Things to do in Calgary
A thriving metropolis in the province of Alberta, Calgary has earned the affectionate nickname Cowtown thanks to its deep, abiding roots in the ranching lifestyle of the Old West. At the same time it has all the attractions you'd expect from a big city, from sophisticated cultural venues to a glitzy nightlife scene.
Experience the great outdoors
Once one of Alberta's largest ranches, the Bar U has been preserved as a national historic site. Farmhands in traditional cowboy garb lasso horses, blacksmiths hammer forges, leatherworkers make saddles. Explore dozens of beautifully recreated ranch buildings, go on a trip on a wagon and dine on cowboy fare from the cookhouse. Meanwhile, the Calgary Farmyard offers a whole bunch of rustic activities for kids such as pumpkin picking, mazes and a petting zoo. For a general introduction to the region's flora and fauna, visit the Bow Habitat Station, where the whole family can learn how to fish in the summer or walk in snowshoes in the winter.
Don't miss the arts and shows
Calgary is a centre for the Canadian performing arts. It hosts the Alberta Ballet, the second largest troupe in the entire country, celebrated for its collaborations with the likes of Joni Mitchell. **Alberta Theatre Projects puts on works by top Canadian playwrights as well as Broadway hits and classics. Or if you're more keen on the applied arts, go for a stroll around the Alberta Crafts Gallery, where you can see pieces created by local potters, silversmiths and furniture makers.
Dine on something delicious
As you'd expect, the Calgary culinary scene is dominated by steakhouses – around 20 different venues in all. One of the oldest is Caesar's, where you can enjoy some prime Alberta beef with a super-sized cocktail. Another popular chop house is Buchanan's, known for its selection of malt whisky. The city is also notable for its great choice of diners and breakfast spots: Settle into a booth at the Belmont and sample one of their delicious milkshakes or for something a little more chic, try lunch at the Monki Breakfastclub.
Mall and artisanal shopping
Conveniently, near downtown Calgary, the 17th Avenue Retail And Entertainment District has over 400 shops and businesses. Pamper yourself at a spa, get measured up for a bespoke suit, or just savour a cup of perfectly blended java. If you enjoy browsing small, quirky independent shops, try Britannia Plaza with its book stores and designer footwear. And don't miss the Calgary farmer's market, which sells artisanal sausages and locally made bath products.
A 90-minute drive from Calgary, the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park offers fascinating insights into the rich culture of the Blackfoot tribe. Watch traditional dances and learn about age-old skills at the Tipi Village. Want to take a trip back to the age of steam? The Alberta Prairie Railway runs from Stetler to Big Valley through magnificent, unspoilt countryside. The six hour round trip on this historic locomotive often includes a murder mystery puzzle as on-board entertainment.
Craft beers and micro-breweries
Brewing and beer culture are historically important to Calgary, and the city currently has over 20 different breweries and distilleries, many of which are open for tours and tastings. Born Colorado offers an ever-changing roster of beers which you can try at your leisure in its homey bar. Also well worth checking out are micro-breweries like the Cold Garden Beverage Company in Inglewood and the Dandy Brewing Company, which creates limited-edition beer in runs of only three barrels.
Calaway Park is the largest amusement park in the whole of Canada. Just ten kilometres outside town, it has live shows, a 3D cinema, a haunted house and boating pool. Its 32 rides include a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a log ride and its new spinning coaster ride, and Bumble Blast. In the meantime, keen cyclists will love the B-Line Indoor Bike Park. This has 20,000 square metres of foam pits, ramps and other challenges, with lessons for beginners and a chance to really show off your biking skills.
Bars and casinos
Nightlife and games of chance go hand in hand in Calgary. The Century Downs Racetrack and Casino boasts a mammoth 600 slots and an attractive outside dining area. Really come to play? The Cowboys Casino has 24 poker and a lounge for high rollers. Away from the gaming tables, the Cowboys Dance Hall is a local institution, with a line-up of VIP's regularly making appearances. And if you enjoy live music, check out atmospheric venues like the Aussie Rules piano bar or the King Eddy blues club. The allure of Calgary at night is just a few mouse clicks away when you fly with CheapTickets.co.th. Browse great flight and hotel deals, giving you more cash to enjoy the sights of Calgary on your trip.