Calgary is a rising city, and it's not afraid to show it. It's received numerous accolades for being one of the best cities to live in throughout Canada, the North American continent, and globally. Calgary's ever-growing downtown, bustling nightlife, food scene, and ability to enjoy the mountains have caused a steady increase in Calgary's economy, population, and tourism. Many new homes have been built in Calgary to accommodate the 1.6 million residents and counting.
Furthermore, over 7.7 million annual visitors make their way to Calgary throughout the year to visit Calgary's most popular attractions, amenities, and activities. With such a large population and strong tourism numbers, it may be helpful for visitors to have a guide to vacationing in Calgary. Read on to explore everything one can experience on a Calgary vacation—or staycation!
Table of Contents
- Lodging in Calgary
- Food and Dining in Calgary
- Attractions in Calgary
- Outdoor Activities in Calgary
- When to Visit Calgary
- Discover Calgary
Lodging in Calgary
When it comes to Calgary's best resorts and hotels, visitors will find options from luxury to rural. Whatever their taste, they're bound to find a lodging option that fits their preferences, needs, and budget. Three notable recommendations are described below.
Hotel Fairmont Palliser
Hotel Fairmont Palliser Amenities
- 407 rooms
- Dining room
- Afternoon tea
Hotel Fairmont Palliser is newly renovated and features luxurious, elegant decor in all 407 of its rooms. With valet and self-parking options, guests can easily access their vehicles during their stay. Situated in the heart of downtown, guests are never far from the best amenities the downtown area has to offer. With the RnR Wellness Spa on-site, guests can book as many spa sessions as they would like during their stay to relax and unwind from the stress of everyday life.
Every guest is encouraged to dine in the Hawthorne Dining Room each night for delicious meals that compete with high-quality restaurants in the area. Furthermore, every guest is invited for complimentary afternoon tea.
Novel Bed & Breakfast
Novel Bed & Breakfast Amenities
- Four themed rooms
- Rooms come with books
- 24-hour coffee bar
- WiFi and TV
Novel Bed & Breakfast is a family-run bed-and-breakfast offering a unique experience one would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Four rooms make up the bed-and-breakfast, including The Classics Room, Science Fiction Room, Adventure Room, and Mystery Room. The unique aspect of this bed and breakfast is that each room is filled with books that correspond with the room's name.
Guests are encouraged to gently use and read the books in their room during their stay. Should they decide they want to read other titles, other books are available throughout the bed-and-breakfast. Each room comes with a small table and two chairs to read in private. Additionally, large bathrooms with spacious showers are in every room. Those with dietary restrictions can easily be accommodated. A stay at Novel Bed & Breakfast is truly a book lover's dream.
Along River Ridge Bed & Breakfast
Along River Ridge Bed & Breakfast Amenities
- 15 minutes from downtown
- Luxury mattresses
- Wi-Fi & TV
Along River Ridge Bed & Breakfast is a serene getaway, yet only 15 minutes from downtown. Situated on the river, it's famous for its "touch of country in the city." This tranquil establishment has provided exceptional above-and-beyond service for over 25 years.
Guests can enjoy sitting on the riverbank in the evenings and wake up to freshly brewed coffee in the mornings. Gardens, a gazebo, a chimenea, barbecues, and more are available for guests to use during their stay. The bed-and-breakfast features a superior water softening and conditioning system. Additionally, all rooms feature luxury mattresses, Wi-Fi, desks, and a TV.
Food and Dining in Calgary
Calgary is well known for its growing foodie scene. With so many iconic restaurants in Calgary, it can be hard to include just a handful in this guide. Three highly recommended options can be found below.
Ten Foot Henry
Popular Dishes at Ten Foot Henry
- Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
- Ricotta Gnudi
- Jerk Chicken
- Seared Scallops
- Butterscotch Pudding
Ten Foot Henry offers all-day dining options for everyone who walks in the door. Heavily based on vegetables and clean eating, most dietary restrictions can be accommodated. The restaurant prides itself on providing healthy, delicious meals that everyone wants to eat.
The name Ten Foot Henry comes from the fact the restaurant contains a 10-foot replica of Henry, an iconic 1930 Calgary comic strip character. The replica has been moving around since the 1980s and once lived in a nightclub. When the club shut down, the restaurant adopted the replica and changed its name to match its new mascot. Ten Foot Henry is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Popular Dishes at Bridgette Bar
- Tuna Crudo
- Wagyu Beef Carpaccio
- Maple BBQ Rainbow Trout
- Shrimp & Calamari
- Fennel Salami Pizza
- Belgian Endive Salad
Bridgette Bar can hardly be described in words. It's a chef-driven bar that must be experienced to appreciate what it has to offer. This laid-back eatery with mid-century furniture has quickly become a local favourite. Lunch, dinner, and happy hour all feature small plates, entrees, and unique cocktails.
Ever wanted to try popcorn-infused rum? Just order the Double Feature. One can also sip at fun concoctions like Convicted Melon or To the Moon. Be sure to ask about the week's feature cocktail before savouring dishes like tuna crudo and grilled lamb sirloin.
Popular Dishes at Himalayan Restaurant
- Maccha Tareko
- Lamb Dal Bhat
- Tofu Chau Chau
- Garlic Shrimp Nepali Curry
- Paneer Chili Nepali Stir Fry
Himalayan Restaurant is a casual eatery with flavours that are anything but casual. Featuring global decor, visitors will feel they have been whisked away to the Himalayas. Featuring a range of classic Nepalese food with Indian options, the Himalayan Restaurant is as authentic as one can get when dining in Calgary.
