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25 Fun Ideas for a Weekend Getaway Around Calgary

Updated: Mar 18

If you are looking for a spectacular weekend getaway that combines stunning natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and vibrant arts and culture, look no further than Calgary and its surrounding areas. Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, this lively city offers plenty of exciting activities for every type of traveler. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or culture lover, there is something for everyone to enjoy during your weekend escape.

Downtown Calgary

Before we hop into these 25 fun things to do, let’s talk a little bit about Calgary! Calgary is the largest city in Alberta, Canada. This city is known for its quality of life - it has previously ranked as the number one place to live in Canada, although it is one of the five most expensive cities to live in Canada. This quality of life recognition attributes to their exceptional healthcare, low crime rate, the community’s culture, and cleanliness.

Wood Fence with Red Maple Leaf Painted on and a bike in front of the fence

Another major plus about visiting Calgary is that it is one of the most economical cities to fly into in the West part of Canada from the major airports in Florida. Moreover, Google Flights is an incredible resource for finding the best flights to Calgary from your favorite airport! Check out our blog post: Mastering Google Flights: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Best Flights - it has all the details you need to learn how to use this resource to book future trips!

Now, let’s get to the fun!

Within or Near Downtown

1. Take a Ride up the Calgary Tower

Calgary Tower from below

Get a bird's-eye view of the city and its surroundings by visiting the Calgary Tower. This iconic landmark offers great views of the city, Bow River, and the distant Rocky Mountains. A unique feature of this observation deck is the glass floor section that will test your courage! There are also two restaurants within the tower: 1) Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and 2) Sky 360 Restaurant and Lounge. Sky360 is a rotational dining experience!

Calgary Tower from above in the glass section

Fun Fact - The Calgary Tower features light shows every morning before sunrise and nightly from dusk until midnight. The light shows mark national holidays, support sports teams, tie to local festivals, and raise awareness for important causes. With 132 lights, they can create over 16.5 million colors and effects, making for a stunning show!

2. Explore Downtown Calgary

Downtown Calgary

Discover the heart of the city by exploring its downtown area! Wander along the Bow River, explore trendy neighborhoods (like East Village), and immerse yourself in the urban culture. A great spot to visit in Downtown Calgary is CORE Shopping Centre. It is a lively shopping destination featuring high-end shops, dining options, and the lush indoor tropical Devonian Gardens on the upper level.

The Devonian Gardens is a reason alone to visit Downtown and CORE because it is a 3-acre indoor garden in the middle of the city that features waterfalls, trees, fishponds and an abundance of plants! The best part is that it is free to visit!

3. Indulge in Local Cuisine

BeaverTails Restaurant

Calgary is known for its vibrant food scene, offering everything from delicious steak houses to diverse international cuisine. Explore the local coffee shops and eateries to savor the flavors of Calgary. A few suggestions are Con Mi Taco, Tamarind Vietnamese Grill and Noodle House, and The Ship and Anchor.

4. Explore Art Galleries

Calgary boasts a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous art galleries showcasing local and international talent. Explore the vibrant downtown area to discover unique artworks. A good one to visit is Contemporary Calgary! They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 pm – 7 pm and Sunday from 12 pm – 5 pm.

5. Attend the Calgary Stampede

Band playing at the Calgary Stampede Parade

If your weekend getaway aligns with July, do not miss the world-famous Calgary Stampede. This annual event showcases rodeo events, live music, delicious food, and a vibrant carnival atmosphere. This event attracts about one million visitors a year and is one of the world’s largest rodeos!

This year’s Stampede has passed, but they have already announced the dates for next year’s, July 5 – 14, 2024. The Stampede is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. However, the Stampede Parade will start at 9 am on Friday, July 7.

6. Golfing Getaways

Golfing in Canada
Photo Credit: Frugal Flyer

For those who love golf, the area boasts scenic golf courses where you can tee off against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Check out Shaganappi Point Golf Course, about 10 minutes from Downtown Calgary.

7. Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Bragg Creek

Just a 45-minute drive from Calgary, Bragg Creek offers hiking trails, equestrian trails, parks, and outdoor spaces perfect for a day of nature exploration. There are also quaint shops and local restaurants to enjoy and stroll through!

One to Two Hours away from Downtown Calgary

8. Skiing and Winter Sports (West of Calgary)

Skiing in Canada

If you are visiting during the winter months, hit the slopes at Nakiska Ski Resort. This resort caters to winter sports enthusiasts with 64 trails, four chairlifts, and 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) of skiing and snowboarding slopes. Additionally, you can enjoy the convenience of an in-house bar and restaurant with live entertainment to enhance your experience.

