One of my favourite things about visiting Calgary, Alberta is experiencing its *vibe.*
If you’ve been to Calgary, you know what *vibe* I’m talking about. It’s this lively, exciting feeling as you’re walking through downtown, it’s buzzing as you eat at one of Calgary’s many, many, delicious restaurants, the *vibe* permeates through the air as you’re using bike trails and walking paths. It’s just so *cool.*
Calgary’s incredible vibe is a huge reason I choose to return to the city time and time again.
Mike and I visited Calgary again this weekend in early September (2019) while the city was still experiencing glorious summer weather! We were there to attend an adoption workshop and celebrate our dear friend’s birthday, but we obviously also turned the weekend into a little vacation (my general approach to life lol).
In this blog post I outline where you should stay, what you should eat, and things you should do, during your next visit to the incredibly vibrant Calgary, Alberta. It’s just one of my many blog posts I’ve done on Calgary, so be sure to check out my other Calgary blogs (linked below) as well.
EXPLORE ALBERTA: A WEEKEND IN CALGARY
(A FEW THINGS TO DO & PLACES TO EAT, PLUS WHERE TO STAY)
1. E-bike the Bow River Pathway and Downtown Calgary
Mike and I love e-biking and we typically do it while on vacation. It’s a wonderful way to explore a place, on a really different level than driving around. You feel like you’re truly “in” the city. Exploring all the nooks and crannies, things you’ll see or encounter, it’s just an entirely different experience than if you’re driving around town. And the huge perk with it being electric and not a regular bike is that it doesn’t take much effort to get around! It just had never occurred to us (until this trip) that we could explore Calgary on e-bikes, and the e-bikes we chose to explore on was Pedego e-bikes!!
Pedego is one of the leading electronic bike companies in North America.They sell and rent e-bikes all over the continent, and the Pedego Calgary location is conveniently located just off Calgary’s Bow River Pathway, which is dedicated pedestrian, cycling, and shared pathways that run right along the river.
In fact, something I learned this trip is that Calgary is home to the most extensive (largest) urban pathway and bikeway network in all of North America!!
There is approximately 905 km of regional pathways and 95 km of trails in the City of Calgary—tons of dedicated and safe spaces to bike, scoot, blade, run, walk in this beautiful city.
Pedego Calgary actually sells more e-bikes than they rent (e-bikes are in high demand and I totally get why lol), but I think renting e-bikes from them and hopping on the Bow River Pathway makes for such an incredible Calgary experience, I highly recommend it!!
Pedego offers two-hour e-bike rentals for $35, four-hour (half day) rentals for $60, and eight-hour (full day) rentals for $100. Their bikes are SUPER cute (in fact, the cutest e-bikes we’ve ever rented), and they are also different (better) than e-bikes we’ve tried in past because not only do they include electric pedal assist (which is standard for e-bikes), but they also include throttle, which essentially means if you didn’t want to, you wouldn’t need to pedal—like ever—on your e-bike!! AMAZING, RIGHT?
Okay so it kind of defeats the exercise / physical activity component of biking but it’s incredible that you can just hop on and whiz away without pedalling… it makes such a huge difference in accessibility, and just how far and easily you can explore.
Disclosure: Mike and I got to e-bike on the house as research for my blog and social media travel guide.
Pedego Calgary gives you a handy map showing two of its main/recommended e-bike routes: One route is right along the Bow River Pathway and River Walk through East Village, and the other route is more downtown focused, where you’ll also get an opportunity to ride by (and snap photos at) what’s arguably the best city skyline view of Calgary!
For more of relaxing, nature vibe, and also one that feels much safer because of the dedicated pathways, the Bow River Pathway is the better route. But you have to do the downtown route as well so you can get the skyline view!!
As we don’t cycle much in our day-to-day, we definitely didn’t feel as confident and safe biking downtown, but Calgary actually has a pretty great ‘Cycle Tracks’ bike lane system and bylaw effective Sept. 1, 2019 that requires drivers to leave at least 1 metre of space when passing a cyclist, that helps ensure more cyclist safety.
Mike and I went out for nearly 4 hours and our battery didn’t lose a single bar! My friend joked we could have e-biked to visit her in Canmore, lol well honestly we could have. We were was also blown away by how many people use the Bow River Pathway and River Walk! The amount of walkers, joggers, cyclists and scooters we passed during our four hours out and about was really impressive, it was actually so great to see so many people enjoying Calgary this way.
If you’ve been to Calgary before, e-biking downtown is a wonderful way to experience the city in a different way. If you’ve never been to Calgary, this is a perfect way to explore! And heck, if you’re a Calgary local, act like a tourist and rent e-bikes to explore!
