Calgary in July!
April 30, 2019 1:05 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun things to do in Calgary (and vicinity) in July? I'm going to be there with some relatives for two/three weeks. Is it worthwhile going to the Stampede? What can I expect there? I think I'd like to do some hiking but no idea what would be a good choice in that regard. I also like theatre, science, history, dining, music (piano especially). Are there any multi-day courses being offered in these subjects then?
posted by storybored to Travel & Transportation around Calgary, AB (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've never had a chance to go in person (work travel was always outside of competition dates) but having watched it on TV, I'd say attending the North American CSI 5* presented by Rolex show jumping event at Spruce Meadows would be really high on my list of things to do around Calgary in July.
posted by sardonyx at 1:58 PM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, the Stampede! It's a whole lot of rodeo fun. There are also free pancake breakfasts all over town during the Stampede. It's been 20 years since I was there, but I remember the one at the zoo being really fun.

Seconding that Spruce Meadows is wonderful.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is also very much worth a visit.
posted by karbonokapi at 2:02 PM on April 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Day trip to the Royal Tyrell Museum of Anthropology and/or hang out and do some paleontology at Dinosaur Provincial park. Heed their advice about bug repellent!
posted by Poldo at 2:20 PM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

A long list of interests! Performing arts are relatively quiet in the summer; Shakespeare By The Bow starts late July and (weather permitting) can be really good. If you have specific interests, or know what part of town you will be staying (and if in the suburbs, if you have a car) that might help as well.

On the dining side, Avenue Magazine has pretty good coverage of food, especially the foodie stuff, rather than reiterating all of their picks. Feel free to memail me for specific areas and interests.

The Calgary Zoo is pretty good; they have a good selection of Canadian wildlife, which you won't always see in the mountains (and certainly not some, like the musk ox or whooping crane); they have relatively intimate crowd-pleaser exhibits for lemurs and penguins; they have pandas.

Out of town, obviously the mountains. Banff is the classic for good reason; you can also do day trips into Kananaskis country. (There are a number of previous Asks about Banff area trips.) If you don't have access to a car, there is an expensive tourist bus to Banff (Brewster's) and a cheap weekend commuter bus (On-it), and there's a previous Ask about Banff without a car.

The Stampede; I'd recommend it unless you hate crowds. The Stampede proper has paid admission, but it's not crazy expensive, something like 20 bucks and there are often a number of deals available. It's got a ton of different stuff associated with it, so you can really pick and choose; if you like or are interested in rodeo, the rodeo is very good. There's a ton of music (about half country and half other genres, mostly rock) on; check schedules because there are different artists every night; there are also other concerts held in town during the Stampede. (In particular, the Coca Cola stage is free with admission and is an open air amphitheatre featuring mostly up-and-coming Canadian artists). The parade is a very big parade, and downtown is crammed full of people to watch that, but unless you really like marching bands I might give it a miss. There's all the summer fair type of stuff; a midway full of spinny rides and games to win teddy bears; overpriced fried foods; agricultural stuff; a craft show; the hucksters selling gadgets. I think the evening show might be worth checking out; it starts with chuckwagon races (four teams of four horses pulling wagons, it's sort of a Ben Hur type feel almost), then has an hour or two of general-interest entertainment; there is a local youth group that does big song and dance numbers, often some acrobats or stunt performers, a musician or two, a little of this and that, and then ends with front row seats to a very good fireworks show.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:40 PM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Obligatory link to previous ridiculous Stampede snacks discussion, though admittedly I'm not sure I'd classify it as meeting your averred interest in "dining." But wait! There's more new for this year!
posted by halation at 6:35 PM on April 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

One warning about Banff and Lake Louise in the summer - It can be incredibly busy, especially Lake Louise and Moraine Lake (also known as Reddit lake)
If you're heading out on a weekend, go early in the am, otherwise, try and stick to weekdays if you're going into the park.
The Kananaskis Park does not have this issue.
For hiking there are a ton of options, ranging from short jaunts to multi day hikes. By July the snow should be gone from pretty much everywhere.
Further to the south is Franks Slide. It's an old coal mining town that was buried by a massive rockslide.
Seconding Tyrell. It's a fantastic museum, and has one of the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world.
posted by GnomePrime at 7:57 AM on May 1, 2019

Oh - one more thing about Stampede - the agricultural animal competitions where you can wander around seeing prize cows, goats, poultry, sheep up-close are nice (sure, maybe a little stinky at times). Oh - and some years there are also marching band competitions. And - the parade that kicks off Stampede is fun too. (Might be hard to find a spot when you are not a local and know when/where/how to setup in the early AM (and, well - gonna need blankets probably too) - there are stands, but they might be for certain community groups/companies or even paid/prize-winning seats).
posted by jkaczor at 8:41 AM on May 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Riverwalk is nice in the summertime. Start at Eau Claire or something and work your way along, with a detour to St. Patrick's Island park in the middle of the river. Phil and Sebastian coffee is good. 17th ave has lots of great patios for a drink, or grab an ice cream and wander around.
posted by at 10:16 AM on May 1, 2019

Come to our meetup!

I don't know if I can add too much to the list - the Stampede is absolutely worth it the first time, with diminishing returns. Not sure if anyone has mentioned the dog agility competitions that sometimes take place there - they're also worth the time.

If you're looking to get *outside* the city, you'll have a lot of (busy) options.
posted by sagc at 11:24 AM on May 2, 2019

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