A popular start or ending point for adventures and excursions in the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a city that deserves more than an overnight stopover. Neither one of us is much of a city slicker but we believe Calgary to be on the more approachable side.

Maybe it is because we never feel too far from nature, with the Bow River flowing right through the heart of the city and incredible backdrop that is the Rockies. Or perhaps it is that we’ve found plenty of fun things to do in Calgary for adults, something we look for in every city. This post will showcase the latter, to help you too enjoy the best of Calgary. 

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase after clicking one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Calgary skyline of high rises and red tower over trees
Calgary skyline
Old brick St Louis Hotel next to modern buildings in downtown Calgary
St Louis Hotel in downtown Calgary
City park with high rise buildings and crane behind
Calgary downtown

Fun Things to Do in Calgary for Adults

This list is by no means exhaustive; there are undoubtedly dozens more fun things to do in Calgary for adults. These are, however, the activities we have enjoyed the most, discovered during multiple visits to Calgary in three different seasons.

We’ve spent the most time in Calgary during summer, so I admit that this list is also biased to that. Some of these activities can be done throughout the year, however. 

As well as 15 things to do in Calgary for adults, I’ve also included 8 more bonus activities within three hours drive of the city. The flat, prairie expanse surrounding Alberta does make it incredibly easy to get anywhere fast!

Fireworks display at Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede has nightly fireworks
Chairlift with wildflowers in foreground at Calgary Olympic Park
WinSport chairlift at Calgary Olympic Park

WinSport bobsleigh, Skyline Luge and zipline

With three uniquely amazing activities at one location, WinSport should be near the top of your list when deciding on things to do in Calgary for adults. My top recommendation at WinSport is definitely the Skyline Luge karting, primarily for how interactive AND budget friendly the experience it is. $25 gets you three rides up the chairlift and down the karting track. 

Calgary’s bobsleigh was made famous by Team Jamaica during the 1998 Winter Olympics. You, too, can fly down the track at up to 80km/h in summer. For even more thrills, check out the WinSport’s zipline. It’s the fastest in North America starts from the top of the Olympic ski jump tower. 

Winter activities at WinSport include ice skating, hockey and the largest tube park in Western Canada. 

Green bobsleigh car on track at WinSport
WinSport summer bobsleigh racing down the track
Gemma riding go kart on Skyline Luge, WinSport
Passing the finish line on the Skyline Luge at WinSport

Calgary Tower

The Calgary Tower has been adorning the skyline since 1968. Rising above the city at 190 metres, the Calgary Tower features 360 degree panoramic views from both the observation levels and revolving restaurant. A glass floor feature enables visitors to see beyond their feet to the streets below in complete safety.

Although not the most original activity on this list of things to do in Calgary for adults, visiting the tower is an ideal way to visitors to get their bearings of the city. Local residents may also learn a thing or two from the accompanying audio guide! 

At the time of writing, the Calgary Tower is closed for lift maintenance. 

Red topped tower between high rise buildings in downtown Calgary
Calgary Tower

Axe throwing

Did you know that axe throwing is a competitive sport with leagues, federations and clubs around the world? I definitely didn’t, until visiting BATL (Backyard Axe Throwing League) in Calgary. It’s more fun than you may initially think too, with most people finding axe throwing to have a quick learning curve. 

As well as being a cardio exercise, a source of competition with friends, axe throwing is actually pretty cathartic. It’s social too, with a full menu and bar available at BATL’s facility in Calgary. 

Advance bookings are available or you can just walk-in on Friday evenings and weekend afternoons. Be sure to ask to have a go at throwing the ‘big axe’ before leaving (pictured below)! 

JR holding an axe behind head, ready to throw at target
Throwing the ‘big axe’ at BATL in Calgary

Brewery tour and tastings

Calgary’s craft brewery scene is booming (40+ breweries at last count), with the biggest concentration in the southeastern area of the city. Besides going on a self guided tour, there are also organised tours. Many of the breweries offer tours of their own facilities, usually including a tasting drink or flight. 

We checked out Minhas Micro Brewery in the northeast of Calgary. The brewery tour starts with an extensive tasting, before a behind the scenes look at the canning and brewing facility itself. For $12, we found it to be very good value, especially as were were given full size beers and sodas (and the tour sampler glass) to take home as well. 

Beyond beer, Calgary also has a number of cideries and a half a dozen distilleries. Cheers!

