This post was sponsored by Tourism Calgary.
Calgary’s always been a special place for me.
I grew up on a farm, one long, dusty pickup ride from the city. Calgary is where Charles and I met, where our kids were born and it was home for a very long time.
And yet, somehow, I haven’t shared my affection for the city here before. However, as we travel more and more, I’ve started to see my old hometown through new eyes, and I thought I’d take a little time and introduce you to a few of the things that I think are so special about the city.
The Bow River
The Bow cuts through Calgary’s downtown, and is fed by the clear waters of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a fast flowing and cool mountain river.
On a hot summer day, you’ll see families and friends tubing down in droves, and on quiet mornings you’ll see fly fishermen casting lines offshore just west of downtown.
Calaway Park is a Calgary institution.
Tucked away west of the city and well past Canada Olympic Park, Calaway Park has a killer view of the Rocky Mountains to the far west.
I can remember visiting Calaway as a kid, and getting deliriously happy, sick and dizzy all at once on some of their bigger rides. The tagline these days is “This is the moment they learn that gravity is the funnest toy on the planet” and it fits.
The Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus
Why, in a city known for its famous AAA Alberta Beef, would I choose a Dutch Pancake House as my favorite place to eat?
The most important reason I keep coming back to the Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus is the food of course, which is authentic and tasty. Over the years, we’ve probably been here dozens of times. The last time we went, after a year’s absence, they still remembered us, and even remembered our favorite order.
If you’ve never had a Dutch pannenkoek, they’re more like a thin, huge crepe than a traditional pancake. They come in savory versions, where delicious fillings like cheese, onion and bacon are baked in, and sweet versions, where fruit is served warm on top of the pannenkoek.
Our favorite savory is the potato, onion and cheese, where they manage to bake the pannenkoek so the onions are caramelized sweet goodness inside. It’s served with sour cream and when you order it split for two (that way you can share one savoury and one sweet for dessert) you each get a little bowl of it to dip into on the side. The Saskatoon berry and whipped cream is our go-to sweet treat however most people rave about the Black Forest with cherries panenkoek.
Calgary’s Plus 15
Even if you’ve visited Calgary’s bustling downtown, you probably didn’t even know the Plus 15 existed.
The Plus 15 are a series of walkways, all a floor above street level, that interconnect Calgary’s many office towers, the Scotia Centre Mall, stephen Avenue Mall and even the Calgary Tower. You can see the walkways, enclosed by glass, running between most buildings downtown.
They’re a fantastic way to navigate downtown in the winter without ever getting a chill, and well worth getting to know because they connect some of the City’s best downtown attractions, restaurants, and shopping. I spent countless hours walking the Plus 15 when I worked in corporate Calgary. You’ll find a handy map of the +15 system here.
Kananaskis country used to be every Calgarian’s little secret. While the rest of the world spent their vacation time nearby in beautiful Banff, we Calgarians would head out to the wilds of Kananaskis for weekend hiking and camping.
K-country is a little more well known these days, but it’s still a fantastic place to explore the Rocky Mountains and only a 45 minute drive from Calgary proper. Kananaskis is a network of three wild, gorgeous mountain parks with 4,000 sq. km.
The TELUS Spark
Now, to be fair , The TELUS Spark science Centre is brand new, and I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. That said, I had to include this 153,000 square foot ode to all things nerdy and good in my list.
Here’s what the Telus Spark Science Centre has to offer: over one hundred hands-on exhibits, four exhibit galleries, plus one travelling exhibition gallery, an expanded and enhanced Creative Kids Museum, Calgary’s only HD digital Dome Theatre, a new Presentation Theatre and Learning Centre, a 10,000 square-foot atrium, a four-acre outdoor park, and so much more.
The next time we have an afternoon to spare in Calgary, I guarantee you’ll find us at the SPARK getting our science on with the kids.
I’ve always loved walking down Stephen Avenue (8th Avenue) downtown, one of Calgary’s best pedestrian streets. It’s a fantastic place to people watch or grab a bite to eat. If you’re a shopper, there are some great stores along Stephen Ave, many of them trendy boutique shops. Make sure you check out the the steel “Trees” sculpture while you’re there.
Calgary in general
After spending well over 30 years in and around Calgary, that’s just a taste of what we love about the city. There’s a lot more to check out (in fact, we could probably write a pretty long guidebook about it!), from the Calgary Tower, Heritage Park, the Calgary Zoo and the amazing GlobalFest fireworks shows, to a lot of other little local secrets we discovered through the years.
Have you ever been to Calgary? What made your trip special?