A Torontonian’s Guide to Calgary

Cycling on the Peace Bridge
Cycling on the Peace Bridge
Visiting from the GTA

A Torontonian’s Guide to Calgary

The must-dos for anyone from the GTA visiting Calgary, from one Torontonian to another

When I first moved from Toronto to Calgary, here’s what I knew: There were going to be cowboys and the mountains were close by.

Literally, that’s all I knew – yes, I admit that I probably should have done more research.

Seven years later, I can officially confirm that both of these assumptions were true, although you tend to see a whole lot more cowboy hats in Calgary than actual cowboys or cowgirls.

But here’s what I was missing - there’s so, so much more to Calgary than what the stereotypes suggest. As a born-and-bred, Drake-loving, long-suffering Toronto sports fan, I wouldn’t lasted long if cowboys and mountains were the only things Calgary had going for it. All these years later, though, I'm still here!

When friends and family from the GTA come to visit, their final destination is inevitably going to be the Rockies. I get that, and I don’t blame them. But if you’re coming to Alberta from the Toronto-area, your trip’s not going to be complete without at least a day or two in Calgary, and here’s why.

You have to float the river when you visit Calgary! (photo: @Davey_Gravy)

You have to float the river when you visit Calgary! (photo: @Davey_Gravy)

The Rivers

Growing up, it seemed like the number one rule my parents had to repeat whenever I left the house was “Don’t swim in the Don River.” In Calgary, it’s different. The rivers here aren’t just toxic sludge like some other cities.

Both the Bow River and Elbow River weave their way through the city. Even in downtown, the rivers are right there, providing a reminder of the wonders of the mountains they flow from.

Floating down either the Bow or the Elbow in the summer is almost a right of passage for new Calgarians and visitors, and you’ll find surfers and kayakers taking advantage of the pristine water throughout most of the rest of the year.

The banks of the Bow offer a perfect way to explore the city, too, as there are bike and pedestrian paths that follow the river for almost its entire journey through Calgary, connected to the extensive system of bike lanes that make getting around the city easy for cyclists.

Go Shopping

Every time my sisters come to Calgary, we have to reserve a day for them to visit consignment shops.

For reasons that I don’t totally understand, the city is apparently a goldmine for second-hand women’s clothing that looks great when my sisters are strolling through the Annex back home.

Devonian Gardens is a city park located in the top floor of the CORE Shopping Centre

Devonian Gardens is a city park located in the top floor of the CORE Shopping Centre

Stay Inside

The Peace Bridge at night

The Peace Bridge at night

 

Changing City

Like Toronto, Calgary has dramatically changed over the past 15 years, and the proof is in the architectural pudding.

You have to try the pizza at UNA on 17th Avenue SW

You have to try the pizza at UNA on 17th Avenue SW

Check Hayden Block in Kensington for great barbecue

Check Hayden Block in Kensington for great barbecue

Ever Evolving Neighbourhoods

Remember how back before glass condo towers started popping up on every corner, people used to talk about Toronto as a city of neighbourhoods? 

That’s sort of what Calgary is like these days, and they’re all worth exploring.

Try the bobsleigh at Winsport in the winter or summer

Try the bobsleigh at Winsport in the winter or summer

Get Active

River Café is a long-time favourite in Calgary

River Café is a long-time favourite in Calgary

Eat!

You might not have heard much about Calgary’s food scene, but you’ll likely make sure people know about it once you’ve tried it out.

Home & Away is the place to watch a game in Calgary

Home & Away is the place to watch a game in Calgary

Drink

By
Danny Austin

A Toronto native who now calls Calgary home and loves exploring the city