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What to do in Calgary!

Travel Forums North America What to do in Calgary!

1. Posted by Nng (Budding Member 19 posts) 6y

Nng has indicated that this thread is about Canada

Hi guys I should be heading up to Calgary come march next year for about a month, and was wondering if anyone knew what to do there? And also what is it like in Calgary? Food, cost of living, weather and things like that? Any nearby places other than Banff that I should visit?

Cheers

2. Posted by tleb (Full Member 117 posts) 6y

The weather in March will probably still be chilly, could be snowy, could be wet, so prepare for anything.

Are you going to be working, visiting or touring?

Don't know how to compare the cost of living. Cheaper than the Netherlands, alot more expensive than Egypt.

3. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 6y

Hey Nng,

Well, I'm a Calgarian so I can answer your questions ;)

Quoting Nng

Hi guys I should be heading up to Calgary come march next year for about a month, and was wondering if anyone knew what to do there?

It really depends on what you are interested in. The usual tourist pursuits would be the Calgary Tower (great revolving restaurant on top, plus you can stand on the glass floor and see the whole city), the Toronto Devonian (better known as TD) Gardens on the top floor of TD Square, Heritage Park, the Glenbow Museum, the Museum of the Regiments (war museum), the Calgary Zoo (very good), many art galleries on 11th Avenue SW (I believe, or thereabouts), and so on (those are most of the main ones).

If you like the outdoors, you can talk a walk in Nose Hill Park where you can see great views of the city (bring some hot chocolate in a thermos in March), the Bowmont Flats (valley the Bow River snakes through), Fish Creek Provincial Park (you can get lost there- it is huge), the Bird Sanctuary, and the miles and miles of bike/pedestrian paths around the city. Oh, and don't forget Canada Olympic Park (aka COP)- March may be too late for skiing though, and too early for mountain biking, but they have other activities to engage in, so if you're pretty active you could still check them out: things like bobsledding, ski jumping, etc.

For shopping, there are some really cool boutiques along 17 Ave. SW. For something less trendy, try the Downtown Core, which is TD Square and several other malls joined together by a system of walkways that are fifteen meters above the ground, thereby earning the name "plus fifteen." Also, for something different, Kensington is an enjoyable area to shop in and has some unique shops to puruse. If you're a mall person, the very biggest and newest mall here is located north of the city in the suburb of Balzac, called Cross Iron Mills. Though I haven't been there yet, I know that they have quite a few unique stores, and, of course, all of the typical ones, as far as malls go.

For things to do in the evenings, there are lots of bars in Calgary, but I have never really been that into the bar scene, so I don't know them very well. Only the odd concert drags me out for that. Ticketmaster is where you go for tickets for most concerts and events, as well as several locations around the city. For smaller concerts, you can just pay the cover at the door. There is always something at the Jubilee Auditorium and Theatre Calgary always puts on quality productions.

Well, that should start you out. Fire back here if you have any specific questions about things to do. Your post was a little vague. . . .

Quoting Nng

And also what is it like in Calgary? Food, cost of living, weather and things like that?

There are a variety of good restaurants in Calgary. Indian, Chinese, Italian, German, Spanish, Steakhouses, Japanese, Buffets, you name it, it is here. There are also a variety of supermarkets for self catering. Superstore and Safeway are probably the cheapest. Try the Calgary Farmer's Market off of Crowchild Trail for fresh, local food. It's only open on weekends, though. Organic and natural try Community Natural Foods, Planet Organic and Amaranth, though these places are more expensive. For self-catering, you should be able to eat decently for $100/wk.

Cost of living. Hmmm . . . Compared to where? Where are you from? How long are you staying? Because you asked this question, I'm assuming that you aren't coming for a week and then leaving. For a decent apartment, expect to pay $1000/mo, maybe more. Yup, it's expensive. It's a little cheaper if you find a basement suite, depending on if you can handle the lack of sunlight, or someplace with roomates. Look for the small newspaper, FFWD, for roomate listings. A bus pass will run you $83 per month. Gas, if you'll have some wheels, is not as bad as in other parts of Canada (namely the Atlantic coast), but not the cheapest, either. Taxis aren't that bad here, half as much as in Toronto (where taxis are astonomical), but some locals do consider them to be on the expensive side, so use them when you need to, but if you could take public transit instead, take that. Checker is the cheapest cab company. 403-299-9999 As far as utilities go, my rent covers it, so I can't really give you an estimate on that. Other people complain about gas and electricity being high, but, like I said, I wouldn't personally know. A landline will be about $45/mo. A cell phone about the same, depending on your plan. Pay-as-you-go is available, but this is only worth it if you plan to only use your phone in an emergency, otherwise it will actually work out to being more expensive than a plan.

