The luxuriously appointed, privately owned “Rocky Mountaineer” runs between Calgary (or Jasper) and Vancouver, cutting westward on the historic Canadian Pacific line through the soaring mountain wall of the Rockies. At Canmore, providing the weather is good, there is a fine view of the snow-capped “Three Sisters.” Soon afterwards, the popular winter resort of Banff is reached. Other highlights on this mountainous section (where peaks top 3,600 meters) include Lake Louise, Kicking Horse Pass, and Rogers Pass.
Where to Stay in Calgary:
Mid-Range Hotels: Right downtown, just a short walk from Prince’s Island Park in the Bow River and offering large suites at an affordable price is the upscale International Hotel. The award-winning, boutique Hotel Arts, an easy stroll from the Calgary Tower, has custom contemporary décor in all the rooms. South of downtown, but very close to Fish Creek Provincial Park, is the Wingate by Wyndham Calgary. With an indoor pool and waterslide, this hotel is a good choice for families.
More than 1000 animals from around the world, many in enclosures simulating their natural habitats, make Calgary’s zoo one of the top rated in North America. The zoo’s well-regarded conservation team study, reintroduce and protect endangered animals in Canada. Besides the animals, the zoo has a Botanical Garden, with changing garden displays, a tropical rainforest, a good butterfly enclosure and the 6½-hectare Prehistoric Park, featuring fossil displays and life-size dinosaur replicas in natural settings. Picnic areas, concessions and cafes dot the zoo. During winter, when neither you nor the animals will care to linger outdoors, the admission price is reduced. To get here, take the C-Train east to the Zoo stop.
Dig Up Some History at The Royal Tyrrell Museum
Create a cast of a real fossil, try your hand at digging in a quarry, or stand back and take in one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur skeletons. Discover the fascinating history of life on planet Earth at the Royal Tyrrell Museum
The iconic Calgary Tower opened in 1968 and is a staggering 191 meters high (about 627 feet). But don’t worry, you won’t have to climb its 762 steps – two 25-passenger, high-speed elevators soar to the top in 62 seconds. Once there, stand on the glass floor observation terrace for a bird’s eye view of the Rocky Mountains and iconic Calgary landmarks. An audio guide is available in 7 different languages (English, French, Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and German) and will explain interesting trivia about some of the notable art and architecture in your view. Check out the visitor information centre and souvenir shop at the tower’s base, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on the second floor, and revolving restaurant Sky 360 at the top, which makes a full rotation every 45-60 minutes, allowing you a complete panoramic view of the city as you dine. Admission: general (ages 13-64) $18, senior $16, child (4-12) $9, children three and under are admitted free. www.calgarytower.com
TELUS Spark, Calgary’s Science Centre
The science centre houses five exhibit galleries, movies, planetarium shows in Calgary’s only HD Digital Dome Theatre, interactive activities in the Creative Kids Museum, live science demonstrations, and more. The new Brainasium outdoor park features an interactive play area where children learn momentum and teamwork on the five ton spinning rock, explore simple physics on the teeter-totter built for six, slide their hands along the musical railing and climb the netting tower to the 63 foot slide-the largest stainless steel slide in Canada. Adults and children alike will have fun visiting travelling exhibitions and building structures with real tools at the Open Studio Drop-In Workshops. The second Thursday night of every month is Adults Only Night, where the venue is open only to adults to enjoy unique programming, an open bar, workshops and presentations, and kid-free play. Admission: adult $19.95, senior $17.95, youth (13-17) $15.95, child (3-12) $12.95, children three and under are admitted free. www.sparkscience.ca
The former home of senator James Lougheed and his family is now a public heritage centre that features permanent and temporary art and historic exhibits, and is a designated National and Provincial Historic Site. Explore this 1891 Victorian sandstone mansion on your own or with an interpreter for a guided tour. Relax in the Beaulieu Gardens, pick up an antique souvenir in the Lougheed House Museum Shop, or go for tea and a light meal in The Restaurant at Lougheed House. Admission: adult $8.50, seniors and students $6.50, child (6-12) $5, children under six are admitted free. www.lougheedhouse.com
The Hangar Flight Museum
Formerly known to locals as the Aerospace Museum of Calgary, The Hangar Flight Museum was originally used as a drill hall for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in 1941. The space later turned into the first aviation museum in Calgary. Visit over 20 exhibits that commemorate Canadian flight history, from the first jet combat aircraft to the world’s first certified helicopter. The Hangar Movie Nights feature aerospace-themed films the second Thursday of each month from October to May. Admission: adult $12, seniors (65+) and students (12-17) $8, children (age 3-11) $6, toddlers age 2 and under are admitted free. www.thehangarmuseum.ca
The community-based Grasby Art Studio, located in the Northwest, offers more than just art supplies – they also teach art classes and paint night events, as well as host several art shows a year. Their drop-in open studio offers instructed art classes from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Whether you’re a newbie, novice, or an advanced artist, choose your medium and work closely with an art connoisseur. All students learn a five-step drawing strategy and the six fundamental principles for professional art production. $16/hour includes instruction and supplies for participation in open studio. www.grasbyartstudio.com
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