I swear, through e-bikes, you’ll see the city in a way you never did before.
(and it won’t require *too much* effort, if you’re like me and are terribly out of shape lol).
Thank you to Pedego Calgary for lending Mike and I e-bikes to experience and review!
2. Plan a Calgary food crawl and eat, eat, eat!
This particular trip to Calgary coincided with one of my best friend’s Kathy’s birthday so we celebrated in the way we know and love best—eating, eating, eating, eating, and well, more eating! lol
We came up with our own “Kathy’s Birthday Food Crawl” and you can feel free to copy this itinerary exactly, or choose a few from this list and then add your own spots to create your own Food Crawl too.
We basically chose spots we’d never been before (that was our main criteria), and places that were open late (because Kathy was working a bit late so we couldn’t actually start the crawl until 8 p.m.) And places that were within 10 minutes drive of one another. For your crawl you could theme it more, or break it out more like appetizer, entree, and dessert, or however you want to break it down, or ensure everywhere is in walking distance (specific neighbourhood crawl), there’s lots of ways to do a Food Crawl, but this is where we ate and drank in Calgary for Kathy’s birthday:
- Stop 1: Vin Room Mission (wine + tapas)
- Stop 2: The Living Room (drinks + tapas)
- Stop 3: Tokyo Street Market (beer + rice bowl)
- Stop 4: Cold Garden Beverage Company (beer + iced tea + we brought our own charcuterie!)
(It was a really good food weekend!)
We LOVED the tapas at the Vin Room, including the sticky soy-sesame steak bites (with mushrooms – $16), maple chili brussels sprouts ($8), and char sui pork belly steam buns ($7). There were so many dishes on the menu I would have loved to try but we knew we had to pace ourselves since we were on a food crawl! The Vin Room is also well-known for being dog-friendly! Its patio is dog-friendly and you can also ask for doggie treats to go (for free!) The Vin Room has an extensive wine list, featuring over 80 wines that can be ordered 2 oz (tasting size), 6 oz (a glass), 13 oz (a half bottle), and full bottle. Their servers are experts at recommending a wine for you—just tell them your preferences!
When we went on a Saturday night, there was also live jazz music starting at 8 p.m. so the ambience was quite nice. Vin Room also offers a Twice as Nice Happy Hour (3-6 and 9-Close) where you can get $7 feature wine and $5 feature tapas!)
The Living Room has an amazing patio right on the bustling 17th Ave., twinkly lights and all, and also primarily specializes in tapas, small dish, sharing style dining. Here the sauces really stood out in al the dishes we tried, like, we didn’t leave a speck of sauce, lol from the tomato jam with their chistorra sausage ($7), a muhammara pepper dip with walnuts in the charred shishito peppers ($7), a cauliflower cream suace in the cavatelli pasata ($15) and the roasted garlic buerre blanc creamy French sauce with the spinach & ricotta tortelloni ($17).
Tokyo Street Market felt like you have been transported to Japan, the decor is just perfect. And well, that’s what they’re going for so it worked! Tokyo Street Market’s concept is “fresh fast food.” The menu isn’t vast, there’s ramen bowls, some skewers, and rice bowls essentially, then lots of Japanese beers and sake. By this time we were PRETTY full so we didn’t have much here. Mike and Ryan ordered a jug (like a mini keg) of Asahi, and Kathy and I shared the Donburi pork chashu rice bowl with smoked nori (seaweed). The rice bowl was EXCELLENT, and only $5!
Finally our last stop on the crawl was at the EXTREMELY COOL Cold Garden Beverage Company.
This, again EXTREMELY COOL, brewery is located in Calgary’s also really cool Inglewood community. As you walk in, you’ll see big bold letters that read “THIS MUST BE THE PLACE.” It’s so clever and true, because I had heard about how cool the Cold Garden Beverage Company was, and as you walk up, you really do think, this must be the place. Amazingly eclectic decor, funky furniture, and hands-down best vibe of the crawl. Also for Mike and Ryan, their favourite spot of the night for drinks as beers are great and only $5 each. They also serve non-alcoholic ‘juice’ (it’s actually just really good iced tea lol).
Perhaps the coolest aspect of the Cold Garden Beverage Company though is that they’re fully dog-friendly!!! Like dogs inside, dogs outside, but really, lots of dogs inside! It’s like your cool friend’s living room, with dog and all. Cold Garden had the choice between serving food at their brewery or letting dogs hang out here and they chose dogs! And I honestly fully support and respect that decision, lol.
