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Calgary, Canada

We will be ending a train trip in Calgary. Is it worth staying a day or two extra to see the city. If so, what do you recommend seeing?
Thank you

Posted by
4304 posts

Most people use Calgary strictly for its airport as a means to get to Banff. If you have an interest in local history I do recommend Fort Calgary (recently rebranded as The Confluence Historic Site and Parkland, because that's much easier to remember)https://www.theconfluence.ca/ , and Heritage Park https://heritagepark.ca/. I'd also recommend a day trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum https://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/ which is an hour and a half NE of Calgary.

Posted by
1695 posts

There is plenty to see in and around Calgary, but it would be helpful to know the ages and interests of the people travelling, and the approximate dates (in case there is anything special going on (like Stampede)). https://www.visitcalgary.com/events?category=0&start_date=05%2F17%2F2024&end_date=05%2F31%2F2024&

Allan's recommendations are good. I'd add the downtown library. It's a fabulous building, well worth seeing.

Kids (and adults, too), would enjoy our zoo. It's got lovely habitats set up for the animals (not just cages), flower gardens, a butterfly exhibit, etc.

If you're interested in Indigenous culture, it's worth checking if Making Treaty 7 has a show going on while you're here: https://www.makingtreaty7.com/ Moonstone Creations is a great place to shop for authentic Indigenous items: https://moonstonecreation.ca/ Outside of Calgary, there are Blackfoot Crossing (easy day trip) and Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump (long day trip with beautiful scenery).

You might find this site helpful: https://www.visitcalgary.com/events?category=0&start_date=05%2F17%2F2024&end_date=05%2F31%2F2024&

Posted by
898 posts

For BB,
I have always wanted to attend the Calgary Stampede, but fear the huge crowds, difficulty and higher expense with lodging, etc. Is it really a problem to see any of the events, or are the difficulties over hyped? For reference, I live in SoCal and never attended the Rose Parade because I don't want to spend New Years Eve (it is cold here in winter) ion the street to secure a spot to watch it in person. It isn't worth it to me. I did attend events at our last Olympics here in 1984, but am less enthusiastic about attending the soccer final this time (100,000 people in the RoseBowl in 1984...ouch!). Your perspective on the Stampede would be appreciated. (p.s. I am now 80 years old, but not mobility impaired since my last knee replacement.) I would love to return to Alberta and spend more time there than I did in 2006, my last visit to Canada's west.
Thanks!

Posted by
1259 posts

If you are into dinosaurs, you can visit Drumheller. Look for hoodoos along the way.

Posted by
898 posts

to funpig,
Dinosaurs sound like a great addition to a Calgary visit. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by
100 posts

If you are used to beautiful cities with great museums, such as in Europe, then Calgary might be a disappointment. I've been there several times and have been up the tower, to the Glenbow Museum, and have done everything that that could be considered interesting and it's all....fine. Not spectacular, just fine. As someone else said, the natural scenery outside of Calgary outshines anything that the city has to offer. Perfectly fine city to stay in a nice hotel and get a nice meal at the end of a train trip though.

Posted by
4304 posts

I have always wanted to attend the Calgary Stampede, but fear the huge
crowds, difficulty and higher expense with lodging, etc. Is it really
a problem to see any of the events, or are the difficulties over
hyped?

Judy, the Stampede has come back in a big way since the pandemic and hotels can be costly and difficult to come by last minute. If you are coming I would highly recommend planning well in advance to secure a room. A quick glance at the website shows that tickets for the Rodeo and Grandstand show are still available with rodeo ticket prices ranging from $385 (Canadian) to $57, and Grandstand show tickets around those same prices. https://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/tickets It can be crowded and hot on the Stampede Grounds but still a lot of fun. The whole city is in party mode for those 10 days and you can find a lot to do off-site as well.

Posted by
898 posts

Thanks for the info, Allen. Hoping to make it there in 2025. I can see I need to plan well in advance.

Posted by
1695 posts

Hi, Judy. Sorry. I just saw your post.

Yes, the Stampede is crowded and expensive. I, too, dislike crowds, so I can give you some tips on how to minimize/manage this, as well as some cost-saving ideas.

Avoid going to the grounds on a weekend or on special days that have free entry early in the morning. https://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/value-days Go on a weekday morning, before the midway opens. Once the midway opens, you can spend your time in some less crowded areas. 1. Elbow River Camp (formerly "Indian Village"). This has become busier since they moved the location, but it tends to be less busy than the midway. You can visit teepees, watch demonstrations, see dancing (at certain times), and shop for handicrafts. 2. Visit the Western Oasis. There are a lot of art and handicraft (e.g. quilting) displays here, and, usually, reasonably priced food with a sit down area. Plus, it's air-conditioned. 3. Go see some of the shows in the big venues. Dog Bowl (formerly Superdogs) is very popular, but there is usually some place to sit, and it's entertaining. There are usually different types of entertainment or shows in the BMO Centre. 4. Walk through the animal pens and go see the sheep shearing demonstrations. (Seriously. It's really fun to watch.) https://ag.calgarystampede.com/showcases

If you want to go to the parade, book seats in advance. The parade is always very busy, but having reserved seats can give you a spot where you can have a decent view. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/rotary-club-of-calgary-olympic-stampede-parade-seating-2024-tickets-907080220357?aff=erelexpmlt

https://www.seatingu.com/

Money Saving:

If you want to go to the Rodeo and/or the Evening Show, pm me. I always buy Stampede Lottery Tickets well in advance, and I get a 50% discount for selected seating at these events. I never use them, but if I know someone who is going, then I usually give those away.

Free pancake breakfasts. There are free pancake breakfasts all over the city during Stampede. DON'T go to the one at Chinook Mall. It is the busiest. Don't restrict yourself to the "big ones." Many communities have them, too. https://stampedebreakfast.ca/

Downtown Entertainment. There is usually free entertainment downtown every day.

Hope that helps!

Posted by
898 posts

Wow BB! Thank you for all the detailed information. The Western Oasis sounds right up our alley. And the animals and Dog Bowl sound like fun too! This sounds like my kind of place.
Many thanks to you and everyone else for their help!