Calgary is well-known for its abundance of outdoor recreation and winter sports, as well as its proximity to the spectacular Canadian Rockies. Located in the Western Canada province of Alberta, it's true that Calgary is close to numerous national parks (most notably, iconic Banff and Jasper), and winter sports are a big deal throughout the city. However, there are plenty of other activities to do in Calgary, and people don't even need to head out of town to enjoy most of them.
Often called the "greatest outdoor show on Earth," the Calgary Stampede began as a small agricultural fair in 1886. Today, it's evolved into an annual 10-day rodeo–one of the largest in the world, in fact–and festival celebrating Calgary's "Old West" roots, culture, and community spirit. Truly embracing both Calgary's heritage and modernism, Stampede Park is situated on the edge of downtown.
During the festival, professionals compete in a number of tournaments, ranging from barrel racing and calf roping to bareback bull and bronco riding. Over one million visitors attend from all over the world, and nightly entertainment includes chuck wagon derbies, food trucks, concerts, dancing, and more. Outside the festival and rodeo, Stampede Park acts as a venue that hosts many community and private events throughout the year.
Calgary Stampede Additional Information
- Address: Stampede Park, 650 25 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 4K8, Canada
- Admission: Tickets start at $7
- Phone number: 403-261-0101
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park makes one feel as if they were transported to a different century worlds away, yet they're just over two hours from Calgary. The striking badlands include expansive desert valleys, hoodoos, and sandstone cliffs, all of which were formed by thousands of years of mountain erosion, ice melt, and flowing rivers. This park represents one of the most complete pictures of the late Cretaceous Period, as more than 150 full dinosaur skeletons from over 50 unique species have been found here.
At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors can truly be part of unearthing history. They can explore on their own via hiking trails that are well-maintained all year long, take a guided tour, or even camp. If possible, visitors should set aside at least one full day to explore all Dinosaur Provincial Park has to offer. There is so much to do, that people won't truly get to experience all the park has to offer in just a few hours.
Dinosaur Provincial Park Additional Information
- Address: Dinosaur Provincial Park Visitor Centre Unnamed Road, Iddesleigh, AB T0J 1T0, Canada
- Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
- Admission: Tickets start at $1
- Phone number: 403-378-4342
The Glenbow Museum was founded in 1966, when philanthropist Eric Harvie donated his vast art collection to the people of Alberta. He added $5 million in cash, which the Alberta government matched, and the Glenbow-Alberta Institute was formed.
Today, this massive art and history museum sits in the heart of downtown Calgary and features over 93,000 square feet of exhibition space. The exhibits centre around the people and ideas that shaped much of Western Canada and rotate frequently, so no two visits are ever exactly the same. Glenbow's extensive archives include over one million photographs, 350 hours of film footage, thousands of land records, maps, cookbooks, extensive genealogical resources, and much, much more. There is also a large gem and mineral collection, as well as a library with more than 100,000 items. Visitors should set aside at least two hours for a trip to the Glenbow Museum.
Glenbow Museum Additional Information
- Address: Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, 136 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K6, Canada
- Hours: To be announced
- Admission: Tickets start at $12
- Phone number: 403-268-4100
There's no better way for people to see the city than from the top of the Calgary Tower. At 191 metres, it's not the tallest building in the city, but Calgary Tower does offer the most spectacular views, thanks to its 360-degree, glass-floored observation deck. From there, visitors can see Calgary down below and far beyond to the Rocky Mountains.
The iconic Calgary Tower was constructed in 1968 and even served as an official Olympic Flame in the 1988 Winter Olympics. It is open year-round and features an elaborate LED light show twice daily, once just before sunrise and again in the evening. The light display changes frequently to honour seasons, events, important causes, and holidays. Aside from visiting for the light show and views, there's also SKY 360, the restaurant that completes revolutions every 45 or 60 minutes.
Calgary Tower Additional Information
- Address: Calgary Tower, 101 9 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1J9, Canada
- Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
- Admission: Tickets start at $9
- Phone number: 403-266-7171
National Music Centre
Canada has a rich music history, and the National Music Centre is the ultimate homage. Located in Calgary's vibrant East Village neighbourhood, the NMC is housed in Studio Bell, an architectural masterpiece that's worth the visit in and of itself. Interactive exhibits are spread out over five floors, and visitors can take the self-guided Cross-Country Music Road Trip or explore freely.
The National Music Centre's interactive exhibits include working vocal booths, hands-on instrument pop-ups and installations, antique instruments, memorabilia, costumes, and much more, all celebrating Canadian artists and those who recorded in Canada. The Canadian Music Hall of Fame is located on the top floor. The NMC also hosts concerts and other special events throughout the year at adjacent King Eddy, which is also a restaurant and bar.
National Music Centre Additional Information
- Address: Studio Bell, 850 4 St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0L8, Canada
- Hours: Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Admission: Tickets start at $7.20
- Phone number: 1-800-213-9750
Olympic Park, also known as Winsport Arena, was the home of many sporting events in the 1988 Winter Olympics. It serves as both a high-level training facility for performance athletes and a sports and recreation centre for the public.
The 17,000-square-foot Performance Training Centre offers memberships and drop-in admission for athlete development and training, but there's plenty more to do for casual visitors and thrill seekers alike. There's a terrain park with skiing and snowboarding hills of varying difficulties, an indoor ice rink that offers numerous skate and hockey lessons, the Winsport Tube Park (the only one in Calgary and the largest in Western Canada!), a zip line, bob sledding, an eight-story free fall, a scenic chairlift, a bike trail, and even mini-golf.
Olympic Park Additional Information
- Address: Winsport Arena, Canada Olympic Rd SW Calgary AB T3B, Canada Olympic Rd SW, Calgary, AB, Canada
- Hours: Vary depending on department
- Admission: Vary depending on event
- Phone number: 403-247-5452
No matter how one chooses to spend their free time, they'll never run out of things to do in Calgary. Whether planning a move to the city or visiting temporarily, Calgary offers something for everyone to enjoy.