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20 Things to Do in Calgary for First-Timers

Glenbow Museum

Calgary is a cosmopolitan city in Alberta, Canada, that is known as the center of the Canadian oil industry. It is also a popular tourist destination due to its location on the Bow River close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. If you intend to visit this city, which is the fifth-largest in Canada, you will find plenty of things to see and do during your stay. To get the most out of your visit, you should plan your itinerary in advance to make sure you have the chance to enjoy the activities and attractions that appeal to you the most. To help make your vacation itinerary, the following are the 20 best things to do in Calgary for first-timers.

Calgary Corn Maze & Fun Farm

20. Have Some Family Fun at Calgary Corn Maze & Fun Farm

A great day out for all the family in Calgary is the Calgary Corn Maze & Fun Farm. This is an award-winning recreational facility that is a play farm for children of all ages and for adults. One of the highlights is the seasonal corn maze, which visitors must find their way through. Throughout the farm, there is a variety of fun-filled activities and attractions to enjoy, including a grain train, pig races, jumping pillows, a tractor tire mountain. There are also animal shows, playground activities, a working mine where children can learn about mining for precious stones, and much more. Throughout the year, there are various farm-related events held at this attraction.

Kids to Treehouse Indoor Playground Inc.

19. Take the Kids to Treehouse Indoor Playground Inc.

If you are in Calgary with younger children, then one of the best attractions in the city to keep children entertained is Treehouse Indoor Playground Inc. This is a particularly good activity to consider on a rainy day when you do not want to take them to the outdoor spaces. This indoor playground covers more than 12,000-square-feet and includes a comfortable seating area where parents can sit and relax while the children play. Children can play freely as this is a safe environment that consists of slides, ball ponds, tunnels, and netting over different levels. There is also an arcade room, a rock-climbing wall, rides, games, a dancing hall, and a toddler’s play area.

Nose Hill Park

18. Enjoy the Outdoors at Nose Hill Park

Located on the outskirts of the city, Nose Hill Park is a natural park where visitors can enjoy an array of recreational activities. It is particularly popular for hiking, cycling, and walking due to the many trails within the park. It is a pleasant place to enjoy the beauty of the area as the park is home to a diverse array of flora. It is also home to many mammals, such as coyotes, deer, gophers, squirrels, and porcupines. It is free to enter the park, so it is a good option for people visiting Calgary on a budget.

Lougheed House

17. Step Back in Time at Lougheed House

If you are interested in history, then one of the best attractions to visit is the Lougheed House. This historic structure was built in the 1800s, and it was originally the residence of the Lougheed family. Now, the structure is a National Historic Site, and it was restored in 2000. It is open to the public for them to take a tour of the house, either self-guided or with one of the expert tour guides. Visitors can also explore the beautifully landscaped gardens of the house.

Carburn Park

16. Spend Time at Carburn Park

A large natural area park, Carburn Park is a free activity that you can enjoy that allows you to appreciate the outdoors. The park is located on the banks of the Bow River, and it is home to wildlife, waterfowl, and wildflowers. The main features of the park are the three large ponds, and visitors can enjoy fishing and non-motorized water sports, such as paddle boating and canoeing. In the winter, the ponds become ice skating rinks.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

15. Visit Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

If you are interested in learning more about prominent Canadian sports figures or about the history of sports in Canada, then you should visit Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. This huge building covers more than 40,000-square-feet, and it showcases the stories of sportspeople who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. This attraction houses 95 thousand artifacts and 52 interactive exhibits. Visitors can participate in sports challenges in the Changing Gallery and families can watch 3D simulations in the Riddell Family Theatre.

Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery

14. Get Close to Nature at the Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery

There are four attractions in one at the Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingstone Fish Hatchery. The Discovery Center has various aquatic exhibits and aquariums, while the Sa Livingstone Hatchery teaches visitors about raising millions of trout annually. The Interpretive Wetland showcases the ecosystems and aquatic habitats of Calgary, and the Trout Pond is where visitors can fish for trout. As there are so many different elements to this attraction, there is something that will appeal to everyone.

Calgary Tower

13. Dine at Calgary Tower

One of the most significant landmarks in this city is Calgary Tower as it is prominent on the city’s skyline. Visitors to the tower can enjoy a guided tour, although the main reason that people visit Calgary Tower is to enjoy a meal in one of the two restaurants. Ruth’s Steakhouse is on the second level of the tower. Sky 360 sits 155 meters above ground level, and this is a rotating restaurant that has spectacular views across the city. Former diners have raved about the food served in both restaurants.

