Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 22, 2022
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Beyond Calgary’s flame

10 great things that have nothing to do with to do with Stampede

Despite the booming economy and endless emergence of office buildings, condos, restaurants, shops and galleries, much of the country still thinks of cowboys when they think of Calgary. And if you've only visited during Stampede week, it's no wonder.

But before and after that 10-day stretch in July, there's not a Stetson in sight. And believe it or not, the city has plenty more to offer -- gorgeous natural attractions, family-friendly activities and sights, and a thriving arts scene.

With that in mind, we've put together a list of 10 things that have absolutely nothing to do with Stampede.

1. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
You'd never guess there was a bird sanctuary tucked away in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Inglewood. But then, that's one of the nicest things about the city -- you can find these tranquil little oases in the midst of all the commerce and concrete. The area is actually home to a few environmentally protected attractions, including the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. The Bow River runs alongside this 32-hectare reserve, which opened in 1929. It's a haven for more than 250 species of birds, as well as 300 different species of plants and mammals like coyotes, white-tailed deer and foxes. Wander down the two kilometres of walking trails, relax by the lagoon or sign up for one of the courses or field trips. Admission is free, but guided tours with a naturalist are available starting at $65. (403) 268-CITY;

2. Heritage Park Historical Village
Just 20 minutes from downtown is Canada's largest living historical village. Heritage Park takes visitors on a tour of three time periods in western Canada's history: the 1860s fur trading era, an 1880s pre-railway settlement and a Western prairie town circa 1910. Costumed interpreters bring more than 150 exhibits to life, including a blacksmith, newspaper office saloon and hospital. Little ones will get a kick out of riding the steam train, and visitors can also visit a Hudson's Bay trading fort and board a sternwheeler for a cruise on the Glenmore Reservoir. A major expansion effort is already underway, which will extend the park's historical offerings through 1930. Admission: $13.95 per adult, $8.95 for kids ages three to 17 and $11.95 for seniors. A family pass is $45.80 (two adults and two children between three and 17 years). Ride bracelets are $9 each. (403) 268-8500;

3. Glenbow Museum
Set aside about half a day to explore the Glenbow. Permanent galleries include a collection of more than 80 religious sculptures from Asia, and Warriors: A Global Journey Through Five Centuries looks at approaches to war across different cultures, including Maoris, samurai and medieval Europeans. Where Symbols Meet: A Celebration of West African Achievement explores how achievement is recognized and rewarded in over a dozen West African countries. There's also an impressive mineral collection. The new $12-million permanent gallery Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta opened in March. The exhibit chronicles Alberta's story through the lives and experiences of 48 adventurous, hard-working, spirited men and women. Artifacts, photographs, artwork and multimedia displays illustrate how these 48 figures have shaped the province. The building also houses archives, an art gallery and a library. Open daily. Admission: $12 for adults, $8 for students, $9 for seniors and free for children under six years. (403) 268-4100;

4. Devonian Gardens
Amid the downtown core's maze of skyscrapers and construction cranes, on top of the Toronto Dominion Centre shopping complex, are the Devonian Gardens. This one-hectare slice of paradise -- which is particularly popular on chilly days -- is the province's largest indoor garden, and contains some 20,000 plants, a reflecting pool, sun garden, children's playground, sculpture court and water garden. Meander along the pathways past ponds filled with rainbow trout, koi, goldfish and turtles, and check out the rotating art exhibitions. Admission is free. (403) 268-CITY;

5. Calaway Park
When I was a kid, Calaway Park was designed around Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and you'll still see a few Flintstones-style buildings here and there. The 65-hectare amusement park is hardly Disneyland, but it makes for a fun way to spend the afternoon if you're with the kids. There are around 30 rides -- with four news ones this year -- including thrillers like the Vortex Rollercoaster and Adrenaline Test Zone. Height restrictions limit the offerings for young children but there are several child-friendly rides and two playgrounds, as well as dozens of games and live entertainment. Open through October. Admission: $27 for visitors ages seven to 49 years, $19 for seniors, $21 for kids three to six years and free for children two and under. (403) 240-3822;

