Known for its cowboys and stampedes, its cows and its weather, Calgary is a big city in western Alberta. It’s very different from Vancouver in that the mountains aren’t on your doorstep, although the incredible national parks of Banff and Jasper are only a few hours drive away.
Instead, Calgary feels more spaced out, with more room to breathe, all the while offering visitors all the same features of a bustling metropolis. I spent my 21st birthday in Calgary with my boyfriend Sam who goes to university out here, and here’s what we got up to:
Calgary Zoo is absolutely massive. It’s easily accessible by train – I would actually suggest the train over driving given the proximity of the station in comparison to the parking lot, and the cheapness of a train ticket in comparison to parking fees. We spent almost 3 hours wandering all the different exhibits, which included massive enclosures for many, many animals. Personal favourites included getting up close and personal with the lions and watching the meerkats pop out of the ground.
Right in the centre of the downtown core of Calgary lies the Calgary Tower, a large structure with an internal elevator whizzes visitors up to the top of a 360 degree view of the city of Calgary. Apparently the world’s highest 360 observation deck thanks to how high Calgary is above sea level, the tower offers views as far as the eye can see in every direction of all the different parts of Calgary and the surrounding areas. A glass floor adds to the thrill of being so high up. Price per adult: $18.00, including free audio tour of the history of Calgary.
Hop on the train and wander through the busy streets of restaurants, shopping and twinkle lights. I suggest going at dusk, when the city is all lit up for nighttime.
For my 21st birthday dinner, Sam treated me to the exquisite food at Blink Restaurant, a warm, inviting place, with romantic lighting and exposed brick walls. We shared the trout, and then I had the risotto for dinner – paired wonderfully with an elder-flower cocktail or 2!
Nose Hill Park
Take a wander through Calgary’s biggest walking park with a gorgeous view over the whole city.
*Including photos by Sam