Ultimate Guide Of 55 Free Things To Do In Calgary

  • Time to read: 16 min.

Experiencing a city does not need to cost a lot. Individuals, families, and tourists can explore a city’s attractions while keeping their expenses low.  While these leisure activities are free, some may have parking fees or accept donations. Additionally, checking the latest information before you go is always a good idea, as availability and access can change based on the season and local events.

55 Free Things To Do In Calgary

Prince’s Island Park:Prince’s Island Park is a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Bow River and downtown skyline. The park boasts numerous walking paths, bridges, and picnic areas, making it the perfect spot for a day out with family or friends. The park has lush greenery, colourful flowers, and abundant wildlife, or you can even attend Shakespeare by the Bow, an annual outdoor theatre event presented by Theatre Calgary. Emerging actors perform Shakespeare’s works in Prince’s Island Park, and the performances are pay-what-you-will, making it an accessible way to enjoy live theatre in a picturesque setting.

Explore Fish Creek Provincial Park: Fish Creek Provincial Park is a large urban park in southern Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The park covers an area of 13.48 square kilometres and features a variety of activities such as hiking, cycling, picnicking, fishing, and wildlife watching. With over 80 km of trails, you can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, including grasslands, forests, and wetlands. The park is also home to various species of wildlife, such as deer, coyotes, beavers, and over 200 species of birds. You can also visit the Bow Valley Ranche outdoor portion in Fish Creek Provincial Park. The Bow Valley Ranche area offers beautiful gardens to explore, and while the indoor exhibits and restaurant have a fee, the outdoor surroundings are wonderful for a leisurely walk or a picnic. If you enjoy nature and outdoor activities, Fish Creek Provincial Park is worth a visit.

Visit the Famous Five Statues at the Olympic Plaza: If you’re interested in experiencing a piece of Canadian history and culture, visit the Famous Five Statues at the Olympic Plaza. The Olympic Plaza is a public square situated in Calgary, Canada. The Famous Five Statues commemorate five Canadian women who fought for women’s rights and were instrumental in having women recognized as persons under the law. The statues are a must see attraction for anyone visiting the city, and the Olympic Plaza itself is a beautiful and vibrant destination with plenty of other interesting sights to explore.

Walk, bike, or rollerblade along the Bow River Pathway: The Bow River Pathway is a scenic route along the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta. It offers an excellent opportunity for outdoor activities such as walking, biking, or rollerblading as the pathway is a smooth well maintained surface. Along the way, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the river, the surrounding forests, and the cityscape. It’s an excellent way to exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and explore the city.

Check out the Peace Bridge: I highly recommend visiting the Peace Bridge if you enjoy beautiful architecture and scenic views. This stunning bridge in a bustling part of the city offers breathtaking views of the river and city skyline. It’s a perfect place to take a stroll, ride a bike, or snap photos. The bridge is also known for its unique design, with a sleek, modern look that will impress. So, if you’re looking for a fun and relaxing activity, add the Peace Bridge to your list of must-see attractions.

Enjoy the street art in the Beltline neighbourhood: The Beltline neighbourhood is known for its vibrant street art. Exploring the streets of this neighbourhood can be a delightful experience as you witness some of the city’s most creative and colourful murals and graffiti art. From bold and abstract designs to intricate and detailed portraits, the street art in the Beltline is truly a sight to behold. Whether you are a local or a visitor, taking time to appreciate this neighbourhood’s street art can be an enjoyable and enriching experience. So, take a stroll through the Beltline and discover the unique and captivating street art that it has to offer.

Window shop and people watch on Stephen Avenue Walk: Stephen Avenue is a vibrant, pedestrian friendly thoroughfare in downtown Calgary, renowned for its lively atmosphere and historic charm. This avenue is lined with a mix of modern and heritage buildings, housing an array of shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Visitors can enjoy window shopping while taking in the unique architectural styles that reflect Calgary’s past. Stephen Avenue is also a prime spot for people-watching, offering a glimpse into the daily life and culture of the city. The area hosts various street performers, festivals, and events throughout the year, adding to the energetic ambiance. 

