We explored the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, these are the gems we found

Aug 30 2021, 12:32 pm

As restrictions lift across the province and vaccine rates soar, it’s time to rediscover the local businesses that make up our community and its distinctive patchwork of neighbourhoods.

Vibrant city life is once again at our disposal, which means it’s high time to take to the streets of downtown Calgary to see what’s going on.

From the city’s world-class restaurants to its lively arts and culture scene, and boutique-lined avenues there are new experiences waiting to be savoured around every corner.

We recently ventured to a few of our favourite neighbourhoods to revisit our favourite pre-pandemic spots and discover new gems — here’s what’s we recommend.

17th Avenue

Don’t get us wrong, we love an online shopping spree — but it’s no match for a day of in-person retail therapy. Getting a feel for the fit and fabrics is just part of the fun.

Since you can find just about everything on 17th avenue, this well known stretch of the entertainment district is our go-to. Home decor shops, like West Elm and 4 Living, can help spruce up any space, while specialty stores, like Tokyo Smoke and Earth Gems, can nurture your spiritual side, and spots like Mirra Masa fashion studio can bring out your inner fashionista.

What you may not know is that the district is also a thrifting gold mine of vintage and consignment clothing and goods, including the likes of Thrift Couture, Sylvstyle Boutique, HG Vintage, Salvedge Boutique, Danielle’s Consignment.


We’ve missed this animated corner of Calgary with its crimson lantern adornments, neon signs, and traditional Chinese-inspired architecture. Chinatown is the perfect place for a culinary adventure that will travel your taste buds abroad, even if you can’t.

For sumptuous seafood, head to Kingfisher Seafood where you can indulge in specialty prawns and scallops. At Silver Dragon — where the menu is comprised of over 200 delicious Chinese dishes — you can sample the best Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine in the city (we highly recommend taking advantage of the dim sum trolley).

From sweet and sour pork with pineapple to shrimp fried rice and wonton soup, Sun’s BBQ serves up all the Chinese food classics you’ve been craving.

Downtown core

The downtown core is livelier than ever with a stream of local events that will keep you entertained from late summer into fall. Once you’ve parked the car (you can check here for deals), the best ways to explore the city centre in intimate detail are by foot, bike, or scooter.

Throughout the rest of August and September, local musicians and artists will be taking over the Historic Fire Hall courtyard for a series of live performances. A moving art installation by local artists also pays tribute to the site’s history and the courage of firefighters.

Ongoing until ‘Labour Gay’ long weekend is Calgary Pride 2021, which means downtown is alive with vivid colours, engaging panel discussions, drag shows, live art, and other events.

With YYC Pizza Week approaching, we have cheesy, pepperoni goodness on our minds. The 10-day annual charity event for Calgary Meals on Wheels is the perfect excuse to head downtown and sample this year’s participating restaurants.


Beauty seems to be lurking around every corner of the Beltline, with its public art displays, parks, murals, and its myriad of plants and flowers. The spirited neighbourhood is also home to some of the city’s best restaurants, nightclubs, live music venues, and bars — making it the ultimate locale for a good ol’ pub crawl.

The hip area is teeming with eclectic venues that are best experienced with a beer in hand. First on the list is Broken City, a hidden gem with a rooftop patio and a penchant for live music. For a night of nostalgia, Greta Bar’s two stories of new and vintage arcade games, classic photobooth, and street food munchies make for a night to remember.

Sure to be bumping during Calgary Pride is Twisted Element, one of the city’s top LGBTQ2+ venues where you’re likely to find drag shows, burlesque performances, and live DJ sets. You also can’t go wrong with National on 10th, where classic pub food and craft beer are the official currency. The pub favourite even has a bowling alley where you can knock down a few pins.

Victoria Park

Dating all the way back to the 19th century, Victoria Park is one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods. It’s also a certified urban oasis that’s overflowing with eclectic restaurants and enviable eats.

For us, it’s a date night destination and friend meet-up spot where you can sip cocktails in a converted warehouse or slurp oysters in the candlelight. At Cardinale, fresh produce, handmade pasta, and Italian imports are the name of the game.

Named after the waterfront district in San Francisco, Embarcadero Oyster Bar is a gastropub with a warm ambiance and some of the finest oysters around. There’s also not a bad thing on the menu at Grumans Catering & Delicatessen, which has been serving up Jewish-inspired deli food since 2005 in the form of fresh bagels, Montreal smoked sandwiches, and breakfast poutines.

Learn more about shopping, eating, and exploring downtown Calgary at calgary.ca/experiencedowntown.

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