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While you and your clients might know Calgary best as the host of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games or as the home of the annual Calgary Stampede, this vibrant metropolis is proving itself to be much more than just a stopover on the way to Banff or a place to rest your spurs in July. As the largest city in the Province of Alberta, Canada, Calgary boasts a population of approximately 1.2 million and, with it, a diverse and eclectic mix of cultures, cuisines and neighborhoods that visitors can easily explore.
The New Calgary encompasses much more than just winter sports or stampedes. It’s about about an active lifestyle, world-class restaurants, a revitalized historic core and knowledge and respect for multicultural influences. For clients looking to make the most of a trip to Calgary, here’s a rundown of some of the city’s best in cuisine, soft adventure and historic districts.
While the entire province of Alberta is prized for its award-winning AAA-grade Alberta beef, the culinary scene in Calgary is venturing beyond the traditional prime rib roasts and steaks to serve up dishes that are at once unique and wholly satisfying. The city is home to more than 3,700 restaurants alone. As more and more clients seek out one-of-a-kind dining experiences when they travel, Calgary continues to improve upon its culinary scene with cutting-edge restaurants.
Some of the newest and most lauded establishments include Charcut Roast House Calgary, Una Pizza + Wine and Notable. Charcut, which is located on the lobby level of the brand-new Hotel Le Germain Calgary, specializes in charcuterie. Una Pizza + Wine takes a Mediterranean approach to its menu of thin-crust pizzas and robust wines. Notable, the newest restaurant from chef Michael Noble, aims to deliver “gourmet comfort” food that includes Stilton cheesecake and house-cured duck prosciutto.
Other favorites include Catch Seafood Restaurant, located on downtown’s Stephen Avenue Walk, and Rouge, a French restaurant located in the heart of the historic Inglewood neighborhood, situated on the banks of the Bow River. Last year, Rouge was named to S. Pellegrino World’s list of the world’s top 100 restaurants.This spring, the Calgary Farmers’ Market will reopen in a new location in Southeast Calgary. It will feature more than 100 different vendors, from fishmongers and bakers to florists and fruit sellers.
No matter where your clients choose to dine in Calgary, however, they are sure to never go hungry with so many different choices in cuisine.
While Calgary may be best known for hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 1988, it’s not just a locale for winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding. In fact, Calgary offers a variety of year-round soft adventure and sports activities for clients who want to get to know the city by foot or by bicycle, too. Because of its location at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, Calgary is blessed with a number of green spaces that travelers and locals alike can explore. The city has 29 major parks, 40 regional parks and a total of 19,000 acres of open spaces, including all parks. It also has the longest continuous bike path in Canada, measuring some 394 miles in length.
Mountain bikers will especially love visiting Nose Hill, Fish Creek and Bowmont parks — all of which feature designated mountain bike trails within the city limits. A bit farther outside of the city, clients will find the mountain bike park at Canada Olympic Park, which has lift-access trails and runs for cyclists of all experience levels, from beginners to experts. Beyond that, at Moose Mountain, clients can also explore a number of trails that feature drops, jumps and amazing views.
While there are a number of bike shops that offer bike rentals within the city, more adventurous clients may choose to book with tour operators such as Canusa Cycle Tours or Discover Banff Tours for day trips out of nearby Banff National Park.
For a complete experience of the new Calgary, clients should make sure to visit many of the city’s unique neighborhoods — some of which are also historic and provide endless opportunities for exquisite dining and shopping.
Kensington Village is a walkable neighborhood located in northwestern Calgary, just north of the Bow River and downtown Calgary. The business revitalization zone has more than 250 eclectic shops, cafes and restaurants. To get there, clients can take the public Calgary C-Train. Every July, Kensington Village plays host to the annual Kensington Sun and Salsa Festival, which includes salsa tastings, live entertainment, a salsa competition and more. At Christmastime, Kensington Village transforms itself into an old-time shopping and entertainment hub with dozens of caroling singers as well as a unique arts and crafts fair.
Inglewood, located in the southeast quadrant of the city, is Calgary’s oldest neighborhood and is directly across the Elbow River from Fort Calgary. Like Kensington Village, Inglewood is identified as a business revitalization zone and its historical importance to Calgary’s founding can be explored through self-guided historic walking tours. Today, the neighborhood is known as an artists’ colony, home to dozens of independent galleries and live music venues. Every summer, Inglewood hosts the Inglewood Sunfest Festival, a kickoff event for the annual Calgary Fringe Festival.
In the heart of downtown Calgary, clients will love exploring the downtown historic core, especially Stephen Avenue Walk, which is home to hundreds of shops, pubs and restaurants. The prominent stretch of downtown is both lively and pedestrian-friendly, and even hosts various buskers and a seasonal green market in the warmer months.
So, whether your clients travel to Calgary for its deep winter sports or cowboy heritage, or to seek out new cuisines and outdoor activities, they’ll be sure to find it with ease.