There's plenty to do in downtown Calgary – shopping, dining, museums, and spas for starters. Spend a morning or afternoon exploring, or head down for an entire day.
From the airport, travel south on Deerfoot Trail to Memorial Drive, and follow the "City Centre" signs downtown. From other areas of the city, Calgary's transit system will take you to the city centre, via bus or C-Train (Calgary's light rail transit). Once you're downtown, everything is within walking distance. The C-Train is free if you stay in the downtown core.
If you want to start your day out with breakfast, you have plenty of choices – historic Stephen Avenue Walk (8 Ave. S.W.) is lined with restaurants and coffee shops. For something a little different, head over to the patisserie in Art Central (205 – 100 7 Ave. S.W.) – afterwards, you can check out the galleries and boutiques, filled with work by local artisans.
Just a few blocks over, on Macleod Trail and 7 Ave S.E., visit the Old City Hall, a historic sandstone building that has been restored to its original beauty.
Cross the street and check out Olympic Plaza (222 8 Ave. S.E.), a popular gathering place for people of all ages. In warmer weather, you'll find a wading pool; in the winter, you can go for a skate.
Work your way down Stephen Avenue (8 Ave. S.), and stop in at the numerous art galleries and boutiques in the pedestrian mall's historic sandstone buildings. You'll see buskers and other types of live performances along the way. If it's patio season, stop for a bite and some great people watching.
If you love to shop, you'll find plenty of that, too. Head inside to Banker's Hall, Calgary Eaton Centre, CORE/TD Square and Scotia Centre. You'll find a mix of designer fashion and popular brand names here.
Spend the afternoon in the Glenbow Museum (130 9 Ave. S.E.), exploring the latest traveling exhibit or delving into the permanent installations, which include a look back at the colourful personalities who shaped Alberta's history.
Head up to the Calgary Tower (101 9 Ave. S.W.) to rest your feet and feast your eyes. Western Canada's tallest observation point gives you a fantastic view of the city and the mountains. If you're feeling brave, you can step out into space, on the glass floor of the observation deck, and look waaaay down – 525 feet, to be exact! Stay for dinner at the rotating dining room, or stop for a drink and a light bite.
Back on the ground and in the mood for dinner? Try our famous Alberta Beef at one of the local restaurants in the downtown core.
If you happen to be downtown on the first Thursday of the month, join the Cultural District's "First Thursday" – a monthly celebration of food, art, and theatre. Watch for restaurant deals, art shows, live theatre and film screenings on the Cultural District's web site.
Are you a theatre-goer? Take in a performance at the Arts Commons, right on Stephen Avenue (205 8 Ave. S.E.).