6. TELUS World of Science
After all those nausea-inducing thrill rides, a little educational fun is in order. The World of Science is an entertaining mix of interactive exhibits, films, live shows and multimedia presentations. The Discovery Dome planetarium features changing educational films, and the Demo Theatre presents a variety of science topics using interactive demonstrations, movies and hands-on activities. The LEGO MINDSTORMS centre combines LEGO pieces with high-tech software, so kids can create their own robot, program it with a computer and test it on a special playing field. Open daily. Admission: $15 for adults, $12 for kids ages three to 17, free for children three and under. (403) 268-8300;

7. Calgary Tower
A visit to Calgary isn't complete without going to the top of the tower. It's our Space Needle, our Empire State Building. The 190-metre-tall Calgary Tower -- which was originally named the Husky Tower -- opened in June, 1968, and the famous "torch" at the top was added for the 1988 Olympic Games. Take the elevator up to the top for clear, 360-degree views of the city. In 2005, a glass floor was added to the observation deck, so visitors can also get a view straight down. There are two restaurants, including the revolving Panorama Dining Room, which does a full rotation every hour. Open daily, 9am to 10pm. Admission: $12.95 for adults, $10.95 for seniors, $9.95 for kids ages six to 17 and $5 for children five and under. (403) 266-7171;

8. Art Central
Calgary's wealth has provided a generous shot of cash into the local arts scene. Art Central opened in November 2004, and quickly became one of the city's premier arts venues. The three-floor heritage building is filled with around 50 galleries, studios and shops, which offer works in a variety of mediums. Find gorgeous ceramics and glass at Dashwood Galleries, INFLUX carries a unique collection of jewellery by 30 local, national and international artists, and Collage features brightly coloured scarves, clothing and home accessories. At Tracy Proctor's Swirl Fine Art & Design, you can buy one of her pieces as well as the paintings and sculpture of other talented artists. The studios give visitors a chance to observe and interact with the artists and discuss their work, and several boutiques offer everything from one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories and elegant floral arrangements to design books and unique stationary. There's also a coffeehouse and bistro. (403) 543-9900;

9. Canada Olympic Park
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, and Olympic Park was the site of several events, including luge and bobsledding. Winter activities are still a big draw, but there are a few good reasons to visit Canada Olympic Park after the snow has melted. The park's summer season boasts a mountain bike park with more than 25 kilometres of single and open-track trails and an obstacle course, as well as mini-golf, a "Eurobungee" trampoline and a climbing wall. Lessons, clinics and sport adventure camps for kids are also offered. New this summer is the Skyline, a 500-metre-long zip line with a vertical drop of more than 100 metres. Don't forget to stop at the Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum. Items on display include equipment, costumes and 20 Olympic torches dating back to the 1936 Berlin Games. You can even take your turn as a member of Canada's Olympic Hockey teams with the virtual reality Hockey Shootout display. Open daily. Admission to the museum is $6 per person. (403) 247-5452;

10. Calgary Zoo
Spending an afternoon wandering around the second-largest zoo in Canada is a must if you're in town -- whether you have little ones or not. The zoo is divided into several themed sections, including the Canadian Wilds, Destination Africa and Creatures of the Night. The usual wild things are present, along with more exotic creatures like bearded dragons, wallabies, Siberian tigers, snow leopards, sloth bears, warthogs and red pandas. The Primate building is home to a variety of monkeys and marmosets, and the Prehistoric Park features a collection of life-size dinosaur replicas. Stroll through the Conservatory's tropical rainforest and butterfly enclosure and check out the seasonal blooms at the Botanical Gardens. Open daily 9am to 5pm. Admission: $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, $12 for kids ages 13 to 17, $10 for children ages three to 12 and free for children three and under. (403) 232-9300;

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