Calgary Summer Adventures: Discover 12 Best Things to Do

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14 Min Read
May 2, 2024

Welcome to Calgary, where the summer sun paints the city with warmth and wonder.

In this article, we're your personal tour guides to the best summer adventures in Calgary. Think of lazy days by the river, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the water. Or imagine the excitement of the Calgary Stampede, with its thrilling rodeo shows and mouthwatering food stalls. Calgary has something for everyone to enjoy in the summer.

Take a hike in the majestic Rockies, and feel the fresh mountain air invigorate your spirit as you explore scenic trails. Or dive into the city's vibrant arts scene at one of its many summer festivals, where music, food, and culture come together in perfect harmony. With endless opportunities for fun and relaxation, Calgary is the perfect place to make the most of the season and create unforgettable memories with loved ones. So, grab your hat, pack your sunscreen, and let's dive into a summer of adventure in Calgary!

1. Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding

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As the summer sun warms the city, Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Glenmore Reservoir offer a refreshing escape right in the heart of Calgary.

This central body of water is easily accessible, close to major roadways, making it an ideal spot for those looking to squeeze in paddling sessions either before the workday begins or as a tranquil sunset activity.

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Glenmore Reservoir stands out among outdoor activities in Calgary during the summer. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or trying paddleboarding for the first time, the calm waters of the reservoir provide a safe and scenic environment.

Surrounded by lush parkland and with views of the city skyline peeping over the treetops, it’s a perfect setting to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature.

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Rental shops dot the shoreline, offering all the gear you might need without the fuss of hauling your own. Friendly staff are also on hand to give tips to beginners or those looking to perfect their paddling technique.

For families, it’s an inviting place for a day out on the water, where kids and adults alike can enjoy spotting wildlife and getting a bit of exercise.

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If you're seeking an unforgettable water summer adventure in Calgary, look no further than the scenic Bow River.

With its meandering waters and stunning vistas, the Bow River offers an idyllic backdrop for exploring the heart of the city. And what better way to experience its beauty than with a Raft or Kayak rental from The Paddle Station?

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As you paddle along the Bow River, you'll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Calgary's natural beauty. The river's gentle currents carry you past lush greenery, towering trees, and majestic mountains in the distance. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including birds, fish, and perhaps even the occasional deer or beaver.

Despite its serene surroundings, the Bow River is conveniently located in close proximity to Calgary's bustling downtown core. After your river adventure, why not grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby eateries or take a leisurely stroll through Prince's Island Park?

Location: Glenmore Reservoir - Google Maps

2. Have Fun at Calgary's Summer Events

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Summer in Calgary is a festival lover's paradise, with events that showcase the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the city. Whether you're into music, food, or arts, there's something for everyone.

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First on your summer itinerary should be Mexifest, a vibrant celebration of Mexican culture. This family-friendly festival is a colorful display of arts and entertainment that aims to foster multicultural connections. Dive into traditional and contemporary Mexican experiences that promise fun and learning for all ages.

Next, immerse yourself in the spirited atmosphere of the Expo Latino Festival. As Calgary's premier Hispanic cultural event, Expo Latino fills the air with the rhythmic beats of live music and dance performances, while art displays paint a vivid picture of Hispanic heritage. Each year, the festival ramps up its offerings, ensuring new experiences for repeat attendees and a warm welcome for first-timers.

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Don’t miss the Calgary Folk Music Festival. This four-day event features a lineup of 70 artists ranging from local Albertans to global musicians, making it a cultural and musical extravaganza suitable for the whole family.

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3. Go for a Hike

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Calgary’s scenic trails offer locals and visitors alike a chance to immerse themselves in nature without leaving the city.

For those looking to lace up their hiking boots, Calgary has several standout trails that blend natural beauty with urban accessibility.

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One must-try is the Glenmore Reservoir Loop. This 9.0-mile loop is generally considered a moderately challenging route, perfect for birding, hiking, and road biking.

Taking about 3 hours and 19 minutes to complete on average, this popular trail skirts the edges of the reservoir, offering stunning views and a peaceful escape from city life.

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Next, explore the Douglas Fir Trail, a journey through one of the city’s most splendid natural settings. This trail winds along a densely wooded escarpment, offering dramatic vistas of the Bow River Valley. It's an immersive experience where hikers can feel enveloped by ancient trees and vibrant greenery, providing a refreshing contrast to the bustling city nearby.

