Things to Do in Calgary
Standing sentinel over the city’s downtown since 1968, Calgary Tower features an observation deck with a glass floor and a revolving restaurant 627 feet (191 meters) above ground. Both afford 360-degree views across the city to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.
Heritage Park in Calgary, Alberta, is an open-air historical and learning museum that gives visitors the chance to experience what life was like on the Canadian Prairies from 1860 to 1950. Costumed interpreters and many hands-on, interactive exhibits help you go deeper into your fun-filled encounter with the living past.
The Calgary Stampede is a grand celebration of Canada’s Western heritage that has been attracting visitors every year since 1923. Visit to experience small-town fun in a big way. The Stampede includes rodeo events, chuckwagon races, blacksmithing competitions, a midway, 300 performers on five stages, and First Nations cultural events.
Heritage Park is a historical village in Calgary that showcases the history of Western Canada from 1860 to 1950. It is Canada’s largest living museum, divided into four areas that each represent a different period of time.
Some of the area historic buildings still stand, while others have been brought in and restored. Traditional schools, homes, and saloons of the past give a sense of what life was like in each era. The park’s staff stands dressed in period costume, while horse and carriage or vintage automobiles roam the streets.
Other historic working artifacts of make history come to life. Interactive areas demonstrate the evolution of Canada’s industries, including fur trading, the Prairie Railroad, and the era of the automobile. Available activities include riding an authentic steam train or making your own old-fashioned ice cream. Visitors experience the history of Canada as it comes to life in nearly 200 available exhibits.
Visit the spot where Calgary was born at Fort Calgary, and explore the city’s formative years from 1875 to 1914.A wooden fort was built here by the North West Mounted Police in 1875, and today, the legacy of those times is re-created with interactive exhibits, replica barracks, guided tours and an interpretive center. It is a National Historic Site of Canada.
Dine in the former home of a Canadian Mountie, try on an authentic Mountie uniform and explore the fort’s extensive riverside grounds surrounding the meeting point of the Elbow and Bow rivers.
Glenbow is the largest cultural museum in western Canada, in particular highlighting the history and culture of indigenous Canadians.
The museum combines artifacts, artworks, archives, documents and fun interactive exhibits.
Tour the Blackfoot nations gallery, imagine riding in an Inuit kayak or pioneer wagon, and see photographic exhibits, sculptures, modernist and historical art.
Learn more about the past and present by taking an interactive tour of Alberta and hear the stories of Canada’s first inhabitants.
As one of Canada’s most significant historic coal mines, the Atlas Coal Mine is a National Historic Landmark and the site of the country's last standing wooden coal tipple (a sorting and loading machine.) It is a chance to dive deep into the country’s history of coal mining, as well as the time period during which mining was more prominent. Original mine buildings, hundreds of artifacts, roving characters, and unique machinery all bring history to life. There’s also a narrow gauge train tour and a coal car that takes visitors around the property, and an underground mining tunnel tour that recreates the experience of the miners.
Outside of the mine itself, visitors can see well-preserved plant buildings and miner houses, including a lamp house, wash house, supply house, and blacksmith. The site of many historic structures, the mine is popular with photographers and well as history enthusiasts.
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, is a state-of-the-art cultural center in Calgary. Spanning 160,000 square feet (14,865 square meters), the architecturally notable center includes a museum, performance hall, live music venue, recording studios, radio station, classrooms, and media center.
Kids big and small are fascinated by The Hangar Flight Museum, highlighting the history of Canadian aviation.
As well as displaying historic civilian and military aircraft, the museum hosts exhibits of visiting aircraft.
Go for a spin in a plane flight simulator, or take an educational tour to learn more about the museum’s prized collection of vintage aircraft.
For all the fun of the fair, with family-friendly rides and live entertainment, visit Calaway Park.
The largest amusement park in Canada’s west, Calaway Park has 34 rides spread over 36 hectares (90 acres).
From special rides for youngsters like the Aeromax crop duster to the whirling Adrenaline Test Zone and Bumper Boat splashdown, there are rides for all ages, from calm to thrilling. Height restrictions apply and some rides require adults to accompany youngsters.
Highlights for those with strong stomachs include the Chaos and Storm rides, and the corkscrew Vortex roller coaster.
At the park you’ll also find 23 food outlets and 25 skill-testing games.
More Things to Do in Calgary
Possibly the city’s most popular attraction, the Calgary Zoo has been caring for animals and animal lovers since 1929. Surrounded by botanical gardens with a rain forest and butterfly enclosure, Canada’s second largest zoo is home to more than 1,000 critters representing dozens of species from all corners of the globe.
A legacy of the 1988 Winter Games,WinSport, Canada's Olympic Park, has hosted Olympic events in ski jumping, bobsled, and luge. These days, its professional-standard facilities are mostly used for recreational purposes, with visitors flocking here not only to ski, snowboard, and bobsled but also to try other activities, such as ziplining.
For adults and kids alike, the TELUS Spark Science Center, is a highlight of a visit to Calgary. From ecology to forensics, human health to robotics, Spark knows no bounds.
The HD Digital Dome Theatre brings science to the huge screen, and year-round exhibits entertain and inform.
Explore the universe, discover the scientific innovations that have changed the world, put on your thinking cap in the inventor’s workshop at Open Studio and test your ideas in the Prototype Lab.
There is also a Creative Kids Museum within the center to appeal to the imaginations of even the smallest scientists in the making.
For 40 years in the early 1900s the Medalta factory produced tens of thousands of durable and still-popular dishes and storage crocks from imported Saskatchewan clay. But, the industry boomtown was left to ruin with machines and punch-cards still in place when the plant shuttered in 1954. Today, the Medalta Potteries National Historic Site lends insight into western Canada’s earliest large-scale industry and includes the Medalta factory—now a working museum—plus an archeological site and the nearby brick and tile plant.
Equal parts hipster and history, the aging industrial architecture of the Medalta factory, set against a Badlands backdrop, hosts a new era of artisans reviving the craft of stoneware and ceramic arts using the antique machinery. The museum features nostalgic displays on the life and stories of factory workers and over 30,000 pieces of regionally made pottery. Its adjacent free-to-access Yuill Family Gallery, fronting the two massive excavated beehive kilns, has rotating pottery exhibitions and an artist-in-residence program with studio space that serves as a community hub. The artists’ replicas are available for sale in the gift shop.
Much more than a static collection of sports memorabilia, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame honors the country’s most remarkable athletes with an electric 40,000 square foot space that echoes with the roar of fans. Tucked into one of the buildings that hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, interactive exhibits educate visitors about the rules and challenges of more obscure sports and offer the chance to throw pitches for clocked speed, shadow box with Lennox Lewis, attempt a wheelchair race or balance on skis on a virtual downhill slope.
There are sections dedicated to swimming and rowing, car racing, golfing and, of course, hockey, spread throughout 12 galleries. Over 1,000 culturally significant sports artifacts—including the shoe that amputee Terry Fox wore at the start of his epic cross-country cancer awareness run—are also on display. Each year new Hall of Fame honorees are inducted at a prestigious ceremony and featured, along with details of the more than 600 current members, in the Locker Room Gallery.