Interested in seeing Western Canada? A great place to start is Calgary, Alberta. Not only is the city filled with friendly faces eager to offer a warm “hello”, but also the city boasts a variety of unique attractions from the Calgary Stampede to Drumheller, just a short drive away from Calgary.
Western Canada’s largest zoo has been open for over 75 years. It houses over 1,000 animals and has 6 acres of botanical gardens as well as a prehistoric park. The Zoo offers daily visitor programs such as live animal presentations. For example, Elephants Crossing presents how and why zookeepers work with elephants. Creature Feature allows visitors to meet live animals up close!
In addition to these many features, the Calgary Zoo offers programs for different groups including Kids’ programs and Family programs such as sleepovers and Leisure programs. The Leisure programs include learning about dinosaurs and taking a tour of the prehistoric park as well as seeing and touching fossils. There are also large playgrounds located throughout the zoo for the kids. The Calgary Zoo has something for everyone!!
The Calgary Stampede occurs every July for 10 days. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy chuck wagon races, barrel racing, rodeos and a Grandstand Show Extravaganza.
Aside from the races and shows, the Calgary Stampede opens with a parade. There are also pancake breakfasts, an exciting midway, hands-on agriculture exhibits, an authentic Indian village and fireworks.
Other Calgary Attractions
At 525 feet high, the Calgary Tower has an observation deck with a 360-degree panoramic view of Calgary and outlying prairie and Rocky Mountain areas. The deck is made of glass, which allows people to also see the streets below.
Canada Olympic Park (COP) is the premier site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Calgary, it hosts world-class events such as winter sport World Cups. The facility also provides bobsleigh rides to the public.
Calaway Park is Western Canada’s largest outdoor amusement park. It has 34 rides, 25 games, 4 attractions and many stage shows. One daily admission price allows visitors access to unlimited rides, shows and attractions. It is open from the long weekend in May until mid October.
Outside of Calgary
Just a short 90-minute drive outside of Calgary, visitors will be amazed by Drumheller, the Dinosaur Capital of the World! In the heart of Canada’s Badlands, it has the richest deposits of fossils and dinosaur bones in North America. It is also home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, which displays over 125,000 fossil vertebrates. The Museum is an active scientific research facility as such, its collections grow by over 2,000 specimens annually. In total, visitors will need 2 to 3 hours to get through all of the exhibits and admission is reasonably priced.
Calgary offers many unique attractions including the Calgary Stampede and Calgary Olympic Park among others. Everyone will be sure to find something to suit their tastes, but most importantly, Calgary is full of friendly people who will make the city feel like home!
Calgary Sights Include Historic and Contemporary
Linguists who know their Gaelic realize that Calgary, the Canadian province of Alberta’s largest city, was aptly named. Calgary means clear, running water, and it’s hard to wander anywhere in the “Foothills City” without coming upon a meandering river, a splashing stream, a shimmering lake or a lazy lagoon.
Strangely enough, another liquid – whiskey – was responsible for Calgary’s beginnings. It seems that the first “businessmen” in the region built a stockade called Fort Whoop-Up. They traded with the Native Americans – raw whiskey laced with boiled tobacco, molasses, red pepper and molasses in exchange for furs.
Settlement and Colonization Plus Plenty of Water
In 1875, the Canadian government decided that something must be done about the situation, chartered the Northwest Mounted Police, and sent the 300 New Mounties to establish law, order and an outpost. Calgary remained an isolated center for the policemen on horses until other horses – powerful steam ones – began charging across the Canadian plains on steel rails.
Then, the abundance of good water became an important factor. Settlers poured in. Their productive farms brought industries; meat packing and flour milling. The town grew. Then in 1912, another liquid – oil – spurted forth in great gushes and the population exploded.
Commercial Center with Colorful Past
Today, Calgary is a vigorous commercial center with a population of more than one million people. Most tourists visit the city en route to the nearby playgrounds of Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise or attend the world-famous Calgary Stampede. But there are other less well publicized attractions that are well worth visiting. Despite its industry, it’s a place of pastoral pleasures with about 5,000 acres of parklands and open space.
Living History is the focus at Heritage Park Historical Village, more than 100 acres of re-created life in the Canadian west. An authentic sod shanty, a working blacksmith’s shop, a school and an opera house are only a few of its antique buildings. A major expansion in 2009 included additional buildings from the 1930s and ‘40s as well as the Gasoline Alley Museum with its antique cars and memorabilia. In addition to exploring the village, park visitors can take a paddle steamer trip, buy country-baked bread and penny candy at an old-time store, or do triple axels on the ice rink
Natural History in Abundance
Although Dinosaur Provincial Park, with one of the largest fossil fields on the planet is a two- hour drive south of the city, the dinosaur’s distant relatives, plus a great many other species, can be found – alive and well – at the Calgary Zoo. Situated on St. George Island in the Bow River, the zoo is Canada’s second largest, with more than 1,000 living exhibits. In the children’s area, youngsters and baby animals can play together under the watchful eyes of the zoo’s attendants.
Trees, plants and shrubs from around the world have been gathered together at the Reader Rock Garden. In summertime, cricket matches take place at Riley Park. Glenmore Park offers 700 acres of water for sailing and the Patrick Burns Memorial Rock Garden is noted for its colorful floral displays.
Although there are almost a hundred additional parks in town, not all of Calgary’s attractions are out of doors. The TELUS World of Science includes a planetarium called the Discovery Dome Theatre and the Creative Kids Museum, the only children’s museum west of Winnipeg. Exhibits at the Glenbow and Alberta Sports Hall of Fame are among the city’s other museums.
Varied Calendar of Events
Calgary’s calendar of events – in addition to the July Stampede – includes international horse shows, thoroughbred racing, an Oktoberfest, curling bonspiels, skating competitions and cultural performances in the 2,523-seat Jubilee Auditorium.