Take a walk through the historic Inglewood neighbourhood: Inglewood, Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood, is a treasure trove of history and eclectic charm. Its well preserved early 20th-century buildings reflect the area’s rich heritage. Inglewood’s main street, 9th Avenue SE, has boutique shops, art galleries, antique stores, and eateries, each with its unique character. The neighbourhood is also known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, hosting music venues and cultural events celebrating the community’s creative spirit. 

Visit Central Memorial Park: Central Memorial Park is a beautifully landscaped Victorian-style park in the Beltline district of Calgary. As one of the city’s oldest parks, it serves as a peaceful urban oasis and a place of remembrance, featuring the Memorial Public Library and several war memorials. The park’s gardens, walking paths, and fountains provide a tranquil setting for relaxation and reflection. It’s also a popular spot for community gatherings, picnics, and quiet reading sessions under the shade of its mature trees. Central Memorial Park’s central location and historical significance make it a meaningful and serene spot in the city’s heart. 

Attend a free outdoor concert or event at Shaw Millennium Park: Shaw Millennium Park is Calgary’s premier outdoor venue for live music and cultural events. Located at the western edge of downtown, this park boasts one of the world’s largest outdoor skateparks and a state of the art amphitheatre. It annually hosts various free concerts, festivals, and community events that showcase local and international talent. The park’s open green spaces and modern facilities provide a perfect setting for enjoying live performances and engaging with the arts. Whether you are a rock, jazz, or electronic music fan, Shaw Millennium Park is the place to experience Calgary’s vibrant entertainment scene under the open sky. 

Explore Nose Hill Park and enjoy breathtaking views of the city: Nose Hill Park is a vast urban park in Calgary that offers a natural escape with its grasslands, aspen forests, and hiking trails. The park is home to various wildlife species, such as deer, coyotes, and porcupines. Due to its elevated location, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Calgary skyline and the distant Rocky Mountains. Whether you are up for a challenging hike, a leisurely walk with your dog, or a serene spot to watch the sunset, Nose Hill Park has something for everyone. The park’s vast open spaces and stunning vistas make it an ideal location for photography, birdwatching, and simply enjoying the beauty of Alberta’s landscape.

Visit the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery: The Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery, part of the Bow Habitat Station, offers an insightful look into Alberta’s fishery management and aquatic ecosystems. While exploring the Discovery Centre and hatchery indoors is free, visitors can still enjoy the surrounding Pearce Estate Park with its interpretive wetland trails and opportunities to spot local wildlife.  

Hike the trails at Edworthy Park: Edworthy Park is a scenic green space along the Bow River with extensive hiking, biking, and running trails. Visitors can enjoy the picturesque Douglas fir trail and the Lawrey Gardens or utilize the picnic areas for a family outing. The park’s natural beauty and proximity to the river make it an excellent spot for a peaceful retreat or an active day out. 

Take in the views from Scotsman’s Hill: Scotsman’s hill offers some of the best vistas of Calgary’s skyline and the Stampede grounds. Once a hidden gem, it is now a trendy spot for photographers and sightseers, especially during the Calgary Stampede, when it provides a unique vantage point for fireworks and events. The hill is easily accessible and a wonderful place to appreciate the city from above. 

Visit the outdoor Farmer’s Market at Calgary cSPACE King Edward during summer Saturdays: The Farmer’s Market is a lively community hub where you can explore a variety of local produce, artisan goods, and food trucks. 

Enjoy the art installations at the East Village: Calgary’s East Village is a revitalized urban neighbourhood that’s become a canvas for public art. Stroll through the area to find various installations, sculptures, and murals that add colour and conversation to the streetscape. The art is complemented by the neighbourhood’s modern architecture and green spaces, making it an enjoyable place for an artistic outing. 

