Calgary, situated in the foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, is a dynamic city known for its rich Western heritage, modern architecture, and vibrant arts community. For those considering things to do in Calgary, visiting the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo and festival dubbed “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” and ascending the Calgary Tower for panoramic views of the city and distant mountains are top recommendations.
The city’s Heritage Park Historical Village offers a journey into Canada’s pioneering past, showcasing historic buildings, antique rides, and interactive exhibits. Nearby, the Glenbow Museum provides a deep dive into Western Canadian art, culture, and history, reflecting the region’s diverse heritage.
Beyond its urban attractions, Calgary is a gateway to renowned natural wonders like Banff and Jasper National Parks, making it a hub for city explorers and outdoor enthusiasts. For those seeking the best places to visit in Canada, Calgary’s blend of urban energy, cultural depth, and proximity to the Rockies makes it a compelling destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Calgary, Canada
1. Calgary Tower
One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Calgary Tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Rocky Mountains. The tower is 191 meters tall and provides visitors with an observation deck and a revolving restaurant.
Travel Tip: Consider visiting during sunset for a magical view of the city’s skyline and make a reservation at the restaurant for a unique dining experience.
2. Heritage Park Historical Village
Step back in time at Canada’s largest living history museum. Heritage Park Historical Village showcases the history of Western Canada from the 1860s to the 1950s. With over 200 exhibits, visitors can experience historic buildings, rides, and authentic demonstrations.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss out on the steam train ride, and wear comfortable walking shoes, as there’s a lot of ground to cover.
3. Calgary Zoo
The Calgary Zoo is one of Canada’s most visited zoological parks and offers a fascinating collection of animals, including pandas, penguins, and tigers. The zoo is located on St. George’s Island in the Bow River and has botanical gardens and a prehistoric park.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit around the feeding times to see the animals at their most active, and consider visiting during weekdays to avoid large crowds.
4. Glenbow Museum
Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, Glenbow Museum is one of Western Canada’s most prominent museums. It offers a blend of art, culture, and history with a diverse collection of over a million objects. Exhibits include everything from indigenous cultures to military history.
Travel Tip: Dedicate a few hours to fully immerse in the museum’s vast collection and check their calendar for any temporary exhibitions or events.
5. Prince’s Island Park
This urban park is an oasis in the heart of Calgary, set on an island in the Bow River. Prince’s Island Park is perfect for picnicking, walking, biking, and enjoying festivals or live performances at the outdoor theater in summer.
Travel Tip: If you’re visiting in July, check out the Calgary Folk Music Festival, which takes place in the park.
6. WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park
Initially built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park is now a year-round sporting facility. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and bobsledding in the winter, while the summer offers mountain biking and zip-lining.
Travel Tip: If you’re an adrenaline junkie, the bobsled experience, where you can ride an actual Olympic track, is a must-try.
7. Stephen Avenue Walk
A significant pedestrian mall in downtown Calgary, Stephen Avenue is lined with historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and street performers. Known for its vibrant atmosphere, it’s a great place to shop, dine, and soak in the city’s culture.
Travel Tip: The area is lively during lunch hours and early evenings; consider visiting then and exploring some local eateries.
8. Fish Creek Provincial Park
One of the largest urban parks in North America, Fish Creek offers a mix of natural habitats, from forests to wetlands. It’s a haven for birdwatchers, hikers, and cyclists alike.
Travel Tip: The park is vast, so use the park’s maps and signages and watch for the historical artifacts scattered throughout.
9. Studio Bell, Home of the National Music Centre
Studio Bell, a hub for music lovers, showcases Canada’s rich musical history through interactive exhibits, live performances, and recording studios. The architecture is a marvel, with its flowing design and state-of-the-art acoustics.
Travel Tip: Join one of the guided tours to get deeper insights into Canada’s musical legends and the building’s unique design.
10. Fort Calgary
Established in 1875, Fort Calgary is the birthplace of the modern city. The fort offers interactive exhibits and displays that highlight the city’s early history and the role of the North West Mounted Police.
Travel Tip: Visit on Sundays for Mountie uniform try-ons, a fun experience especially for kids.
11. Bowness Park
Situated along the Bow River, Bowness Park is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. It offers a serene setting ideal for picnics, paddle boating, and ice skating in winter. The park also features a mini-train ride for kids and lovely trails for strolls.
Travel Tip: Rent a paddle boat during the summer for a relaxing experience on the lagoon, and if you’re visiting in the winter, don’t forget your ice skates.
