It's not the capital of Alberta, but it is the province's largest city and an important economic and cultural Canadian metroplex. A lot of people transit in and out of the city, either on their way to Alberta's famous ski resorts or down to the southern part of the province to explore the Badlands. But Calgary shouldn't be ignored and even if you only have 24 hours in town, there's more than enough to do to ensure an exciting stay.
Where to stay
Thanks to the province's wealth of natural resources, a lot of high quality hotels have popped up in Calgary's downtown core. If you're looking for a bit of style in addition to luxury though, look no further than the Hotel Arts. In 2005 the owners of the hotel started business with a mission; to create Calgary's first designer boutique-style hotel. Their dream was quickly realized and the result is a luxuriously refined and beautiful hotel in a great area of Calgary. The hotel has personality, no doubt there, and the modern art and design-minded finishings separate it from its competitors around town. In addition to comfortable and stylish rooms, the food on site is actually good; a rarity in the hotel world. Thanks to its Yellow Door Bistro, the culinary offerings from breakfast to room service and everything in between is creative and, more importantly, delicious. Located in an enviable position downtown, great restaurants and shops are a short walk away. It's also easy to access the major roads, making it a great one-night stay.
Where to eat
Like many major cities in North America, Calgary has undergone a culinary revolution lately. Sure, the old staples are still there, but next to the massive beer-centric bistros are restaurants offering delicious and very creative cuisine. One of those restaurants leading the way is Model Milk. Located in Calgary's historic dairy building in the heart of uptown, Model Milk is a unique restaurant that features fresh, local and very innovative food. Chef Leboe fuses comfortable food with an elevated twist, creating the likes of fried chicken and 'waffles' and for dessert Fat Kid Cake that will make you want to return for more. Calgary cuisine is fun, dynamic and a little quirky, just like the fine folks who call this city home.
What to do
Calgary has no shortage of things to do and see, but if you have an adventurous spirit, look no further than WinSport Calgary. The former site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, this repurposed site is a one-stop shop for pulse-quickening activities. WinSport, or the Winter Sport Institute, is located at Canada Olympic Park, about 15 minutes from downtown Calgary. There are a variety of experiences you can enjoy, and locals benefit from all kinds of options from summer camps for kids to some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. Two of the most popular activities though are the zip line and bobsleigh ride.
The zip line is the fastest in North America and from the top of the 90-meter tower (former ski jump) where it starts, you get an amazing view of Calgary before making the leap. Definitely not for the faint of heart, the zip line includes a parachute to slow down riders as they approach speeds of 80 miles per hour. The staff is amongst the most professional I've ever seen though and there's absolutely nothing to worry about here.
After jumping off the ski jump, make your way over to the bobsled track for another unique experience. Using the same track used in the Olympics, riders jump in a real bobsled (with wheels for summertime fun) with a professional athlete to experience the thrill of bobsleigh for themselves. Speeds and G forces both mount as the sled makes its way around 14 turns, a dizzying course especially for the first time rider. There are very few of these tracks open to the public though, so don't miss your chance to feel like an Olympian, if only for a few minutes.
Calgary is a modern, fun and fast-paced city; just make sure you stay long enough to experience the best it has to offer.
Have you been to Calgary? What were your favorite things to do?