Because they don’t serve food, Cold Garden actually lets you bring in outside food!
And we fully took advantage of this. Mike and I had gone to the Italian Centre Shop Calgary before the crawl started and got cheese crackers, cheese, and a selection of charcuterie from the deli so when we found a seat at Cold Garden (at midnight on a Saturday, it was PACKED), and unpacked our little charcuterie, the people next to us were super impressed and jealous of our spread, lol.
Pro Italian Centre Tip: Tell the deli counter staff you need a few meats for a charcuterie board for X number of people and they’ll recommend meats for you! Shout out to Roberto for being super helpful! Everything he recommended was a hit with the group.
Beyond the food crawl:
- We loved Lulu Bar on 17th Ave. It’s Asian-inspired cuisine and we felt the dishes were not only delicious, but well priced. Linda’s Picks (basically my favourite dishes we tried lol) include the Salt & Pepper Pork Belly (with chili lime and toasted rice – $6), House Spam (toasted nori with ginger dill pickles – $6), and Chilled Noodle Salad (with scallion cashew pesto, pomegranata and napa cabbage – $13). The drinks are pricier than most of the small/share dishes here, but really good. Try the Bobcat (bourbon, peach, liqueur, curacao, coconut, lemon and smoky ginger ale in a cat glass – $17), and King Kona (coffee rum, coffee rum, zuborwka, cold brew, coconut cream, chocolate, honey and bitters – $17), and Spark Joy (mezcal, banana liqueur, passionfruit, lemon and orange blossom – $15).
- I had wanted to try Redheads Japa Cafe for some time (anywhere serving spam has my attention, lol) and was happy to finally get there for a lunch this trip. Their unique dish is the ‘Japa Rice Burger’ which you can get with salmon, tuna and mayo, ume (pickled pum), spam and egg, chicken, pork, or shrimp, with fried onion, greens, wrapped in nori (seaweed). Super affordable—at $4 or $5, and $9 if you make it a combo with soup, salad, and fried chicken. I obviously got the spam & eggs Japa Rice Burger. Mike went with their Japa Katsu breaded pork Curry ($12). Both were entirely satisfying, at great prices!
- We met our friend Jessie for brunch at The Bro’Kin Yolk during our stay, and I was delighted to find out that this popular breakfast spot (“bringing brunch to the ‘burbs”) actually includes some awesome Filipino / Hawaiian dishes on their menu! The name is neat too, we found out that the owners of the restaurant (which has three locations in Calgary and will be opening two in Edmonton in Summer 2020!) are Filipino brothers, hence the Filipino dishes as well as the ‘Bro’ in the name. Family is huge for them, including family meals, family gatherings, so there’s the ‘Kin’ part, and then ‘Yolk’ being the main ingredient (eggs!) they use in their menu. Cool right? My spam & eggs Island Bowl ($15.50), Jessie’s pork adobo Bro’s Breakfast ($15.50), and Mike’s short rib hash ($15.95) were all excellent and again, well-priced! Get a side of their house-cured bacon, and start / share mini homemade Belgian waffles ($2.75 each) with the white chocolate lavender ($.50) YUMMMM.
3. Stay at the Carriage House Inn
(and take advantage of its outdoor, heated pool!)
Finally, where should you stay during your delicious, super fun weekend in Calgary?
We stayed at the lovely Carriage House Inn, just south of downtown and had just the best time!!!
Disclosure: The Carriage House hosted us during our weekend in Calgary.
The Carriage House has been in Calgary for over 50 years!!!
The hotel has numerous, delicious restaurants on site, an incredible pool (which I will RAVE about it in the next paragraph lol), and really nice, renovated rooms. The Carriage House is located in south central Calgary, right along Macleod Trail, which you can take straight north to get to downtown in just 15 minutes. It’s close to a lot of amenities including nearby Chinook and Southcentre shopping centres, and because it’s not located right in downtown, rates are incredible priced.
So let’s talk about the Carriage House Pool!!
Carriage House is home to Calgary’s only year-round, outdoor heated pool. Uh, it’s amazing!!
Not only is the Carriage House pool open year-round, and outside, and heated, it’s also open 24 hours Sunday through Thursday (6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday), and and and you guys!! There is poolside food and drink service courtesy Peanuts Public House (one of the Carriage House’s restaurants!)
Mike and I had just the best afternoon dipping in the pool, swimming, hitting the hot tub, having drinks, and eating right by the pool! We also had the entire pool to ourselves, and during our three-night stay there we only saw maybe four people at most using the pool at any given time as we walked by on our way in and out of the hotel. What a completely amazing ‘hidden gem’ in the city.