Outside of Minhas Micro Brewery brick building in Calgary
Minhas Micro Brewery in Calgary

Cycling beer tour with Urban Pedal Tours

To see more of Calgary’s burgeoning craft beer scene, join Urban Pedal Tours’ for a one of a kind biking adventure. As a bonus, no-one has to drive! Take a seat on the 15 person U shaped bike and pedal your way around to three local breweries, accompanied by music and an enthusiastic guide.

Moving at around 8km/h through the city, this bike adventure combines a scenic tour of Calgary with beer. Choose from three different brewery ‘n’ biking tours, all two hours in length. If your group prefers wine, consider the “Wine and Wheels” tour that includes wine tasting with a sommelier alongside local sightseeing. 

Gelato tour and tasting

For a cooler alternative to beer, consider gelato! Take a trip to Fiasco in northeast Calgary and discover the behind the scenes action of their hand crafted, small batch gelato factory. Not just satisfied in making the best quality (and most inventive) gelato they can, Fiasco wants to enrich lives in other ways too. You can find out more on the tour, which also includes a gelato tasting flight (pick your own flavours!)

For a more interactive Fiasco experience, sign up to the Gelato Academy. In this class, you get to make your very own flavour of gelato. 

Looking down on Fiasco gelato cafe, with staff working and customers eating ice cream
Behind the scenes at Fiasco Gelato

Float or walk along the Bow River

The Bow River divides Calgary into two and brings nature right into the middle of the city. There are a number of ways to enjoy the proximity of the Bow River while in Calgary, from river side patios to picnics in the riverside parks. My top two suggestions, however, would be to either take a walk along the banks of the Bow or raft right down it. 

The latter is probably the most fun and can be surprisingly easy too, with shuttles and rental rafts available from Lazy Day Raft Rentals. The Bow River is classified as Level 1 so the rafting experience is mellow, though life jackets are recommended due to the strong current. 

Reflections on the Bow River with downtown high rises in background
Bow River, Calgary

Studio Bell, Canada’s National Music Centre

Studio Bell is a place to celebrate music, both the musicians who have made it and the story of how it came to be. And you don’t have to be a music aficionado to appreciate it.

Indeed, JR and I aren’t particularly familiar with the music industry or the mechanics of music but we spent a good three hours here. We were particularly impressed to learn how many people in the Hall of Fame were Canadian and not American as we had always assumed! 

There are plenty of interactive displays to inspire your musical side, including vocal booths, instruments and audio mixers. Be sure not to miss the Kimball Theatre organ demonstration that takes place Wednesday – Sunday. This amazing organ from 1924 can imitate dozens of different instruments and was once used to accompany silent films.  

Glsss and black brick Studio Bell building in downtown Calgary
The distinctive Studio Bell building, Calgary

Calgary Stampede

It wouldn’t be quite right to talk about things to do in Calgary for adults without mentioning the Calgary Stampede in some way. This ten day extravaganza in July is, after all, one of the biggest annual events in the world.

Beyond the namesake rodeo, the Calgary Stampede has a huge range of activities for adults including live music, races, nightly fireworks, beer gardens, expo halls and more fried food than you can shake a stick at (frog legs, Oreos or giant squid anyone?)

Outside the Calgary Stampede grounds, there are free pancake breakfasts taking place in different communities every day. In the evenings, prepare to party as patios, clubs and country themed bars offer Stampede specials and keep doors open late. 

Lit up Calgary Stampede stage with dancers and big screens
Calgary Stampede evening show
Colourful teepees at Elbow River Camp at the Calgary Stampede
Elbow River Camp at the Calgary Stampede, a place visitors can experience the cultures of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai, Tsuut’ina, and Stoney Nakoda First Nations

Self guided street art tour

Calgary has a lively street art scene, something that is easily noticeable when walking around downtown. One of the most vibrant aspects are the colourful murals that cover the side of many commercial buildings. The Beltline, for example, has 11 permanent murals which depict Calgary’s cowboy roots, local indigenous culture, abstract patterns and wildlife. 

Besides murals, there are also many fascinating sculptures and other art installations scattered around the downtown area. You can find a map of some of them here. My favourite art piece has to be the so-called “drinking birds” – officially titled TRIO – located outside of the new Calgary Central Library (which is basically an art installation in itself!)

