Do you have a favourite way to spend a summer afternoon? For me, cruising along treelined paths, past public art and rushing rivers, stopping only when you’ve found the perfect spot to picnic ranks up there. Those lucky guests at Calgary’s hipster Hotel Arts can enhance their stay by riding a Brooklyn Cruiser (a swish fixie) and tucking into a gourmet picnic prepared by their chefs. Doesn’t that make business travel less of a chore! Being the inquisitive sort, I asked if I could test drive this new offering. Here’s a look at the hottest new alfresco adventure to hit Calgary.
Step one is arriving at Hotel Arts. This is one cool hotel. It’s got a decent price point and it sports an outdoor pool – a rarity in this city. There’s tons of stuff going on here, like poolside yoga on Saturday mornings, they have one of the best brunches in the city, plus little extras like Aveda amenities make you feel oh so pampered.
It’s not pretentious, but it is pretty rad, as you’d expect a boutique hotel to be. Case in point – they’ve got eight of these Brooklyn Cruisers for guests to tool around on. For free. Better yet, they’ve mapped out some fun trails you can explore, highlighting points of interest around the inner city. It’s especially awesome if you’re not familiar with this area of town and looking for trendy places to shop and grab a bite.
Bike trails in inner city Calgary
My pal Katie and I hoped on our bikes and went down Calgary’s new cycle lanes to hit the trails that flank the Bow and Elbow Rivers. We cruised over this super new yet unnamed bridge (isn’t that weird?) and past lots of cool public art. So glad Calgary is stepping up in the area.
Eventually we made it to Prince’s Island Park. This is where our excursion really got good, because I had no idea what was inside our picnic lunches. OK, I had an inkling, as they give you a choice of sandwiches, but when you select salami, you’re not expecting it to be layered with thick slices of country ham, buffalo mozzarella and herbed aioli on a fresh baguette, now are you?
Katie opted for the tuna sandwich and I should’ve known it would be proper albacore tuna (not from a can), just like the top grade tuna used in Yellow Door Bistro’s lunch menu. Rounding out the meal was an apple, homemade potato chips (so good!) and quite possibly the best was the lemonade I’ve ever slurped back from a mason jar. The picnic was delightful and a steal for only $16 per person. A cookie would’ve made it absolutely perfect, but I was sufficiently stuffed, nonetheless.
After our lunch we had to work those calories off, so back we went, through the park, along the pathways, passing office workers on their lunch break, joggers attempting a sweat and even some ducklings, who are growing up so fast! Not only was it a delightful way to suss out the city, it ended up being a bit of a work out.
Whizzing by the action in the East Village felt freeing and light. To be out in the sunshine in the middle of the day! Seeing the city from a new perspective and doing something I don’t normally do was invigorating and such a better break than checking my Instagram feed. Then and there I vowed whenever I’m in a new city, I’ll make a point to explore it by bike. And if you’re headed to Calgary, you should, too!
Have you ever taken a bike tour when exploring a new city? Would you like to?