There’s way more than meets the eye in Calgary, a city commonly known for its energy and western hospitality. You likely know all about the Calgary Stampede and our zoo, but do you know you can also explore the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio right here in Calgary? There’s way more than 7 unique things to do in Calgary, but these will start you off in the right direction.
When’s the last time you had a view like this one? (Photo credit: Calgary Tower)
Updated April 2020. This post may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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Unique things to do in Calgary
It seems in every family, there’s someone who’s totally into transportation. These guys want to see steam engines, bomber planes and retro cars. Fortunately for them, they can easily get their fix in Calgary. Another decidedly different things to do in our city focuses on the arts and caters to all age groups. Oh, did I mention all these unique things to do in Calgary have major discounts? Read on for how to claim yours.
Calgary art gallery
Take the Glenbow Museum for instance. Calgary’s premier art gallery has over one million artworks, artifacts and photographs in their collection. And with over 30,000 works of art, it’s the largest collection in all of Western Canada. Take that Vancouver and Edmonton.
Glenbow’s feature exhibitions change three times a year. These exhibitions bring nationally significant art and stories from across Canada and around the world to Calgary. Every time the exhibitions change, they host a huge all-ages party with local bands and other performances. Everyone is invited and admission is by donation.
Studio Bell tours
Did you know that Backstage Pass Tours at Studio Bell offer access to even more of the National Music Centre’s vast collection – from early instruments to modern electronics?
Running every Sunday at 12 pm and 1:30 pm at Studio Bell, this tour is guided by a trained musician and provides a behind-the-scenes look at rare artifacts and world-class recording spaces and equipment, including the legendary Rolling Stones Mobile Studio!
Calgary Stampede art walk
Some of the world’s most significant pieces of western art are found right here in Calgary – at Stampede Park. I know, I know, viewing public art at Stampede Park wasn’t my first thought either. But there is actually a ton of art on display at the Calgary Stampede grounds.
The outdoor pieces which range from murals to bronze sculptures are totally impressive and this art walk is something you can do year-round. They’ve even developed a self-guided art walk that describes each piece and where it’s located (mostly around Stampede Park and downtown Calgary). Access the art walk info here.
Dinner theatre in Calgary
Yes, there’s historical artifacts at Fort Calgary, but they also host the coolest dinner theatre in Calgary. If you’re a fan of mysteries, you’ll love their current line-up. Fort Calgary has this fully-equipped, state-of-the-art theatre, so it’s also a fantastic venue for events like film screenings and presentations.
I believe I’ve waxed on about their Sunday brunch before, so I’ll just give a gentle reminder that it includes access to the museum.
Calgary aviation museum
There’s tons of airplanes to admire inside the Hangar Flight Museum, Calgary’s sole aviation museum, but the Lancaster bomber is one of the most popular. While the one on display was never issued to an active squadron, it was converted to Maritime Reconnaissance configuration and taken on by 404 Buffalo Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
Besides the Lancaster, there’s loads of rare and historically significant military and civilian planes here. Why not visit on Father’s Day weekend to suss out their wings and wheels exhibit?
Gasoline Alley Heritage Park
Just outside the entry gates to Heritage Park lies Gasoline Alley. Its Grand Hall is chock-a-block with vintage vehicles and retro automotive memorabilia. Take a gander the next time you visit.
Gasoline Alley is open during the winter months, whereas Heritage Park is a May long weekend to Labour Day destination, with the occasional weekends thrown in.
During the summer season, visitors at Heritage Park can hop aboard their historic steam train. Interestingly, the train switches directions halfway through the summer season. Why, you may ask? It’s so the wheels don’t wear out on one side. The train runs so often, each summer it travels around the Park the same distance as a coast-to-coast trip across Canada.
Views from the Calgary Tower
Towering over the city at an altitude of 1,236 m (4,028 ft.), the Calgary Tower is the highest observation tower above sea level in the world. That makes for some pretty epic views from the Calgary Tower of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the cityscape down below.
If you’ve got a transportation buff in your brood, hustle them up to the top of the tower to take in all the action. Down below vehicles like tiny toy sets, while at eye level you’re apt to see planes streaking across the sky.
Calgary attractions discounts
To score major discounts and half price coupons for all these attractions (and others!) check out Calgary Attractions. On that site you’ll find valuable, printable coupons to the city’s most interesting tourist spots.
Unique hotels in Calgary
Looking for something different? Sheraton Cavalier guests receive complimentary access to 3,000 sq ft of wild and wet fun. Two 250 ft slides, hot tubs, plus an adult and kiddie pool make this an ideal outpost for kids of all ages.
Not many hotels offer an in-room telescope, but that’s just what you’ll get with a stay on the concierge floor of the Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel. Located within the International wing of the airport, you’ll get epic views of planes taking off and landing, plus there’s an indoor pool and fitness facility.
Hotel Elan is a former apartment building situated in Calgary’s trendiest neighbourhood known as 17th Ave. You’ll be steps away from trendy coffee shops (Cafe Beano), some of the city’s best restaurants and lovely independent shops (Steeling Home!). A fitness center, heated toilet seats plus a hot buffet breakfast are included.