Best Things To Do in Calgary
There are numerous reasons to go to Calgary, the most obvious one being to hit the slopes. Perched in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, the city becomes a home base for many winter sports enthusiasts. Stop by the Canada Olympic Park to watch athletes train or even try out some of the facilities for yourself. And remember that there's much more to this city than ski slopes and hiking trails. You can relive the former Wild West glory days at Heritage Park, cheer on the local sports teams at the Saddledome, or indulge in a little retail therapy along the Stephen Avenue Walk. If you have kids in tow, take a walk on the wild side at the Calgary Zoo.
Updated March 18, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Calgary0.1 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.1 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Heralded as one of Canada's finest, the Glenbow Museum caters to history buffs and art lovers alike. Exhibits here focus mainly on the culture of Western Canada, featuring everything from interactive displays on the First Nations tribes to an extensive collection of military memorabilia. However, there are also displays of European Art, Asian sculpture and even West African artifacts, plus plenty of hands-on activities to keep children entertained.
Recent visitors praised the museum's fascinating exhibits, treatment of history and its interactive arts and crafts opportunities.
- #2View all Photos#2 in CalgaryMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Consisting of the four founding regimental museums and the Naval, Army and Air Force Museums of Alberta, the Military Museums of Calgary is the second-largest military museum in Canada. Visitors can learn about history, heritage, art and more about the Canadians who served their country throughout the years. Highlights in the various collections include the Enigma Machine in the Naval Museum. Known as the Enigma-K, the device on display was introduced in 1927 and was built by the Swiss to encode and decode military communication. Another must-see is the CF-104 Starfighter, a Cold War era fighter aircraft located in the Air Force exhibit. But these two items are just the tip of the iceberg at the vast complex.
Recent visitors advised giving yourself plenty of time to explore the museum, which is quite large, with fascinating exhibits and in-depth historical overviews. Others praised the volunteers stationed on-site, who happily provide more context to the exhibits.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Calgary0.9 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.9 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Prince's Island Park spans nearly 50 acres and is a hit with visitors in need of beautiful walk. Trails lined with cottonwood trees appeal to walkers and bikers alike, while regular festivals and an outdoor theater beckon to culture hounds. For food, just follow the footbridge across the Bow River to the stalls of Eau Claire Market. Looking for more refined dining? Then check out the River Café.
Visitors and locals both love the park in every season, praising its peace and quiet, as well as its beauty.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Calgary1.2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
The massive Calgary Zoo houses nearly 1,000 animals – from tigers to gorillas – in enclosures that are representative of their natural habitats. Stop by Panda Passage to meet the zoo's two giant pandas or check out Canada's furry friends like moose and bears in the Canadian Wilds section. But the animals aren't the only reason to visit: The complex is also home to a sprawling botanical garden, featuring flora from across the world; and the Prehistoric Park, which showcases the region's history as a stomping ground for dinosaurs.
Many recent visitors agreed this zoo is a must-do for young families and for many, the pandas were a big highlight.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Calgary7.3 miles to city centerRecreation, SportsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND7.3 miles to city centerRecreation, SportsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
A tribute to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, this massive sports complex is still used throughout the year as training grounds for young athletes. If you're in town for a taste of fresh powder, consider stopping here first for a quick how-to on riding the slopes; downhill and cross-country ski lessons are available for both kids and adults. You can also try your hand at other pastimes like bobsleigh and the luge. If you're looking for a more relaxed outing, stop by Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, which is home to the world's largest collection of artifacts from the competition's history, including costumes, photographs and the torch used to carry the flame from Greece.
The museum was a big hit with recent visitors, though some have mixed feelings about the complex itself, depending on what activity they did, with some complaining about high prices and others enjoying their ski lessons.
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Calgary's Wild West past still thrives at this 66-acre living-history village. Nestled beside the Glenmore Reservoir and just south of downtown, this history-lover's paradise swarms with costumed staff re-enacting times gone by. You'll explore an 1860s replica of a fur-trading post, a ranch and a historic village. You can also take a ride on a steam locomotive or a horse-drawn wagon or cruise the reservoir by paddle-wheeler boat. For a better understanding of Calgary's history, check out the Gasoline Alley Museum, home to numerous artifacts representing the city's frontier days.
Recent visitors agreed that Heritage Park is a must-see, especially if you have kids, though most found that everyone from small tots to teens and adults enjoy the park. Several reviewers also commented on the fun of visiting during the holidays, when special events and activities are held.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Calgary0.4 miles to city centerEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Occupying three blocks of downtown's 8th Avenue, the Stephen Avenue Walk is one of the city's most popular shopping venues. This pedestrian-only shopping area – also dubbed a National Historic District – is lined with trendy stores, delectable restaurants and even several nightclubs. This downtown stretch is also the place to go for avid culture hounds; street performers, local artists and even festivals are often found here. Business travelers will likely make several stops here as the street is home to the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre and the Hyatt Regency Calgary and the Calgary Marriott Hotel.