Lastly, the Bow River Pathway Loop provides a more relaxed hiking experience with its well-maintained paths that mix paved and packed dirt surfaces. As you follow the trail, enjoy gorgeous views of the Bow River, making it an ideal route for a leisurely day hike or a brisk walk, with plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

4. Try a Yoga Class in the Park

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Summer in Calgary brings the unique opportunity to combine fitness with the great outdoors through yoga classes in the park.

These sessions provide a perfect blend of relaxation and physical activity, set against some of the city’s most beautiful backdrops.

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Outdoor yoga classes in Calgary are designed to cater to all levels, from beginners to seasoned yogis.

Practicing yoga in a park not only enhances your flexibility and strength but also elevates your spirit, thanks to the serene and inspiring surroundings. 

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Local parks across the city host these sessions, where the open sky and fresh air contribute to a sense of freedom and expansiveness that indoor studios simply can’t match.

These classes often occur in the early morning or late evening, providing a cool, peaceful setting under the pastel hues of a summer sky.

5. Visit Calgary Zoo

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A visit to the Calgary Zoo is a journey through a mosaic of global and local ecosystems, making it a top destination for family-friendly activities in Calgary this summer.

The zoo is structured around seven of Canada's unique ecological zones, offering a deep dive into the diversity and beauty of wildlife from both Canada and around the world.

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As you wander through the zoo, you'll encounter everything from majestic Canadian wildlife in the Rocky Mountains section to exotic creatures from the African savannahs.

Each zone is thoughtfully designed to mimic the natural habitats of the species it houses, providing visitors with a genuine and educational experience.

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Engaging displays and informative talks by zookeepers enhance the experience, offering insights into the lives of the animals and the zoo's efforts to preserve their future.

Location: Calgary Zoo - Google Maps

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6. Try Zip Lining at Canada Olympic Park

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If you're seeking an adrenaline rush this summer, head to Canada Olympic Park for an Exhilarating Zip Lining Experience.

This high-altitude adventure offers breathtaking views of Calgary's landscape, adding a dash of thrill to the picturesque scenery.

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During this 1-hour zip lining tour, participants soar through the air on one of the fastest lines in North America. You'll launch from the top of the ski jump tower, an iconic venue from the 1988 Winter Olympics, and speed down the line at heart-pounding velocities.

It’s a perfect blend of excitement and scenic beauty, where the rush of the wind and panoramic city views create unforgettable moments.

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The experience is suited for thrill-seekers of all ages and provides a unique way to appreciate the city from above.

Safety is paramount, with experienced instructors ensuring that everyone is securely harnessed and ready for the ride of their lives.

Location: Canada Olympic Park - Google Maps

7. Visit Banff National Park

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Just a short drive from Calgary, Banff National Park offers an awe-inspiring escape into the Canadian Rockies.

As Canada’s first national park and part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff is a jewel in the nation's park system, combining natural beauty with a wealth of outdoor activities.

Try:

Choose the activity that suits you best!

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In Banff, the landscape is dotted with towering mountain peaks and pristine glacial lakes, creating a dramatic backdrop for all kinds of summer adventures. Hiking trails range from easy walks that meander along scenic riverbanks to challenging treks up craggy mountainsides.

Each trail offers its own unique view of the park’s breathtaking scenery, making it a paradise for photographers and nature lovers alike.

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For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, the historic town of Banff provides charming shops, exquisite dining, and cozy accommodations.

The town itself, nestled among the mountains, is worth exploring for its rich heritage and vibrant culture.

Location: Banff National Park - Google Maps

8. Try Paintball

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Calgary's premier paintball experience can be found at Capture the Flag, where excitement and strategy merge in a thrilling game of high-energy fun.

Spread over 116 acres and featuring 22 unique courses, this facility offers the ultimate setting for a paintball adventure suitable for all ages and skill levels.

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The facility is designed to provide three different versions of paintball games, ensuring that both newbies and experienced players find the right level of challenge and excitement.

This variety keeps the game accessible and enjoyable for children as young as seven, making it a fantastic option for family-friendly activities in Calgary during the summer.

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From dense wooded areas to tactical man-made structures, each paintball course offers a different theme and strategic challenges that require teamwork and quick thinking.

This diversity not only enhances the play experience but also encourages repeat visits, as each game presents new scenarios and tactics.

Location: Capture the Flag - Google Maps

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9. Enjoy BBQ in Local Parks

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North Glenmore Park, Edworthy Park, and Bowness Park—offer the perfect settings for a smoky feast under the sun.

