Calgary is the entry point to Alberta’s great outdoors. However, it’s also a destination in itself, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t stop to see at least a few spots on this list. These top attractions in Cowtown have the stamp of approval from Culture Trip’s local insiders.
If you want to get to the city’s roots, Fort Calgary is the place to do it. The fort, founded in 1875 as a political point to establish Canadian law, eventually became a focal point for settlers, ranchers and booming businesses. Today, you can follow their footsteps and tour the museum’s cultural exhibitions and historical displays. It has a long and complicated story to tell, but one that’s worth a listen. Recommended by local insider Stuart Forster
Want to see Canada’s toughest competitors go head-to-head in a rodeo? Attend the Calgary Stampede, also known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” Every July, it hosts rodeo events, chuckwagon races, concerts, parades and a whole lot of Timbits (bite-size donut holes). Also, don’t forget to dress the part: denim, oversized belt buckles, neckties and cowboy hats. Recommended by local insider Yamila Godoy
This park is home to the only urban downhill ski facility in Calgary, offering snowboarding, zip-lining, mountain biking, luging, snow hockey and many other winter sports. It’s open year-round, and there’s an emphasis on learning, with qualified trainers teaching wobbly-legged beginners and polished experts alike – so if you’ve never even seen snow before, don’t be alarmed. Recommended by local insider Yamila Godoy
Hidden away inside the Core Shopping Centre is Devonian Gardens, an indoor garden comprising a full city block. In winter, when there’s a tundra outside, it can get downright nippy, so the tropical plants are a welcome sight. It also has koi ponds, a living wall and a food court, so it’s the perfect place to go if you need some downtime. There’s also a piano you can play when a professional player isn’t showing off their skills. Recommended by local insider Coco Hiu Tung
McHugh Bluff is a gorgeous park that spans two northwest Calgary neighborhoods and has panoramic views of Bow River, Prince’s Island Park and downtown. While it’s also a popular place to watch the Canada Day fireworks, you should visit during the off-season and go at night to see Calgary lit up by the stars. It’s very “bright lights in the big city.” Recommended by local insider Coco Hiu Tung