Calgary, Alberta, is the nation’s youngest city—and so it’s imbued with a fresh energy, and more entrepreneurial spirit than ever as the local economy increasingly diversifies beyond oil. With this change in industry is coming a change in character: “We’re shifting from a Houston, Texas vibe to an Austin one,” as one local put it. A bid to become known as Canada’s “music city” and a burgeoning craft beer scene making the malty most of local wheat—not to mention a thriving, and surprisingly vegetable-forward restaurant community—give credence to this stance: there’s a new sheriff in Cowtown, and the name’s innovation. Here, how to spend a weekend well in Calgary, Alberta.
Stay: Le Germain Hotel Calgary is a sleek starting point for city adventures, located across the street from the Calgary Tower and within walking distance of fresh bars and restaurants like Foreign Concept, Proof, and Ten Foot Henry (more on them later), plus it is the home of Charcut—a true steakhouse serving celebrated Alberta beef. Le Germain recently partnered with Virginie Duval of Calgary’s Define yoga school to create four online yoga classes. This “Nama-Stay” series allows for guests to start their days stretching on a provided Lululemon mat. For more passive relaxation, the on-site R&R Wellness Spa offers massages, body treatments, and mani-pedis.
Explore: Familiarize yourself with the city by taking a ride, courtesy of Nomad Gear Rentals, who happily bring bikes and helmets to your hotel (they also offer tours). Follow the river towards the Inglewood neighbourhood—stopping for brunch at Deane House, a charming historic building-turned bistro, or Vélo Café (very cute, and right off the bike path) along the way. Once in the ‘hood, peruse shopping options like the Uncommons (stocking Canadian kitsch and local clothing) and Plant, a quirky gardening shop with plenty to offer. You still have time to leave the city in the afternoon—an hour’s drive from downtown, find the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, where rescued wild pups traipse through fenced enclaves and lick their chops for treats. Further still is Canmore, when casual hikers will be rewarded with a clear blue alpine pool atop the easy Grassi Lake Trail.
Dine and drink: Sidewalk Citizen Bakery was made for breakfasts, lunches, and pastry breaks—make popping into one of their two locations for a coconut tapioca chia seed pudding, a mango, mint, and white chocolate Danish, or a hearty sandwich a priority. Pan-Asian takes centre stage at Foreign Concept (try the creamy-crisp miso baked sweet potato with cheese), while it’s all about vegetables at Ten Foot Henry (and the butterscotch pudding for dessert is divine). Proof serves ultra-innovative cocktails a stone’s throw away—their menu always changes, but no matter what they’re serving you’re in for a treat. Prefer a beer? Trolley 5 serves a juicy cranberry witbier not to miss in a sporty-sleek atmosphere. Cold Garden Beverage Company represents the city’s new wave beer scene—using local wheat to make malty brews like a vanilla-cappuccino porter and “Cakeface” Marzen style lager with notes evoking, yes, birthday cake, all served in room festooned with pool noodles and fake palm trees. It’s all very Portland.
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