Weather. Like the previous poster noted, weather around here changes a lot. In March, you can really expect almost anything, from blizzards to tornados to pouring rain to warm, sunny, calm days. There is a weather phenomenon in Calgary called, "chinooks." Basically, it warms up about ten or fifteen degrees for about a week and then cools back down to seasonal temperatures. So winter isn't too unpleasant for long here. . .. You can tell that a chinook is coming because you will see an arch, called a "chinook arch," in the clouds on the western horizon. And, in March, you should still expect winter conditions. It'll most likely be snowy still. Bring an umbrella. Bring winter clothing. Prepare for anything but boredom, weather-wise.

Quoting Nng

Any nearby places other than Banff that I should visit?

Jasper (beautiful)
Edmonton (the capital of Alberta, but similar to Calgary; West Edmonton Mall is fun)
Drumheller (the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology is recommended, especially if you are interested in science/dinosaurs)
Lake Lousie (great skiing, even in the spring)
the many ski mountains close by in the Rockies, like Sunshine, Mt. Norquay, etc.
Kananaskis (best in fall when all the leaves are changing colors, but good for hiking/mountain biking in the spring as well)
Bragg Creek (neat town to visit, in a beautiful setting)
Sylvan Lake (more of a summer spot, but the waterslides are fun)

Well, I hope this is what you were looking for. Like I said, if you have any more questions, feel free to reply in this thread or PM me. Have a fantastic trip!

Steph

4. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 6y

BTW, stay away from the Science Centre. It is as boring as .... You get my point. ;)

5. Posted by taemo (Budding Member 7 posts) 6y

if you like skiing or snowboarding, definitely go hit COP but if you prefer mountain slopes, the mountains are 1-2 hours away.

March is still winter season so dress warm, although we have some of the weirdest weather because of the chinook, one day its -15C/5F, the next day it's +5C/41F.

shopping, just walk through the streets of 17th ave SW and enjoy the boutiques over there, same as Kensington.
if you prefer being inside, TD downtown core, Chinook Mall, Cross Iron Mill. For CIM you might need a ride as it's 10-20min ride outside of Calgary, while there you might want to visit Bass Pro Shop aswell which is a huge Outdoor store (hunting, fishing, camping, etc), they have a huge aquarium inside and dead animals on display.

food, it all depends on what dish you like more.

not much into bar/club/lounge scene anymore but you might want to check vinyl, hifi, opus, whiskey.

6. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 6y

[quote=Nng]Hi guys I should be heading up to Calgary come march next year for about a month, and was wondering if anyone knew what to do there?

A month in Calgary? You can do the whole place in 2-3 days.
Get to Banff (as suggested) and over to Golden, Lake Louise, Lake Moraine and Vancouver.
Calgary is OK for a weekend. After that move on.

7. Posted by Nng (Budding Member 19 posts) 6y

Thank you all for your replies, sorry I just got back from a camp. Fantastic guys, thanks for your replies, I shall look through them in detail later.

Just for general answering of the questions, I'm form Singapore, and I generally prefer the great outdoors. I was pretty excited to find out that the Canadian Rockies was pretty near to Calgary.

Alright thanks guys I shall look through the posts now.

Cheers:)

8. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 6y

Quoting Nng

Thank you all for your replies, sorry I just got back from a camp. Fantastic guys, thanks for your replies, I shall look through them in detail later.

Just for general answering of the questions, I'm form Singapore, and I generally prefer the great outdoors. I was pretty excited to find out that the Canadian Rockies was pretty near to Calgary.

Alright thanks guys I shall look through the posts now.

Cheers:)

Just west of Calgary, provincial/national parks abound. Banff (great hiking), Yoho (world class ice climbing, among a myriad of other activities- don't know how long the season is for that, though, so I'm unsure if it will be on in March), Waterton Lakes (great hiking), Jasper (more great hiking, etc.), Kananaskis (everything from mountain biking to hiking), Kootenays (beaches, hippis, you name it), and even further west, if you get tired of the cold weather, there is the Okanogan (fruit, beaches, fun). I have been to all of them, and I recommend all of them. Calgary is your launchpad to a vast amount of activites in a Rocky Mountain playground. Be it hiking in the parks, climbing the mountains with a guide, whitewater rafting down the Fraser River- the absolute best, golfing in the mountains, like in Banff, for example, skiing and snowboarding the many mountains, ice climbing, water sports at the many lakes in the area, camping at the many beautiful campgrounds, kayaking or canoeing on the many lakes, horseback riding, whatever. . . The list is endless. You will enjoy yourself. For specifics, send me a PM or post in this thread, and I'll do my best to get you some information.

