Calgary, Canada
Writer | Photographer | Traveller

A Local's Guide to the Best Things To Do in Calgary

Stray away from the usual major landmarks or attractions and check out these spots that are a little bit more off-the-grid. This guide will help those looking to get to know Calgary on a local level by visiting long-time, family-owned shops, restaurants, and more.
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Devonian Gardens

317-7th Avenue, Calgary, AB T2P 1B5, Canada

This indoor botanical garden, located on the top floor of the CORE shopping centre downtown, is a popular spot for weddings, the weekday lunch crowd, children, break dancers and musicians. Perfect for people watching or meeting friends, it's open all year round with plenty of tables, greenery, fountains, and a play area. If you're lucky, sometimes you can catch a free performance by someone playing on the public piano.

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710 17 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

If you're looking for unique gifts and gift wrap, fancy cards, stationary, notebooks, cool writing instruments, and party or art supplies, Reid's is likely to have it. I like to think of this store as an upscale dollar store as you'll never know what you'll find, but you're sure going to want to buy a lot! Located on 17th Ave, Reid's is family-owned and has been around for over 25 years.

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Stephen Avenue Walk

340 8 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1C1, Canada

One of the most historic streets in downtown Calgary, Stephen Ave is lined with shops, galleries, theatres, sculptures, and restaurants. During the day it's pedestrian and bike friendly. It's busiest at lunch hour and in the early evenings, but over the summer everyone comes out to play from street buskers to independent market stalls and more.

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The Olympic Oval

2500 University Drive Northwest, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

If you've never skated on ice before, the Olympic Oval is the best place to start. With metal slider things to help with balance, an even and circular track (where the speed skating championships took place during the Olympics in '88), and for less than $10, spending a couple hours here is fun for all ages. Helmets are mandatory, which you can rent here along with skates, and it's open during the winter season.

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Scotiabank Saddledome

555 Saddledome Rise SE, Calgary, AB T2G 2W1, Canada

The stomping grounds for the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team is also the home of the lacrosse team, the Calgary Roughnecks. Catch a lacrosse game here for a reasonable price (you can get decent seats in the $20 - $40 range). Plus, there's just as much action if not more in a lacrosse game! For international visitors, this is a great way to spend an evening getting to know Canada's summer national sport!

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The Ship and Anchor

534 17th Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta T2S 0B1, Canada

Some say this pub is an institution, and it's easy to see why. The Ship is a favourite patio spot in town whenever the weather is nice. This local watering hole has been around for over 25 years now and is usually quite packed, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. With reasonably priced and tasty grub, a decent selection of drinks, and occasionally live music, you won't be disappointed!

Lina's Italian Market Cafe

2211 Centre St. N., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A unique Italian grocery store and cafe all-in-one, this quaint little market shop is worth a visit whether you're hungry or not. Chockfull of delicious and fresh ingredients, grab some items here for a picnic outside or for a dinner party. A casual spot for weekend lunch or a scoop of gelato, Lina's is family-run and has been around forever.

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Nose Hill Park

5620 14 St NW, Calgary, AB T3K 2P6, Canada

One of the largest urban parks in Canada, Nose Hill Park will make you feel like you left the city. The trails and pathways can be accessed from many areas in Calgary and is popular with cyclists, dog walkers, runners, and nature lovers. On a sunny day with a bit of wind, bring a kite here and test your skills.

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Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre

197 1st Street, Calgary, AB T2P Canada

It took quite a few years to bring the Chinese Cultural Centre to life. Since its construction in the early 1990s, today the Centre fosters an exchange between the East and the West while offering many cultural activities, educational programs, art classes and hosting a variety of events throughout the year. The ceiling is intricately designed and there's a museum in the basement with interesting historical documents and photos showing the history of Chinatown.

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Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

205 8 Avenue Southeast, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A night at CPO is a great way to take in some beautiful orchestra melodies. There are plenty of concerts with either classical or contemporary music. Fun and lively, tickets are reasonably priced for students, and the concert hall itself is grand with an organ in the backdrop.

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Crossroads Market

1235 26 Avenue Southeast, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

This is one of my favourite places to spend a casual Saturday or Sunday afternoon. You'll find farm fresh fruits and vegetables (especially during the summer when the farmer's market starts), eclectic antique items, and tasty treats from other boutique and local shop vendors. For anyone who hasn't been to Calgary before, I definitely recommend checking this market out!

