Alberta’s stunning skiing and mountain resorts, like Banff and Nakiska, are justly famous. But Calgary, the provincial capital, is often overlooked by travelers who dismiss it as a business obsessed, oil-trading town. That’s a shame because the city is actually an excellent choice for those seeking a low-key weekend break. So, whether you’re seeking lively entertainment or want to spend some time in the great outdoors, book yourself into one of the many hotels in Calgary and check out what they have to offer.
Set against the snow-capped backdrop of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary has some of the most stunning natural attractions in Alberta. They include Fish Creek that, at over 19 km from east to west, is one of the largest urban parks in North America. Its large lake makes it great place to swim and chill out in the summer. But you can go biking, fishing, bird watching, or just hiking along the park’s 86 km of trails, all year round. Expect to see a huge range of wildlife including coyote, beaver, and deer.
Calgary sits at the confluence of Bow and Elbow Rivers and a canoe trip is a good way to experience the different landscapes of the area. You’ll drift through spruce and aspen forests, be challenged by white water rapids and, in places, be overtaken by freight trains as their tracks hug the riverbank. Take a picnic and stop for lunch at Wildcat Island where you can moor your boat at its Secret Harbor before strolling in pine-scented woods.
Discover the Past
Heritage Park Historical Village offers a fascinating insight into what Calgary used to look like. This re-created early 20th Century village contains a fort, a grain mill, a school and much more. There’s even the opportunity to jump aboard the Village’s very own steam train or to take a trip on the SS Moyie, an original ‘stern-wheeler’ paddleboat that operates on a nearby reservoir.
If you want to delve back further into the region’s past, why not take a trip to the nearby Badlands? You will literally feel like you are visiting another planet as you hike through an almost lunar landscape of craggy hills and striking rock formations. The Badlands are a magnet for paleontologists who have uncovered some significant dinosaur remains in the area. Keep an eye out for fossils as you walk.
The Calgary Flames ice-hockey team may have had mixed success over the last decade but it has a loyal local following. What better way of ending an exhausting day canoeing or fossil hunting than by taking in one of their games at the Scotiabank Saddledome?
The city’s most famous event takes place every July. The Calgary Stampede rodeo and music show pays tribute to the city’s 19th century origins. The area was originally settled by hardy European pioneers who were also skilled stockmen. The Stampede’s flamboyant and daring displays of horsemanship are a reminder of Calgary’s cowboy heritage.
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