Discovering Calgary: A Day Full of Activities and Excitement

Written by EJ Ray

June 12, 2024
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Immerse yourself in the vibrant city of Calgary. Discover Calgary and its adventures, cultural experiences, and mouthwatering cuisine. Don’t miss our top spot for a delightful sandwich lunch.

Calgary, Alberta, often called “Cowtown,” is a vibrant city that blends its rich Western heritage with a modern, cosmopolitan vibe. From towering skyscrapers and historic landmarks to stunning natural landscapes, Calgary offers many activities to fill your day with adventure, culture, and culinary delights. Here’s a comprehensive guide to making the most of your day in this dynamic city, including a must-visit spot for a delicious sandwich lunch.

Morning: Exploring Calgary’s Cultural Gems

Visit the Calgary Tower

Start your day with a panoramic view of the city from the iconic Calgary Tower. Standing at 191 meters (627 feet), the tower offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city skyline, the Rocky Mountains, and the vast Alberta plains. The observation deck features a glass floor that lets you look straight down onto the streets below, providing a thrilling start to your day. Don’t forget to snap photos of the stunning scenery and learn about the tower’s history through the informative displays.

Beautiful pink, orange, purple and blue colours in this sunset photo taken in Victoria Park

Calgary Tower at sunset from Victoria Park. Photo by Ian Feil via iStock by Getty Images

Wander Through the Glenbow Museum

After taking in the views, head to the Glenbow Museum, one of Calgary’s premier cultural institutions. Located just a short walk from the Calgary Tower, the museum houses an extensive collection of art, artifacts, and historical exhibits that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Western Canada. Explore the Indigenous Studies Gallery, which features an impressive collection of First Nations artifacts, and the Mavericks Gallery, which tells the stories of Alberta’s pioneering spirit. The museum’s diverse exhibits offer a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past and present.

Stroll Along Stephen Avenue Walk

Next, stroll along Stephen Avenue Walk, a historic pedestrian mall bustling with activity. This charming street is lined with beautifully preserved heritage buildings, trendy boutiques, and various cafes and restaurants. As you wander, you’ll encounter street performers, art installations, and plenty of opportunities for people-watching. Stephen Avenue Walk is also home to some of Calgary’s best shopping, so pop into the unique stores and boutiques that catch your eye.

Pedestrians walking past retail outlets along Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary. Photo by MJ_Prototype via iStock by Getty Images

Midday: Enjoying Calgary’s Culinary Scene

Lunch at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery

For lunch, visit Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, located in the Simmons Building in the East Village. This local favorite is renowned for its artisanal bread, pastries, and, of course, its mouthwatering sandwiches. The cozy, rustic ambiance of the bakery provides the perfect setting to relax and enjoy a delicious meal.

Try their signature roast beef sandwich, made with tender, slow-cooked beef, tangy pickles, and horseradish mayo, all nestled between slices of freshly baked sourdough bread. Pair your sandwich with one of their refreshing salads or a bowl of their seasonal soup. For dessert, indulge in one of their delectable pastries, such as a buttery croissant or a rich chocolate babka. Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is not just a place to eat; it’s an experience that celebrates the art of baking and the joy of good food.

Afternoon: Embracing Calgary’s Outdoor Beauty

Explore Prince’s Island Park

After a satisfying lunch, take a short walk to Prince’s Island Park, an urban oasis on an island in the Bow River. This beautiful park offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Wander along the scenic pathways, enjoy the lush greenery, and enjoy the stunning views of the river and downtown skyline. The park is also home to various wildlife, including ducks, geese, and beavers, so keep your eyes peeled for these charming residents.

Prince's Island Park Peace bridge. Autumn foliage scenery in downtown Calgary Bow river bank, Alberta, Canada.

Cross the Peace bridge and explore Prince’s Island Park in downtown Calgary. Photo by CHENG FENG CHIANG via iStock by Getty Images

Prince’s Island Park hosts numerous summer festivals and events, such as the Calgary Folk Music Festival and Shakespeare by the Bow. If you visit during one of these events, check out the performances and activities. The park also features several picnic areas, so feel free to bring a blanket and relax by the river.

