A Tourist in Calgary

Most people would scoff at the idea of an Edmontonian visiting Calgary as a tourist, but I am not one of them. I think it is possible to be a tourist even in one’s home city; to me, being a tourist is a state of mind, being open and ready for new experiences and trials, and exploring the familiar in a different way.

As such, I don’t find our southern neighbour to be as pedestrian as some do, because besides the plethora of culinary excitements (to be blogged about shortly), there are numerous everyday sites worth visiting.

Stephen Avenue is one example. My stroll on Saturday yielded many (window) shopping opportunities, as well as a sneaky Kodak moment involving hungry bridesmaids on break from a streetside photoshoot.

“Hot dogs for everybody!”

I also ended up at Art Central (100 7 Avenue SW), though just after many of the shops had closed for the day. Opened in November 2004, the building houses a number of boutiques offering everything from art pieces to jewelry and clothing. A cafe on the top floor looked like a cozy reprieve from the traffic outside.

Art house

My personal favourite stop in the downtown core was the Devonian Gardens, housed in TD Square (317 7 Avenue SW).

Devonian Gardens

Packed with tourists and more than a few locals, the Gardens are an urban sanctuary, very similar to a visit to the Muttart Conservatory (but for free!). There is a playground for children, paths to stroll, soothing water fixtures to relax to, and benches to snack on. It took me a moment to realize that the turtles in the fish pond were real, adorably craning their necks towards the heat lamps. My sister thinks it odd that the greenhouse is situated just above a shopping centre, adjacent to office towers, but I think the designers were spot on in their placement choice – it provides an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the business and retail worlds, a quiet place to have lunch or meditate, and in the winter, a means to maintain daily physical activity in the face of ice and snow.

Inside the gardens


Cascading fountain




Reflecting Pond (open in the summer only)

The Gardens will be closing for 18 months starting on October 1, 2008 to undergo renovations (not unlike Edmonton’s Muttart) – so plan to stop by soon if you’re in the city for one last indoor walk.

With the escalating price of gas, I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to get away to Calgary, but if and when I do, I know the sights I would like to return to!