Enjoy your trip!

Steph

9. Posted by Nng (Budding Member 19 posts) 6y

Gosh guys I'm still overwhelmed by the marvellous amount of information here...

But more or less everything you guys here mention is swell. However, just one problem. How much would all those activities cost? I'm guessing there isnt any fee to pay to enjoy a day hiking through the forests and things like that right?

How far are those places form one another? Would there be any age restrictions, certificate requirements and stuff like that to get up the rockies? How much would it cost?

To sum it all up it's all about the cost...snowboarding's great, Okanogan sounds absolutely exciting, whitewater rafting's my kind of thing, camping gives me the happy shivers but how much would it cost to get there, do that etc?

Yea you guys are right. The list's endless, positively endless, and I'm glad.

Cheers

10. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 6y

Quoting Nng

However, just one problem. How much would all those activities cost? I'm guessing there isnt any fee to pay to enjoy a day hiking through the forests and things like that right?

Some activities are free. Some activities cost a little. Some activities are more expensive. You're right that a day hiking in the forests is essentially free. However, you may need to pay an entrance fee for the provincial/national park. Such is the case for Banff, for example. Last I went it was about $20 for a weekend. It isn't steep, but you should factor that in. Of course, if you decide to make a weekend of it, you will need to pay for your camping spot (by the spot, instead of the car, person, or tent, plus extra if electricity is required, usually; wild camping isn't permitted in the parks.) Firewood is sold for extra as well, so if you can bring your own, by all means use it. Open fires are not allowed. You must use a firepit. But they are premitted as long as a fireban isn't in place, so there is no need to go out and buy a camping stove or anything like that- maybe a few metal skewers for hot dogs/marshmellows, although plain old sticks work just as well. Definately rent a car for a trip like that. It is way too difficult to attempt that kind of trip by bus, and forget about by train. The train is very limited in Canada. So the cost of a car rental/hire must be factored in, as well. Plan for about $85 per day for a rental car, maybe less if you're lucky. You can also rent an RV, but I have never attempted that, so I don't know how much it would cost. There are RV rental places in Calgary, so when you get here, you can call them up and check (it is late in the evening here). An alternative is to buy someone's old beater through the Bargain Finder (found for pocket change at any 7 eleven convenience store), Craigslist, or Kijiji. Drive it around for a month and then sell it on the aforementioned places. You may even make a profit, but don't count on it. So that covers hiking and camping.

One thing that I recommend is the book, Don't go Hiking in the Canadian Rockies Without This, if you're into hiking. You can pick it up at any Chapters or Coles book stores in Calgary. It is an excellent guide that I have used over and over and over, and you will not be disappointed if you pick it up.

To go fishing, you need to buy a fishing license. It's been a while since I've gone fishing, but it isn't expensive, just around $15-30, I think. You can buy one for various lengths of time and you go to any registry office, or, more easily, any Canadian Tire store to purchase one. Then you just need a pole and some bait, all of which can be bought at Canadian Tire with the help of one of their salespeople to pick up the best bait for the river or lake you will be fishing in. Personally, I know fly fishing works best for the Bow.

Skiing/snowboarding is much more expensive. You will need to pay for entrance to the park, then equipment rentals, then lift passes, then accomodation if you don't want to be driving late at night/early in the morning, then a rental car. It'll be costly. If you go, go to Sunshine or the Kicking Horse. The best snow around. Some ski resorts have buses that charter people from the nearest city/town up to the mountain, Panorama being one I can recall, so you may be able to forego the rental car, and greyhound it in. Alternatively, look into cross country skiing. The Banff Nordic Centre is a nice place to go to, though they do have man-made snow, so traction is slightly different. It's not nearly as expensive (around $15 per person for rentals, and skiing is free, if I recall correctly), and you can easily go in in the morning, spend the day there, and drive home in the evening. You will definately be exhausted by the time you are done! Snowshoeing would be another inexpensive option, though I have never looked into it specifically.

Canoeing/kayaking is another inexpensive activity. Many of the motels along the lakes in the Okanogan let you use their paddleboats and canoes for free as long as you are staying there. Otherwise it would a nominal fee, a few dollars for fifteen minutes to half an hour, something like that. Kayaking is really easy and can be done on a lake without needing hardly a lesson. It's about $15/hour. Lots of fun.