Fun Fact - The Nakiska Ski Resort was built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

9. Wander through Canmore (West of Calgary)

Canmore, Canada

The charming town of Canmore is a hidden gem with its own unique atmosphere. It is known for its artsy vibe, local shops, and outdoor activities. Within Canmore, you will find Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, which contains Grassi Lakes Trail, a beautiful hike with a waterfall, and two turquoise blue lakes. The colors of the lake almost look like a painting – you have to see it for yourself!

10. Stroll Banff Avenue (West of Calgary)

Banff Avenue

Banff Avenue is a lively main street where you will discover various local shops, inviting restaurants, and cozy hotels. This vibrant street also hosts a collection of art galleries, museums, souvenir shops, and clothing stores. In the summer months, Banff Avenue becomes a magnet for tourists, offering an ideal setting for leisurely strolls, shopping sprees, and the enjoyment of breathtaking mountain vistas. This summer they even closed the street from vehicular traffic to make it a pedestrian-only zone.

11. Visit Banff National Park (West of Calgary)

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a must-visit location as it is only about an hour and a half away from Downtown Calgary, and it is the oldest National Park in Canada, established in 1885. You will find plenty of mountainous terrain and wildlife in this section of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In the summer, this place is fantastic for hiking and canoeing. In the winter, this place is perfect for skiing and snowboarding!

Banff National Park and people paddle boarding on the lake

12. Experience the Banff Upper Hot Springs (West of Calgary)

Within Banff National Park is Banff Upper Hot Springs, a perfect place for you to soak the mineral-rich waters and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The hot springs are open year-round, but they are especially popular in the winter as the water temperature is constantly at 40°C (104°F).

Fun Fact - Banff Upper Hot Springs are located at 1,585 meters (5200 feet) of elevation, making them the highest hot spring in Canada!

13. Marvel over Lake Minnewanka (West of Calgary)

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is a glacial lake (also) in Banff National Park – it is 21 kilometers (13 miles) long and 142 meters (466 feet) deep, making it the second-longest lake in the Canadian Rockies! There is plenty of wildlife to see at Lake Minnewanka – you may get to see bears, deer, and sheep.

The cool thing about this lake is that you can enjoy it by boat! They have a Lake Minnewanka Cruise (from May to October) and boats for rent (including motorboats) for fishing, canoeing, or kayaking.

There is plenty to do in Banff - you might as well spend an entire day or weekend here!

14. Explore Sylvan Lake (North of Calgary)

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in Alberta, making it a perfect lake for various water activities. In the summer, Sylvan Lake is a popular destination for swimming, boating, fishing, and water skiing. There are also numerous restaurants, shops, and bars on the lakeshore, making it a great place to spend a day or weekend with family and friends.

15. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Northeast of Calgary)

If you are a fan of dinosaurs, a trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a must. Located just a short drive from Calgary, this museum is known as the "Dinosaur Capital of the World" and features interactive exhibits and displays of real dinosaur fossils. Royal Tyrrell Museum has over 160,000 cataloged fossils making it one of the world's largest displays of dinosaurs and fossils.

Approximately Two Hours away from Downtown Calgary

16. Adventure through Yoho National Park (West of Calgary)

Yoho National Park features towering rock walls, waterfalls, lakes, railway tunnels, wildlife, and fossil deposits in southeastern British Columbia. Visit Emerald Lake by foot or bus to witness its beautiful turquoise water with your own eyes! Fun Fact - The second tallest waterfall in Canada is found at Yoho National Park, Takakkaw Falls!

17. Visit Lake Louise (West of Calgary)

A trip to the Canadian Rockies would not be complete without visiting the iconic Lake Louise. This turquoise gem is a haven for photographers and hikers, offering breathtaking views of mountain peaks and lush forests.

Lake Louise

Fun Fact - In the season finale of Lego Masters Season 3, one of the finalist teams (Stephen and Stephen) created a Lego build of Lake Louise. It was pretty neat, and they emphasized the turquoise water and mountain peaks in their build!

18. Unwind at Lake Agnes Tea House (West of Calgary)

Lake Agnes

Near Lake Louise is a historic tea house on Lake Agnes called Lake Agnes Tea House. To get to this tea house, embark on a 3.5-kilometer (2.17 mile) hike, with an elevation gain of 400 meters (1,300 feet). It is open from June 4 until Canadian Thanksgiving from 8 am to 5 pm. Once you get up there, treat yourself to a delightful cup of tea and homemade treats while taking in the stunning alpine scenery. On the menu, there are over 100 types of loose-leaf teas, coffee, hot chocolate, sandwiches, soups, tea biscuits, and some desserts!