Visit the Calgary Public Library Central Branch for its architecture and art The Central Branch of the Calgary Public Library, designed by renowned architect Snøhetta, is a stunning piece of contemporary architecture. Beyond its impressive façade, the library is home to a vast collection of books and resources, as well as art installations and spaces for public programming. Attend a free storytime session at a local library branch. The Calgary Public Library offers children free storytime sessions, including readings, songs, and activities. It’s not just a place for reading; it’s a cultural landmark that invites exploration and inspiration. 

Explore the Reader Rock Garden Reader Rock Garden is a historic garden beautifully restored to its early 20th-century splendour. The garden was originally designed by William Reader, Calgary’s Superintendent of Parks and Cemeteries. Today, visitors can wander the paths and terraces to admire the diverse plant life, rock work, and tranquil setting. It’s a charming spot for garden enthusiasts and those looking for a quiet place to reflect. 

Attend a free workshop or event at a local community centre:  Calgary’s community centres are hubs of activity, offering a range of workshops, classes, and events, many of which are free to the public. There’s something for everyone, from arts and crafts to fitness classes and cultural events. Check the schedules of local community centres to find out what’s on offer. 

Take a walk through the University of Calgary campus: The University of Calgary’s campus blends modern and traditional architecture amidst green spaces and public art. The Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary focuses on numismatics, art, and textiles, offering a diverse range of exhibitions. Admission is free, providing an excellent opportunity for art enthusiasts to explore contemporary and historical works. Visitors can also explore the grounds, take in the vibrant student life, and visit landmarks like the Olympic Oval, an indoor speed skating oval. 

Check out the architecture at The Bow skyscraper: The Bow is one of Calgary’s most iconic skyscrapers and a marvel of modern architecture. Designed by Foster + Partners, the building’s distinctive crescent shape and diagonal grid pattern make it a standout in the city’s skyline. While the building is not open for public tours, all can enjoy its impressive exterior and the surrounding plaza with sculptures by Jaume Plensa. 

Take a self guided walking tour of Calgary Murals: Calgary’s streets and alleyways adorn an ever-growing collection of vibrant murals. These public artworks, created by local and international artists, can be found in various neighbourhoods, adding splashes of colour and creativity to the urban landscape. To discover these hidden gems, take a self-guided tour and experience the city’s artistic side.

Explore the Weaselhead Flats natural environment park: Weaselhead Flats is a natural park at the mouth of the Elbow River, where it enters the Glenmore Reservoir. It’s a serene environment perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and enjoying the outdoors. The park’s diverse ecosystems include wetlands, forests, and river habitats, home to various wildlife. 

Visit the outdoor portion of the Canadian Military Museums: While there is a fee to enter the Canadian Military Museums’ indoor exhibits, the outdoor areas, including the Air Force Park with its display of historic aircraft, are free to explore. It’s an opportunity to learn about Canada’s military heritage and reflect on the contributions of the armed forces. 

Walk around Bowness Park: Bowness Park is a picturesque park located along the Bow River. It’s a popular place for picnics, paddle boating, and skating in the winter. The park’s charming pathways and green spaces offer a peaceful retreat from the city. 

Discover local history at the Heritage Park Historical Village: Heritage Park offers a glimpse into Alberta’s past with its well preserved historical buildings costumed interpreters, and, of course, the S.S. Moyie paddleboat. While there is a fee for the historical village, visitors can wander around the surrounding Glenmore Reservoir and park areas free of charge. 

Go birdwatching at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary: The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is a haven for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers. With over 270 species of birds spotted here, the sanctuary’s trails and viewing areas provide excellent opportunities for birdwatching. 

Take in the Devonian Gardens: Enjoy the Devonian Gardens, an indoor botanical garden, which is on the top floor of The CORE Shopping Centre. This urban oasis features tropical palms, koi ponds, and a living wall, providing a peaceful break from the hustle of shopping and city life. 

Travel back in time at Fort Calgary: Visit the outdoor portion of Fort Calgary. Fort Calgary shows the city’s beginnings with historical exhibits and interactive displays. While the indoor museum requires a ticket, visitors can explore the outdoor areas, including the Bow and Elbow Rivers confluence, and enjoy the interpretive signage and city skyline views. 

