Calgary, known to many as the gateway to the Rockies, has more than its fair share of popular tourist spots.
From the Calgary Tower to the Stampede grounds, there's no shortage of mainstream attractions. But have you ever wondered what lies just off the beaten path? What treasures and experiences await when you step just a little further into the heart of the city?
Just like flipping the pages of a gripping novel, there's a world of hidden gem attractions in Calgary that are just waiting to be explored.
Dive deep with us as we uncover the local favourites and lesser-known Calgary attractions that paint a vibrant picture of a city gleaming with surprises.
Use our quick navigation guide below to jump to any point of our blog on The Best Hidden Gems in Calgary:
- Calgary’s Untapped Charm
- Sips, Bites, and Delights
- Big Rock Brewery
- The Chocolate Lab
- Nature's Retreat in the Urban Jungle
- Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre
- Panorama Hills Coulee and Ponds
- Reader Rock Garden
- Carburn Park
- Pedego Electric Bikes Calgary
- Weaselhead Flats
- Artistic and Cultural Explorations
- Chinatown Mural Alley
- +15 Walkway in Downtown
- Esker Foundation
- Lougheed House National and Provincial Historic Site
- Secret Heritage Trail
- Unique Spots Off the Beaten Path
- The New Central Library
- Udderly Art Pasture
- Ready to Embrace the Uncharted?
- We are experts when it comes to Calgary…
Calgary's beer scene is expansive and varied, but if you're looking for authenticity, then Big Rock Brewery takes the pint glass.
Established in the 1980s, this craft brewery has been serving up delicious beers for decades. Tucked away from the typical hustle and bustle, it offers tours that not only showcase the beer-making process but also dive deep into the tales of hops, barley, and the passionate folks behind the brews.
What's better than understanding the intricacies of beer making? Sampling them, of course! At Big Rock, every story is paired with a delightful sip. Visit Big Rock Brewery.
For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to The Chocolate Lab is nothing short of a dreamy experience.
Beyond the mouth-watering truffles and bonbons lies an art form that is crafted with precision, care, and a sprinkle of creativity. It's not just a treat for the palate but a feast for the eyes. Every piece of chocolate is a tiny canvas showcasing a world of flavours, from the classic to the daringly innovative.
Ready to tantalize your taste buds? The Chocolate Lab promises a delectable journey you won't forget. Explore The Chocolate Lab's creations.
When the urban hum becomes overwhelming, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary offers a serene escape. Spanning 36 hectares, this peaceful haven is home to over 270 species of birds, making it a bird-watcher's dream.
But even if you're not an avian enthusiast, the trails, views, and tranquillity make it a must-visit. From migratory flocks to resident songbirds, the melodies here compose a natural symphony that's a refreshing change from city sounds.
Plus, the Nature Centre provides educational programs for those keen on enhancing their understanding of Calgary's biodiversity.
Hidden amid Calgary's suburban sprawl is the Panorama Hills Coulee and Ponds. A tapestry of rolling hills, wetlands, and native plants, it's a favourite among locals for evening strolls and morning jogs.
The landscape changes with the seasons, offering visitors a new view each time. From the golden hues of autumn to the frozen ponds in winter, this spot showcases nature's artistry in full swing. And if you're lucky, you might even spot a deer grazing in the distance!
A stone's throw away from Calgary's bustling downtown is the Reader Rock Garden, a historic garden that's been a part of the city's fabric since the early 20th century.
Not just any garden, it's a multi-tiered wonderland of flora, meticulously designed and curated over the years. Each section tells a story, showcasing plants from various parts of the world. It's a botanist's delight and an urban dweller's escape.
The café on site offers a delightful high tea experience, making it the perfect ending to a leisurely walk.
Nestled alongside the Bow River, Carburn Park offers a vast expanse of green and blue. With three large ponds and numerous native wildlife species, it's a lesser-known Calgary attraction that feels like a step into the wild.
Kayaking, picnicking, or just sitting by the water's edge––there’s a slice of nature for everyone here. The views of downtown from the park, set against its natural setting, are a reminder of Calgary's harmonious blend of urban and wild.
Sometimes, the best way to explore a city's hidden gem attractions in Calgary is not on foot, but on two wheels––and with a little electric boost!