Visitors—you’ve got to stay here. Locals—you should most definitely be planning a staycation at the Carriage House, in particular to get access to their amazing pool! lol
We also had a chance to try the food at two of the Carriage House Inn’s restaurants—9030 Dining Lounge, which is a fancier, high-end (and therefore pricier) spot for dinner, and Peanuts Public House—both at the pub for a few snacks, and then food from Peanuts by the pool.
Our 9030 server Pierre was really lovely. He asked what we wanted to drink after we sat down and when I asked if he had a drink menu he said “well I am the drink menu! What are you feeling?” so it was nice being able to trust him with drink recommendations.
12 oz Alberta Prime Rib ($30) was the largest prime rib I had ever eaten (well—attempted to eat lol). I’ve eaten prime rib in Grande Cache, which advertises itself as home of Alberta’s best prime rib, and this was pretty much on par with the prime rib there. It was so tender and fatty (I love a fatty prime rib lol), and very well seasoned and perfectly cooked.
Mike also really enjoyed his 8 oz filet mignon in citrus and caper beurre blanc over parmesan mashed potatoes with broccolini ($31). And we shared the 9030 caesar salad ($11—delicious!), and charcuterie and cheese ($19—quite large for the price, with huge chunks of cheese!)
Peanuts is a popular Calgary sports bar located inside the Carriage House. Everyone gets complimentary peanuts (lol, because of the name, get it?) Regular, spicier, and then sweeter peanuts (my favourite was the spicy peanuts). I also liked the Prime Rib Bone (tender, and a great portion size, for just $5) and their very cheesy nachos (add steak!!!).
The Carriage House offers daily breakfast buffet for $12 and has received accolades for their Sunday Brunch buffet. They also offer in-house baked goods! Learn more about the Carriage House dining options.
Finally, I’m happy to share a promo code so if you book with the Carriage House Inn, you’ll get a free $25 dining credit to use during your stay!
To claim your free $25 dining credit:
- Go to Carriage House website to select your dates of stay and click BOOK NOW
- Click ADD CODE
- Click DISCOUNT CODE
- Click RATE ACCESS/CORPORATE CODE and enter online booking code 25FB
- Select your preferred room and complete your reservation!!!
I’m also giving away a Carriage House Inn stay + dine package!
The package features:
- 2 night stay at the Carriage House Inn
- $50 gift card to Peanuts Public House
- Sunday Brunch for 2!
To enter for a chance to win this Carriage House Inn stay + dine package, do any of the following!
- Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you’d like to do most during your Calgary trip!
- ‘Like’ my Facebook Page Lindork – Linda Hoang and follow the entry instructions on my Calgary / Carriage House Inn Facebook post
- Follow me on Instagram @lindork and follow the entry instructions on my Carriage House inn Instagram post
- Follow me on Twitter @lindork and @CarriageHouseAB tweet the following: I would love to stay at @CarriageHouseAB in Calgary! I hope to win @lindork’s stay + dine giveaway! The hotel has a year-round, outdoor heated pool, a bunch of restaurants, and nice rooms! Great hotel for my #CaptureCalgary adventures. https://linda-hoang.com/explore-alberta-a-weekend-in-calgary-what-to-do-eat-and-where-to-stay/ #yyc #explorealberta
I will randomly select one winner from all entries received by Sept. 30. Good luck!!
So those are really just a few things to do in Calgary, and why you should stay at the Carriage House Inn!
Because we’ve been to Calgary many times over the years, I’ve also done several blog posts on Calgary tourism & exploration, so be sure to check out all of those to help you plan your itinerary:
- Guide to Instagrammable Walls of Calgary
- Travel: Weekend Eats in Calgary
- Travel Calgary: Shopping Deal + Eats + Where to Stay
- What to Do in Calgary in the Summer (Travel Alberta)
- 48 Hours in Calgary
- Explore Alberta: Where to Eat in Calgary
(Feel free to message me on social media for more recent Calgary recommendations too!!)
Thanks again to Carriage House Inn for hosting Mike and I in their incredible hotel, Pedego Calgary for lending us e-bikes to explore, and BONAFIDE Media & PR for the lovely Carriage House connection!!
Disclaimer: Our stay including meals at the Carriage House inn, and our e-biking experience was complimentary. This does not impact opinions stated in this post. The hotel was amazing and we loved our stay, the food, AND (especially) the pool!! And I am basically deciding whether I should be buying a Pedego for home use now lol.