Breathtaking expanses of big sky, prairie grass, snow-capped Rockies in the distance - it's no wonder Calgary, and the land surrounding it, has become a favorite with Hollywood filmmakers hoping to recreate the Old West.
And just like a movie set, Calgary has more than one 'look’. Travel into town and you'll see slick streets lined with office towers. The city is young and modern and manages to fuse Old West clichés of cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats with hip boutiques, swanky restaurants, high heels and business suits. Only got a few days in the city? Take some time to see both its faces.
Day 1: Olympic Gold
Calgary hosted the 15th Winter Olympics in 1988, a first for Canada. At Canada Olympic Park you can see the 70m and 90m ski jumps - from the top you realize how crazy those guys are - and the concrete bobsled and luge runs. The Olympic Hall of Fame has three floors of exhibits honoring athletic achievements, including an exhibit entitled 'Blood, Sweat and Cheers - a tribute to Canada's 2002 Olympic success.' Try the simulators that re-create the sensation of bobsledding and skiing.
Day 2: Wild Things
Calgary Zoo not only has close to a thousand kinds of animals, but a dinosaur park (yes, they’re replicas). Fish Creek Provincial Park offers the chance to get away from it all on hiking trails in an enormous mid-city wilderness, or you can rest easy in the tranquillity of Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. If you really want to get out into the wild places, try hooking a GyPSy guide into your car for a spin through the stunning landscapes of Western Canada. You do the driving, it does the commentary!
Day 3: Hitting the High Life
Calgary is shaking off its redneck ‘Cowtown’ image and showing off how much it has to offer. Why not get up in the air to get a perspective on this up-and-coming metropolis? Take a trip up to the top of Calgary Tower to check out the mountains on the skyline, get high on adrenalin on the rides at Calaway Park or take in the view from a restaurant in one of the Mission District’s three-story houses.