Visiting the Calgary Stampede & Four Additional Activities To Relax and Enjoy With The Family

by James Forde

With summer quickly approaching, you, like most families, are beginning to give thought to your summer holiday activities – you know, where to go, what to see, and what would the kids like to do.

After careful consideration, some research, and the fact that the low Canadian dollar offers outstanding travel value right now, you have decided to check off another item on your ever-growing “bucket list” and head north to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to attend the Calgary Stampede. Calgary, a magnificent jewel of 1.3 million people nestled in the foothills just east of the Rocky Mountains, is host to the world-famous Calgary Exhibition and Stampede (usually the second weekend in July), billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth”.

Planning to spend a few days enjoying the insane pace and excitement of all the activities at the Stampede is your goal – the world-famous, million-dollar rodeo; thrilling nightly chuckwagon races followed by the spectacular evening grandstand performance; country music; stampede parade; Indian Village and midway to name just a few. But after a few exhausting days on the “grounds”, you and your family will be ready for some quieter, more relaxing activities.

Heritage park Calgary photo by Bernard Spragg, New ZealandWith family fun always in mind, experiencing some less-stressful activities while discovering more about the history and culture of this great western oil city will be a welcome change after the hustle and bustle of the Stampede.

While the Stampede will be your main point of focus, here are four fun bonus activities that you and your family shouldn’t miss while visiting Calgary:

Heritage Park Historical Village:

Imagine the excitement of stepping back in history to the horse and buggy days, strolling through a real western town restored to its original buildings and artifacts. Talk to shopkeepers and townspeople dressed in original period costumes. You can do all this and more at Calgary’s Heritage Park, situated on 127 acres along the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir, a short drive from downtown, and accessible by transit. The park is Canada’s largest living museum featuring Western Canadian history dating back to the 1860s. Ride on an original Calgary electric streetcar that carries you from the parking lot to the main entrance. Board a real steam locomotive and trundle around the perimeter of the town, stopping at original period stations. Trade furs and shop at the Hudson’s Bay Company store; visit the bakery and hotel as you mosey along the boardwalk. If you are an antique car buff, be sure to take in the beautiful Gasoline Alley Museum (additional cost). Another activity guaranteed to thrill is enjoying a panoramic sail on the Glenmore Reservoir aboard the S.S. Moyie, a period paddlewheel steamer. Plan to spend the entire day so you can experience everything the park has to offer.
Heritage Park: 1900 Heritage Drive S.W., (403) 268-8500


Calgary Zoo:

Established in 1929 on St. Georges Island just east of downtown Calgary resides the second largest Zoo in Canada and is recognized as one of the top Zoos in the world for conservation research. Included among the many animals to visit are hippos, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, lions, bears, bison, and wolves. Special displays include Destination Africa, Canadian Wilds, Penguin Plunge, Botanical Gardens, Enmax Conservatory, Eurasia, and Prehistoric Park. The Zoo is open every day except Christmas and is easily accessed by car or by taking the C-Train (Light Rail Transit) east from downtown and getting off at the Zoo stop.
Calgary Zoo: 1300 Zoo Road. N.E., (403) 232-9300


Glenbow Museum:

Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, the Glenbow Museum, one of the largest art museums in western Canada, showcases the colorful, exciting history of Southern Alberta and Western Canada through four floors of art, cultural, military, and industrial history. Thrill to the “Mavericks” display that walks you through how the west was won. The life and times of Alberta’s aboriginal people through artifacts and interactive exhibits are highlighted as well as an impressive display of art, sculptures and ancient artifacts from around the world.
Glenbow Museum: 130 – 9 Ave., S.E., (403) 268-4100


Calgary Tower:
Rising to a dizzy height of 627 feet above street level, the Calgary Tower is ideally situated in the middle of downtown, across the street from the Glenbow Museum. Featuring a magnificent observation deck that offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, Rocky Mountains, and the prairies, the tower is a favorite place among tourists and locals alike who wish to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views. Looking for a thrill? Be sure to test your nerves by stepping out onto the glass floor viewing platform and observing the streetscape far below. The Tower also features two excellent dining facilities guaranteed to satisfy any discriminating appetite: SKY 360 (at the top of the tower rotating 360 degrees while you dine) and the fabulous Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the base of the Tower. Also conveniently located at the base of the Tower is Tourism Calgary’s Visitor Information Center, packed with information about arts and culture, award-winning cuisine, parks and pathways, exciting nightlife, and outdoor activities.
Calgary Tower: 101-9 Ave S.W., (403) 266-7171

Tourism Calgary Visitor Information Centre: #120, 101-9 Ave S.W., (403) 750-2362

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