When the New York Times bestowed upon Calgary the 17th spot on its annual 52 Places to Go list, it had some people scratching their heads. Frankly, after the extended winter of 2014, it’s understandable that locals would be a little shy to recommend our fair city as a must-visit destination, but we mustn’t forget all of YYC’s redeemable qualities just because Mother Nature went rogue. Here are 17 reasons Calgary deserves at least the No. 17 spot on many lists to come.
1: Our family focus: 700 kilometres of bike trails, Heritage Park, Canada Olympic Park, the TELUS Spark Science Centre and the Calgary Zoo are just a few options.
2: Inglewood. As one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods, this multi-block strip in the city’s southeast is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with many of the city’s hippest, most happening boutiques and eateries setting up shop here (The Uncommons, Plant, NAQP, Spolumbos, Gravity and Bite Groceteria, just to name a few).
“It’s now a must-see for visitors and a must-shop for locals,” says Irene Seto, managing editor of CalgaryIsAwesome.com.
3: YYC’s local breweries and the emerging craft beer scene. It took us a while, but Wild Rose and Village Brewery, in particular, are both putting Calgary on the hops and barley map.
4: The Peace Bridge. For Seto, it’s a “symbol of our city moving forward and how we are all connected — literally from one side of the river, to the other — and as Calgarians.”
5: Our flourishing food scene. Once known solely for our outstanding beef (of which there is still plenty), YYC has grown into a culinary mecca of sorts in recent years. Leaders of the pack like Charcut, Model Milk, Ox & Angela and downtownfood are consistently pushing the envelope and sourcing the freshest local products to highlight on their ever-changing menus.
6: We’re an Olympic city. Sure, it was a while ago, but it’s a rare honour that we can (and should) still take a great deal of pride in.
7: Big things on the horizon: The realization of the National Music Centre, the new central library, the redevelopment of Fort Calgary, the emerging East Village development and plenty of projects down at Stampede Park only mean Calgary will be more notable in years to come.
8: Our unwavering love of the Flames. Even when our team isn’t performing the way we’d like, we area loyal bunch. Bandwagon jumping is kept to a minimum.
9: Our penchant for the great outdoors. From the well-maintained parks and pathways to the fact that come a sunny day every patio in the city will be packed, nothing keeps Calgarians cooped up for long.
10: Our willingness to embrace the alternative: From the Sled Island Music Festival to the rapidly expanding Calgary Comic Expo and, most notably in recent years, the Beakerhead science, arts and engineering festivals, these homegrown cultural events are making a global impact.
11: Our giving spirit. Calgarians are generous. During last year’s flooding tragedy, the sentiment of “love thy neighbour” has never rung more true. All of YYC stepped up and did just that.
12: Our Farmers’ Markets. Big box stores abound, but this city still takes pride in connecting with local producers and knowing where exactly the food we eat comes from.
13: Amazing trails, endless nature and world-class winter sports (all of them) can all be found in our backyard — also known as the Rocky Mountains.
14: The Ship & Anchor. Even if it’s not necessarily your personal taste, there’s no denying that this 17th Avenue pub is an institution, especially the patio on a hot summer’s day.
15: Our penchant for festivals. The Calgary Folk Music Festival, the High Performance Rodeo, The Fringe, Lilac Fest, heck, we even have a celebration in honour of Sun & Salsa. If there’s a reason to fest, Calgary is on top of it.
16: The Calgary Stampede itself is noteworthy, of course, but nowhere else in the world does pancake breakfasts like YYC. You’d think we had invented the darn things.
17: Naheed Nenshi. “Our mayor is intellectual, but also realistic,” Seto says. “He knows how to reach his citizens and is moving the city ahead like no other in Canada.”
MEGHAN JESSIMAN, FOR THE CALGARY HERALD
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