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North Glenmore Park, a sprawling waterfront space spanning 208 acres, provides not just scenic trails and playgrounds, but also well-maintained BBQ pits and picnic areas. With tennis courts nearby, you can enjoy a game before firing up the grill for a relaxing meal by the water, making it an ideal spot for both action-packed and leisurely afternoons.

Edworthy Park offers a mix of beautiful natural scenery and essential amenities that make it a prime year-round BBQ destination. The park encompasses the Douglas Fir Trail and Lawrey Gardens, adding a touch of natural beauty to your dining experience. With diverse landscapes, it’s a place where you can grill your favorite foods while surrounded by Calgary’s lush greenery.

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Bowness Park is another gem in Calgary’s park system, beloved for its family-friendly atmosphere. The park features a shallow lagoon that's perfect for paddle boating in summer and transforms into an ice skating wonderland in winter.

Here, BBQ areas are set against the backdrop of this bustling activity, providing a picturesque and lively environment for cooking and dining outdoors.

10. Go for a Bike Ride

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Cycling through Calgary is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the city's picturesque landscapes and breathe in the refreshing air.

The city offers an extensive network of bike paths that cater to both casual riders and avid cyclists, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Calgary on two wheels.

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One of the highlights of biking in Calgary is the opportunity to ride along the scenic river pathways. These routes offer stunning views of the city skyline against the natural backdrop of the rivers, making them a favorite for both locals and tourists.

The well-maintained paths are perfect for a leisurely ride, allowing cyclists to take in the sights at their own pace.

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For those looking for a bit more adventure, Calgary's bike trails also venture into more varied terrains, offering a mix of flat rides and challenging hills.

These routes not only provide a good workout but also reward riders with amazing panoramic views of the surrounding areas.

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If you're eager to explore Calgary on wheels while tantalizing your taste buds with an array of delectable foods, Calgary Food Bike Tours offers an exhilarating journey through the city's dynamic culinary scene.

Guided by amiable tour leaders, participants get on an exciting two-wheel adventure, traversing Calgary's streets to discover a medley of local gastronomic delights.

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Location: Bow River Pathway - Google Maps

11. Attend the Stampede Rodeo

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Every summer, the Calgary Stampede Rodeo draws crowds from around the globe, making it a cornerstone of Calgary's cultural and entertainment landscape.

Known as the "World's Largest Outdoor Rodeo", this event showcases an intense competition among the world's best cowboys and cowgirls, starting daily at 1:30 p.m.

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At the heart of the Stampede Rodeo, the caliber of the competition is unmatched, featuring top-tier athletes and some of the finest rodeo animals. Each afternoon, spectators are treated to a riveting display of skill and courage as participants battle it out in events like bull riding, barrel racing, and steer wrestling.

Each victory not only brings a rush of excitement to the crowd but also propels the winners toward the ultimate goal: triumph on Showdown Sunday.

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Attending this event offers a unique blend of thrilling sportsmanship and community spirit, enveloped in the buzz and camaraderie of fellow rodeo enthusiasts.

Location: Stampede Rodeo - Google Maps

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12. Try Go-Karting

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Experience the thrill of speed and control at Calgary's Downhill Karting, a unique summer attraction that promises a burst of adrenaline for all ages.

Set against a picturesque hillside, this activity offers visitors the chance to navigate a winding switchback track in self-steered karts, making it a standout adventure in the city.

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Downhill Karting is all about the exhilaration of racing down a track, where you control the pace and intensity of your ride. Each kart is designed for safety and speed, equipped with a simple braking and steering system that allows drivers to master the art of downhill racing.

Whether you're competing with friends or racing against your own best time, the experience is both thrilling and engaging.

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The track itself is a marvel of engineering, featuring tight turns and smooth declines that keep the excitement high from start to finish.

The surrounding scenery adds to the experience, with panoramic views of Calgary's landscape providing a stunning backdrop as you zoom down the track.

Location: Downhill Karting - Google Maps

To Sum It All Up

As you can see, Calgary bursts to life in the summer with an array of activities that cater to every interest and age group.

Whether you're soaring down a zip line at Canada Olympic Park, soaking up the local culture at the Folk Music Festival, or enjoying a tranquil paddle at Glenmore Reservoir, Calgary offers endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.

Each activity we've explored is a gateway to appreciating the vibrant energy and stunning natural beauty of Calgary. From the adrenaline-pumping rides at Downhill Karting to the serene moments of yoga in the park, there's something in Calgary for everyone to enjoy. And let’s not forget the community spirit that shines during the Stampede Rodeo, bringing together locals and visitors in celebration of Calgary's rich heritage.

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