Round up your family and friends for a picnic: Enjoy a family picnic at Confederation Park. This large park in northwest Calgary has picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports fields, making it perfect for a family day out. The park also features a wetland area and a creek. 

Attend a public lecture or reading at a local university or college: Calgary’s post secondary institutions, such as the University of Calgary or Mount Royal University, often host free public lectures, readings, and seminars on various topics. Check the institutions’ event calendars for opportunities to learn and engage with experts. 

Take your camera for some dynamic pictures in Tom Campbells Hill Natural Park: Tom Campbell’s Hill Natural Park is a hilltop park, with an off leash area for your dog, offers panoramic views of the city and the Bow River, which is excellent for a quiet walk or a photography session, especially at sunrise or sunset. 

Explore the art at the Esker Foundation contemporary art gallery: The Esker Foundation is a contemporary art gallery featuring innovative exhibitions from Canadian and international artists. Admission is free, making it accessible to all art enthusiasts. 

Visit the outdoor areas of Canada Olympic Park: Best known as a venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics, Canada Olympic Park offers activities like mountain biking and zip-lining in the summer. While some activities have fees, exploring the park and its Olympic legacy is free. 

Take in the views at one of three of the best Calgary Lookouts: While the observation deck has a fee, the surrounding area offers excellent city views, especially at Crescent Heights Hill, Scottsmans Hill or Rotary Park

Stroll through downtown Calgary and explore its historic buildings: or attend a free art opening or gallery walk in one of the city’s many art galleries.  Calgary’s downtown core is rich with history, and many of its older buildings have plaques detailing their significance. 

The Calgary Police Service Museum is an interesting venue to explore. Visit the Calgary Police Service Museum And Archives and learn about the history of law enforcement in Calgary at this museum, which offers free admission. 

Walk through the community of Ramsay and its artistic Ramsay Ruins: Ramsay is one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods, and the “ruins” are actually a series of public art installations that add character to the area. 

Explore the art and nature at the City of Calgary Public Art program: The city’s public art program has installed numerous artworks throughout Calgary, integrating art into everyday life. 

Visit the graves of historical figures at the Union Cemetry: Union Cemetery is the resting place of many notable Calgarians and offers a quiet space for contemplation and historical exploration. 

Enjoy the scenery along the Elbow River Pathway:  Elbow River Pathway offers a scenic route for walkers, runners, and cyclists, winding through several of Calgary’s neighbourhoods and parks. It’s a unique way to experience the city’s natural beauty, spot wildlife, and enjoy the tranquillity of the river.

Explore the Kensington district with its vibrant street life and murals: Kensington is one of Calgary’s most popular neighbourhoods, known for its unique shops, restaurants, and coffee houses. The area’s lively atmosphere is enhanced by colourful street art and murals that adorn the walls of its buildings, making it a fun and artsy district to explore.

Watch the Dragon Boat Races: This annual event occurs at North Glenmore Park on the Glenmore Reservoir and features dragon boat races for teams of varying skill levels, from competitive club teams to corporate and community groups. Alongside the races, the festival typically includes cultural performances, food trucks, and family friendly activities, making it a vibrant community gathering. 

Visit the outdoor portion of the Lougheed House gardens. The historic Lougheed House features beautiful gardens that are open to the public. While there is a fee to tour the indoor museum, the gardens can be enjoyed for free and offer a glimpse into the Victorian era with their well-maintained flower beds and landscaping.

Take a walk through the Haysboro Community painted utility boxes tour: Local artists have transformed ordinary utility boxes in the Haysboro community into vibrant works of art. 

Stroll through the Eau Claire district and enjoy the views of the river: Eau Claire is a downtown district along the Bow River with pathways, plazas, and green spaces. It’s a pleasant area for a stroll, with plenty of opportunities to walk and relax by the water. 

Enjoy the landscape and public art at St. Patrick’s Island Park: St. Patrick’s Island Park is a rejuvenated urban park is located near the Bow River and Bridgeland district and features walking trails, a play area, and public art installations. It’s a great place to connect with nature without leaving the city.