Recent visitors loved the hustle and bustle of the area and praised the variety of restaurants and shops.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Calgary10.9 miles to city centerSportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND10.9 miles to city centerSportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
If the Calgary Stampede doesn't satisfy your appetite for equine action, make your way to Spruce Meadows. This top-notch sporting facility – whose name springs from the surrounding spruce trees – hosts some of Canada's most prominent horseback riding events. Here, talented jockeys compete for national titles (and prize money) in adrenaline-pumping events like show jumping.
For visitors, Spruce Meadows is more than your average riding arena. You can get up close and personal with the horses while touring the stables, explore the exquisitely manicured gardens, or let the kiddos run wild at the Canadian Superstore Playground. The facility also hosts numerous events, like the Christmas Market, which is a must-do, according to recent visitors.
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Located just south of downtown Calgary, Stampede Park captures Canada's attention every July during the world-famous Calgary Stampede. This massive festival features rodeos and all things Wild West. Don your hats, polish your boots and prepare for several days of horse races, concerts and even a parade. When the festival has passed, Stampede Park continues to entertain visitors with a hankering for cowboy culture.
Calgary's most notable event earns mixed reviews. Some raved about the excitement, while others complained about the crowds and a lack of authenticity. Most, however, agreed if you're in town during this time, it's a must-see event.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Calgary0.5 miles to city centerSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerSportsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
For a taste of true Canadian sportsmanship, make your way to Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames. Having moved from Atlanta in 1980, the Flames won Calgary over in 1989 when they claimed the Stanley Cup. Since then, this beloved sports team has been a symbol of pride for Calgarians; they celebrate the Flames' wins on 17th Avenue SW or "The Red Mile."
The Saddledome plays an active role in city life during the offseason, hosting special events like concerts, rodeos and even visits from such notable world figures as Queen Elizabeth II and the Dalai Lama. It gets its name from its saddle-shaped roof.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Calgary0.2 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Standing a whopping 626 feet high, this landmark was once the tallest building in the city. It was originally constructed in 1967 to celebrate Canada's centennial and in 1988, the Calgary Tower also sheltered the Olympic flame. Today, the tower now acts as the city's centerpiece, offering tourists spectacular views of Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.
After riding the elevator to the observation deck, head to the Theatre Room. In the Theatre Room, make sure to check out the short film, "Calgary Tower – Building and Icon," and Travel Alberta's most recent fly-through video, which shows footage of Alberta from the sky. The films run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and admission is included with your elevator ticket purchase.
- #12View all Photos#12 in CalgaryMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Studio Bell is home to five floors of interactive exhibits that showcase the sights, sounds and stories of music in Canada. There are 22 exhibition spaces that allow visitors to experience music and Canadian music history in a hands-on way. Visitors can play the guitar, mix a track and sing in vocal booths. Other exhibits feature memorabilia from Canadian music icons and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees. The Kimball Theatre Organ, without a doubt, is a highlight for many recent visitors. The organ dates back to the 1924, when organs were used to provide sound effects and score music to silent films. Organ demonstrations are conducted at 3 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Reviewers also praised the museum's architecture and the variety of exhibits as well.
- #13View all Photos#13 in Calgary0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This 40-acre National Historic Site encloses the remains of the original mounted police stronghold, which until the 1970s, were buried under the expanding city. Today, you can explore the fort's remains and, with the help of recently uncovered artifacts, learn what life was like for these western Mounties.
While some visitors said they very much enjoyed their time here, others write this attraction off as kind of boring. However, history aficionados will especially enjoy it, according to recent visitors.
- #14View all Photos#14 in CalgaryAmusement ParksTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDAmusement ParksTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
This amusement park has plenty of rides, shows, attractions and play areas for everyone from tiny tots to thrill-seeking teens. Bumper cars, bumper boats, a log flume, roller coasters and more are among the attractions. Add to that, live entertainment, games, food venues and 3D movies, you can keep busy all day.
Recent visitors said there is plenty to do for the whole family, with lots of fun rides and attractions.
- View all PhotosParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This large park south of downtown offers lots of opportunities to hike, swim, fish, cycle, ski and simply enjoy nature. What's more, the park's visitor center has a theater and exhibit area showcasing artifacts found in the park.
Recent visitors praised the park for its beauty, the variety of outdoor pursuits available and the opportunities to see wildlife. Others enjoyed the numerous walking and cycling paths.
This science museum offers plenty of hands-on opportunities to learn about everything from technology to the brain. In the Creative Kids Museum – designed for kids ages 9 and younger – children can learn about flotation in a water play area, crawl and climb in a climbing structure, design and make inventions, and stage a play, among other activities. Live science demos are another highlight for visitors, as well as shows in the planetarium.
While many recent visitors loved the museum for its interactive exhibits, others found it too expensive for what's on offer. However, one upside is that admission to the Dome Theatre, which screens planetarium shows and movies, is included in the overall entrance ticket.
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