10 things that make Calgary so attractive
Date Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Calgary is an amazing city that has a lot to offer. Here in no particular order are the 10 reasons that make Calgary so attractive to Calgarians and why we love the city we live in.
In a city that’s now rich with architectural icons, this is a true original. When it opened to the public on June 30, 1968, the Husky Tower, as it was then known, was the tallest structure in Canada outside Toronto — and double the height of any other building in Calgary. Its central column was created with one continuous 24-day pour of concrete, an unprecedented accomplishment at the time. Today, there are multiple buildings in our city’s downtown that are taller than the tower’s 191 metres (627 feet), and even more on the drawing board. But the Calgary Tower, with its rotating restaurant and incredible views, remains a must-visit for visitors and residents alike — and an enduring symbol of this city and its history.
Calgary is known as a horsey town. And although the Calgary Stampede is the world-renowned flagship of our city, there’s a lot more horsing around here than what goes on during the 10 days of that event. On the south edge of the city is the Spruce Meadows equestrian facility, which for almost 40 years has been a globally respected venue for national and international show-jumping competitions. Twice named the world’s number one show-jumping facility, Spruce Meadows is the place to spend a day shopping, sight-seeing and watching the world’s top horses and riders compete. It’s one of Calgary’s premiere attractions.
Our Heritage Buildings
Older buildings speak to our history and add a unique texture to the fabric of our city’s architectural identity. Our heritage buildings provide us with a glimpse of our past and inspiration for our future. There’s a reason why artistic types are drawn to the warehouse district with edifices like the Louise Block, the Lorraine building on 12th Avenue S.W. or the Barron Building in the film and entertainment district. The rejuvenation of heritage structures shows that the city recognizes the significance of its older buildings. Historically relevant buildings help define the personality of our city — and clearly, we’re a city with real soul.
His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi is as close to a one-man embodiment of modern Calgary as you’ll find. He’s young, he’s smart (he has a degree from Harvard, on top of one from the University of Calgary), but he’s also a populist who comes across as genuinely caring and interested in people. The first Muslim mayor of a major North American city, Nenshi was elected in 2010 on the strength of a groundbreaking social-media campaign that had young voters, and even those below voting age, convincing their friends and parents that Nenshi was the right choice. He’s changed much about the way our city operates, from transportation to arts and culture, and has ruffled a few feathers along the way, but was re-elected in 2013 and 2017. Soon after, national newsmagazine, Maclean’s, rated Nenshi as the second most important person in Canada, behind only Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Here’s the thing: he’s not a career politician, he’s just a smart guy and a great communicator who has a vision for our city. We’re proud of him.
The International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone slogan is “where you can go around the world in 35 blocks,” and it’s an apt description of 17th Avenue S.E. from 26th Street to 61st Street. Whether you’re looking for a sari, Vietnamese food or an acupuncturist, you can find it here.
Proximity to Banff and Canmore
For many visitors, Banff and Canmore are synonymous with Calgary. Heck, some Calgarians talk like it’s our territory. The 60- to 90-minute scenic drive to these famous mountain destinations is like having our cake and eating it too, and it’s with joy that we boast of easy access to Rocky Mountain wonders. On lazy summer Fridays we golf at scenic courses in Canmore. Come winter, we ski and snowboard at world-class resorts. There’s also the option of dogsledding or testing your ice-climbing skills near Banff.
The Design District
Our Design District runs along 11th Avenue S.W. from approximately 4th Street to 14th Street, and is peppered with weighty art galleries, au courant architecture firms and cafes. It’s rich with high-end furniture and furnishing retailers catering to the most discerning design-savvy clientele. The shops along the avenue run the spectrum of tastes from contemporary to French country, and provide everything from flooring to lighting. So whether you’re searching for inspiration or for something just right, right bedside or coffee table, couch or lighting fixture, this strip makes shopping ventures efficient.
Views of the city
Despite the image of Calgary as a prairie city, we’re actually located at the edge of the Rocky Mountain foothills in the valley formed by the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. So there are plenty of high spots from which Calgary’s sights and lights can be taken in. One prime viewpoint is Nose Hill Park, where the view east toward downtown is matched when you turn 180 degrees and look west to the iconic ski-jump towers of Canada Olympic Park and the snow-capped mountains beyond. Scotsman’s Hill and Crescent Road also offer stunning cityscapes and great views of the awe-inspiring fireworks that light up the sky every night during the Calgary Stampede.
Calgary’s Olympic Legacy
More than 25 years have passed since Calgary stepped onto the world stage as host of the XV Winter Olympics. But popular landmarks like the Scotiabank Saddledome, Olympic Plaza, the Olympic Oval and Canada Olympic Park serve as daily reminders of the success and stories of those 16 days in February 1988. Simply running across an old souvenir like a Share the Flame torch relay wine glass, a pastel coloured Sun Ice jacket or an Olympic pin can stir up nostalgic memories of Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, the Jamaican bobsled team or Elizabeth Manley’s figure skating silver medal. The Calgary Olympics marked the beginning of Canada’s rise to become a winter-games powerhouse, and Calgary is at the centre of that success, with world-class training facilities at Canada Olympic Park, the University of Calgary and elsewhere.
Tourists driving into Calgary get the wrong idea: the shiny new suburbs on the outskirts don’t even hint at the richly diverse neighbourhoods we enjoy. Calgary’s oldest community, Inglewood, reaches back to the 1875 construction of Fort Calgary. And the city’s richest environmental attractions, like the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, surround its historic brick buildings. Once the wilderness tour leaves you breathless, hit everyone’s favourite firehall-turned-pub, The Hose & Hound, for a burger under the watchful eye of the ceramic Dalmatian. For a romp through bohemia, visit Kensington, to lounge outside the Roasterie, enjoy a quiet pint at the Kensington Pub (followed by a late-night treat at Shawarma King) or stroll along the Bow River. There are many wonderful inner-city communities to enjoy, but one neighbourhood sticks out as an intersection of urban living, small-town convenience and style — 17th Avenue. Whether you’re looking for spa treatments, hard-to-find books, specialty music, designer lingerie, or high-quality printing, it’s there — and if the barrage of boutiques, bars and bistros overwhelms, you can always take a load off in Tomkins Park. And Calgary is expanding, giving us neighbourhood revitalizations and new communities to discover every day. Swerve off 17th for a stroll down 4th Street. Take in Marda Loop and the Beltline, and keep an eye on the East Village.
Reasons to fall in love with Calgary