Calgary Is More Than Just The Stampede
First of all let us state that the Stampede can be a ton of fun and we think it’s great to be in a city that has a world-wide reputation for having the greatest outdoor show on earth… but sometimes Calgary gets tourists who think the Calgary Stampede is the only thing to do while they are here. We respectfully disagree…
Every July, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city of Calgary to join the fun of the Calgary Stampede, which runs for ten days every summer. But for many people – those with small children, without a lot of money to spend, with the desire to see more of Alberta instead of just the city – ten straight days of country music and day drinking is hard to do. What else is there to see beyond the grandstands?
Canadians are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and Alberta is the perfect place to see that. Majestic mountains in the west, badlands to the east, prairie fields and lakes and foothills all over…if you’re planning to visit, it would be a shame to simply stay in Calgary and miss the landscape outside the city limits.
Head west toward the Rockies, and within an hour you can find some of the most iconic landscapes of Canada. Short, easy hikes are everywhere, like Grotto Canyon and Heart Creek near Canmore, both of which are family-friendly and great for getting excellent photo ops. Just a little further is Banff, world-famous for its scenery, downtown shops (like the candy store and beaver tail bakery), and historic hotel, the Fairmont Banff Springs. If you find yourself there in the afternoon, you can even drop in for the afternoon tea, a full meal that will refresh you for more adventures through the town and surrounding area.
If you want to go off the beaten path a bit, you can head south to Mount Engadine Lodge, a rustic getaway in the heart of Kananaskis Country. They also serve afternoon tea on their deck, which overlooks a meadow frequently visited by elk, deer, moose, and other mountain wildlife. Or you can continue past Banff toward Lake Louise, where – if you’re feeling particularly energetic – you can hike up the mountain to the tea house and enjoy some well-earned rest.
Not feeling like a mountaineer? Simply head out east instead! Any budding paleontologists in the family will love the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, full of dinosaurs, fossils, and other historic wonders that they’ll remember for years to come. Or if you want a peek into the past, follow the highway south to the Atlas Coal Mine, a 1930s museum site that highlights how many prairie pioneers lived in the past.
If you’re unable to leave the city, don’t worry! There’s still plenty to do around town that isn’t just another day at the Stampede. Take the C-train to the Calgary Zoo, east of downtown, and visit some of your favourite animals, or pop over to Heritage Park for a boat ride on the Glenmore Reservoir while you soak up the history of the city. Or, take the elevator to the top of the Calgary Tower to see the Stampede grounds from nearly 600 feet in the air.
For something more active, you can rent a raft and float down the river from Bowness Park to Inglewood to enjoy the hot summer sun, or take a ride down the zipline at Canada Olympic Park – and even head back up to experience the thrill of speed with a go-kart on the bobsled track. And of course, if you want to escape the throngs of people at the Calgary Stampede while still getting your fix for rides, take the Highway 1 a few minutes west of town and stop in at Calaway Park to get more roller coasters, bumper cars, spins, and flips than you know what to do with.
And of course, if you’re feeling wiped out from all that activity and you need to refresh yourself, feel free to stop by Spa Escape, conveniently located near the train line in downtown Calgary. Get a facial to clear out the day’s dirt, get your nails trimmed and cleaned after a long hike, or stock up on some moisturizing sunscreen to keep UV rays off your face. It’s important to take care of yourself in order to stay at your best…and after all, if you’re on vacation, why not?
In short – there’s plenty to do in and around Calgary besides putting on a cowboy hat and watching the wagon races at the Calgary Stampede. Just remember to have fun, eat well (and have plenty of water), and take lots of photos to show off to everyone when you get home!