, you'll find you don't need a car; though one might be handy if you're looking to head westward into the mountains. When the weather is nice, many residents opt for bicycles instead. The region boasts hundreds of pathways and bike-lanes. If you're arriving in town by way of the Calgary International Airport (YYC), you can take the Calgary Transit bus to Whitehorn station. From there, ride the light-rail to your lodgings, or fork over $40 CAD (roughly $40 USD) for a cab.See details for Getting Around
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A valid travel document (preferably a passport) is required for citizens of the United States traveling outside the mainland by air or sea, as well as for U.S. citizens trying to re-enter the country. If you are planning to drive, you can also use a NEXUS card, which allows for expedited border crossings for both private and commercial travelers through Canadian and U.S. border controls. For more information, visit the U.S. State Department website .
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