Calgary is a city of a little more than one million residents. While it's full of natural beauty and a broad range of big-city attractions, the capital of Alberta is most famous for its annual Calgary Stampede—a 10-day western-themed event that includes everything from rodeos and carnival rides to concerts featuring world-famous bands and artists. Thanks to the Stampede, the city is known for its western charm and fun-loving lifestyle. But that's not all, as Calgary is full of hidden gems that keep the locals entertained year-round.
TELUS Spark science center features a planetarium and plenty of interactive learning opportunities for science-lovers of all ages. Dance the day away on the center's light-up dance floor, which is powered by movement; or get creative in the Open Studio Workshop, which lets you work with real tools and materials to engineer your own toys, sculptures or miniature models. Families with little ones can take in the Creative Kids Museum, which offers plenty of hands-on fun for kids up to age nine.
The Calgary area's largest indoor outlet mall, Crossiron Mills features shops that appeal to men, women, and kids. The mall is just outside of Calgary's city limits in Balzac and features more than 200 specialty shops, including toy stores, designer outlets, and large anchor stores. A movie theater, along with an arcade and several pubs, are available on-site, as well.
At more than five square miles, Fish Creek Park is Canada's second-largest urban park. It sits along the Bow River, in which visitors can enjoy activities such as fishing or rafting. Fish Creek Park has plenty of space to enjoy picnics, hiking, and birdwatching. Those enjoying the park frequently report wildlife sightings, including deer and foxes.
The Rocky Mountains are just one hour west of the city and feature multiple skiing and snowboarding resorts. Beginners can visit Nakiska, which offers plenty of smaller hills, as well as skiing and snowboarding lessons. Those who are experienced skiers or snowboarders may enjoy a more challenging resort, such as Sunshine. After a long day on the slopes, head into the town of Banff to enjoy a fondue dinner at the Grizzly House, or take in a local band at Wild Bill's Saloon.
About 20 minutes outside of the city, Calaway Park is the only amusement park in the area. It features rides that appeal to every age group, including bumper boats and a Ferris wheel. Thrillseekers love the park's rollercoaster, which features multiple 360-degree loops. The entertainment staff performs nursery rhymes and kid-friendly songs multiple times daily, and standard carnival fare is available on-site, including corn dogs, ice cream and cotton candy.
Studio Bell is home to the National Music Center, which proudly displays the Canadian Music Halls of Fame along with a variety of national music memorabilia. Those who are musically inclined can rent a recording studio and lay down a track or two, while those who prefer to listen can visit the center's exhibitions, which change regularly.
Spruce Meadows is located just inside of Calgary's city limits and during the summertime, visitors can take in horse shows every weekend. The venue hosts international championships each year, including the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament. Those visiting the city during the Christmas holidays can enjoy the holiday light show at Spruce Meadows, which is an elaborate drive-through light display.
Heritage Park, located in the southwest quadrant of Calgary, attracts history buffs from around the world. The park takes visitors back to the late 1800s and early 1900s with authentic shops, restaurants, and houses, many of which were built in that location and have been restored to their original conditions.
If gambling is your thing, Century Downs Racetrack and Casino can keep you entertained all day long. It offers horseraces and live betting during the summer; it also has an indoor casino that features slot machines and table games. If the weather is nice, horseraces can be enjoyed outdoors, where children are welcome to watch the races, pet horses and meet jockeys.
Calgary's annual Folk Fest is a four-day festival that features musical acts from Canada and around the world. The festival takes place at the city's beautiful Prince's Island Park, which is just on the outskirts of the downtown core. Local merchants and food vendors set up and sell their goods, which typically include vegan treats, handcrafted jewelry, and clothing.