When we met my parents in Banff National Park, we all flew in and out of Calgary. After several incredible days exploring Banff, Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefields, the Icefields Parkway, and Jasper, we made our way back to Calgary for our final night. Waking up in the city the next morning gave us the majority of the day to explore downtown Calgary before catching our flight back to Seattle.
Downtown Calgary is incredibly walkable. We were happy to eat breakfast at the hotel and leave our car there while we explored the surrounding area.
Highlights of our morning walk included visiting Olympic Plaza and Prince’s Island Park, strolling along Stephen Avenue, and dabbling in a few other neighborhoods. Our final stop at Fort Calgary required us to relocate via car, which worked out perfectly because we had to leave from there for the airport.
We had a beautiful, sunny morning for our walk over to Olympic Plaza by way of Calgary Tower. This plaza was built in 1988 for the Olympic Winter Games but remains surrounded by interesting historical buildings.
It’s also home to the Famous Five statue, which celebrates five Albertan women who advocated for women’s rights in the 20th century before women were recognized as “persons” under Canadian and British law.
There is a stage and plenty of outdoor seating, and a group was getting together as we were concluding our visit for a celebration. I imagine it’s popular year-round and would be a great lunch spot for people who work nearby!
A few blocks from Olympic Plaza is the entry point to Stephen Avenue, the longest pedestrian corridor in Calgary. This strip is full of restaurants, shops, and other businesses, and we particularly enjoyed the statues, building art, and informational pillars with historical background.
We concluded our walk at Gordon’s Homemade Sausage stand, which is managed by a fourth-generation master butcher! Dad and Brian each bought a dog for us to share as a late-morning snack—they were very good!
Prince’s Island Park
A few blocks north of downtown is Prince’s Island Park, a lovely green space that somewhat reminded me of Riverfront Park in Spokane. We walked across the iconic Peace Bridge west of the island and along the north bank of the Bow River before cutting across the island and back downtown.
There were tons of birds and small critters enjoying the ponds and trees, and I really enjoyed a group of school children who were following along behind their teacher, holding onto two ropes in order to stay in line.
One particularly ornery kid was poking at everyone around him and after several rounds of being reprimanded was eventually moved to the front of the line to hold the rope right next to the teacher. Hysterical!
Chinatown and Around Town
We only briefly walked through Chinatown—if we’d had more time, I would have liked to have explored the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre and grabbed a bite to eat.
A few other places we only briefly passed by were the library, where we enjoyed the giant tilting bird statues, and the Bow Building, where we admired the Wonderland Sculpture–a fascinating wire rendering of a girl’s head.
Our final stop of the morning was Fort Calgary where we learned about the Blackfoot Nations and an early iteration of what is now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The inside exhibits included many historical artifacts and stories from the perspectives of the different people impacted by the events that were outlined.
I especially enjoyed a couple of rooms that highlighted early medical procedures, equipment, and medications. Some of the exhibits were recently renovated and the museum has more plans for renovations underway.
We also walked around outside, admiring the buildings in the complex and reading some of the informational plaques about where past buildings were located and their uses. As we wrapped up, we spotted two giant hares munching on some grass! The picture below doesn’t do their size justice–they were by far the largest rabbits I’ve seen in the wild, and it was awesome having one more wildlife sighting to conclude our trip!
There’s so much more to see and do in Calgary–hopefully we’ll be back!