By Jody Robbins
There’s a reason why Calgary was recently ranked the top Canadian city (and fourth in the world) on The Economist’s 2018 Liveability Index. Most folks know Calgary as the home of the Calgary Stampede. Some even recall Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. What both mega events have in common is something that’s key to understanding this city: It’s all about community.
Western hospitality isn’t just a buzzword. It’s central to what Calgarians do and how they play. Numerous skyscrapers can attest to Calgary’s big-city status, but the down-home charm steeped in western culture makes it feel like one big town. You’ll find that out pretty quickly after moseying into a watering hole such as the National Beer Hall for a local microbrew, or Proof for a carefully crafted cocktail. And you can’t really visit a city nicknamed Cowtown without chowing down on some Alberta beef. Experience a new take on steak at one of the many nose-to-tail restaurants such as Charcut or Deane House. Or try Shokunin for a Japanese twist on classic prairie ingredients.
With no provincial sales tax, Calgary is one of the most affordable and coveted spots for shopping in Canada. Luxury retails from Saks to Nordstrom to Holt compete against an ever-expanding list of indie retailers such as Camp Brand Goods and Gravity Pope, situated in eclectic communities like Inglewood, Kensington, and 17th Ave SW.
Let’s not forget that a mere one hour west of the city lie turquoise lakes, crystallized glaciers, and mountain ranges brimming with champagne powder and top-notch ski resorts—both downhill and cross country. Head east and you’ll hit the Canadian Badlands, where dinosaur fossil beds are continually being uncovered. Calgary is your base camp for adventure, but there are plenty of ways to get your fill of the great outdoors within the city limits.
With one of the largest urban parks systems in North America, it’s a cinch to admire fall foliage along the pathways that anchor the Bow River. Meander into the recently revitalized East Village before receiving a cultural injection at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre. Then there’s Spruce Meadows, a world-renowned equestrian facility, with show jumping tournaments all year long. Calgary’s International Christmas Market runs November 16 to December 2, 2018, or you can get into the holiday spirit by riding the Polar Express at Aspen Crossing from November 23 to December 24, 2018.
ESSENTIAL TO BRING BACK: A bag of roasted beans—or even green to roast at home or on a campfire!—from Calgary Heritage Roasting Company. Don’t forget to get one of our perfect mugs!