Available for dine-in and take-out, guests can find various appetizers, entrees, and desserts that satisfy their taste buds.
Attractions in Calgary
Calgary offers a wide range of attractions for everyone to enjoy. Whether one is seeking adrenaline or relaxation, one will easily find it in Calgary.
Glenbow Museum brings together the best of art and history in Calgary. In its 53 years of operation, the museum has grown to collect and display items that represent historic Calgary alongside new, contemporary objects. The Glenbow Museum does an exceptional job of preserving Calgary's ever-changing history.
In addition to history, the art collection is second to none. Fashion and artwork of all mediums have been sourced from local and international artists. One of Glenbow's collections is solely dedicated to painting Canada's rapid change over the past century.
The Calgary Stampede is a 10-day long annual celebration that locals prepare for months to put on every year. Celebrating the history of Calgary, the event combines a rodeo, dog bowl, parade, and motocross exhibition, along with live music, concessions, and more. Midway rides and bucking broncos are featured all 10 days to bring excitement, joy, and smiles to every attendee. Visitors worldwide book tickets, hotels, and airfare as soon as they hear the date announcement.
Attendees are encouraged to go all-out with their best western attire. Cowboy hats, boots, and belts are sold throughout the event for those who forget them at home. Other western events and agriculture education are provided throughout the Calgary Stampede to educate new generations on Calgary's history.
Calgary Tower offers the best view of the city. Like the world-famous Las Vegas and New York City views, the Calgary Tower offers a 360-degree view. With glass floors, visitors can stare 191 metres down into the heart of the downtown area. The observation deck provides views of the Rocky Mountains that are better than any postcard.
Constructed in 1967 and opened in 1968, the Calgary Tower came in at a total construction cost of $3.5 million ($25 million today). In 1987, the Calgary Tower had the honour of serving as the official Olympic Flame during the Winter Games.
Outdoor Activities in Calgary
Calgary is home to a range of summer and winter activities. Whatever season one visits or decides to staycation, there's a fun outdoor recreation option in Calgary.
Bowness Park offers a shallow lagoon perfect for visitors to paddleboat or kayak during the summer months. Throughout the summer, visitors can be found picnicking and enjoying the warm water. Additionally, the park offers easy access to the Bow River.
With its 500 parking spots in the closely adjoined lot, guests never have to worry about accessing the park in any season. During the winter, guests can be found ice skating or riding ice bikes. There's even a new ice trail, which is a 1.6-kilometre track that follows the Bow River.
Calgary Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from 119 species of the animal kingdom. African lions, Amur tigers, American black bears, Masai giraffes, Japanese macaques, Eurasian wild boars, Siberian musk deer, Chilean flamingos, and many others from around the world are just some of the animals one can expect to see during their visit here.
The zoo operates as a conservation program dedicated to protecting, preserving, and reintroducing eligible wildlife to their natural habitats. Conservation breeding programs also take place at the off-site Wildlife Conservation Centre. Founded in 1929, the Calgary Zoo is one of the five zoos in Canada accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Calgary Zoo is so popular that over a third of Calgarians visit every year. More than 97,000 residents have annual memberships, which directly support the zoo and the animals. Admission starts at just $29.95 per person per day.
The Bowden SunMaze is located in Eagle Creek Farms, one of the area's only certified organic farms for sunflowers, fruits, vegetables, and other crops. Each year between August and September, the farm creates a 100,000 sunflower maze. Attendees can navigate their way through the maze while taking in the beautiful sight of the flowers. Because the blooming season for sunflowers is so short, visitors need to stay up-to-date when tickets are announced. In addition to the sunflower maze, the farm also offers a willow tree maze. Prices start at $11 per person.
Aside from mazes, the farm also offers a u-pick service, allowing attendees of all ages to pick sunflowers they wish to take home for $1 per flower. Dogs are welcome at the farm if they're leashed and well-behaved. Furthermore, dog owners must pick up after their pets.
When to Visit Calgary
The best time to visit Calgary will depend on whether one wants to engage in summer or winter activities. The winter months in Canada can be very intense for those who have never experienced a Canadian winter before. However, the area produces the perfect conditions for reliable snow sports. Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice skating, and more can easily be enjoyed every day between November and March.
Those who prefer not to deal with cold winters will find the best time to visit is between June and August. During these months, many events and festivals take place. However, the temperatures are quite high, and the crowds are quite large. Those who want the perfect in-between will enjoy visiting in April or October. During these months, the weather is mild, and there are not as many individuals visiting the area.
Hotel vacancies are the hardest to find during the heart of winter and the heat of summer. To save money while visiting the area, consider the spring or fall when the hotels aren't as packed.
For anyone who is looking for a city that checks all the boxes, Calgary does it. Mountains, water activities, hiking trails, dining, nightlife, and shopping in Calgary are easily accessible from every neighbourhood in the city within 30 minutes. A staycation is easy to plan because everything is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the local condos and townhomes in Calgary.
For those deciding on the best place to vacation, Calgary is once again the top choice. Between the ability to walk from a hotel to every type of shopping outlet and combining indoor and outdoor activities, a vacation in Calgary is easy to plan. The Calgary Stampede and the city's world-class dining draw visitors from around the world each year because the city is truly that spectacular. Whether looking for a place to grow roots or a city to play in for a vacation, Calgary is the best place to vacation and staycation.
If you're interested in Calgary real estate, contact Justin Havre & Associates of RE/MAX First with Calgary Homes at (403) 217-0003 to get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you find your Calgary dream home today.