Geometric patterned building with brightly coloured art sculptures in front
Calgary Central Library with two of the ‘drinking birds’

Glenmore Reservoir

A calming place to escape from the city at any time of year, the Glenmore Reservoir is a favourite of locals. This artificial lake is located on the Elbow River and is accessible via both road and transit. 

There is a 15km loop trail around the reservoir, great for both cyclists and walkers. Best used from March to October, the route has minor elevation and beautiful views of the foothills and mountains.

Glenmore Reservoir is a good paddling and fishing destination in the summer. Canoes can be rented on site at the Calgary Canoe Club

rocky shoreline next to reservoir in Calgary, blue skies
South Glenmore Park, Calgary

iFly skydiving

If you’ve ever been curious about skydiving, iFly in Calgary offers an affordable way to try it it. iFly is an indoor skydiving experience in which you can try out the freefall experience in the safety of a wind tunnel. Each ‘flyer’ receives 1-on-1 flight instruction to float on a cushion of air that simulates freefalling at 12,000ft (3650m) in the air. 

I haven’t tried this yet myself but my friend Leigh from hikebiketravel.com did recently. She describes it as being ‘great fun’ but surprisingly tiring. So keep that in mind when planning post-iFly activities. 

Leigh flying in the iFly wind tunnel in Calgary
Leigh trying out the iFly in Calgary

ParkRun in Nose Hill Park

Calgary’s Nose Hill Park hosts a weekly Parkrun, a completely free 5km international running event. Every Saturday, thousands of people in twenty two countries across the world run a timed Parkrun for training, exercise or just for fun. Still a growing movement in Canada, Parkrun is open to everyone, no matter your pace (walkers are welcome too!)

Nose Hill Park is one of the largest urban parks in Canada (over 11 km²!) and offers a great retreat from the city. Sign up for Parkrun on the website, print your unique barcode and then meet the group at the Edgemount Boulevard parking lot at 8.50am on any Saturday. 

Bonus: 8 fun activities around Calgary perfect for adults

Three hours of driving from Calgary opens up a huge range of activities and places to visit. The famed lakes and mountains surrounding Banff are undoubtedly the number one destination for many, but it’s not the only option. 

Here are eight awesome alternative day trip destinations within three hours driving distance from Calgary. 

Kananaskis Valley hiking

For hiking views to compete with Banff National Park but without the crowds, head to the Kananaskis Valley. Yes, it can get busy on summer weekends but there’s still plenty of trails to choose from.

We loved Burstall Pass (15.5km) for its gorgeous vistas accessible via only a few short uphill sections. Tent Ridge also offers fabulous panoramas, but a little more effort is required (and no fear of heights!)

Gemma in front of mountainous view in the Kananaskis Valley near Calgary
Hiking in the Kananaskis Valley near Calgary
Elevated view of mountains intersected by lake reservoir in the Kananaskis Valley
The Tent Ridge hike has amazing panoramas of the Kananaskis Valley

Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine

The perfect reward for a day of hiking, afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge in the Kananaskis Valley is both a treat and a scenic experience. $17.50 delivers unlimited artisanal tea and coffee, a charcuterie board full of tasty treats and homemade dessert. Choose to sit in the cosy lounge or take a seat on the sunny patio overlooking the stunning river valley and mountain backdrop. 

River valley with backdrop of mountains
Mount Engadine Lodge is surrounded by an amazing landscape
Charcuterie plate at Mount Engadine - meat, cheese, fruit and nuts
Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge – Charcuterie plate

Waterton National Park

Another major destination for hiking near Calgary is Waterton National Park. Noticeably more relaxed than the other national parks further north, Waterton has all of the dramatic views and beautiful hiking trails you’d expect but with far less crowds (even in summer!)

Our highlight was the Crypt Lake trail. This is an adventurous 18km return hike that starts with a boat trip across Waterton Lake and culminates with a steel ladder, blasted tunnel and exposed rocky traverse above a 200 metre (650ft) drop off.

Gemma sat in front of Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lake
Waterfall in middle of canyon backdropped by mountains
Crypt Lake hike views

Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum

Enter the badlands region in east-central Alberta and you’ll find some of the most formidable (and peculiar) scenery in Canada. The bizarre looking rock formations have been caused by thousands of years of erosion and are best seen on foot (try the Horsethief Canyon trail). 

