Blessed be The Calgary Stampede. When I first told people I was headed to the Canadian city, the cow-, hay-, and yee haw-friendly event was the first thing most people mentioned. And yes, I’m sure that the rodeo, held every year in mid-July, has its own charm. But Alberta’s largest city has plenty to offer for those who don’t know which one is the business end of the horse.
Located in the middle of Canada, Calgary was once thought of as a cultural island, with music, fashion, and culture working its way inward from the coasts—slowly. Recently, though, the pushback on this misconception has been swift. In the past 10 years, the city has found itself in the center of a beer, food, and culture revolution, with craft breweries, chefs, and events like Sled Island offering something for nearly everyone. Ready to check out some of Canada’s hidden gems? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
WHERE TO STAY
Fairmont Palliser Hotel: If you’re going to go on vacation, why not go all in? Originally a stop on the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Fairmont Palliser was 1914’s answer to ultimate luxury. These days it’s still pretty posh, yet manages to stay within relatively affordable price points. Head through the opulent lobby (still showcasing the kind of old world glamour that would make Wes Anderson take pause) and head up to your room where thoroughly modern amenities like large soft beds, coffee makers (bless), and rose-scented bath products by Le Labo await. Additional relaxation is possible—the bottom level hosts a full spa, complete with pool facilities and massages—though it might be hard to settle in for a full day of lounging. This is because, located in downtown Calgary, the Fairmount Palliser is within eyesight of a host of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and music venues.