calgary travel guide

The Calgary Travel Guide

Written: The Top Thing Staff | June 15, 2023

1. Explore Calgary Tower

Standing 191 meters tall, Calgary Tower offers a unique perspective of the city, showcasing spectacular views of the sky, downtown core, and historic buildings. From its observation deck at the top of the tower, you can see breathtaking 360-degree views of the sky and top attractions, along with fascinating exhibits. It’s not just about the spectacular views; there’s history and culture wrapped up in this iconic structure, making it a historic site with fascinating exhibits near a historic village.

Once at the top of the tower, step onto the glass floor to explore a thrilling and fascinating experience. Looking straight down from the tower in downtown gives you a sense of floating above the city streets—a must-do for adventure seekers looking to explore a great place.

Dining at Sky 360 Restaurant is another highlight. As you enjoy local cuisine, the restaurant slowly rotates, offering an ever-changing panorama of downtown Calgary and its fascinating city life. This feature makes it not just a meal but an unforgettable experience at special events, festivals, and hotel attractions.

For those interested in architecture, engineering marvels, and history, Calgary Tower, in the city, stands as a testament to modern design techniques and fascinating exhibits that have withstood the test of time since its completion in 1968.

Visiting during different times offers varied experiences – daylight hours provide clear views of distant landscapes while nighttime visits are magical with city lights twinkling below, allowing you to explore downtown.

2. Visit Heritage Park Historical Village

Stepping into Heritage Park Historical Village, a history-rich museum downtown, is like traveling back in time with its historical artifacts. This living history museum, nestled on the outskirts of Calgary, offers a unique glimpse into Western Canada’s past with its exhibits and theatre. With over 180 attractions, exhibits, and artifacts spread across 127 acres, it’s Canada’s largest living history museum, offering a theatre to explore.

Here, you’ll find yourself wandering through a fully recreated historical village downtown, bringing to life the late 19th and early 20th centuries’ history, including a theatre, in the heart of the city. Costumed interpreters play the part of townsfolk, offering insights and stories about artifacts, history, and exhibits that paint a vivid picture of life during those times in the downtown area.

Highlights include:

  • The steam train that greets visitors upon entering.
  • A working blacksmith shop downtown where real crafts are made using traditional methods, serving as a place rich in history.
  • The historic Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading fort.
  • Authentic Indigenous encampments showcasing First Nations cultures.

Each season brings new activities, history exhibits, and events to Heritage Park, attracting recent visitors downtown. From summer markets filled with local artisans in the downtown city to ghost tours in October that reveal the park’s spookier side, there’s always something happening, including exhibits highly rated on TripAdvisor.

For families or anyone interested in history, this attraction provides an educational yet entertaining experience with exhibits, as recent visitors on TripAdvisor recommend for its view. It’s not just about observing exhibits; it’s about engaging with history hands-on, viewing time through the day. You can ride antique midway rides, take horse-drawn wagon rides or paddle on the Glenmore Reservoir in a canoe authentic to the era portrayed, and capture history in photos recommended by TripAdvisor.

3. Wander through Calgary Zoo

Exploring Calgary Zoo, located downtown, is like embarking on a global safari without leaving the city, with its diverse exhibits attracting many Tripadvisor reviews and photo opportunities. This sprawling sanctuary, nestled in the heart of downtown Calgary, showcases an impressive array of wildlife exhibits from every corner of the planet, making it a top city attraction on TripAdvisor. It’s not just about observing animals through exhibits; it’s an immersive experience that educates visitors on conservation, the importance of biodiversity, and encourages them to view and review their experience on Tripadvisor.

One highlight is the Panda Passage exhibit, where you can witness these serene creatures munching on bamboo or playfully interacting with each other, and view photos on TripAdvisor. The zoo also features a Prehistoric Park, taking you back in history to when dinosaurs roamed Alberta, with exhibits and photos highlighted on Tripadvisor.

With over 1,000 animals across distinct habitats, including African savannas and Canadian wilds, there’s something mesmerizing for everyone to view on TripAdvisor photos of the city. Seasonal events like ZOOLIGHTS during winter add another layer of magic to your visit, as recent visitors on TripAdvisor suggest through their photos and reviews.

For families looking to maximize their day out:

  • Start early to avoid crowds.
  • Check feeding times online for a more interactive experience.
  • Don’t miss the daily talks by knowledgeable keepers.

The zoo’s commitment to sustainability is evident through its LEED-certified buildings and conservation programs worldwide. By visiting, you’re supporting vital work in wildlife preservation.

