The summer season is the best time to travel to Calgary. At this time, the daylight hours are long and the days are warm and dry, owing to the city's high altitude and location within the rain shadow of the Canadian Rockies.
The city's biggest festival also goes off at this time: The Calgary Stampede welcomes millions of revelers to a rodeo, midway, and performances that make it one of the greatest outdoor shows on Earth.
Spring and fall, while short and unpredictable in their duration, are also pleasant times to be in Cowtown. Travelers should pack a few sweaters when venturing to Calgary during these seasons, as sudden incursions of Arctic air can cause rapid changes in the weather. It's not uncommon for temperatures to be in the 70s (21-25 degrees Celsius) one day, and in the 20s (-7 to -2 degrees Celsius) with heavy snow the next.
Winter is generally the most uncomfortable time of year to be in Calgary, though many skiers fly into the city en route to the Canadian Rockies during this season, so the chill in the air may be immaterial to you.
The changeable nature of this region's weather is also in effect in winter, as shifts in the prevailing wind direction to the west can bring in a pleasant phenomenon known as a chinook. This superheated air mass can raise temperatures by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of hours, turning a frosty winter morning into a spring-like afternoon, complete with the smell of local BBQ wafting on the breeze.
While Alberta's most vibrant metropolis is an interesting place to visit, it can be a challenge to find a cheap place to stay here. Nevertheless, one of the best places to find cheap hotels in Calgary is generally along Macleod Trail south of the downtown core, where one can get a basic room at the Comfort Inn & Suites South.
This location of one of North America's best-known budget hotel chains delivers amazing value for less than $90 a night. Rooms match the company's standards for cleanliness and comfort, with amenities including a pool area with a two-story waterslide and whirlpool. In the morning, a free hot breakfast includes eggs, various meat choices, and self-serve waffle stations, making this hotel an excellent choice for your group.
Another location well known among bargain hunters is the Motel Village, located at the corner of Crowchild Trail and 16th Ave NW. Within a small triangular area lies a bevy of cheap motels in Calgary, creating a competitive atmosphere that contains some of the best deals in the city. The Econo Lodge Inn & Suites University is one of its best values, as it offers an indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness centre, and a cozy fireplace in the lobby.
If you're operating on a modest budget, there are plenty of options in Calgary that will help you keep your charge card in your wallet.
Start by exploring Calgary's sporting heritage by going skating at the Olympic Oval. Located on the campus grounds of the University of Calgary in the city's northwest quadrant, speed skating medals were contested here in the 1988 Olympic Games, and today the facility helps train Canada's next generation of athletes. Hitting the ice costs $6.75 for an adult and only $4.50 for children and teenagers, so get out there and start establishing some personal bests!
After this, head over to Canada Olympic Park, located near the western city limits just off the Trans-Canada Highway. Here, ski jumps and bobsled tracks used in the 1988 Games can be toured, along with the brand-new training facility for Hockey Canada. Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, which covers this nation's athletic achievements throughout history, can also be found on the premises, with admissions only costing $12 for an adult and $8 for kids.
Those yearning to get active after touring the prior attraction can do so by going on a hike through Calgary's many parks. Discover the city's river valleys and ravines (Bowmont Natural Environment Area and Fish Creek Provincial Park), as well as segments of open prairie (Nose Hill Park) that used to be the dominant natural feature in the area before Calgary's rapid growth changed them into subdivisions over the past 50 years.
Those into local food and crafts will enjoy checking out the Crossroads Market, which can be found in the southeast in the neighborhood of Ramsay near the corner of 11th St and 26th Ave SE. The cozy confines of this year-round market (open Friday through Sunday) are packed with farm-fresh food as well as antiques, homemade products, and baked goods, making for an inexpensive afternoon if you should decide to buy lunch or a souvenir here.
Finally, exploring the Glenbow Museum, found in the downtown core on the corner of 1st St and 9th Ave SE, is a must-do for those seeking to understand the brief but colorful history of Western Canada. While admissions are on the moderately expensive side at $15 for adults and $9 for children, the value delivered in the form of First Nations artifacts, pioneer art, and exhibits relaying the story of Western Canada in the frontier era are well worth the expense.
Upon arrival in Calgary, you have several options to get to your accommodation from the airport. If you have pre-arranged your stay, shuttle services are available to many hotels in Calgarylike Hotel Blackfoot, so all you have to do is look for your driver outside of arrivals and you'll be whisked away to your home away from home … simple and painless.
The other comfortable option is to take a cab to the accommodation of your choice; if you are going this route, you should expect a fare to a place like Hotel Le Germain to cost no more than $50.
If you're on a budget, taking the Airport Express Bus (route #300) to the downtown core is the most wallet-friendly choice you can make, as fares on this route cost $9.50. If you're staying at a place like the Motel Village, you can obtain a transfer from the bus driver to take the C-Train to Banff Trail Station for no additional charge.
Given that most budget travelers are on their way to places like the Rocky Mountains, there's limited choice when it comes to hostels in Calgary. However, the ones that are available give budget travelers a comfortable place to stay while they explore this dynamic city.
HI-Calgary City Centre has re-opened in the past year after extensive renovations, so fans of new furnishings and free breakfasts with waffles and pancakes will love what they find here. Situated a short walk from the downtown core, it's the perfect place for those looking to experience the energy of one of Canada's fastest-growing cities.
Those looking to take in the nightlife along 17th Ave and be close to Pengrowth Saddledome, home of the NHL's Calgary Flames, will find Wicked Hostels – Calgary to be much to their liking. Got a pack bulging with dirty clothes? They offer a free laundry service for those staying for a minimum of three nights – what a deal!
With a dearth of choice in the lower part of the budget bracket, Calgary Airbnbs have leaped in to fill the void. Simple but cozy apartments can be had for as little as $56 a night, complete with TV, DVD players with movies, and a kitchen with an array of appliances and utensils that make self-catering an easy task.
Those looking to live the Calgarian Dream can do so at an executive mansion located in the desirable core neighborhood of Kensington. Boasting a bathroom seemingly large enough to play baseball in, a master bedroom with a three-sided fireplace, as well as a grand piano in the open-plan living area downstairs, it's the perfect way to experience Calgary like a wealthy oil executive would.
While some take time to discover this city before moving on to popular tourist destinations like Drumheller or Banff, most come here to experience the Calgary Stampede, which is one of Canada's most famous festivals.
With traditional rodeo sports, exciting midway rides, excellent shopping, and some of the most indulgent parties on Earth, it's a festival that any traveler experiencing Canada in the summer needs to include on their itinerary.
It's important to note, though, that virtually all accommodations are booked months in advance of the event for up to an hour's driving distance in all directions, so make your arrangements well before jumping on a plane to Cowtown.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.