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48 Hours in Calgary

by Travelbag on 16 April 2015, 12:04PM

This true western town is usually a stopover point for travellers headed to the Rocky Mountains or for visitors of the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo. But, there is so much more to this beautifully rugged and cosmopolitan city than its cowboy roots. From the picture-perfect snow-capped mountain peaks to the pulsating streets of steel-clad downtown, there is a multitude of hidden treasures and exciting adventures in the “Heart of the New West.” To make the most of this vast outdoor playground, try visiting between spring and autumn, when the weather is mild.

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Day 1

Natural Beauty

Start the day off like a true cowboy – before the break of dawn and out in the fresh Rocky Mountain air. Take a leisurely stroll along the glacier-fed Bow River as the rising sun casts its yellow hue against the sky, illuminating the Calgary skyline the glistening, trout-filled waters. The paved pathway system, the biggest in North America, stretches 360 km along the river’s twists and bends, providing residents with an abundance of scenic walking and cycling trails. Then, fuel up with a hearty, Canadian breakfast at the 1886 Buffalo Cafe Eau Claire Market. Again, try to get there early, as this is a hot spot and a long line can accumulate quickly.

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Olympic Dreams

With a full stomach and plenty of energy, head to Canada Olympic Park. The site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games still serves as a training centre for elite athletes and Olympic hopefuls. During the snowier months, visitors can hit the slopes or take an exhilarating ride down the bobsled track. Thrill-seekers can also climb to the top of the 90m ski jump tower and fly down the zip lines at speeds of up to 140km/h.

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Lunch of a Champion

All of that activity and gut-wrenching thrills warrants a decadent lunch. The award-winning Boxwood Café hits the spot, while those with heartier appetites may want to check out the award-winning Charcut Roast House. Get moving again, by walking over to Olympic Plaza. The public square that sits across from Old City Hall is where Olympians once gathered for the medal ceremony. Now, it’s where Calgaraians celebrate major festivals like Reggaefest and sporting events. During the summer, the wading pool serves as a playground for children, while the water freezes over in the winter to provide a skating rink.    

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Cultural Connections

Delve into Alberta’s rich and multi-layered past at the Glenbow Museum. The natural history and culture museum showcases an incredible collection of artefacts from the First Nations groups and 19th-century pioneers. Nearby is one of two venues of the Contemporary Calgary Art Museum. The new museum is a collaborative effort of three formerly separate art institutions. The galleries are dedicated to contemporary and modern art.  

Delicious Dinner

Calgary’s wealth of different ethnicities is reflected in its diverse cuisine, which includes influences from France, Italy, Greece, China, Japan, Scandinavia and Ukraine. With distinguished eateries such Rouge, Sushi Bar Zipang and Mango Shiva there is plenty from which to choose. However, Alberta has and will always be cattle-driven, which means that Calgarians know how to cook an impeccable steak. For some of the best beef, go to Buchanan's Chop House and Whisky Bar.

A Night Cap

Channel your inner cowboy with drinks, live music and line dancing at Ranchman’s. If it looks familiar, that’s because scenes for the movie “Broke Back Mountain” were filmed here. For a more modern and trendy scene, head to Mercury Lounge or one of the many cocktail bars and pubs around 17th Avenue. 

Day 2

Picturesque Views

Start the day on a high note atop of the 191m Calgary Tower. With breath-taking views of the surrounding plains, cityscape and mountains, the city’s iconic landmark is the perfect place to enjoy a meal. 

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A Step Back in Time

Calgary’s Heritage Park Historical Village is one of the most exciting historical re-creations in Alberta and even Canada. Here, visitors are offered a glimpse of life on the frontier from the early 1860’s to the 1950’s. From the settler days to the booming fur industry to the new opportunities that arose from the train infrastructure, there is so much to explore.

Afternoon Shopping

Spend some time strolling down 17th Avenue and browsing the numerous fashion boutiques and specialty shops. Stephen Avenue Walk is Calgary’s historic pedestrian mall. The Walk’s Fashion Central is a trendy shopping district that offers unique goods and services, such as a one-of-a-kind pair of hand-made leather cowboy boots.  

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Early Dinner

Stay in the downtown area along the Walk and indulge at one of its amazing world-class restaurants. Or, go back to Bow River and the nearby Prince’s Island Park and check out the River Café. The highly acclaimed restaurant features locally sourced cuisine. Prince’s Island is the designated space for festivals and celebrations. Check to see if there is anything going on.

Local Tradition

End the night in a traditional way with authentic bluegrass and folk music. Located just blocks from downtown is the charmingly eclectic neighbourhood of Inglewood, with its antique shops and pulsating music scene. Even on Sunday nights the Ironwood Stage and Grill is the place to be, with local beer on tap, local talent providing the tunes and the tapping of cowboy boots late into the night.

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