4. Enjoy the outdoors at Prince’s Island Park

Prince’s Island Park, nestled in the heart of Calgary, is a verdant oasis that beckons outdoor enthusiasts and families alike, offering stunning city views and highly rated on TripAdvisor, as seen in numerous photos. This expansive park offers a plethora of activities to immerse yourself in nature and spend a day without leaving the city, with stunning views highly rated on TripAdvisor. Whether you’re looking to unwind by the Bow River in the city or engage in more active pursuits on your day trip, with a bit of history to explore, there’s something for everyone on TripAdvisor.

For those who love walking or biking, the city park boasts well-maintained trails that offer scenic and historical views at every turn, making it a perfect day trip according to TripAdvisor. Picnicking is another popular activity here; with numerous green spaces and picnic areas available, it’s an ideal spot to enjoy a meal outdoors, often highlighted on Tripadvisor as a top city attraction for those interested in combining leisure time with a touch of history.

Festival lovers and recent visitors will find Prince’s Island Park in the city especially appealing as it hosts several events throughout the year, rich in history according to TripAdvisor. The most notable among them is the Calgary Folk Music Festival, which transforms the park in the city into a vibrant hub of music and culture where recent visitors spend time every July.

Bird watchers, recent visitors, and nature enthusiasts will also appreciate the park’s diverse ecosystem in the city and the time they spend there. It serves as a sanctuary for various bird species, making it perfect for some peaceful bird watching, attracting recent visitors to the city to spend time.

5. Discover the wonders at Telus Spark Science Centre

Exploring the Telus Spark Science Centre in the city is a journey into the heart of innovation and curiosity, a great way to spend time according to recent visitors. This interactive museum in the city offers a plethora of exhibits that cater to all ages, making it an ideal destination for families or anyone with a keen interest in science and technology, according to recent visitors who spent time there.

Upon entering, you’re greeted by an array of hands-on activities that challenge your understanding and stimulate your creativity, where recent visitors spend time exploring this city. From awe-inspiring displays about space exploration to engaging workshops on robotics, there’s no shortage of learning opportunities for recent visitors to spend time in the city. The centre prides itself on its ability to make complex scientific concepts accessible and fun for everyone, including recent visitors who spend time in the city.

One highlight is the Digital Dome Theatre, where visitors are transported across galaxies through stunning visual presentations. It’s not just about watching; it’s an immersive experience that leaves recent visitors feeling like they’ve traveled through space and time, spending time in a different city.

For those interested in health sciences, the Being Human exhibit in the city provides fascinating insights into how our bodies work and has been popular among recent visitors. Interactive stations allow recent visitors to dive deep into topics such as genetics, nutrition, time, and even sleep patterns.

The outdoor Brainasium park combines physical play with problem-solving challenges, encouraging recent visitors, kids (and adults!), to test their limits while learning about physics in action.

6. Take a stroll in Fish Creek Provincial Park

Exploring Fish Creek Provincial Park offers a refreshing escape from city life, right within Calgary’s borders, attracting recent visitors seeking quality time. This vast natural area is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in nature without venturing far from the city, attracting recent visitors who value their time.

Covering over 13 square kilometers, it stands as one of the largest urban parks in Canada. Its diverse landscapes include forests, wetlands, and open grassy areas, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers alike.

The park boasts an extensive network of trails suitable for walking, biking, and even horseback riding. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or an intense bike ride, there’s a path that fits every level of adventure and time for visitors.

For families or visitors interested in learning more about the local ecosystem, the park features educational programs throughout the year at various times. These programs provide visitors insights into the area’s flora and fauna as well as its historical significance to Indigenous peoples and early settlers over time.

Fishing enthusiasts and visitors will find solace along the banks of Fish Creek itself, spending time. The creek is stocked with trout annually, offering ample opportunities for visitors to engage in catch-and-release fishing.

Picnic sites scattered across the park make it ideal for gatherings with friends, family, and visitors. With fire pits and BBQ stands available at certain locations, visitors can enjoy outdoor dining amidst stunning natural scenery.

7. Experience the thrill at Calaway Park

Calaway Park invites visitors for a day packed with fun and excitement. It stands as Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park, offering over 32 rides that cater to thrill-seekers and visitors of all ages.

From the high-speed twists of the Vortex Roller Coaster to the splashy cool-downs at Timber Falls, there’s an adventure waiting around every corner for visitors. For families with younger children, attractions like Bumble Blast and Swirly Twirl provide gentle thrills in a safe environment for visitors.

Beyond rides, Calaway Park doesn’t skimp on entertainment. Live shows featuring music, magic, and more keep the energy high for visitors throughout the day. When hunger strikes after all those activities, visitors have a variety of dining options available to refuel and satisfy any craving—from classic carnival treats to healthier dining alternatives.

Planning your visit during special events can enhance your experience further. The park hosts seasonal celebrations such as Halloweekends in October, where spooky decorations transform it into a Halloween haven for visitors without losing its family-friendly vibe.