Calgary Stampede

12. Enjoy the Events of the Calgary Stampede

While you are in Calgary, you should get involved with one of the events hosted by the Calgary Stampede, says Planetware. The main event is held over ten days during the summer, and it is a historic event that dates back to the 1880s. However, the non-profit organization that hosts this famous event also holds smaller events and exhibitions throughout the year.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center

11. Go to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center

Nature-lovers should head to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center. There are more than 270 species of bird at this nature reserve, which is located just southeast of Calgary. The center has been open since 1929, and it is a base for migratory birds to rest. In addition to the birds, the reserve is also home to around 20 species of mammals and 350 species of plants. Visitors can also see the interpretive exhibits and informational displays about the wildlife living at the reserve.

Calgary Farmers’ Market

10. Stroll Around the Calgary Farmers’ Market

You will find the Calgary Farmers’ Market just off Heritage Drive and Blackfoot Trail, and it is open every Thursday and Sunday. At the market, over 80 vendors sell either locally-grown produce or homemade items. It is a fantastic place to try locally-grown food or to buy handmade souvenirs. Other reasons to go to the market ate to take part in the chef-guided tours, to let the kids take part in cooking classes, or simply to enjoy some people-watching.

Fort Calgary

9. Visit Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary is a historic site that was established in 1875 was the first outpost of the North West Mounted Police. It sits at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. The structure now contains a museum that focuses on the founding of the city. If you cross over the bridge from Fort Calgary, you can also visit Deane House. If you want to visit both attractions and explore the surrounding area, you should set aside a full day.

Calgary Pathway System

8. Walk the Calgary Pathway System

The natural parks of Calgary are connected by a large network of cycling trails and pedestrian pathways. Using these pathways is one of the best ways of exploring the city as you will see the sights while moving from one attraction to the next. Take along your camera when going on your walks to capture images of the landmarks and the city's skyline.

Heritage Park Historical Village

7. Spend a Day at the Heritage Park Historical Village

This is the largest living history museum in Canada as it covers more than 127 acres and has more than 200 exhibits and attractions. Visitors can learn more about what life was like in Canada during the 19th century as they visit areas of the park including a First Nations encampment, a fur trading for, a heritage town square, and a pre-railway settlement. There is even an authentic steam train for visitors to ride.

National Music Center

6. Go to The National Music Center

Vacation Idea says that you should visit the National Music Center during your time in Calgary. This center is located in the historic Customs House building, and it was designed by Brad Cloepfil. The center is dedicated to music, and there are more than 2,0000 artifacts and rare instruments on display. One of the highlights is a piano that belonged to Elton John. There are also some interactive exhibits, and there are performances held daily.

Calgary Zoo

5. See the Animals at Calgary Zoo

A fantastic day out for all the family is a trip to Calgary Zoo. This is a large zoo with more than one thousand animals, including gorillas and tigers. The enclosures are designed to represent the natural habitats of the animals. One of the highlights of visiting this zoo is seeing the two resident giant pandas, and other people enjoy the Canadian Wilds section, which is home to Canadian natives such as bears and moose. There are two additional attractions within the grounds of the zo. The first is the Prehistoric Park, which highlights the region’s history in relation to dinosaurs. Second, there is a sprawling botanic garden that has flora from across the globe.

WinSport Canada Olympic Park

4. Have Fun at WinSport Canada Olympic Park

If you are a lover of outdoor activities, especially winter sports, then the best attraction to visit in Calgary is the WinSport Canada Olympic Park. This park was built for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, and it remains open as a massive sports complex. Although the most popular sport here is skiing, visitors can also have a go at the bobsleigh or luge. There are activities to suit all ages and abilities, and it is possible for novices to receive lessons from experienced instructors.

Prince’s Island Park

3. Explore Prince’s Island Park

Covering more than 50 acres, this park is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in the city. There are multiple walking and cycling trails that are lined with cottonwood trees. It also has an outdoor theater and multiple events are hosted at the park throughout the year. This park is free to visit, so it is a nice place to spend some time if you are in Calgary on a budget.

Military Museums

2. Go to the Military Museums

This is a collection of four museums that represent the history of the different branches of the military. Combined, the Military Museums of Calgary are the second-largest military museum in Canada. There are full of interesting collections, artifacts, memorabilia, and interactive exhibits. As there are four museums to explore, you should set aside at least half a day to make the most of this attraction.

Glenbow Museum

1. Visit Glenbow Museum

According to US News, the best thing to do in Calgary is to go to Glenbow Museum, and you should set aside at least two hours to get the most out of this attraction. This museum focuses on the culture of Western Canada, and there is a diverse range of exhibitions to enjoy. Although many of these are about Canadian culture, there are also many other topics covered. Some of these include European Art, West African artifacts, Asian sculpture, an extensive collection of military memorabilia, and interactive displays about the First Nation tribes.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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