The Calgary Tower, located at 101 - 9th Avenue SW, is a historic landmark located near the CTCC and official hotels. Officially opened June 30th 1968, the Tower has become the City of Calgary's most famous and identifiable physical landmark. One of the first Towers of its kind, the Calgary Tower offers the best view in Calgary and is a must-see on any tourist's itinerary.
The glass floor is 36 feet long and more than four feet wide, the glass panes that make up the floor can each hold the weight of a couple Hippos! With only a glass wall in front, you will be treated to the unusual experience of literally being suspended in mid-air. And don't forget to check out the optical illusion as the shaft on the Tower looks as though it bends away from you.
Calgary, and the surrounding area, has a moderate four-season climate, with large variations in temperature between seasons and from one locale to another. Alberta has more hours of sunshine in a year than any other province in Canada and Calgary is known for its blue skies. A unique phenomenon called a Chinook wind can raise temperatures more than 20 degrees in one day, turning winter days into spring. A strong wind and an arch of clouds form over the mountains, heralding the Chinook.
According to Environment Canada, Calgary is typically dry with the largest amount of rainfall during the spring months. Although the mountain areas receive significant amounts of snow in the winter, Calgary often receives only a very moderate snowfall.
The average temperature in September is 11o C /52o F. Because the weather in the autumn can be unpredictable it’s a good idea to bring a warm jacket and clothing that can be layered.
Currency and banking
Canadian dollars and cents form the monetary system in Canada. Although the operators of many retail outlets, restaurants and other venues may accept American money, visitors should exchange their travelers checks or cash for Canadian currency.
The dining scene promises something for everyone — young children to grandparents will be rewarded with the creations of Calgary's top chefs with everything from Thai, Indian and Vietnamese to Alberta's famous beef.
Calgary Zoo, Botanical Garden and Prehistoric Park (2–4 hrs) Unique interactive exhibits put you close to the animals and birds of Canada and the world. Visit the Canadian Wilds exhibit, Destination Africa and check out the life-size dinosaur models in the park.
Telus World of Science (1–2 hours) Push, pull, open, look, talk and listen in an exciting hands-on science playground that features one of North America's newest and best multi-media theatres.
Grain Academy Museum (1–2 hours) Learn about the grain industry at this interpretive centre. Includes model train and elevator displays, grain varieties, educational films and artifacts.
Spruce Meadows (2–4 hours) An internationally renowned equestrian facility hosting five major show-jumping championships a year — The National, Canada One, North American, Masters and Continental. Open year-round to visitors.
Shop to your heart's content — as the only province in Canada without a provincial sales tax, Calgary is a shopping haven for all ages. Malls, boutique areas, trendy neighborhoods and specialty shops are found in every quadrant of the city. Downtown shops are connected with Calgary's Plus 15 system — an indoor walkway allowing you to stay indoors throughout the downtown core.
Chinook Centre — One of Calgary's largest shopping centers with more than 200 stores and services. The Bay, Sears, Zellers, Famous Players Paramount Theatre, 3D IMAX.
Market Mall — With 229 stores, Market Mall is Calgary's largest shopping centre. Recent renovations totaling $90 million dollars make Market Mall the destination for all your fashion and lifestyle needs. Located in the heart of northwest Calgary, Market Mall is a bright, open and friendly shopping centre featuring over 200 shops and services.
Willow Park Village — Walk-about outdoor mall with more than 60 merchants. Fashion, western, accessories, home décor, leisure, beauty, restaurants.
Explore downtown Calgary
There is no better introduction to Calgary than to explore its vibrant downtown core. Sandstone buildings created from local stone still grace the pedestrian-focused Stephen Avenue Walk, the most intact turn-of-the-century commercial streetscape west of Montreal. But peek inside those elegantly faced buildings, and it’s all about the energy of the present — from glassblowing in a local art studio to cuisine based on the freshest of local ingredients and cooked to perfection.
Dining, music, theatre, shopping and sightseeing, it’s all in downtown Calgary — in walking distance along pedestrian friendly sidewalks. In case of inclement weather (the city is one of the sunniest in Canada, but it does happen), Plus 15 overhead skywalks thread through the downtown core in a network that keeps pedestrians warm and dry. And the light rail transit, known as the CTrain, is free of charge in the downtown core, making it convenient to hop on board.
Start with a stroll
Eighth Avenue, also known as Stephen Avenue Walk, offers fashion-forward shopping, dining (from bistros to patios), art galleries galore and marvelous museums — in short, more than 1,000 shops and facilities. But it’s also a National Historic District, so be sure to look up at the second and third stories of the buildings to see the architectural details that make this area so unique.
Using sandstone as a building material became popular after a devastating fire in 1886 wiped out most of the wooden structures on the city’s main street. Today, many efforts have been made to preserve the original structures with some interiors revealing exposed brick and sandstone.
To see what’s shaped Calgary through the years, start with its landscape. Our iconic Calgary Tower provides a 360-degree view of the city and its setting, from the prairies that roll out in fields of grain to the foothills that rise up to become the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The Tower, which celebrated its 40th birthday in 2008, reveals the two rivers that run through the city: the Elbow and the Bow (home to some of the world’s best fly fishing), along with key locations such as Fort Calgary on the banks of the Bow near downtown, where the North West Mounted Police built their fort and founded Calgary.
Right across from the Calgary Tower is the Glenbow Museum — one of the largest museums in Canada. A visit to the Glenbow offers a glimpse into how different cultures have put Calgary’s geography to work, from the Aboriginal peoples whose presence here dates back some 10,000 years to the eras of exploration and settlement. It all leads to those individuals who’ve made Calgary and Alberta what it is today. These are our Mavericks, leading lights who did things their own way, and who are showcased in the museum’s newest permanent exhibition. One of the city’s premier meeting and convention sites is also located here: the TELUS Convention Centre, offering world-class meeting facilities with a distinctly environmentally friendly hue.
Further along Stephen Avenue Walk, shopping and dining opportunities abound. These include the upscale fashion finds of The Core at the Calgary Eaton Centre/TD Square. From Banker’s Hall to the six-floor Bay Downtown, many flagship stores can be found. Along the way, take time to indulge in people-watching from the restaurant patios, or duck into the buildings for a quick pick-me-up or a leisurely breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sports fans shouldn’t miss Flames Central, with its big-screen televisions and marquis lighting system, all in a recently restored historic building.
At the eastern end of Stephen Avenue Walk, where the deep blue glass of Calgary’s Municipal Building reflects our skies to great effect, is Olympic Plaza. Here, where the athletes were presented with their medals during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, a park features a pool and fountain in summer and a skating rink in winter. But that’s not all: it also anchors the Olympic Plaza Cultural District, home to theatres, art and more.