12. The Military Museums
As Canada’s second-largest military museum, The Military Museums of Calgary provides an in-depth look into Canada’s naval, army, and air force history. A vast array of artifacts, personal stories, and interactive exhibits offer a comprehensive insight into the nation’s military past.
Travel Tip: Allocate at least half a day to explore the eight distinct museums within the complex and attend the guided tours for expert insights.
13. Calgary Farmers’ Market
Experience the Calgary Farmers’ Market’s best local produce, crafts, and delicacies. With over 80 vendors, it’s a vibrant place to taste the region’s flavors, meet local artisans, and buy unique souvenirs.
Travel Tip: Visit on a weekday morning for a less crowded experience, and don’t forget to try some of the fresh baked goods and local cheeses.
14. Nose Hill Park
Offering panoramic views of the city and the Rocky Mountains, Nose Hill Park is a natural escape right within the city limits. The park’s vast grasslands and aspen woodlands are home to various wildlife and offer numerous trails for hiking and biking.
Travel Tip: Sunrise and sunset are particularly picturesque times to visit, and always keep an eye out for the park’s resident deer and coyotes.
15. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
Covering 36 hectares, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 270 species of birds recorded since its inception. It also offers serene pathways along the Bow River, making it a peaceful retreat for nature lovers.
Travel Tip: Bring a pair of binoculars for the best birdwatching experience, and check the sanctuary’s events calendar for guided birdwatching tours.
16. Wonderland Sculpture
Located outside The Bow, one of Calgary’s iconic skyscrapers, the Wonderland Sculpture is a captivating two-story tall mesh head. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, this public art piece is a must-see and offers a unique photo opportunity.
Travel Tip: It’s best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the downtown rush and get that perfect shot without too many people in the background.
17. Eau Claire Market
Nestled in the heart of downtown, Eau Claire Market is a vibrant hub of shopping, dining, and entertainment. The area also offers picturesque views of the Bow River and Prince’s Island Park, making it a delightful spot for leisurely walks.
Travel Tip: Visit on weekends when the market hosts special events, artisans’ fairs, and live performances.
18. Devonian Gardens
Devonian Gardens is an indoor tropical oasis covering over one hectare in the CORE Shopping Center. Home to thousands of plants, koi ponds, and a living wall, it’s a tranquil spot to relax amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Travel Tip: If you’re shopping in the downtown area, take a break here. The gardens also offer play areas that are perfect for children.
19. Peace Bridge
An architectural marvel, the Peace Bridge is a pedestrian and cycle bridge spanning the Bow River. Designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, its striking red hue and helical steel structure make it a favorite spot for photographers and sightseers.
Travel Tip: The bridge is beautifully illuminated at night, making it an ideal location for evening strolls and capturing the city’s reflections on the water.
20. Telus Spark Science Centre
This state-of-the-art facility offers interactive exhibits, an HD digital dome theatre, and hands-on workshops that make science fun for all ages. From the wonders of space to the mysteries of the human body, Telus Spark inspires curiosity and discovery.
Travel Tip: Check their calendar for special events and workshops. The Creative Kids Museum section within the center is a must-visit if traveling with kids.
FAQ About Things to Do in Calgary, Canada
What is the most iconic attraction in Calgary?
The Calgary Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Visitors can visit the observation deck for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
Are there any historical sites to visit in Calgary?
Heritage Park Historical Village is Canada’s largest living history museum, offering visitors a chance to experience life in the Canadian West from the 1860s to the 1950s.
I’m a nature lover. What outdoor activities can I do in Calgary?
Calgary is close to the Rocky Mountains, making it an excellent base for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. You can explore Fish Creek Provincial Park or the beautiful Bow River pathway within the city.
Is there a place in Calgary where I can learn about its cultural heritage?
The Glenbow Museum in downtown Calgary offers a deep dive into Western Canadian art, culture, and history.
I’ve heard about the Calgary Stampede. What is it, and when does it take place?
The Calgary Stampede is a world-famous rodeo event that takes place every July. It features rodeo competitions, concerts, parades, and a carnival celebrating Calgary’s Western heritage.
Are there any family-friendly activities in Calgary?
Absolutely! The Calgary Zoo, TELUS Spark Science Centre, and Calaway Park are all great options for family outings.
I’m interested in shopping. Where can I find unique local products?
The Inglewood neighborhood is known for its boutique shops and artisanal stores, offering unique local products and crafts.
Is there a place in Calgary to enjoy live performances?
Yes, the Arts Commons is Calgary’s premier live-form venue, hosting various shows from theater to concerts and ballet.