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Spare Time: What to do between games in Calgary...

Photo of from top of Calgary Tower looking down
Calgary can be literally "at your feet" from the glass floor of the Calgary Tower observation deck


Calgary is a large city with a great number of excellent restaurants. Around Foothills Stadium the selction is not great, but your only a short (and inexpensive) light rail ride to downtown and other neighborhoods along the way. Once downtown you can choose a variety of different restaurants near the rail stops.

Photo of Eau Clair Festival Market
Eau Claire Festival Market (look for the brick tower/chimney)

Photo of Eau Clair Festival Market
Amato Gelato a great place to stop on the way to and from the ballpark

Eau Clair Festival Market

Along the Bow River is the Eau Claire Festival Market and surrounding area. Here you can find many bars and restaurants such as Joey Tomatos Kitchen (208 Barclay Parade SW, 403.263.6336), Bow River Barley Mill (201 Barclay Parade SW, 403.290.1500) and Brewsters (101 Barclay Parade S.W., 403.233.2739). The downtown area is also home to a chinatown district and many more options.

Photo of from top of Calgary Tower looking down
Calgary Tower
Photo of Eau Clair Festival Market
+15 Walkway sign
(Note cowboy hat)

Amato Gelato

One option somewhat off the beaten path is Amato Gelato (2104 Kensington Rd., 403.270.9733). The selection of Mario's Gelati is some of the most amazing to be found outside of Italy. Some of the flavors are pretty exotic (ask for a taste --and only a TASTE-- of the Durian). The restaurant is owned and run by one of Mario LoScerbo nephews who can tell you a lot about the history if you ask.

The location is only four blocks off Crowchild Tr. so it's easy to get to on the way to/from the ballpark on Kensington Road. After discovering flavors I've not had since trips to Italy I made two trips on one day alone including a minor detour before heading for Banff. It's not too convenient to the light rail, but may be worth the walk if you have the time.

Sites & Attractions

Calgary Tower

One fun and somewhat practical destination to get a great view of the city and the Canadian Rockies is Calgary Tower. Though it is no longer the tallest structure on the Calgary skyline (other office buildings now block some of the view) it has wonderful views and can help you get oriented.

In 2005 they added a new feature for those not afraid of vertigo is the "Glass Floor." At 36' wide it extends 4.5' out of the original observation deck and allows you to look directly down on 9th Avenue SW and Centre Street North (as in the "unretouched" photo above).

It also has two affordable restaurant options . The Panorama Dining Room is a classic rotating floor that gives you a complete view/trip around the observation deck. Tops Grill which is more casual (though the Panorama is fairly casual for lunch).

Photo of Exhibition Grounds south entrance
South entrane to Exhibition & Stampede grounds
Photo of Stampede
Artwork depicting the Calgary Stampede

Calgary Exhibition & Stampede

If there's anything that Calgary has been internationally reknown for it's the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede. Though the Vipers schedule probably will avoid home games during the actual event (given the huge crowds it draws) the facility is open year round and includes horse racing and a casino. Also on the grounds (or at least the northeast corner near the exhibition grounds) is the Pengrowth Saddledome the home of the NHL Calgary Flames.

Look for the unusual "CS" logo (C on top of an rotated S) around the exhibition grounds (such as in the photo on the right).


Photo of Stampede Chuckwagon
Stampede Chuckwagon

Ample, except during the Calgary Stampede

There are basically three major lodging areas that visiting fans may want to investigate for their home base while in Calgary. The first, and most convenient are the many inexpensive motels across from Foothills and McMahon Stadium near the Banff Trail light rail station. Lodging in the "University/Motel Village" area include (in no particular order) Comfort Inn (403.289.2581), Super 8 (403.289.9211), Ramada Ltd. (403., Econolodge (403.282.9713), Holiday Inn Express (403.289.6600), Travelodge (403.289.0211)., and Hampton Inn & Suites (403.289.9800). For those without a car (riding the rails) these may be an excellent and simple choice (especially if they have airport shuttles).

The next option for those able to spend a little more are the many fine hotels downtown. On my first visit my wife and I stayed at The Westin Calgary (4 Ave. & 3 St SW, 403.266.1611). The loation is only a block from the Eau Claire Market. Others include the Hyatt Regency Calgary (403.717.1234), Sheraton Suites (also near Eau Claire Market, 403.266.7200), and Holiday Inn Convention Center(403.266.4611).

More inexpensive lodging can be found around the south part of the city (serving the Calgary Stampede). Though these would seem too far away unless you have a car. Many are on the south end of the LRT and a single fare away.

As mentioned above, huge crowds for the Calgary Stampede may make lodging very tight around mid-July. Check the Calgary Stampede site to check for any conflicts during that time.