What to do in Calgary and Edmonton

May 14th, 2004, 06:07 AM
  #1  
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What to do in Calgary and Edmonton

We are trying to figure out how much time to spend in Calgary and Edmonton and Lake Louise/Banff. Any input of what sights and places to visit would be helpful. Restuarant and hotel info welcome too!

nanlyngil is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 09:01 AM
  #2  
 
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Hello - I live in Edmonton, so I'll stick to suggestions for this fair city (and I'll leave Calgary to Judy).

Hotels:

In the downtown area:
1. Hotel MacDonald (a Fairmont hotel) - posh hotel overlooking the pretty river valley
2. Union Bank Inn - a boutique hotel down the main street (Jasper Avenue) from the Mac.

On the south side of the river in the "trendy" Old Strathcona area (both are small hotels):
1. Varscona - an attractive lobby (!!)
2. The Met - this one is new, opened this past winter, very modern in appearance.

Just wanted to say that I live in Edmonton, so I?ve never actually stayed in any of these hotels; but based on their appearance and the look of the lobbies, and their location, these are the places that I would consider if I was looking for accommodation.

Websites for accommodation search:
http://www.explorealberta.com/
http://www1.travelalberta.com

Restaurants: (lots & lots of choice)

Downtown: Hardware Grill, Characters, Chance (all fairly expensive but good food, may not be open for lunch on weekends), a little further west of downtown core is Il Portico (Italian)

West of downtown near the museum: Manor Café, La Spiga, Café de Ville, Nina's

Old Strathcona: a restaurant or coffee shop every two steps, among them Packrat Louie's, Flavours, Chianti, Da-De-O's, Yiannis Taverna, plus many others.

Southside in an odd location but very good food (pricey) and a great wine list: Jack's Grill

Other favourites:
Il Forno - a reasonably priced Italian cuisine restaurant with very tasty pasta; it is in an out-of-the way location on the west end of the city, but would be a natural choice if you were heading back downtown from West Edmonton Mall.
Koutouki - Greek cuisine, a very small bistro type place with a wonderful selection of excellent appetizers that can be shared (and three or four dishes will make an ample meal for two people). It is also in an odd location, west of downtown and north of the museum.

Attractions: - NOTE - It's Edmonton's 100th birthday this year (the actual day is in October)
1. In the summertime, Edmonton is "festival city" - with wall-to-wall festivals that start in June and end in September, including jazz, art, street performers, food, folk music, the Fringe (alternative theatre), ethnic heritage, classical music ("symphony in the park"), and several that I can?t recall at the moment.
2. Fort Edmonton Park - a historical series of "villages" depicting the growth of Edmonton from a fort to a city; it's located right by the river, and there is a pleasant and short interpretive trail through the birch woods around the Park. There are restaurants and a small hotel (and yes! - apparently you can book accommodation there too) at Fort Edmonton Park.
3. Provincial Museum of Alberta - worth the visit if you would like to learn more about the natural history and ecology of Alberta, the dioramas (of native flora and fauna) and displays are fantastic.
4. West Edmonton Mall - I have to mention this place even though I am not a fan of huge ugly malls; it's claim to fame is that it is the largest shopping mall in the world; it includes a hotel, restaurants, shops, an ice rink, a wave pool, an amusement park (rides etc.), a casino, etc. etc.

Hope that this information gives you a start in planning your Alberta vacation.
Borealis is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 09:17 AM
  #3  
 
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I forgot to add the website for the city of Edmonton. Note the "photo gallery" - you can take a look at the city before you visit :

http://www.edmonton.com/tourism

Good luck in planning!!
Borealis is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 10:04 AM
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Hello Nanlyngil,

This post will address Calgary only.

If you have only one day to do something in or near Calgary, I highly recommend a visit to the Royal Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller. If you do it justice, this will take up the better part of a day.

If you have another day in Calgary, this is how you might spend it.

Look around downtown Calgary. Walk on the Stephen Avenue / 8th Avenue S.W. pedestrian mall.

Visit The Bay department store. Having received its charter from King Charles II in 1670, The Bay (actually The Hudson's Bay Company) is the oldest corporation in the world.

The Bay's Canadiana section (housed in the basement the last time I looked) is the best value for money when it comes to souvenirs.

Visit the western outfitting stores like Riley & McCormick's. If you're unfamiliar with cowboy culture, it's an eye opener to see that many boots under one roof.

Check out the indoor Devonian Gardens on the fourth level of Toronto Dominion Square.

Look at the "Plus 15" overhead glass tunnels that connect the buildings and that enable us to walk through downtown Calgary without coats and boots in winter.

If you have enough time, walk northwards to the banks of the Bow River, walk along the tree-lined river path and, in the vicinity of Eau Claire Market, cross the foot bridge to the park that occupies Prince's Island.

If you're here during the Calgary Stampede (July 9 - 18, 2004), you might watch the chuck wagon races at Stampede Park in the evening. Do a word search here at Fodors for Stampede, as information already has been provided on this topic.

All of this assumes you'll be here when the weather lends itself to walking outdoors. If you're here in the winter, scrap the idea of walking along the Bow River, and visit the Glenbow Museum on the 8th Avenue Mall instead.

