Start off your East Village adventure at the Calgary Central Library. The experience starts before you even enter the library with the stunning architecture, perfect for photos! It’s equally as amazing as you enter and peer up to the skylight overhead while admiring the surrounding wood finishing. The main floor has art from local artists, as well as suggested reads, both of which are worth checking out. Grab a coffee from Lukes and wander among the rows of books and enjoy the views from the upper floors.
Just next door is Studio Bell and the National Music Centre, which celebrates Canadian music in all its glory. Learn about musical instruments and Canadian music icons while you marvel at the amazing architecture! They often have events, so be sure to check their website and see what’s on. After walking around the National Music Centre, you might want to head to Rosso Coffee Roasters to take a load off.
The last stop in the East Village is to walk over to the historic Simmons Building which is home to Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, Phil & Sebastian Coffee, and Charbar. This is a great place to hang out even if you’re over-caffeinated or not in the mood to buy more food. There’s plenty of seating along the recently developed RiverWalk, or you can stretch your legs along the gorgeous Bow River!
Kensington is one of the most trendy parts of town, full of restaurants, bars, cafes, and boutique shops. Heading to Higher Ground or Oolong Tea House and then walking North to the top of the river valley is a relaxing way to spend an evening. The view overlooks all of downtown Calgary, which is especially breathtaking as the sunsets. If it happens to be melting hot, you might want to opt for the river instead. Right across the 10th St Bridge from Kensignton is the 10th Street Wave, where you can watch Calgary’s river surfing community do their thing.
Kensington has numerous restaurants and bars that are ideal for those hot summer nights. EATCROW snack bar recently opened and has become a popular destination for light bites. The Kensington Pub is a more traditional pub, but the setting makes you feel like you’re having a pint in The Shire!
Mission is an upscale part of town. It has all the restaurants and bars that you would expect to see, with a heritage feel that is hard to come by in other parts of the city. Walking through Mission offers you tons of amazing food, anything from Mexican, to Italian, to Japanese! Where Mission really shines is the vibe as you walk towards the Elbow River and around Lindsay Park. This has to be one of the best spots in the city for a picnic and a game of frisbee.
Inglewood is a historic part of Calgary, lined with nice restaurants, cafes, book stores, boutique stores, and breweries. You can spend hours in The Next Page sipping coffee and browsing their selection of books. If you find one you like, head North to the river and soak up some sun while you dive into your new read. Speaking of bookstores — Fair’s Fair is a massive used book store at the West end of Inglewood that should be on everybody’s list.
Not the bookworm type? Head to Plant to browse everything from succulents to candles, you’ll probably leave with a long wish-list. There are also plenty of places to eat at a variety of price ranges. A less expensive option (and my personal favourite) is Inglewood Pizza, this little shop has two tables and pizza that is delicious in every way. There are also more refined offerings, such as Without Papers Pizza, which is located on the second floor of a rustic building and often has live music, and many others!
Anyone looking to grab a drink will love Inglewood. Not only are there tons of pubs and bars, including the famous Blues Can, a live blues bar, but it’s also the hub for Calgary’s growing craft brewery scene. Some of my favourites include Cold Garden, Ol’ Beautiful, and High Line Brewing.
Bridgeland is the perfect Sunday destination. It has delicious brunch spots, including Blue Star Diner and OEB Breakfast Co., and plenty of cafes to sit back and relax in. Lukes Drug Mart is a classic stop for anyone wanting to grab a coffee, browse some records, or pick up some household essentials! Otherwise, its nice to walk around this laid back part of town and even head over to the river to dip your toes in.
Last but not least is 17th Avenue. This is the closest thing Calgary has to a Sunset Boulevard. As the sky darkens, the streets come to life. People cruise up and down 17th Ave with their fancy cars and loud motorcycles, restaurants and bars fill with laughs and cheers, and of course, Bird Scooters are everywhere.
17th has new offerings all the time, Lulu Bar is one of the most recent additions with a huge patio to enjoy the fleeting warm weather. One of Calgary’s most unique options is Frenchie Wine Bar, located at the very back of Una Pizzeria and Bread and Circus Trattoria. You won’t be soaking up the sun in this little backroom escape, but you will feel like you’ve travelled to Paris, so that’s pretty cool. For dessert, Made By Marcus is a favourite among locals for a tasty frozen treat.
If the food and energy aren’t enough, you’ll love the people watching as Calgary’s young crowd converges onto this busy street.
The 5 best destinations for your summer stay!