Calgary is sometimes known as the gateway to the Canadian Rockies, and for good reason, with the town of Banff located less than 1.5 hours from downtown Calgary, and Lake Louise only 35 minutes further west on the Trans Canada Highway, you’ll find the stunning mountain landscape of Banff National Park is within very easy reach.
We recommend an overnight stay to fully appreciate everything the Lake Louise and Banff areas have to offer, and to allow you to better experience the amazing hospitality that these mountain towns have long been famous for. If you are looking for more traditional Canadian mountain lodging, Lake Louise cabins can offer a rustic experience with a stunning Canadian Rockies backdrop, while both moderate and luxury hotels are also in good supply in Lake Louise (see www.lakelouisehotels.org for several options).
After a day of sightseeing or hiking, you may wish to unwind with a swim or a soak and there are plenty of Banff hotels with pools which will allow you to do just that, with amenities ranging from full sized swimming pools to outdoor hot tubs with incredible views. For another way to take a dip with impressive mountain views why not pay a visit to the Upper Hot Springs which Banff is famous for.
If you are in Calgary for a just a short visit and you find yourself with a spare day, Banff National Park makes a wonderful day trip, and it would be well worthwhile making the easy drive to Banff or Lake Louise for a complete change of scenery and pace. If you don’t have a car with you, or you would like to have the benefit of a guide, there are several companies which offer guided tours to the Canadian Rockies from Calgary.
Once in Banff National Park there are many ways to spend your time, from strolling down Banff Avenue with its abundant shopping and excellent selection of restaurants, to breathtaking sightseeing gondola rides in both Banff and Lake Louise. The selection of tours & activities in Banff is endless, and of course if you come during the winter, there are 3 world class ski and snowboard resorts to choose from.
With a skyline filled with modern tall buildings and office blocks, and branded as the ‘Heart of the New West‘, you could be forgiven for thinking that Calgary does not have much to offer those interested in looking back in time to a bygone era. However a little exploration reveals a city rich in culture and proud of its history, and a visit to any or all of the following excellent museums would be a fantastic start to appreciating that history for yourself.
Located a short distance from downtown Calgary in the trendy neighbourhood of Inglewood, Fort Calgary is an interpretive centre based in an accurately re-built version of an original 1875 North West Mounted Police post. The Fort has its own history to tell with stories of the Mounted Police who originally inhabited the settlement, and also tells the history of the city of Calgary from 1875 to the 1940s. Highlights include a ride in a virtual streetcar through scenes of Calgary’s past, historic stores and places of work, pleasant pathways through a community garden, and a general store where you can buy RCMP and Canadiana souvenirs. Also on site is the historic Deane House Restaurant which offers excellent lunch and brunch menus.
Fort Calgary is open year round and is not to be missed!
For further information and for opening times, prices and special events visit www.fortcalgary.com
Aerospace Museum of Calgary
Aptly located close to Calgary Airport, the mission of the Aerospace Museum of Calgary is “to promote the appreciation of Western Canadian contributions in aviation and space”. Exhibits include full aircraft in a large hangar including a Lancaster Bomber from World War 2, a Sopwith Triplane from World War 1, civil aviation and recreational aircraft, and vintage helicopters. Other highlights include a collection of 58 aeronautical engines and aircraft memorabilia including artwork and interesting wartime photos.
The museum is a must-see for aviation enthusiasts and even visitors with just a passing interest are sure to be impressed by the larger exhibits of these magnificent vintage aircraft.
For more information, visit www.asmac.ab.ca
Both a museum and an art gallery, the Glenbow is certainly Calgary’s most famous and most popular museum with an eclectic range of exhibits that finds appeal with visitors with a wide range of interests. Located in the heart of downtown opposite the Calgary Tower, the impressive building houses permanent exhibitions which have a strong focus on the history, heritage and culture of western Canada, including an excellent portrayal of native cultures from Alberta and across the country. Also of note are the Asian Gallery, the Mineralogy Exhibition, and an exhibition dedicated to 5 centuries of warriors and war in different cultures across the world.