Visit the Calgary Zoo

Next, head to the Calgary Zoo, one of the city’s top attractions. Located just across the Bow River from downtown, the zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from around the world. Explore the different themed areas, such as the Canadian Wilds, which showcases animals native to Canada, and Destination Africa, home to majestic lions, giraffes, and hippos.

The zoo also features beautiful botanical gardens and interactive exhibits that provide educational insights into wildlife conservation. The zoo offers plenty of kid-friendly activities for families with children, including a playground and a petting zoo. Visiting the Calgary Zoo is entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity.

Late Afternoon: Delving into Calgary’s History

Discover Heritage Park Historical Village

No trip to Calgary would be complete without visiting Heritage Park Historical Village, Canada’s largest living history museum. Step back in time as you explore this 127-acre park, which recreates life in Western Canada from the 1860s to the 1950s. The park is divided into several distinct areas, each representing a different historical period.

enjoying a summer day at Heritage Park, driving a wagon pulled by a couple of horses.

Discover Calgary’s past with a trip to Heritage Park Historical Village. Photo by Marvin Samuel Tolentino Pineda via iStock by Getty Images

Stroll through the 1910 Prairie Railway Town, where you can visit historic buildings, ride an authentic steam train, and interact with costumed interpreters who bring the past to life. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Gasoline Alley Museum, which houses an impressive collection of vintage cars and artifacts from the early days of the automobile industry.

Heritage Park also offers a variety of hands-on activities and demonstrations, such as blacksmithing, baking, and traditional crafts. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the past, Heritage Park provides a fun and immersive experience for visitors of all ages.

Evening: Enjoying Calgary’s Nightlife

Dinner in the East Village

As the day winds down, head back to the East Village, one of Calgary’s most vibrant neighborhoods, for dinner. The area has undergone a significant transformation in recent years and is home to various restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. Whether you’re in the mood for upscale dining or casual eats, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your appetite.

For a memorable dining experience, consider booking a table at Charbar, located in the historic Simmons Building. This acclaimed restaurant offers a menu inspired by Argentinian cuisine, featuring a variety of grilled meats, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. Enjoy a perfectly cooked steak or indulge in their famous empanadas, all while taking in the stunning views of the Bow River from the rooftop patio.

Catch a Show at the National Music Centre

After dinner, immerse yourself in Calgary’s thriving arts and culture scene with a visit to the National Music Centre (NMC). Located in Studio Bell, this state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to celebrating the history and impact of music in Canada. The NMC offers a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, and live performances that showcase the country’s rich musical heritage.

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre

Studio Bell is home to the National Music Centre in Calgary. Photo by Jeff Whyte via iStock by Getty Images

Take a guided tour to learn about iconic Canadian musicians, explore the extensive collection of musical instruments, and even try creating your own music in one of the interactive studios. The NMC also hosts regular concerts and events, so check their schedule for any performances during your visit.

Unwind at a Local Brewery

End your day with a visit to one of Calgary’s many craft breweries. The city’s craft beer scene has exploded in recent years, and there are plenty of breweries to choose from, each offering a unique selection of brews. Head to the Inglewood neighborhood, known for its vibrant nightlife, and visit Cold Garden Beverage Company. This popular brewery is known for its laid-back atmosphere and creative beer offerings, such as the Vanilla Cappuccino Porter and the Cakeface Lager.

Enjoy a flight of beers to sample a variety of flavors and relax in the brewery’s cozy taproom or spacious outdoor patio. Cold Garden often hosts live music and food trucks, adding to the lively and welcoming ambiance. It’s the perfect way to unwind and reflect on your day’s adventures in Calgary.

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When You Visit Calgary

Calgary, Alberta, has abundant activities and attractions to suit every interest. From exploring cultural landmarks and enjoying delicious local cuisine to immersing yourself in nature and delving into the city’s history, there’s no shortage of things to do during the day in Calgary. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, this vibrant city always has something new and exciting to discover. So pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to experience the best of Calgary – a city where adventure awaits around every corner. We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more things to do while visiting Calgary or other parts of Alberta, Canada

Written by EJ Ray

EJ Ray is a traveler at heart. It is part of her soul and she loves to share her travels through her words. She has traveled the world, seeking great food, wine, and experiences. EJ was born in the Eastern US but has lived across the country and in Europe and Mexico. She also took to the road for a while, exploring from her RV. EJ always seeks the next great sip, bite, and adventure.

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