On the 4th level of the Core Shopping Centre, visitors will come somewhat unexpectedly upon the floral paradise of Devonian Gardens. Covering about one hectare, the indoor gardens feature lovely tropical palms, sculptures, fish ponds, fountains, and a living wall. About 10,000 plants make up the displays, and despite Calgary’s cold winters they thrive under a glass ceiling. The Devonian Gardens are free and open for the public to wander.
Where to Stay in Calgary:
Luxury Hotels: In the heart of the action near 17th Avenue is the Hotel Elan, featuring modern rooms with balconies, heated floors, and a complimentary breakfast. The elegant Hotel Le Germain Calgary, in the central business district, is within walking distance of the Calgary Tower and EPCOR Center for the Performing arts. The new and conveniently located Hyatt Regency features rooms with city views, a rooftop sundeck, and an indoor pool. It’s connected to the Telus Convention Center.
With an extensive permanent collection and an ever-changing array of traveling exhibitions, the impressive Glenbow has plenty for the history buff, art lover and pop-culture fiend to ponder. Temporary exhibits are often daring, covering contemporary art and culture. Permanent exhibits bring the past to life with strong historic personalities and lots of voice recordings. Hang out in a tipi, visit a trading post and walk through the rail car of a train.
Listen to the Music at Studio Bell
If you have had enough practice singing in the shower and playing air guitar, Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, lets you give it a shot like a pro. Rock out with interactive instrument installations, sing your heart out in the vocal booths, or check out their living collection of music history.
Become a Cultural Explorer at Glenbow Museum
Over a million objects, documents, photographs, and artworks make Glenbow Museum a must visit destination in western Canada. Explore distinctly Canadian art on the second floor and discover the rich history of Canadas First Nations Peoples in The Blackfoot Gallery.
TELUS Spark, Calgarys Science Centre
The science centre houses five exhibit galleries, movies, planetarium shows in Calgarys only HD Digital Dome Theatre, interactive activities in the Creative Kids Museum, live science demonstrations, and more. The new Brainasium outdoor park features an interactive play area where children learn momentum and teamwork on the five ton spinning rock, explore simple physics on the teeter-totter built for six, slide their hands along the musical railing and climb the netting tower to the 63 foot slidethe largest stainless steel slide in Canada. Adults and children alike will have fun visiting travelling exhibitions and building structures with real tools at the Open Studio Drop-In Workshops. The second Thursday night of every month is Adults Only Night, where the venue is open only to adults to enjoy unique programming, an open bar, workshops and presentations, and kid-free play. Admission: adult $19.95, senior $17.95, youth (13-17) $15.95, child (3-12) $12.95, children three and under are admitted free. www.sparkscience.ca
Heritage Park Historical Village
This living history museum features more than 180 attractions and exhibits that re-create Western Canadian history from the 1860s to the 1950s. Interact with costumed interpreters, explore pioneer homes and businesses, ride a steam train, board a paddlewheeler on the Glenmore Reservoir, try antique rides and games, and enjoy Western Canadian cuisine at Selkirk Grille. While the park is open seasonally May through October, year-round daily attractions include dining at Selkirk Grille and Railway Caf, exploring Haskayne Mercantile Block a collection of one-of-a-kind boutiques and an antique shop the Big Rock Interpretive Brewery, and the Gasoline Alley Museum of vintage cars. Access to Heritage Town Square (located before the gates) is free. Park admission: adult $26.25*, senior (65+) $20.50, youth (7-14) $18.75, child ($13.50). www.heritagepark.ca (*Adult admission during the summer season is more than $20, but overall most of their other offerings are under $20. And, even at $26.25, its still very much worth a visit.)
Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
Located on a hilltop in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the University of Calgarys Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is home to one of the three largest telescopes in Canada. The RAO hosts public events and open houses once monthly that offer perfect occasions to star gaze. These outdoor gatherings provide everyone from amateur astronomers to true observers opportunities to look through the telescopes and view constellations and other celestial events. Admission: $10 per person, or $30 per car. www.ucalgary.ca/rao
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
This archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved buffalo jumps in the world. Learn the traditional ways of the Plains People, who relied on the buffalo hunt, at the interpretive centre. Watch drumming and dancing demonstrations every Wednesday in July and August and hike to the drive lanes with Blackfoot guides on the first Saturday of every month from May to October. While its not in Calgary, this historical site is well worth the drive. Admission: adult $15, senior $13, youth (7-17) $10, children 6 and under are admitted for free. www.history.alberta.ca/headsmashedin
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