Calgary sits in Treaty 7 territory. These are the traditional and contemporary homelands of the Blackfoot confederacy which includes the Siksika, Kainai, and Piikani, as well as the Tsuut’ina, and Îyâxe Nakoda which include the Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Goodstoney First Nations. This territory is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. This land is known by many names to many people, including Moh’kinsstis (Blackfoot), Wincheesh-pah (Nakoda), Otos-kwunee (Cree), Kootsisáw (Tsuu’tina) and Klincho-tinay-indihay (Slavey). Lucas & I are grateful for the opportunity to visit this beautiful land and our neighbour to the south. Just because we visited here for pleasure, it does not absolve us of the responsibility to honour this space, and all human and non-human kin who live and play here as well.
Lucas and I have a summer vacation tradition. That is, we go on a summer vacation together every year, just the two of us. Camping was the holiday of choice for a lot of years, but Lucas is not interested in that any more. With that, the pandemic travel constraints, and our teeny time period, we were left with few choices in 2021. Thank goodness we have a pretty rad city a few hours to the south of us in our home province. It’s supposedly our rival city if you ask hockey fans, but I think it’s pretty swell. In fact, at one point in our trip, both Lucas & I agreed we could definitely see ourselves living in downtown Calgary.
So here are our Top Fun Things to do on a Weekend Trip to Calgary. This list is not exhaustive, because we are very chill vacationers, as you will learn based on some of the entries. I did get Lucas’ input as well, so this has a teenager stamp of approval (as much as that is possible).
I won’t write too much about this, because it is literally one of the main “tourist attractions” for families in Calgary. Telus Spark has lost its spark for Lucas, but it was still a fun place to kill a couple of hours in the morning.
EXPLORE THE NEIGHBOURHOODS
As Lucas & I weren’t driving around, we got to see a bit more of Calgary than the “normal tourists”. We are already used to walking a lot at home, and when you looked at total km for the day, wasn’t even very far. After getting to Telus Spark by bus, I noted that the next stop on my list was easier to access by walking (than by transit), so we headed over a hill, through a dog park, and into Bridgeland. Cute little shops and restaurants, lots of public seating, and a nice chill vibe. This area is adjacent to where the General Hospital sat back before it was demolished in 1998. It was a special moment for me to sit in its former shadow and enjoy a quiet, reflective moment, before moving on.
If we had more time in Calgary, I would have come back to Prince’s Island Park, and explored the other two islands in the Bow River. We saw some bike rentals (not Lucas’ thing), and honestly there were just a lot of paths to explore. Bring a snack and watch the birds (and the people).
ART AND MURAL SEARCH
This one was less for Lucas and more for Mom. Downtown Calgary has loads of murals and sculptures to feast your eyes on! And I adore murals. On our last morning in town, I left Lucas in the hotel and hopped on the train. There was a station immediately outside of our hotel, so this step was so easy. And then I just rode it up and down within the downtown core, hopping off when I saw a mural or other cool art.
Downhill Carting at Calgary Olympic Park was the top highlight of our short time in Calgary, for both me and Lucas. It was a pain in the butt to get to by bus, which was its only downside. Calgary was host to the 1988 Winter Olympics, and there is a lot of infrastructure – and a ski hill – left in the middle of the City. These folks have taken advantage of it, and built a sweet downhill cart track. You take a chair lift up the hill, hop on a really simple kart (no motor), and let gravity zip you back down the hill. Lucas was a bit more cautious than me, as I love to go fast (the faster the better). On those beautiful summer nights, I recommend pre-purchasing your tickets, because it was busy. You get as many rides down as you can make within your time slot. Good for all ages. Great for picky teenagers and adventure-seeking Moms.
- Ditch the car. Lucas and I did 90% of our traveling without a personal vehicle. Transit and walking were absolutely perfect for the touristing we wanted to do. We did take a taxi once but that was because we got lost on a bus and needed to get to Cinnamon before it closed.
- Indian food from Cinnamon. This came as a recommendation from a pal from Calgary, and it was just as tasty as she said it would be.
- Calgary’s Central Library is gorgeous inside and out. Plus I hear it has books.