There are also many temporary exhibitions from the Glenbow’s own collections and travelling exhibitions from international museums.
Such is the quality of this museum, many people visit Calgary specifically to visit the Glenbow, and if you are in Calgary for other reasons, you really owe it to yourself to include it in your itinerary.
For further information, and to find out more about the current exhibitions visit www.glenbow.org
The city of Calgary and its environs offer many interesting ways for a visitor to spend a spare day or two. Indeed Calgary is the gateway to some of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Whether you are here for business or pleasure, it is well worthwhile setting some time aside to enjoy some of the wonderful destinations within or outside of the city, and to help you make the most of that time, below you will find five different ways to explore Calgary and the surrounding area.
Sightseeing Bus Tours
Brewster Sightseeing Excursions offer several scheduled tours on luxury motor coaches with large viewing windows which pick up at hotels in downtown Calgary. Their guided tours include a Calgary City Sights Tour, tours to Banff with a ride on the Banff Gondola, and a Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls tour which takes in the best of Banff, Lake Louise and Yoho National Park. It’s worth noting that the Banff tour can bring you back to Calgary or drop you off in Banff or Lake Louise, providing a convenient way to travel from Calgary for an extended trip to the Canadian Rockies.
For further details of Brewster tours from Calgary visit www.explorerockies.com.
Explore Calgary and Southern Alberta
Hammerhead Scenic Tours offer an extensive range of personalized tours in comfortable vans which allow you to explore the best sights and attractions of Calgary, the Canadian Rockies, and Southern Alberta. Their Calgary City Tour just takes 3 hours, while their full day tours can take you to Drumheller & the Badlands (including entrance to the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum), Banff & Lake Louise, or the Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump as well as other popular Alberta destinations. If you have more time to explore the area, there are also more extensive 2 and 3 day tours on offer.
For a full list of available tours, schedules and rates, visit www.hammerheadtours.com.
Customized Sightseeing Tours
Blue Sky Tours offers Alberta’s only customized guided tours in private vehicles to all the most popular destinations in the Calgary area and beyond. Tours are completely personalized with pickups from anywhere in Calgary and times and itineraries are flexible to suit your own schedule and interests. Suggested tours within the city include a Calgary City Highlights tour, Antique Shopping in Calgary, and a tour of Calgary’s Olympic and sports venues. Further afield, the tour to Drumheller takes in the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the world famous museum of palaeontology, as well as the Canadian Badlands. Tours to the Canadian Rockies destinations of Kananaskis Country, Banff and Lake Louise are also offered.
For more information and for further suggestions, visit www.albertablueskytours.com.
Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions take you back to a time when the West was still Wild, with a one day adventure on a steam train or old diesel locomotive. The 5-6 hour excursions include entertainment and buffet meal and you may even witness an old fashioned train robbery! Choose to take in the beauty of the Alberta prairies from the Open Air Coach, or head for a drink in the licensed Lone Star Saloon on board. Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions are fun for the whole family and start out from Stettler Alberta, around 3 hours from Calgary.
To find out more about the different excursions on offer, visit www.absteamtrain.com.
A wide selection of horseback adventures are offered by Anchor D Guiding and Outfitting, based on a ranch west of Turner Valley, just an hour from Calgary. Their trips range from 2 hour, 3 hour or full day trail rides to multi-day backcountry horseback trips and ranch vacations. Regardless of which trip you take, you will be riding top quality horses and treated to the breathtaking scenery of the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and the prairies of Alberta.
For more information and to see some great photos of their tours, visit www.anchord.com.
White Water Rafting
Inside Out Experience offer several half or full day rafting adventures from beginner to advanced level either on the Elbow River starting near Bragg Creek, or on the Kananaskis River or through the Horseshoe Canyon, both starting near Seebe. They also offer a combined mountain biking and rafting experience in the beautiful Elbow Valley, as well as their unique Horses & River Courses tour. Starting summer 2010, this new tour will include an overnight stay at the Homeplace Ranch in Priddis, followed by a day of horseback riding and whitewater rafting in the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies.
For more information about these and other tours, visit www.insideoutexperience.com.