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bootlegga Calgary - A travel report by James
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Calgary,  Canada - flag Canada -  Alberta
9518 readers

bootlegga's travel reports

Home of the Stampede

  15 votes
Page: 1 2
Calgary, home to the 1988 Winter Olympics, known as Cowtown here in Canada, has a lot going for it. With oil prices booming, so is Calgary. With Banff only an hour’s drive from Cowtown, it’s not surprising that it is growing by leaps and bou

The Saddledome in Calgary
The Saddledome in Calgary
Calgary is rapidly developing into Canada’s next major city. It is already larger than Ottawa and even provincial rival Edmonton. It has the 2nd largest number of corporate head offices in Canada, mostly oil companies and their related service companies. Home to the Calgary Flames, it also has a rice sporting history, having been host to the 1988 Winter Olympics. Be sure to at least take a look at the Saddledone, one of the craziest looking arenas anywhere. Some have compared to either a saddle (hence the name) or a Pringles potato chip. Either way, it’s a sight to see. If you are there in winter, check out Canada Olympic Park.

Calgary is very spread out, but due to a well organized transit system (courtesy of the 1988 Olympics), you can get round easily without a car.

The weather in Calgary most would consider cold in the winter, but every so often the city gets a 'Chinook', which is warm Pacific air, and the temperature can rise 10-15 degrees Celsius in the winter.

Favourite spots:
A Tiger at Calgary Zoo
A Tiger at Calgary Zoo
Calgary Zoo; this is probably the best zoo in Western Canada. It has dozens of animals in several different habitats. Personally, my favourite were the Siberian tigers. In addition to the animals, there is a tropical bird aviary and a large display of dinosaurs. This place takes an afternoon to really appreciate.

What's really great:
Calgary Tower offers great view
Calgary Tower offers great view
One of Calgary's selling points is its proximity to the mountains. Banff is only a bit more than an hours drive from downtown Calgary.

Unfortunately, the film in my camera was damaged and none of my pictures from the top of the tower turned out!

A sculpture on Stephen Avenue Walk
A sculpture on Stephen Avenue Walk
The Calgary Tower is located in the heart of downtown and gives you a stunning view of both the city of Calgary and the nearby Rockies.

For the kid that hides in all of us, check out Calaway Park, a small amusement park on the western edge of Calgary.

If you get tired of shopping in the maze of downtown malls, go to the 4th floor of TD Dominion Square and rest in the Devonian Gardens. In the Gardens, you and wander through little stands of trees and bushes, smell the flowers, and even feed the fish in the pond.

The Glenbow Museum is a world-class museum. Started in 1966 by a massive private donation, it includes has exhibits on all sorts of things, from life in North America to Asian art to African artifacts. It is on Stephen Avenue Walk.

If you come in July, be sure to check out the Calgary Stampede. This 10 day exhibition focuses on Western life and features a rodeo, chuck-wagon races, and everything else. Be sure to bring your cowboy hat!

The Hyatt Regency on Stephen Avenue Walk
The Hyatt Regency on Stephen Avenue Walk
Sheraton Suites Eau Claire in the fashionable Eau Claire district is incredible! Although it isn’t cheap, all the rooms are huge suites, and the hotel has every amenity you could want in a hotel, plus it’s close to Eau Claire Market, downtown Calgary, and Chinatown too. The Hyatt on Stephen Avenue Walk is very nice too.

Out by the University in the northwest is the Best Western Village Park Inn. It is cheap, clean and usually quite affordable. In the south end of town, the Wingate Inn is also pretty good.

If you are looking for an upscale, very charming B&B, check out the Kensington Riverside Inn. It is quite pricey, but close to downtown and in the very trendy Kensington area. Very romantic if you are looking to surprise your girlfriend/boyfriend.

Just a quick note, hotel accommodation prices soar during the Stampede, so be aware that hotel prices may double if you stay during that time.

A decade ago, 11th Avenue was full of bars and nightclubs and known as “Electric Avenue” and was a happening place. I remember many times driving down to Calgary and partying all night long in Coconut Joe’s or the Fox and Firkin. Alas, those days are gone. After several near riots and one too many fights, the city moved to restrict new bars from opening and even shut down those it could.

Still, all is not lost. The party simply moved south onto 17th Avenue. This place rocks. It is full of bars and clubs to party in. In June, when the Flames were fighting for the Stanley Cup, it would fill with as many as 30,000 drunk party animals. It is a little bit more sane now, but on Saturday nights, it gets rocking. Just about any place can be fun.

For fun off 17th Avenue, check out either the Drink or Cowboys, depending on whether or not you like country/western music. Both places are a lot of fun on the weekends.

Stephen Avenue Walk is home to the Street Performers Festival
Stephen Avenue Walk is home to the Street Performers Festival
Once again, if you are going to be in Calgary for any length of time, check out 17th Avenue.

Several good pubs can also be found downtown on Stephen Avenue Walk.

Calgary Farmer's Market
Calgary Farmer's Market
Peter’s Drive Inn on 16th NE is fantastic. Well-known by locals, it has the best milkshakes in town. Coupled with delicious hamburgers, fries and onion rings, this place is the way drive-ins used to be.

If you are in Eau Claire, check out the Barley Mill.

Chinatown also has dozens of great Asian restaurants, from a kaiten sushi shop to a Chinese bakery to Vietnamese restaurants.

A nice way to spend a weekend afternoon is to drop into the Farmer's Market off Crowchild Trail and browse the many stands. Here it is possible to buy bison, elk, and ostrich meat, as well as many types of fruit and vegetables. There are also several ethnic food stands, selling items like Samosas and Jerk Chicken.

Other recommendations:
The hoodoos in Drumheller
The hoodoos in Drumheller
Drumheller is only an hour’s drive away. Stop in and check out the world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum. There are more than 30 skeletons and models of dinosaurs, as well as interactive displays and other hands-on exhibits. It is one of the best museums I’ve ever visited.

The Museum of the Regiments is a nice stop for those who are interested in history. It depicts the history of several Alberta-based units, like the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the Lord Strathcona Horse, as well as others.

Published on Monday September 6th, 2004

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Fri, Dec 02 2005 - 08:03 PM rating by jorgesanchez

I am in Russia waiting for my ship to Kurils islands, boring, drinking some vodka, and enjoy reading your reports to kill time I noticed that all deserve 5 stars!!!

Sat, Sep 24 2005 - 05:15 PM rating by gloriajames

Enjoyed the report! 5*

Sun, Oct 17 2004 - 11:40 AM rating by mortimer

Hi James

A comprehensive report of this great town. I really enjoyed the great public transport system and the first floor walkways all through the downtown shopping area, I liked to be able to shop in dry conditions....


Sat, Sep 11 2004 - 05:42 AM rating by rafa01

I really enjoyed this years stampede - even the airport looked like a corral with all the cowboys around.

Mon, Sep 06 2004 - 11:47 PM rating by britman

Good in depth article certainly gives a great insight in what to do in Calgary. More photographs, web site addresses, notes on climate, how to get there and get around would be my objective report add-ons.

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