Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta, with a population of 1.097 million. This rapidly growing metropolis is located where the Canadian prairies end and the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains begin.
We work with a lot of camps in Alberta, and many of the NYQUEST office staff (myself included) have been to Calgary to run orientations and have stayed in the same HI-Calgary hostel where a large number of our participants will be staying. A lot of you may also be stopping by for a visit on time-off or during travels after camp, so if this applies to you, please read on for some great recommendations and our Calgary city guide to make the most of your time in Calgary this summer!
FOOD & DRINK – In Alberta, the minimum drinking age is 18-years-old. A good place to grab nice pub grub and yummy drinks is the National on 10th (341 10 Ave SW #210), which has a bowling alley in the basement. So fun! If you’re looking for more variety, check out Stephen Avenue Walk – an adorable pedestrianized two-block section of 8th Ave SW, which is only a 20-minute walk from the HI-Calgary hostel. During the summer, it’s lined with twinkle lights, huge restaurant patios, and delicious food trucks! A little further away is 17th Avenue Retail and Entertainment District, which is Calgary’s unofficial downtown. Along 17th Ave, between 2nd and 14th Street SW, you’ll find hundreds of bars and restaurants. A couple of other popular spots to check out: Cactus Club Café (317 7th Ave SW #178), and Village Ice Cream (431 10 Ave SE).
PLACES TO VISIT – The Bow River starts up in the Rocky Mountains and runs all the way through Calgary. It’s easily accessible from Prince’s Island Park, and the city has established a system of paths alongside it for biking, running, and walking. While you’re there, take a short trek across the river to Kensington Village, a trendy little burrow filled with eclectic boutiques, independent cafes, and funky bistros. For a great view of the city itself, climb the Calgary Tower (101 9 Ave SW). If you’re eager to get out of the city for the day, rent a car or get a bus tour up to Banff National Park and Lake Louise. This scenic drive up through the mountains is breathtaking and is on every Canadian’s bucket list!
SHOPPING & CAMP SUPPLIES – Conveniently located downtown, the CORE shopping centre (324 8 Ave SW) is a multi-level mall with 160+ retail stores. Here you can visit Roots, a Canadian brand that makes extremely comfy sweat pants and wool socks – key for cold nights at camp! This centre also has a Shopper’s Drug Mart, where you can find last-minute toiletry items. Don’t forget to take a short walk down to MEC (830 10 Ave SW), another Canadian company that sells outdoor camping gear. If you’re looking for a cheaper option for camp supplies, you can take the CTrain to Westbrook Mall to check out the Walmart department store (1212 37 St SW).
EVENTS – A trip to Calgary isn’t complete without attending an outdoor event! In early June, the city comes alive for the one-day 4th Street Lilac Festival – where you’ll find artisan vendors and live entertainment. If you’re lucky enough to be around the city in mid-July, come celebrate Calgary’s western and indigenous history by attending the Calgary Stampede rodeo and festival in Stampede Park. Don’t forget your cowboy hat and boots! A few days later, the Calgary Folk Music Festival takes over; where people gather for a weekend to see local, national, and international folk musicians perform.
GETTING AROUND – Most of the places in this guide are walking distance from the HI-Calgary hostel. However, you can also use Calgary Transit to get around the city (by bus and/or the light rail “CTrain”). One fare costs $3.15 (CAD), and one day pass is $9.50 (CAD).
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES – The Tourism Calgary Visitor Guide has everything you need to plan an amazing trip to Calgary!