Being an academic definitely has its perks. I recently attended a conference in Calgary, Alberta and I got to do quite a few fun things, besides presenting my own paper and going to panels. I compiled a list of things to do in Calgary, and almost all of them are cheap or completely free! Scroll to the bottom of the post for my recommendations where to eat and sleep in the city!
5 things to do in Calgary
1. Take in the view at the Calgary Tower*
The view from the top of the Calgary Tower is beautiful, the audio tour is fun and informative, and the glass floor is an endless source of entertainment, not to mention makes for great Snapchat material. After conquering your fear of heights and taking a selfie sitting on the glass floor, head over to the revolving Calgary Tower restaurant for a drink – if you can stomach it.
2. Visit Glenbow Museum*
The Glenbow Museum has a nice mix of interactive exhibitions and traditional art. If you don’t know much about Canada’s history and specifically Alberta (*sheepishly raises hand*), it’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the region, its past and its artists.
3. Window-shop at the CORE Shopping Centre
Okay, a controversial addition to my list, but who doesn’t enjoy a spot of luxury shopping while on holiday? You’ll find both high street and high-end shops in this downtown shopping mall, just make sure you have enough space in your luggage to pack your new wardrobe staples.
4. Have lunch at the Devonian Gardens
Hidden away on the fourth floor of the CORE Shopping Centre is a lovely indoor tropical garden, complete with koi ponds. Grab some lunch from the nearby food court and wander down the paths to find a quiet spot.
5. Take a break at Century Gardens
Century Gardens is a multi-levels concrete and water urban park built right in the middle of downtown Calgary. The brutalist architecture will take you right back to the seventies. Grab a cup of coffee and wander around the different levels to enjoy the water fountains.
My Calgary Recommendations
How to get there
The quickest, cheapest and most comfortable way to get downtown from the airport is the Allied Airport Shuttle. Well worth the $15 price tag – it will save you a world of trouble. They serve all the main downtown hotels, so chances are they’ll drop you off right at your door so you can get on with your day (or have a quick nap!).
Where to sleep
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency (conference perks ftw!) and it was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Hyatt brand – outstanding customer service, comfortable beds, all the little extras that make a difference, but dated rooms. The steam room and the eucalyptus-scented cool wet towels at the gym more than made up for the grandma chic decor, though. For a more Instagrammable vibe, try Hotel Le Germain across the street.
Where to eat
UNA Pizza + Wine is a little out of the way if you’re staying downtown, but the pizza is well worth the walk. I ordered the 4-maggi pizza (cheese, truffle oil and honey) and it was delicious. It’s also open until 1 am every night, which is perfect if you live on a weird schedule like I do…most other restaurants downtown seemed to close between 5 pm and 8 pm.
Where else to go
Take a day trip to Banff, I promise you won’t regret it. Just a short drive away from Calgary, Banff is the perfect getaway. It absolutely should be on your to-do list for the fresh air, the mountains and the beautiful turquoise streams. It’s incredibly beautiful and even the most die-hard city dwellers (*sheepishly raises hand again*) will enjoy themselves and wish they had packed hiking boots.
If you’ve ever been to Calgary, please leave your favourite spots in the comments!
* Tickets to the Calgary Tower and the Glenbow Museum generously provided by Tourism Calgary, but opinions are, as always, my own.