Walk through the historic Mission District and visit the Holy Cross Centre: The Mission District, also known as Cliff Bungalow-Mission, is a historic neighbourhood in Calgary known for its charming character and rich history. French Catholic missionaries initially established the area. The Holy Cross Centre, formerly the Holy Cross Hospital, is a landmark with beautiful architecture repurposed to house a mix of businesses and health services. 

Attend a free cultural celebration or parade during the Calgary Stampede: The Calgary Stampede, known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, ” features a parade, rodeo, exhibitions, and more. While the Stampede has admission fees, numerous free events are held throughout the city, including parades, pancake breakfasts, and live entertainment.

Visit Griffith Woods Park for a nature retreat within the city: Griffith Woods Park offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in a natural environment featuring white spruce, aspen forests, and open meadows. Trails wind along the Elbow River, making it an ideal spot for walking, cycling, or horseback riding.

Enjoy a free skate: Skate at one of the many outdoor rinks in the winter or light displays. Calgary has several outdoor skating rinks that are free to use, such as those at Olympic Plaza and Bowness Park. Many of these rinks and surrounding areas are adorned with festive light displays during the holiday season. 

Explore the local flora and fauna: Carburn Park, a large natural area nestled along the Bow River. It features two ponds and a regional pathway perfect for wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Attend the free Fireworks Festival: There are fireworks during GlobalFest, which is viewable from various points in the city. GlobalFest is an annual cultural celebration featuring a fireworks festival, music, food, and art. While the main events occur at Elliston Park, the fireworks can often be seen from various locations around the city, providing a free show for those not attending the festival grounds. 

Chinese Cultural Day:  Chinese Cultural Day celebrates the heritage and traditions of the Chinese community. This event typically features a variety of cultural performances, such as lion dances, martial arts demonstrations, and traditional music. Attendees can also enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine, arts and crafts, and educational exhibits that showcase the history and contributions of the Chinese community in Calgary. It’s a family friendly event that offers a glimpse into the vibrant culture and is usually part of larger celebrations like the Chinese New Year.

Snowshoeing in the City: Snowshoeing is a popular winter activity in Calgary, allowing residents and visitors to explore the city’s scenic snow covered landscapes. The city and surrounding areas offer numerous parks and trails suitable for snowshoeing, providing a great way to exercise and enjoy winter’s beauty. Popular locations for snowshoeing include Fish Creek Provincial Park, Nose Hill Park, and the trails around the Bow River. These areas offer a range of terrain for all skill levels, from flat and easy to more challenging hills. 

Final Thoughts

Calgary is a vibrant city, full of opportunities to experience the city without spending a dime. Whether you are a local or a visitor, you will never run out of things to do that won’t cost you a penny, as there are plenty of ways to have fun in Calgary without breaking the bank. So, go ahead and take advantage of all the free things that this vibrant city has to offer. You never know what exciting new leisure adventure might be just around the corner.

Is Calgary a cheap city?

The cost of living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, can vary depending on various factors, including lifestyle, housing choices, and personal spending habits. However, compared to other major cities in Canada, such as Toronto and Vancouver, Calgary is often considered more affordable, particularly in terms of housing costs.

What is the weather like in Calgary?

Calgary experiences a continental climate with cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers. Due to its location near the Rocky Mountains, the city is subject to the Chinook winds, which can cause rapid warming during the winter months. Temperatures can fluctuate greatly, and it’s not uncommon for Calgary to experience all four seasons in one day.

How is the job market in Calgary?

The job market in Calgary has traditionally been strong in sectors such as oil and gas, energy, finance, and engineering due to the city’s status as the center of Canada’s energy industry. However, the job market can be cyclical and closely tied to the fluctuations in the global oil market, which can impact employment opportunities and economic stability. In recent years, there has been a push to diversify the economy, with growth in technology, tourism, and other industries. Job seekers are encouraged to research current market conditions as they can change rapidly and may vary by sector.

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