We explored the liveliest areas of the city, these are the gems we found

As restrictions are lifted across the province and vaccination rates skyrocket, it’s time to rediscover the local businesses that make up our community and its distinctive mosaic of neighborhoods.

Bustling city life is once again upon us, which means it’s high time to take to the streets of downtown Calgary to see what’s going on.

From the city’s world-class restaurants, to its vibrant arts and culture scene, to boutique-lined avenues, new experiences await to be savored around every corner.

We recently ventured out to a few of our favorite neighborhoods to revisit our favorite places before the pandemic and discover new gems – here’s what we recommend.

17th Avenue

City of Calgary

Don’t get me wrong, we love shopping online, but it isn’t worth a day of in-person retail therapy. Getting a feel for the fit and fabrics is part of the fun.

As you can find just about everything on 17th Avenue, this well-known stretch of the Entertainment District is our must-see. Home decor stores, like West Elm and 4 Living, can help spruce up any space, while specialty stores, like Tokyo Smoke and Earth Gems, can nurture your spiritual side, and places like the Fashion Studio. Mirra Masa can bring out your inner fashionista.

What you might not know is that the neighborhood is also a gold mine of vintage and consignment clothing and merchandise including Thrift Couture, Sylvstyle Boutique, HG Vintage, Salvedge Boutique, Danielle’s Consignment.

Chinese district

Christina Boemio / Unsplash

We missed this bustling corner of Calgary with its crimson lantern ornaments, neon signs and traditional Chinese-inspired architecture. Chinatown is the perfect place for a culinary adventure that will take your taste buds abroad, even if you can’t.

For sumptuous seafood, head to Kingfisher Seafood where you can sample shrimp and scallop specialties. At Silver Dragon – where the menu includes over 200 delicious Chinese dishes – you can sample the best Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine in town (we highly recommend that you take advantage of the dim sum cart).

From sweet and sour pork with pineapple to fried rice with shrimp and wonton soup, Sun’s BBQ serves up all the Chinese cooking classics you could dream of.


City of Calgary

The city center is busier than ever with a stream of local events that will keep you entertained from late summer through fall. Once you’ve parked the car (you can check the deals here), the best ways to explore the city center in great detail are on foot, by bike or by scooter.

During the rest of August and September, local musicians and artists will take over the historic fire hall courtyard for a series of live performances. A moving art installation by local artists also pays tribute to the history of the site and the courage of the firefighters.

On-going until the ‘Gay Labor’ long weekend, the pride of Calgary 2021, which means downtown is alive with vibrant colors, engaging roundtables, drag shows, art in live and other events.

As YYC Pizza Week approaches, we have cheese and pepperoni candy in mind. The annual Calgary Meals on Wheels 10-day charity event is the perfect excuse to go downtown and sample this year’s participating restaurants.


City of Calgary

Beauty seems to be lurking around every corner of the belt, with its public art exhibits, parks, murals, and myriad of plants and flowers. The lively district is also home to some of the city’s best restaurants, nightclubs, music venues and bars, making it the perfect place for a good pub crawl.

The trendy neighborhood is full of eclectic places that are best discovered with a beer in hand. First on the list is Broken City, a hidden gem with a rooftop patio and a penchant for live music. For a night of nostalgia, Greta Bar’s two new and vintage arcade game stories, the classic photo booth, and street food snack foods make for a night to remember.

Twisted Element, one of the best LGBTQ2 + venues in town, where you’re likely to find drag shows, burlesque performances and live DJ sets, is sure to rock your life during Calgary Pride. You also can’t go wrong with National on 10th, where classic pub food and craft beer are the official currency. The favorite pub even has a bowling alley where you can knock down a few pins.

Victoria Park

Patrick McVey / Unsplash

Dating back to the 19th century, Victoria Park is one of Calgary’s oldest neighborhoods. It’s also a certified urban oasis filled with eclectic restaurants and enviable dishes.

For us, it’s a hangout destination and a meeting place for friends where you can sip cocktails in a converted warehouse or sip oysters by candlelight. At Cardinale, fresh produce, handmade pasta and Italian imports are on the menu.

Named after San Francisco’s waterfront district, Embarcadero Oyster Bar is a gourmet pub with a warm vibe and some of the best oysters around. There’s nothing negative about Grumans Catering & Delicatessen’s menu, which has been offering Jewish-inspired charcuterie dishes since 2005 in the form of fresh bagels, Montreal smoked sandwiches and poutines for breakfast.

Learn more about shopping, dining and exploring downtown Calgary at calgary.ca/experiencedowntown.

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About Linda Jennings

Linda Jennings

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