Other lake activites aren't very expensive, either. You can rent jet skis, motorboats, waterskis, and so on. Or you can just go swimming (free) and sunbathing (free). Or get involved in a pick-up game of beach volley-ball (free)!

As far as mountaineering is concerned, or ice climbing, I have no idea of the costs of these activities as I have never done them. I have hiked extensively in the Canadian Rockies, but I have never climbed to the peak of a mountain, and it is recommended that you do not attempt this without a guide. My guess would be that this isn't cheap.

Horsebackriding. This can be really cheap, or moderately expensive. It really depends on who you go with. My horsebackriding experience, unfortunately, amounts to trail riding at summer camp. So I'm not exactly fit to quantify this one. One outfitter that seems reputable, as they have been around as long as I have, is Holiday on Horesback. I have heard several positive reviews of this company, and, like I said, they're practiaclly an institution, they've been around that long. Holiday on Horseback is basically a weekend-long trip on Horseback through the Rocky Mountains. You'll find brochures for it everywhere when you come here.

Skating. If it's cold, this will still be possible. It's free in Calgary at the Olympic Oval for an unperishable food item donated to the local food bank (I believe) or you can go to one of the many outdoor rinks (not guaranteed in the spring). My recommendations would be Olympic Plaza downtown (at night amongst the city lights) or Bowness Park, where there are firepits on the ice for skaters to warm up their hands and feet. Hot chocolate is sold at a little cafe lakeside. Both outdoor places are free. There also is an outdoor rink in Banff with mountains in the background, if you happen to be there and feel like skating, and its free.

Whitewater rafting. Companies abound. It can be pretty expensive. There is one that goes down the Fraser River that is really wild (includes waterfalls and everything) and includes a steak dinner at the end of the day. Though I haven't gone on this one particularly, I have family that has and they came back praising it, so it is safe for me to recommend them. Google whitewater rafting on the Fraser River to find them. Personally, I have gone whitewater rafting (with a different company), and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so if you get the chance, jump at it. It's worth it. You won't forget it!

Have I listed them all? Well, I'm exhausted, so I think I'll leave it at that for today ;) If you have any more questions about things to do and cost, do ask.

Quoting Nng

How far are those places form one another?

Yeah, Canada is pretty spread out and is much bigger than Singapore! In fact, I guarantee that for the first couple weeks you'll feel like a bug here. Whenever I come back from an overseas trip to Canada, I am overwelmed by how big everything is here. We Canadians think of distance in terms of time, for instance. So it is a three hour drive from Calgary to Edmonton, for example. That's a little over 300 km. It's really about 350, but the speed limit is 110 on the highway, meaning you drive about a km every minute, or a little less. You'll find that almost everyone speeds on the highways, and that sometimes it is even safer to speed than to drive slower, because if you drive slower than everyone you end up becoming a bit of an obstacle. Besides that, you rarely get caught for speeding on the highways (not the case in the cities, however; watch out for radar traps!). Banff is about an hour's drive from Calgary (I speed, though, so maybe an hour and a half), so about 100-150 km. The ski resorts are a little further than that, but some are way into BC, so it could mean a day of driving before you'll get there, like Silver Star, for example. Forget trying to get to Whistler/Blackcomb from Calgary; that's two days of driving! Does that give you some perspective?

Quoting Nng

Would there be any age restrictions, certificate requirements and stuff like that to get up the rockies?

Age restrictions? Not to get into any attractions or national parks! The legal age of majority in the province of Alberta is 18. That means that you must be 18 in order to buy or drink alcohol, buy cigarettes, get into bars and clubs or casinos, or gamble. Some car rental companies will not allow a person under the age of 25 to rent a car. To get a driver's license, or to use your license from home, you must be 16. For a fishing license, you basically need the dexterity to hold a pole! I think the first time I went fishing, I was eight or something.

Other than a fee to get in, you don't need any "certificate requirements" in order to get into the parks. It may be beneficial, if you will be going to a particular park a lot, to buy a parks season pass. It'll be valid for the entirity of the spring and summer season. I buy one every year for Banff National Park because I go there a lot. They give you a thing that you just have hanging on your mirror and you get to skip the line (though it usually isn't very long) on the way in/out.

Well, if you have any more questions, let me know! ;)

Steph

edit: deleted some unnecessary text about a rooftop carrier!

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Nov-2009, at 00:19 by bluewaav ]