Calgary surprised me with how much I liked it. There is a lot of greenery, the public library is stunning, and there are some pretty fun ways to get around town. In addition to some great public transit, the Calgary Skyway is an awesome way to travel downtown, and surely worth seeing on your trip.
Why I Love the Calgary Skyway
Have you heard of the Calgary Skyway? I hadn't, and what a fun surprise it was! Recognizing that the city is (I assume) unbearably cold in the winter, an architect in the 1960s came up with an amazing idea for connecting downtown Calgary. The Skywalk is a series of covered bridges on the second floor of buildings. It's called the +15 for this reason, since it's approximately 15 feet above the street. I'm pretty sure they use metric here, but I guess "the plus four point five" doesn't roll off the tongue as well. In any case, the Calgary Skywalk has 86 bridges and connects 130 buildings. It was a lot of fun to have a vague idea of what direction I needed to go in and then navigate through the Skywalk, looking out the window for hints or finding a Calgary Skywalk map along the corridor.
I can't say what it looked like before, but every building's second floor now looks like a mall. There were small cafes, pharmacies, hair salons, chiropractors, real estate agents, toy stores, and more set up as kiosks along the Skywalk. The rest of the floor was dominated by food court seating, which seemed like a fantastic way for office workers to grab a sandwich and check up on their investment portfolio without ever leaving the building. The weather was pretty nice for me, so the Skywalk wasn't too busy, but the internet says foot traffic can get up to 20,000 people a day.
One stunning part of their indoor development was Devonian Gardens, which takes up the fourth floor of an actual mall. It had plants and fountains and even a living plant wall!
Prince's Island Park
Calgary doesn't have too many great outdoor spaces, so having an entire small island right next to downtown is helpful. Prince's Island Park is accessible by two footbridges from different parts of downtown Calgary. It's a small but popular space for dog walkers, joggers, and families. It was definitely less developed than I expected, but it was a nice place to stroll with my morning coffee and enjoy some views of the Bow River. I imagine it's a favorite spot for locals for at least a couple of months per year.
The final thing on my list of must-see Calgary sights is the public library. It was just so beautiful, and I'm obsessed with public libraries. So obsessed, in fact, that I had to devote a post of its own: I'm Obsessed with the Calgary Central Library.