A Skier and Snowboarder’s Guide to Calgary

Skiers and Snowboarders at WinSport
Skiers and Snowboarders at WinSport
Make Calgary Part of Your Rockies Getaway

A Skier and Snowboarder’s Guide to Calgary

After a day in Banff, après ski with Texas-style BBQ and craft whiskey in Calgary

You’ve decided to make the trip to ski the iconic Canadian Rockies! You’ll experience unbelievable terrain, breathtaking views, and our world-class mountain life. I know you’ll be keen to get out there, but when you land at Calgary’s International Airport, plan to take a couple of days to experience our city before and after you hit the slopes.

As a skier and outdoor enthusiast, here are some of my must-visit places, and how I would make the most of a day or two in Calgary before or after a ski or snowboard adventure.


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Gear Up

You might find Canadian weather to be quite different than what you expected! Yes, our winters can be cold, but you may also encounter a phenomenon called a Chinook – a warm wind that brings mild temperatures to the city, and often lots of snow to the mountains. We have a saying in Canada – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation.”

If you’re not quite Rocky Mountain weather ready, head downtown to Stephen Avenue, a pedestrian walk lined with historical sandstone buildings through the core of the city. Swing in to Patagonia Calgary – their down jackets are so versatile, and they have a great selection of quality outdoor wear. Close by, Hudson’s Bay Downtown is Canada’s oldest department store – the company has been around since 1670! Stock up on cozy plaids, Canada flag hoodies and warm toques.

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Gear up at Patagonia Calgary on 17th Avenue.

Gear up at Patagonia Calgary on 17th Avenue.

 

 

Chow Down

Before or after a visit to the slopes or a day in the snow, here are some of my favourite spots for tasty, fresh, fill-you-up food.

Fresh and hearty comfort food goes hand-in-hand with outdoor winter adventures. Calgary has no shortage of incredible restaurants and cafés, and I love seeing what’s new on the scene, like the cool vibe at Bridgette Bar or trying exotic Indian fare at Calcutta Cricket Club.

The hardest part about visiting Alforno Bakery and Café is deciding what to try. Owned by Calgary’s iconic Teatro Group, they focus on house-made pastries and bread, breakfasts, pizza, sandwiches, espresso drinks, wine, and beer. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, Alforno is a hub of activity all day! I like to head upstairs and snag a cozy seat in front of their fireplace.

Love BBQ? Head to the north side of the Bow River to Kensington, a buzzing neighbourhood filled with great shopping, eating, and drinking. At its heart, Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey, offers a true-Texas style BBQ and a bar menu that features more than 100 hand-crafted whiskey cocktails. My go-to indulgence meal includes pulled pork, brisket, coleslaw and an order of deep fried pickles and Hush Puppies on the side. Ask the bartender for a traditional Old-Fashioned or Whiskey Sour – that will warm you up!

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Get into the cool vibe at Bridgette Bar in Calgary.

Get into the cool vibe at Bridgette Bar in Calgary.

Chow down on delicious Indian fare at Calcutta Cricket Club in Calgary.

Chow down on delicious Indian fare at Calcutta Cricket Club in Calgary.

 

Drink

The micro-brewery and cocktail scene has been growing like crazy in Calgary, with lots of great places to taste a local brew or spirit. Venture to a series of amazing breweries in Inglewood/Ramsay neighbourhood, and sample flights from microbreweries like Ol' Beautiful, The Dandy Brewing Company and Cold Garden.

For a hand-crafted cocktail, head to the 1st Street SW area and discover Proof and Shelter. At Proof, check out cocktails like the Mountain Time, In the Rafters, or Ending Bitter. Just up the street (look for the dark curtains), Shelter has a speakeasy, bunker feel, with pre-prohibition style libations and a rotating seasonal cocktail list.

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Get a flight of tasters delivered on a ski at Cold Garden (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Davey Gravey).

Get a flight of tasters delivered on a ski at Cold Garden (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Davey Gravey).

Play

It’s not a visit to Canada until you either lace up some skates or head to a game – the good old hockey game! As Canadians, we love hockey! Check the schedule to see one of the home teams are playing – the NHL’s Calgary Flames and the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen are both based in the Scotiabank Saddledome. There’s free skating at rinks throughout the whole city, including a large rink (and on-site skate rentals) open from mid-November to mid-March in the city centre at Olympic Plaza.

Warm up your legs for the Rockies with a visit to WinSport – a legacy facility from Calgary’s 1988 Olympic Winter Games. They offer day and night skiing and a tube park. The facility is located within the city, making it easy to get in a few turns while still having time to discover attractions in the city.

Another great spot is The Rec Room, a 47,000 square foot eats and entertainment hot spot close to the airport, complete with virtual reality, arcade games, a climbing wall, ping pong and more.

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Play in the city at WinSport (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/A.V. Wakefield).

Play in the city at WinSport (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/A.V. Wakefield).

 

Pamper Yourself

A few long days of skiing and snowboarding in champagne powder can take its toll on my muscles and joints. Either before I head out or once I’m back, I love to indulge in a great pedicure, massage or spa therapy to stay in tip-top ski shape. Maybe it’s the quiet solitude or the attentive staff, but from the moment I walk in to the Stillwater Spa at Hyatt Regency Calgary, I instantly relax. Indulge in a whirlpool soak, use the steam room, or relax in the lounge before and after your treatment. 

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Pamper yourself at the Stillwater Spa in Calgary.

Pamper yourself at the Stillwater Spa in Calgary.

 

 

Stay

In a great location and close to neighbourhoods like 1st Street, 17th Avenue, and Stephen Avenue, Hotel Arts is a whimsical, boutique hotel with 185 guestrooms and a bistro and cocktail bar onsite. I love that it’s close to amenities like hot yoga, restaurants, and walkable to almost all of Calgary’s downtown attractions. 

I hope you fall in love with the Canadian Rockies, as well as my hometown that sits at their doorstep. You’ll soon see why our friendly city is a must-visit highlight to and from your mountain escape.

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Warm up by the fire at Hotel Arts in Calgary.

Warm up by the fire at Hotel Arts in Calgary.

By
Paula Worthington

Paula grew up in Calgary, spending countless weekends on the slopes of Alberta’s ski resorts. She’s a Calgary entrepreneur who loves running her business in the city, but often makes quick escapes to the mountains to ski, showshoe, hike and play!