Sitting in the foothills of Canada's Rocky Mountains is Alberta's largest city, Calgary. Here's your guide to one perfect day of exploring the city's highlights.
1. But First, Brunch!
Start the day off with a delicious brunch at Alforno Bakery & Café. If you love carbs as much as I do, make sure to try some of their freshly bake bread…mmm delicious!
The restaurant has a cute outdoor patio dining area for its guests which makes it a nice option for summer dining and dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge is a pedestrian bridge which crosses over the Bow River connecting Memorial Drive and Eau Claire Park. As you walk across the bridge towards Memorial Drive, make sure to take a look beside you at the beautiful Bow River flowing beneath the bridge and look behind at the city skyline.
3. Crescent Heights Lookout
Once you cross over the Peace Bridge, walk westwards on the pathway along Memorial Drive to Crescent Heights. Climb up the steep set of stairs to the top of the hill for an amazing view of Calgary. The stairs may look intimidating, but I promise you that the view is worth the climb!
4. Prince's Island Park
Now that you've had your stair climbing workout for the day, stroll on over to Prince's Island Park to relax and enjoy this nature treasure in the heart of the city. This is the perfect place to pull out your picnic blanket and some snacks!
The park was named after Peter Anthony Prince, a lumberman from Quebec who came to Calgary in 1886 and founded the Eau Claire Lumber Mill. The island was formed when the channel was dug to move logs from Kananaskis to the Calgary sawmill. Later, in 1889, Peter Anthony Prince created the Calgary Water Power Company to supply electric streetlights to the town. Following his death, the City of Calgary developed the land into the park that it is today.
5. Wonderland Sculpture
Created by a Spanish artist named Jaume Plansa, Wonderland Sculpture is a 12 meter tall sculpture of a girl's head sitting on the steps of The Bow building. The sculpture has two openings which visitors can walk through. It is said that the sculpture was created to represent our own heads, a palace of dreams.
6. Olympic Plaza
Olympic Plaza is a beautiful urban park in downtown Calgary. The plaza was originally built as the venue for medal ceremonies in the 1988 winter Olympics which were hosted in Calgary.
Stop by The Famous Five monument in the south-west corner of the plaza which celebrates Emily Murphy, Henrietta Edwards, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, and Nellie McClung in their legal battle in the 1929 Persons Case.
Many people visit the plaza in the wintertime for some skating fun. The city usually opens up the skating rink in the middle of the plaza from mid-November to mid-March. Apparently, this is the only refrigerated outdoor ice rink in the city.
7. City Hall
Just across the street from Olympic Plaza, at the corner of Macleod Trail and 7th Avenue, is Calgary City Hall. The building historically signifies the optimistic mood of the pre-World War I economic boom. It is now used as an office for the Mayor and other city council members.
8. Village Ice-cream
We have Billy Friley and his grandma Gladys to thank for this cold, creamy, and sweet deliciousness! This ice-cream shop is a slight detour from the main downtown attractions, however, the ice-cream is a must-try. Village Ice-cream hand makes all of their ice-cream flavours at each of their locations. They have 10 "always" flavours and a rotating seasonal list. Apart from the amazing ice-cream, I love that this company aims to always source local ingredients first.
9. Calgary Tower
From Downtown Calgary all the way to the Rocky Mountains, visit the 191 meter tall Calgary Tower for panoramic 360° views. Enjoy the thrill of standing on the glass floor at the observation deck! While you're at it, try to spot the streets you've just walked through and your next stops for the day.
The tower can also be appreciated from street level at any time of day. However, at night especially, the tower illuminates over the city to celebrate and bring awareness to different events.
10. Stephen Avenue Walk (8th Avenue)
Stephen Ave is your spot for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment! Spanning across three blocks, this is Calgary's only pedestrian mall.
You'll know you're on the right street when you see the iconic galleria tree sculptures. These trees are both, artistic and functional. They help reduce heavy winds on the pedestrian only street and also provide lighting in the night.
While Stephen Ave is a vibrant entertainment district, it is also a National Historic Site. As you walk through the street make sure to take a closer look at the historic buildings. There are also information boards explaining the history and culture of the area.
This is the last stop of the day so relax and enjoy a meal on the strip to end of your jam packed day of fun and exploring around downtown Calgary!