Pedego Electric Bikes offers a unique way to traverse the city, allowing you to cover more ground and uncover even more secrets of Calgary. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or someone looking for a breezy ride, these bikes offer the ideal balance.
While you're cruising, don't forget to hop onto Calgary's extensive bike trail system, a lesser-known attraction that weaves through the city's most picturesque spots. Rent a Pedego bike and hit the trail.
Where the Elbow River flows into the Glenmore Reservoir lies Weaselhead Flats, a natural environment park that offers a rich biodiversity unlike any other in Calgary.
This sprawling natural space is a convergence of forests, wetlands, and river habitats, providing a sanctuary for countless species of wildlife.
For those seeking solitude, the dense forests and quiet trails provide a serene retreat. For avid birdwatchers, this hidden gem attraction in Calgary is a paradise, with everything from the elusive barred owl to the striking red-tailed hawk calling it home.
Who said alleys are just for shortcuts? Calgary's Chinatown is home to a vibrant Mural Alley that tells tales of culture, history, and community.
Each painting, each stroke is a testament to the city's rich multicultural fabric. As you wander through, you'll find yourself on a visual journey, from tales of ancient dynasties to stories of immigrant resilience.
It's more than art…it’s a vibrant history lesson etched on walls. Discover the stories of Chinatown Mural Alley.
Have you ever imagined walking in an urban jungle, 15 feet above the ground? The +15 Walkway in Downtown Calgary offers just that.
Spanning over 18 kilometres, this unique skywalk system connects buildings, making it a godsend during chilly Calgary winters. But it's not just functional, the walkway is dotted with art installations, boutique shops, and eateries.
So, while you're escaping the cold, you're also stumbling upon another hidden gem attraction in Calgary, full of surprises at every turn!
In the realm of contemporary art, the Esker Foundation stands tall. Literally. Housed in the stunning Atlantic Avenue Art Block, this gallery showcases thought-provoking exhibitions that challenge conventions and invite reflection.
What sets it apart? Not only is it one of Canada's largest privately-funded contemporary art galleries, but it's also free to the public. Every season brings a new roster of national and international artists, ensuring that the discourse is always fresh and ever-evolving. Step into the world of contemporary art at Esker Foundation.
Step back in time at the Lougheed House, a sandstone prairie mansion that stands as a testament to Calgary's early days.
This Victorian-era gem, built in 1891, offers a glimpse into the life and times of Senator James Lougheed and his family. With its meticulously preserved interiors, beautiful gardens, and a museum that tells tales of Calgary's past, it's a journey through time.
Beyond history, the house hosts various cultural events, from art exhibitions to theatrical performances, making it a dynamic space that bridges the old with the new. Embark on a historic journey at Lougheed House.
Ever heard of a trail that's not in forests or mountains but right in the heart of a bustling city? Calgary's Secret Heritage Trail is a fascinating urban trail that takes you through historic buildings, markers, and sites, each narrating tales of the past.
It's self-guided, so you can wander and explore at your own pace, uncovering stories and lesser-known Calgary attractions that even some locals aren't aware of.
While libraries might not be on every traveller's list, The New Central Library in Calgary is an exception and truly a marvel in modern architecture.
With its striking design, the library is more than just a repository of books. It's a community hub, a place of learning, and an architectural gem all rolled into one. The interiors, flooded with natural light, provide cozy nooks for readers and curious minds alike.
But beyond books, the library hosts a plethora of events, workshops, and interactive sessions, making it a pulsating heart in Calgary's urban landscape. Dive into a world of knowledge at The New Central Library.
Yes, you read that right! Calgary, in its quirky spirit, once embarked on a public art project that saw the city dotted with colourful, artistically painted cow statues.
Though the original project ended years ago, several of these vibrant bovines still graze the city, especially in the Udderly Art Pasture. It's a fun, photogenic spot that's sure to bring a smile to your face and, perhaps, a few playful photos for your feed.
Calgary, often overshadowed by its towering mountains and shimmering lakes, holds an array of treasures waiting to be uncovered.
As we've journeyed through these hidden gem attractions in Calgary, it's clear that the city's beauty isn't just skin-deep.
From its serene natural spots to the pulsating heart of its urban jungle, from tales etched on walls to flavours that dance on the tongue, Calgary reveals its magic layer by layer.
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