OTHER CALGARY ACTIVITIES

A place that I like visiting is Heritage Park in the south western suburbs of Calgary. It's a little village that depicts life on the Prairies in the very early 20th century. All of the buildings (homes, school, church, hotel, shops, bank, post office, blacksmith's shop, etc.) are genuine old buildings that were moved to Heritage Park from small Alberta towns instead of being demolished. Heritage Park also includes a small farm where one can observe old fashioned farming practices (horse drawn ploughs, etc.). One can ride a steam train and a paddle wheeler on the lake. One can spend as little or as much time at Heritage Park as one likes. I would say it wouldn't be worth going there for less than half a day. If you already had been to Fort Edmonton, it probably would not be worth going to Heritage Park as well, in that you already would have been exposed to Alberta's history.

Calgary's zoo is considered to be pretty good as zoos go, and I often took my own kids there when they were young. As time has passed, however, I have grown less and less enamoured with the concept of zoos in general (although Calgary's zoo has a partnership with Jane Goodall and does fund some really worthwhile conservation initiatives in Africa). A nice thing about Calgary's zoo is that it has a pleasant location on an island in the Bow River.

Also, if you cannot get to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller to see the real skeletons, the Calgary Zoo does have lifesize models of dinosaurs in a natural, outdoor setting.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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CALGARY HOTELS

DOWNTOWN

* Sheraton Eau Claire. Expensive. Downtown, but in a pleasant location close to the Bow River. If you choose to stay here, be sure to have dinner at an excellent restaurant, the River Cafe, set in the park on Prince's Island, accessible via a pedestrian bridge across the Bow River. A more casual dining spot would be Joey Tomato's (Mediterranean cuisine) in the Eau Clair Market complex.

* Fairmont Palliser Hotel. Also expensive. This is one of a string of elegant hotels that were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and most of which (all of which?) now are owned by the Fairmont chain. The Fairmont hotels in the Rocky Mountains tend to be overpriced, IMO. The Palliser in Calgary, however, really does deliver value for money. It's a gracious hotel that has continued to pay attention to detail and to maintain its standards.

If you stay here, I recommend dining at nearby Teatro, which serves Northern Italian cuisine with a modern twist.

CLOSE TO DOWNTOWN

* Kensington Riverside Inn. A 19-room, 4 star hotel on the north side of the Bow River. It offers the best of both worlds, in that it's a stone's throw from downtown and yet outside of downtown.

Nearby restaurants are Osteria de Medici (excellent but expensive Italian place), La Luna Rossa (excellent but more moderately priced Italian place with a menu that leans towards, but is not confined to, seafood) and Maurya Fine East Indian Cuisine (actually quite moderately priced).

* Twin Gables B&B. South of downtown. Being close to downtown but not in the downtown core, it has similar advantages to the Kensington Riverside Inn. In addition to that, it's close to Stampede Park.

There are numerous restaurants within a few blocks, but the three most memorable for me are the expensive La Chaumiere (continental cuisine), moderately priced Rajdoot (East Indian), and Mescalero (Latin American / upscale Tex-Mex).

CLOSE TO THE AIRPORT

* Greenwood Inn. It's in a commercial district that I don't consider to be particularly charming. But it's a clean, comfortable, friendly, pleasantly decorated, and moderately priced hotel. Conveniently located for getting in and out of Calgary, e.g., if you're going to Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Conveniently located for the airport if you have an early flight out of Calgary.

I personally am not familiar with restaurants in that area, but have heard favourable rumours about the Clay Oven (East Indian cuisine) at 3132 - 26 Street NE.

Calgary has many hotels that are more moderately priced than those that have been mentioned. Please ask if you need more information.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 10:13 PM
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I also live in Edmonton and concur with everything Borealis says. For attractions, I would also like to add the Oddyseum (sp?) which is an interactive-type science museum that also has an IMAX theatre, and the largest "star theatre" in Canada.Its very well done, has fascinating displays on space, the environment, the human body, etc. and is a great way to spend a day, especially with kids.
Also often overlooked is the Ukrainian cultural centre (Edmonton has a large Ukrainian population) located about 20 miles east of the city on the Yellowhead highway (highway 16).It has a recreated early Alberta Ukrainian village. The staff dress in ethnic costume and "play roles" giving the whole thing an authenticity. Its a lot of fun and very informative.
Hope you enjoy your visit.
jimmoi is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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Another Edmontonian here. The river valley in Edmonton has beautiful wooded walking/jogging trails, easily accessible from main driving routes. A stroll along one may have you thinking you're not in a city at all!

The Muttart Conservatories, on the south side of the river, are interesting. Desert, temperate, and tropical environment pyramids, as well as a fourth pyramid where the display changes seasonally.

Just be aware that summer (well, April-late September, actually) is also road consruction/repair season here.
luna is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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The Ukranian village to the east of Edmonton near Androssen is a fine place to visit. I was there one Sunday when musicians of Ukranian heritage were entertaining us all. They were really good.

Also, I don't recall the names of all I ate, but it was good too.

The exhibits are faithful. The hardware store was stocked with items I saw as a boy of 12 or so when I lived on a farm.

The people in the buildings are actors playing the role of people who lived in the 1930's So don't ask them modern questions.

I did get a little amused at the actor in the hardware store. He had not the foggiest notion of what a ten penny nail wsas or what a roofing nail looked like.
brookwood is offline  

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