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Analog Cafe

740 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0B7, Canada

Right along the heart of 17th Ave, Analog is always buzzing with a trendy crowd. There's a ton of delicious drinks from traditional espressos, slow-brewed coffee and chai lattes to a selection of teas, iced drinks and more. Sandwiches and baked goods are also available and they have an awesome grilled cheese!

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Daily Globe Newshop

1004 17 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, AB, Canada

For rare, international, and a wide variety of magazines, check out this shop and peruse a superb collection of magazines and newspapers. From the outside, this place looks like a convenience store and while you can find a few drinks and snacks here along with books and adult colouring books, the majority of the store is filled with an assortment of reading material.

Grey Eagle Casino Buffet & Restaurant

3777 Grey Eagle Dr, Calgary, AB T3E 3X8, Canada

A good buffet can be hard to come by but the best in Calgary is here at Grey Eagle Casino. Each night features a different theme or special such as steak night, seafood night, etc. Keep in mind all patrons have to be 18+ to eat here.

Peters' Drive-In

219 16 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 1J9, Canada

Who doesn't like burgers and shakes on a hot summer's day? Peters' Drive-In is a classic and known for its thick milkshakes and oversized servings of burgers, fries, or onion rings. You can order and drive-through in your vehicle, or park and stand in line. Either way, this place is packed during the summer but it's always worth the wait.

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Mona Lisa Artists' Materials Ltd

1518 7 Street Southwest, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

One of the largest fine art supply stores in Western Canada, there's a ton of art supplies here to inspire anyone to start getting a little creative. From art books to paper, easels and manikins, paints and brushes, you'll find almost anything you need here.

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Village Ice Cream

431 10 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0W3, Canada

A hidden gem of a ice cream shop that's located in a back alley kinda/sorta. Be prepared for super long lines in the summer but it's worth the wait for gourmet flavours like earl grey, cardamom, salted caramel, or the monthly special atop a freshly made waffle cone!

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Central Memorial Park

1221 2 Street Southwest, Calgary, AB T2R 1N8

One of the oldest parks in the city, this park is a great place to enjoy some greenery in the middle of the city. The main building at the park happens to be a library too. During the year, Remembrance Day events happen here along with markets in the summer.

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Shiki Menya Ramen

827 - 1st Avenue NE, Calgary, Alberta T2E 0C3, Canada

Delicious and heartwarming, a bowl of ramen here does not disappoint. Offering limited bowls a day, you'll want to get here well before lunch hour as they close once they sell out. Tip: Check their Twitter page for bowl updates!

Fair's Fair

1609 14th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

For the book lovers, Fair's Fair is where you'll find quality gently used books at fair prices. There are four locations in Calgary all with a wide selection of books to choose from, including both new, obscure, and classic titles.

Baker Park

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A nice park where you can play a nice round of disc golf or two. The course is well-marked and easy to follow. Other than disc golf, there are open green spaces where people can be seen playing frisbee or throwing around a football. The area is also popular with dog walkers

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Rustic Sourdough Bakery & Deli

1305 - 17th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2T 0C4 , Canada

A deli, bakery, and lunch spot all in one, this little shop is full of character and delicious loaves, muffins, cakes, pretzels, and a wide selection of deli meats. It's been around for at least 40 years and hopefully many more!

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C-Train Calgary Transit

Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary, AB, Canada

On a good day, the C-Train is one of the best ways to get to many central areas in Calgary if you don't have a car, take note that there's a free zone within the downtown core where there is no cost to ride. Tickets can be purchased at the machines located at each station.

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Contemporary Calgary

117 8 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Located downtown along Stephen Ave, this is one of two art gallery venue in the city (the other located at city hall). Lofty and diverse, you'll find four levels of contemporary and modern art here. The best part? Admission to the gallery is free for all ages.

Coco Brooks

32 Ave NE, Calgary, Alberta T2E 6T4, Canada

A no frills little pizza joint, there are three Coco Brooks locations in the city. Known for printing inspiring stories on each pizza box, there's a pizza for everyone here. From classic to gluten-free pizzas or subs, pasta, and calzones, there's plenty to choose from.

Last updated at Jun 21, 2016