19. Overnight Stay at Mount Engadine Lodge (Southwest of Calgary)

A room in  Mount Engadine Lodge

For a more remote experience, consider an overnight stay at Mount Engadine Lodge, surrounded by stunning mountain views and lush forests. Your nightly rate to this lodge includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner! It is important to note that Mount Engadine Lodge is only accessible by hiking or biking as it cannot be reached by car. This feat surely adds to the sense of adventure.

Over Two and a Half Hours away from Downtown Calgary

20. Explore Dinosaur Provincial Park (East of Calgary)

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Dinosaur Provincial Park is known for being one of the richest dinosaur fossil sites in the world, with over 50 dinosaur species discovered! The park includes a campground, picnic area, walking trails, and a visitor center with a museum, theater, and gift shop. There are also plenty of guided tours and hikes that you can partake in – purchase your tickets in advance for a guaranteed spot.

21. Discover Waterton Lakes National Park (South of Calgary)

Waterton Lakes National Park

At the edge of the Canadian/American border is Waterton Lakes National Park offering breathtaking landscapes, hiking trails, and spectacular views of the Rockies. Due to its location, this park has a unique blend of prairie and mountain ecosystems. Moreover, visit the newly built Parks Canada Visitor Center for a map of the area and to check out their interactive exhibits.

22. Explore Crowsnest Pass (South of Calgary)

Crowsnest Mountain

Crowsnest Pass is a mountain pass in the Canadian Rockies - known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and charming communities. This pass is 1,358 meters (4,455 feet) above sea level. It is named after Crowsnest Mountain and encompasses several small towns, including Blairmore and Coleman. Historically, it was an important transportation route through the Rocky Mountains, and today it offers a range of outdoor activities, historical sites, and scenic vistas for visitors to enjoy.

Fun Fact - The Crowsnest Pass was the site of a train robbery in 1920.

23. Experience the Icefields Parkway (Northwest of Calgary)

Glacier Sky Walk

Considered one of the most scenic drives in North America, the Icefields Parkway offers unparalleled views of glaciers, waterfalls, and pristine wilderness as you journey between Jasper and Banff. A few hot spots to visit on this journey are Bow Lake, Saskatchewan River Crossing, and Glacier Sky Walk.

24. Marvel at Abraham Lake (Northwest of Calgary)

Abraham Lake

In the winter, visit Abraham Lake to witness its famous frozen bubbles, creating a unique and mesmerizing natural phenomenon. The reason for these frozen bubbles is the methane gas that comes out when organic matter decomposes at the bottom of the lake.

Fun Fact - Abraham Lake is an artificial lake and Alberta's largest reservoir.

25. Visit the West Edmonton Mall (North of Calgary)

Aquarium Fish Tank with lots of neon colors

The West Edmonton Mall is a shopper's paradise with over 800 stores and over 100 dining options. The unique part about this mall is all the attractions inside. These include an NHL-sized ice rink, a bowling alley, a 9-screen movie theater, a petting zoo, an ice palace, and an aquarium. The best attraction at this mall is its indoor waterpark with 17 waterslides and a few ziplines!

Interested in visiting another part of Canada?

A view of downtown Toronto from one of the Toronto Islands. There is also text on the image that reads: 19 Best Things To Do as a Solo Traveler in Toronto

It's Time for a Weekend Adventure!

Moraine Lake

Calgary and its surrounding areas offer an unforgettable weekend getaway. With its proximity to national parks, historic sites, and captivating landscapes, this dynamic city serves as an excellent base for exploring the wonders of the Canadian Rockies. Whether you are seeking outdoor thrills, cultural experiences, or a relaxing retreat, Calgary has it all!

Canadian Flag in the center with the Rocky Mountains in the background

Have you been to any of these places before? If so, let us know in the comments below - we would love to hear about your experience! If you have not gone, are they on your bucket list of places to visit now? Let us know in the comments below, and share this article with the person or people you want to go with! Either way, SUBSCRIBE below to learn about other places you should add to your "To Visit" List! Ready? Okay, vamos. Time to have fun!

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* This article is not sponsored by any of the businesses or locations mentioned above or their affiliates. *
** Images are from Unsplash. Frugal Flyer Inc. reached out to DLT! LLC asking to be linked. However, DLT! LLC is not affiliated with Frugal Flyer Inc. **


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