With so much to see and do outside of Calgary, one rarely feels the draw into the downtown core on the weekend. That being said, Calgary’s city center is a beautiful place and a must see. Parking downtown is notoriously expensive, but just a few bucks or free on the weekend. When we arrived (just before lunch), the parking lots were virtually empty and we found a great spot to start exploring. As we walked through the streets it was clear that this city places significant value in the artistic community as many sculptures and Interesting pieces on many corners and gathering places.
We started at the Core Shopping Centre. We weren’t there for the shops, our interest during this visit was the Devonian Gardens. The fourth floor of the Core is home to Calgary’s only indoor city park. This lush indoor garden is meticulously maintained and open to the public. There are a number of walkways that lead you throughout he living walls, raised bed gardens, and koi ponds. The brilliantly coloured koi kept Luca entertained for quite some time. Interspersed in these lush gardens are a number of sculptures including a series of carved wooden masks. There is something to see around every corner, including a kids play area complete with climbing wall. Nestled in some of the planters were signs and clues for Agents of Nature, a kid-friendly explorer app that helps solve nature mysteries like “why are bees fuzzy”. A definite must for young families.
Feeling a bit peckish, it was time for lunch in China Town. A short walk north east put us in the heart of China Town. While much smaller than what we have enjoyed in Toronto, the street side fruit/vegitable markets combined with dragon statues and the hustle and bustle made it feel like the China Town we are used to. With many restaurants around, we chose Vic’s Hong Kong Style Cafe and had a lovely lunch. The second floor dinning room’s large windows made people watching very enjoyable.
One of the great features of Calgary is the Bow River which runs right through the downtown core. That was our next stop. Calgary is well known for its walking/hiking/biking trails, so we decided to take advantage and go for a walk. In all honesty, the downtown core seemed to draw very few people into the shade of the towers and high-rises. At times it felt almost deserted. It was as we approached the river that it became evident that everyone was actually down by the river side. Cyclists, roller bladers, carriage pushers, walkers, joggers, runners, picnickers, sun tanners, shoppers, yogis, and even a few lunatics drifting down the river in a dingy and in one case, in true Tom Sawyer fashion, precariously astride “flotsam”.
On our way back to our vehicle we walked along Stephen Avenue. Reminisent of Sparks Street in Ottawa, this “pedestrian only” street was lined with unique shops, inviting restaurants and even scattered buskers. We couldn’t resist going into Lammies Western Wear And Tack to check out true western apparel and search for an even bigger belt buckle.
We never did get any ice cream, but based on what we hear we will be visiting Fiasco Gelato next time we’re downtown!