Best known for it’s ‘Cowtown’ nickname and host city for the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary is a cosmopolitan city located in the heart of Western Canada. For locals it is home to a booming oil industry, and for visitors it is the setting of the famous Calgary Stampede. Despite it’s reputations this rapidly growing city offers diverse culinary adventures, and rich cultural experiences. Here are some of our favourite neighbourhoods to explore, restaurants to try, and settings to enjoy that make up a perfect weekend getaway, or in our case the perfect staycation!
Whether you are a local Calgarian on a staycation or a visitor just in for the weekend, kick start your getaway by checking in to the wildly popular boutique hotel, Hotel Arts. This original hotel is ideally located on the doorstep of downtown and fully equipped with designer rooms, award winning dining and an outdoor pool and patio like no other.
After checking in make your way to 17th Avenue. Famously nicknamed the Red Mile, this 10 block section of downtown is home to one of the city’s most popular retail and entertainment districts. If you have your heart set on trying a particular restaurant be sure to make a reservation in advance as the best places fill up fast. However, if you are up for an adventure we recommend starting the evening with a visit to Milk Tiger Lounge. Voted one of the world’s best bars in 2015 by Conde Nast, Milk Tiger is a small hideaway with an extensive cocktail list.
Slightly buzzed from the expertly crafted cocktails head west to indulge in what is in our opinion the city’s best pizza. A quintessential neighbourhood restaurant, Una pizza and wine serves inspired za, refreshing wines and delectable desserts. An anchor on 17th there is often a waitlist to get in but trust us, it is more then worth it. Try to get a spot at the bar to watch the chefs at work and do not miss out on the cheesecake of the week, it is to die for.
To finish the evening hop on over to Analog Coffee and enjoy a meticulously prepared latte. Home to Fratello Coffee Roasters, Analog offers a cozy environment to relax with friends before turning in for the night.
Get an early start by renting a cruiser from the hotel front desk and biking over to the East Village. Currently undergoing a massive rejuvenation, Calgary’s newest downtown neighbourhood is home to a 2km riverwalk, the recently opened Studio Bell, retail and residential towers, and a number of historic buildings including the Simmons Building. The once mattress factory now houses the enticing Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, Phil and Sebastian coffee roasters, and Charbar. Careful select a freshly baked pastry from Sidewalk, then make your way across the George C. King bridge to explore St. Patrick’s Island.
After making your way around the island head east to the community of Inglewood (one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods) where you will find streets lined with unique retailers perfect for casual shopping. As you peruse the shops make sure to check out Plant for all your green needs, Etsy if you are in the mood for the latest fashion trends, and Kent of Inglewood to spruce up on your shaving knowledge. As your tummy begins to grumble make a pit stop at Spolumbos for one of their famous Italian sandwiches and then bike back over to the hotel to enjoy some time by the pool.
Feeling relaxed and refreshed it’s time to get dressed up for an evening on Stephen Avenue Walk. A National Historic District, Stephen Avenue is a snapshot in history with over 30 restored buildings dating from the 1800’s to the 1930’s. In one of these historic buildings, the Dominion Bank Building, is Teatro restaurant. One of Calgary’s most awarded fine dining establishments, Teatro is a unique and delicious experience. Be sure to make a reservation in advance and if the weather is in your favour try to get a spot on the beautiful garden patio. Stephen Avenue is a vibrant gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Spend the rest of the evening enjoying a stroll through the pedestrian only streets.
Avoid weekend withdrawal on your last day by visiting Prince’s Island Park and having brunch at the extraordinary River Cafe. Located on an urban island, this idyllic restaurant focuses on sourcing local ingredients and practicing artisanal techniques. The setting is warm and welcoming whether you are nestled inside what feels like a family cottage or enjoying the fresh air and beautiful setting on the patio.
With so many secrets to uncover, Calgary is a diverse destination that deserves multiple visits. This itinerary is just a snapshot of some of the amazing neighbourhoods, restaurants, shops and cafes we recommend visiting, but there is so much more to enjoy. Check back soon for more Calgary posts!