For locals or visitors planning multiple trips during the season, consider investing in a season pass. It offers unlimited access to visitors throughout its operational months from May through October—providing bang for your buck if you’re an amusement park aficionado or have kids who can never get enough of roller coasters and games.

8. Admire art at Glenbow Museum

Nestled in the heart of Calgary, Glenbow Museum stands as a beacon for art lovers, history buffs, and visitors alike. This cultural cornerstone showcases an impressive array of exhibitions ranging from contemporary artworks to historical artifacts, providing visitors a panoramic view of Western Canada’s vibrant heritage.

With over 1 million artifacts and artworks, Glenbow Museum offers something for every visitor. Visitors can explore galleries filled with Indigenous cultures’ artifacts, military memorabilia from Canada’s storied past, and cutting-edge pieces by modern artists. The museum’s dynamic exhibition schedule means there’s always something new for visitors to discover.

Not just about viewing art, the museum encourages visitors interactive learning through its various programs and workshops designed for all ages. Whether you’re interested in artist talks, hands-on activities for kids or guided tours that delve deeper into the exhibits, Glenbow provides visitors enriching experiences that go beyond mere observation.

For those visitors looking to take a piece of Calgary’s culture home with them, the museum shop features unique gifts crafted by local artisans alongside books and prints related to current exhibitions.

9. Shop and dine in Stephen Avenue Walk

Stephen Avenue Walk offers visitors a unique blend of shopping and dining experiences that are quintessentially Calgary. This pedestrian-only street comes alive with its vibrant atmosphere, where local boutiques stand shoulder to shoulder with high-end retailers.

Shopping here is an adventure in itself. From the latest fashion trends to handmade crafts, Stephen Avenue has something for everyone. The area is known for its eclectic mix of stores, offering everything from Canadian souvenirs to cutting-edge technology gadgets.

Dining on Stephen Avenue is equally exciting. The avenue boasts a wide array of restaurants and cafes, serving up cuisines from around the globe. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, you’ll find options ranging from cozy coffee shops to upscale dining establishments.

What sets Stephen Avenue apart is not just its diverse offerings but also the ambiance it provides. Street performers often grace various corners of the avenue, adding a lively soundtrack to your shopping and dining experience.

10. Engage with history at Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary stands as a testament to the city’s vibrant past, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the historical events that shaped Calgary. Nestled at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, this National Historic Site was established in 1875 and has since become an essential stop for history buffs and curious travelers alike.

Upon stepping into Fort Calgary, you’re transported back in time. The interactive exhibits and meticulously preserved artifacts tell tales of courage, strategy, and community. Here, you can don a Red Coat uniform, explore an exact replica of the 1875 fort, or stroll through the beautiful riverside grounds where history comes alive.

What makes Fort Calgary stand out is its commitment to education and engagement. Through guided tours, hands-on activities, and immersive displays, visitors gain insights into the lives of indigenous peoples pre-contact; fur trade dynamics; and how law enforcement evolved with the North West Mounted Police’s establishment.


  • It hosts special events throughout the year including Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations.
  • Educational programs are tailored for all ages ensuring everyone leaves with newfound knowledge.
  • Their Deane House restaurant offers culinary delights in a historic setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you see from the top of Calgary Tower?

From the Calgary Tower’s observation deck, you’ll catch breathtaking 360-degree views of the city skyline, distant Rocky Mountains, and rolling plains. It’s like having Calgary in the palm of your hand!

Is Heritage Park Historical Village suitable for kids?

Absolutely! Heritage Park is a time machine to the past with its fully operational historical village. Kids will love riding on antique steam trains and getting up close with history through interactive exhibits.

Can I interact with animals at Calgary Zoo?

Yes, while direct physical interaction is limited for safety reasons, you can get incredibly close to a wide variety of animals. The zoo offers immersive experiences that allow visitors to learn about wildlife conservation in an engaging way.

What activities are available at Prince’s Island Park?

Prince’s Island Park is an urban oasis offering walking paths, picnic areas, and seasonal outdoor performances. Whether it’s watching ducks glide by or enjoying a live concert under the stars, there’s something for everyone.

How kid-friendly is Telus Spark Science Centre?

Telus Spark Science Centre is a wonderland for curious minds! With hands-on exhibits and interactive displays designed to spark creativity and imagination in children (and adults!), it’s perfect for family outings.

Is Calaway Park good for all ages?

Definitely! Calaway Park offers rides and attractions ranging from thrilling roller coasters to gentle carousels. There’s fun around every corner for thrill-seekers as well as those who prefer a more laid-back amusement park experience.

What types of art are featured at Glenbow Museum?

Glenbow Museum showcases an eclectic mix ranging from historical Canadian art to contemporary pieces worldwide. Imagine stepping into a kaleidoscope where each turn reveals different cultures and stories told through art.