One of the richest fossil beds in the world is lying under this strange landscape. Often nicknamed ‘the dinosaur capital of the world,’ Drumheller is also home to the incredible Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

Displaying more than 130,000 fossils, this museum is a must see if you have even the smallest interest in dinosaurs. There are hoodoo hiking trails around the museum as well. 

JR on hiking path with rugged badlands landscape near Drumheller, Alberta
Hiking near Drumheller, Alberta
Exhibit on Royal Tyrrell Museum
The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Another must see spot in the Alberta badlands, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. More complete dinosaur skeletons (150!) have been discovered in Dinosaur Provincial Park than anywhere else in the world. 

Besides the excellent visitor centre and fossil ‘houses,’ there are a number of great hiking trails to explore the badlands scenery in the park. There’s also a huge range of interpretive tours that take you beyond the public areas to fossil dig sites and secret viewpoints.

Located 160km southeast of Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park is best explored on a dedicated day trip from Calgary. 

Badlands scenery in Dinosaur Provincial Park - dry eroded landscape with cacti
Dinosaur Provincial Park badlands
Dinosaur bones in soil in covered fossil 'house'
Dinosaur dig at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (Aisinai’pi)

An incredibly sacred place to the local Blackfoot people, Aisinai’pi (or Writing-on-Stone) has the most significant concentration of petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) in the Great Plains of North America. Some of the surviving examples of pictographs and petroglyphs at Writing-on-Stone date back as far as 2,000 years.

The drive to Writing-on-Stone is about three and a half hours from Calgary (OK, I cheated). It is, however, perfectly possible to see everything in the park in a day. Like Dinosaur, there are also guided tours to some of the protected sections of the park in addition to self guided hiking trails. 

Milk River winding next to hoodoos in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Hiking the Hoodoo Trail in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Carved battle scene in rock in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
The carved ‘Battle Scene’ in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

Bomber Command Museum of Canada

For a unique Alberta experience, put on a hard hat and explore the inside of a WWII era Lancaster FM159 bomber. One of only 17 left worldwide, this aircraft is the centerpriece of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton. Admission to the museum is by donation, though entry into the Lancaster itself is $2. 

Besides the collection of aircraft inside the hangar and outside the museum, there are also displays about the Dambusters Raid and the Great Escape in World War II. We combined a trip to the Bomber Command Museum with Vulcan (below) since they are located about 30 minutes apart. 

Lancaster FM159 bomber at Bomber Command Museum of Canada
View of electronics and machinery inside the Lancaster Bomber
Inside the Lancaster bomber

Vulcan

Originally named after the Roman God of Fire, this small town’s name is now better known in association with Star Trek. And that connection is definitely embraced! You’ll find Star Trek themed road signs, shop windows, street art, monuments and more.

Vulcan’s Visitor Centre doubles up as a ‘Trek Station’ (free entry) with memorabilia and displays about the long running series. Trekkies can even dress up in Starfleet uniforms in front of a green screen. There’s also a free (!!) municipal park campground in town, so stay overnight if you can!

Circular white building with 'Star Trek' visible on doors
Vulcan Visitor Centre / Trek Station
Canada Post with Vulcan sign outside, featuring Spock from Star Trek
Vulcan Canada Post office

Where to stay in Calgary

On a budget? HI Calgary City Centre is a solid option. Located centrally, the HI has both shared and private rooms. Breakfast is included. 

Good value – Try the Hotel Elan or Alt Hotel East Village. Modern accommodation close to downtown with a very reasonable price tag. 

Top rated on Booking.com – For the best, look no further than the Hotel Le Germain. Spacious rooms, very central location and complimentary breakfast. 

Thank you to Tourism Calgary for providing us with a Calgary Passport during our visit, enabling us to see and do more in Calgary. Thanks also to the Calgary Stampede media team for setting us up with Stampede tickets. 

Calgary, Alberta, is a vibrant, diverse city and has plenty to offer visitors. Click here to discover 15+ things to do in Calgary for adults that will make you want to stay longer! offtracktravel.ca

A popular start or ending point for adventures and excursions in the Canadian Rockies, Calgary is a city that deserves more than an overnight stopover. Here are 15+ things to do in Calgary for adults that will make you want to stay longer! offtracktravel.ca

Author

One half of a Canadian/British couple currently based in British Columbia, Canada. Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure.

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