6 hidden gems in downtown Calgary you need to visit this summer

May 4 2022, 9:17 pm

If there’s one thing we don’t do often enough, it’s play tourist in our own town. Travellers from all over the world come to Calgary to experience our eclectic shops, farm-to-table cuisine, and electrifying music scene. Now, it’s our turn. With summer peeking over the horizon, we’re already brainstorming the newest and best ways to spend the season in Calgary.

One of our favourite ways to rediscover the city is to explore a new neighbourhood (or one we haven’t spent nearly enough time in). In this case, that’s downtown. Calgary’s downtown — made up of Downtown Core, Downtown West, Beltline, Chinatown, Victoria Park, the East Village, and 17th Avenue — is back in business, with plenty of hidden gems to explore comfortably and safely.

From the most unique experiences to the best bars, here’s what’s on our summer bucket list.

Tucked-away trails downtown

We count walks among our favourite activities, especially when undertaken with a coffee in hand. Next time you’re bored at home, ditch the couch for a new trail downtown.

Check out High Park, the aptly-named park located on top of a parking structure, which offers incredible views of the city. Sit (and sip) for a while and people-watch at the historic James Short Park. For something literally off the beaten path, take the elevator to the fourth floor at CORE and explore the Devonian Gardens, complete with fountains and fish ponds. Or, just wander the city streets on an impromptu public art tour — there are no wrong turns here.

Sample brews along the Beltline

If you haven’t bar hopped along the Beltline yet, consider this your sign to do so. Start the day at Tailgunner with a pint of Festbier celebration lager and a bite from their Mediterranean-inspired food menu. Then, make your way to Inner City Brewing for their popular Bridgelandia blonde ale (they also host weekly trivia and yoga events, FYI). Last — but certainly not least — on your journey, Last Best Brewing (which also happens to double as a distillery with a focus on exploring the weird and wonderful sides of gin). Try the award-winning Savage Love or Afterglow, and consider taking home a bottle as a souvenir from the night.

Dinner that is the show

Swap your meal kit for an epic dining experience at one of Calgary’s many elaborate eateries. May we recommend Ten Foot Henry? Named after an iconic Calgary character, this all-day restaurant serves a vegetable-centric menu. Craving carnitas? Taste the tacos and traditional Mexican street food at Native Tongues. If you find yourself on 4th Street, you have to stop by Shokunin: Japanese lunch restaurant by day, creative cocktail bar by night. And don’t forget Honey, Calgary’s only carnival-themed bar, complete with contortionists and neon lights.

New festivals and events

Live events are officially back (cue hands raised emoji). While you’re most likely familiar with the iconic Calgary Folk Music Festival and the Stampede, this summer, consider attending one of the city’s lesser-known events. There’s Fiestaval Latino Festival, which welcomes food vendors, performers, and artisans the weekend after the Stampede (aka after the tourists have returned home). Broken City hosts a weekly comedy night every Monday — and has been doing so for the last 15 years, so you know it’s good.

Dim sum and cocktails in Chinatown

When was the last time you spent the day in Chinatown? While some of the area’s iconic restaurants have been operating here for decades, the neighbourhood is constantly welcoming new spots to whet your whistle. If you’re looking for comfort food that the locals love, stop by Moon for authentic Korean BBQ or Great Taste for mouth-watering soup dumplings. End your adventures with a Saigon Sling at the speakeasy Paper Lantern (if you can find it, that is).

Vintage shopping on 17th Ave

Now, this is an adventure worth getting dressed up for. Don your most eclectic garb and head down to 17th Ave for some primo vintage clothing. Shop hop from The Grinning Goat, Alberta’s only vegan boutique, down to HGvintage (keep your eyes peeled for the 90s-style windbreakers), then over to Danielle’s Consignment Boutique. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, pop over to nearby Jinya for some slurp-worthy ramen. Bibs recommended.

Ready to shop, eat, and explore your way through the best that Calgary has to offer? You can browse hundreds of unique experiences in Downtown Calgary at calgary.ca/experiencedowntown.

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