8 hours inCalgary, what's a must-see?
August 20, 2014 3:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm in Calgary at the tail end of a Canadian Rockies visit, and my flight doesn't leave until 18:30 tomorrow. I would like to do only-in-Calgary stuff!

Sadly, I only did Canadian Rockies research before my trip, and wondering if there's former Olympic city host sightseeing or something? It's rainy and humid now, so maybe stick to recommended museums and/or indoor activities? Is there a special food (like beaver tails) I should be eating, or going to an iconic museum. I have a rental car, Mefites of Calgary, tell me where to go!
posted by Pocahontas to Travel & Transportation around Calgary, AB (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I tried the "when in Rome" approach while there last...shooting range and steak dinner. It was fun!
posted by HoteDoge at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2014

Best answer: For museums, the Glenbow is worth checking out, and has quite a bit of Calgary/Alberta-specific content in its collection. The Esker Foundation is a private art exhibition space open to the public for free, and usually has some cool stuff - although it's all contemporary art, so if that's not your bag you may not enjoy it. The area around the Esker (Inglewood) is a nice area to walk around (lots of little shops, restaurants, coffee shops, etc).
posted by iona at 4:04 PM on August 20, 2014

Best answer: I grew up there and would say out of all major Canadian cities, there's not much to see in Calgary but you could try:
- eat at steakhouse
- Stephen avenue mall (8th ave downtown) and there is that famous cowboy boot n hat store you could check out for a laugh; if you're there at lunch you can see all the suits running by
- ride the c-train into Kensington for some shopping
- Bernard callebaut chocolates are the BE$T, there are lots of stores downtown (although Bernard doesn't own the store anymore)
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:08 PM on August 20, 2014

Best answer: Calgary is known for inventing the Caesar cocktail (kind of like a bloody mary), which you can get at any place you go for dinner; and ginger beef which you can get just about anywhere in Chinatown.

The Glenbow is worth checking out for sure for an indoor activity. Otherwise there's not that much to do downtown on weekdays. Unlike many cities it's quite lacking in nightlife.

And if you'd like breakfast company in Inglewood tomorrow morning, I can join you at the Fine Diner. Inglewood is neat to walk around in. Memail me if you feel like company.
posted by tatiana131 at 4:46 PM on August 20, 2014

Best answer: The Devonian Garden is an indoor greenhouse park that's worth a visit. It's part of downtown Calgary's vast system of 'plus-15' walkways (15 feet being the height of the overpasses above the streets below) that connect the various indoor malls and office buildings downtown; the whole complex itself is kind of weird and interesting . If you make your way into any mall downtown you'll see a sign for it sooner or later.
A nice and easy itinerary might be to walk from Chinatown to Kensington or vice versa. If you were starting from downtown, head up to Chinatown (north, around Centre Street; lots of good places to eat - Chinese & Vietnamese), wander west along the Bow River to Prince's Island Park, cross the river and walk along to the 10th Street (a bridge) where you'll be in Kensington - plenty of local coffeeshops, bookstores, pubs, that sort of thing all concentrated in a few blocks.
posted by Flashman at 5:33 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also if it's a clear day then going up the Calgary tower will give a nice view, but I wouldn't eat there at the revolving restaurant since it is pricy and not worth it.

Eau Claire market isn't worth it either (nothing unique to Calgary, all chain stores) but the location is great so walk around princes island park by the river.

If you have good transport (ie car/cab) then 17th avenue is fun & funky for shopping and drinks on patios!

Also I may have been unclear above, the cowboy boots n hats store is on 8th ave aka Stephen avenue mall, you will know it when you see it!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:09 PM on August 20, 2014

Flashman - how could I forget Devonian Gardens! Also navigating the +15 is unique to Calgary, since you can travel many city blocks without having to go outside which is handy when it's -30C!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:13 PM on August 20, 2014

(Devonian Gardens is right downtown steps away from Stephen avenue mall, it's quick to visit and it's free!)
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:06 PM on August 20, 2014

If I were your trip planner, I'd head to the Calgary Tower first and take a ride up to the top. It's $18 for the elevator if you're not going to the revolving restaurant at the top, free if you are (but the restaurant is pricey). The Tower gives a breath-taking view of the city; good photo ops.

Head back to ground level, cross the street and spend a couple of hours in the Glenbow as many folks have suggested. Awesome Asian gallery with Hindu and Buddhist art, some over 1000 years old. Very informative, beautifully done Blackfoot permanent exhibit, plus some great current stuff. Don't miss the mineral collection on the 4th floor!

Head back to the main floor and go into the gift shop. Great doodads, souvenirs, and handmade jewelry if you need/want to take home gifts, especially great stuff for kids.

Go out the door of the gift shop onto Stephen Avenue Mall. Head east across the street past the Peforming Arts Centre and visit Olympic Plaza. Get street food, look at the people and the pool and fountain.

Wander back west to Stephen Avenue Mall. Great public art, people watching, nice shops as you head west, plus the Contemporary Calgary art gallery.

But don't take my word for it. Have a look at this website.

The other thing you might want to do is take the C-Train (light rail transit system) or drive to the Calgary Zoo. Great pre-historic park, usual animal exhibits, lovely conservatory and butterfly garden.

You might even want to get to the airport a bit early to visit the Spaceport. It's kind of cool.

Have a great day!
posted by angiep at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2014

Ask the suggestions so far are good. The western store is Lammies.

My office is downtown on 8 th Avenue, connected to the Core mall on the +15, if you're stuck for lunch, then we could do an impromptu meet up.
posted by arcticseal at 9:20 PM on August 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I ended up walking the downtown core and eating lunch at the food court near the Devonian Gardens. It was interesting and different walking around the human habitrail that is the +15. Very cool recommendation!
posted by Pocahontas at 3:56 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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