Summer in Calgary might be short, but it’s also (usually) very hot. Take advantage and explore the largest city of Alberta with our guide of 30 things to do in Calgary in summer.
The greatest thing about summer is undeniably the possibility of being outside all day long. Who wouldn’t like that? Calgary offers a lot of outdoor activities during the summer for locals and visitors alike.
We’ve been living in Calgary for more than five years, and even though we head to the mountains whenever we can, we also like staying in the city to recharge and have fun. Hopefully, you will enjoy the below summer activities as much as we do.
You won’t find ordinary things to do in this post, if you are looking for shopping or restaurant tips, for example. Instead, this is an adventure guide for people loving the outdoors, you know, our kind of people.
Enjoy the summer in Calgary!
Fun things to do in Calgary in summer
1. Float down the Bow River
One of the most popular summer activities in Calgary is floating down the Bow River.
Starting at Bowness Park, you can choose where you want to end up but most common is Prince’s Island in Calgary’s downtown. The farthest point is Calgary Zoo, 20 km down the stream which can take 2-4 hours.
Sports Rent provides raft, kayak, and stand up paddleboard rentals (but no shuttle), Lazy Day Raft Rental provides rafts and offers shuttle service and The Paddle Station rents you a raft at Shouldice Park which you can then conveniently leave at their drop off station at St. Patrick’s Island.
2. Watch wildlife in the park
Even in the city you can find plenty of wildlife. Just head to any park after sunrise or before sunset to watch deer, beavers, porcupines or coyotes.
We like Fish Creek Provincial Park and Nose Hill Park for deer, and Prince’s Island Park to watch beavers.
Canadian wildlife won’t disappoint, even more so when you visit the Rocky Mountains. You can see bears, moose, elk, and much more.
3. Kayak on Glenmore Reservoir
The Glenmore Reservoir is a large reservoir of drinking water on the Elbow River. Although swimming is forbidden, you can rent a kayak and enjoy the time on the water. Many rental companies in Calgary can set you up with a kayak and all the gear you might need.
4. Have fun at music festivals
Enjoy outdoor music festivals in Prince’s Island Park. Feel like dancing salsa? Or you enjoy folk? Whichever culture you’d like to explore, Calgary got you covered.
Festivals in June:
- Calgary Ukrainian Festival in June – try traditional Ukrainian cuisine and alcohol drinks
- 4th Street Lilac Festival – a pedestrian friendly venue with artists, music, and market
Festivals in July:
- Mexifest – celebrating Mexican culture with live music and tasty eats
- Folk Music Festival – featuring musicians from all over the world
- Fiestaval Latin Festival – a free event with multicultural arts and dance performences from Latin American culture
- Arab Festival – a free event featuring traditional music, customs and food
Festivals in August:
- Tour de Bowness Street Festival – a free one-day event with artisans, food trucks, musicians and a bike race
- Marda Grass Street Festival – a free family-friendly event inspired by New Orleans festival
- Expo Latino – largest Latin Festival in Western Canada
5. Go stand up paddleboarding
Fastest growing sport in the world arrived to Calgary. Stand up paddleboarding is very easy to learn, so newbies will fall in love with this sport quickly. The closest is Lake Chestermere with only 20 minutes from Calgary and a rental shop onsite.
If you’re up for a challenge, you can try stand up paddle boarding through Calgary on Bow River. It requires a bit more skills and experience than paddling on a calm lake, so we got our advanced certificates and can’t wait to try it next season.
From all the lakes I’ve paddled on, the most memorable and scenic experience was on Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. The blue water right underneath your feet is staggering.
6. Have barbeque in North Glenmore Park
Pack your lunch and head to North Glenmore Park. There’re plenty of barbeque grills in the park which are free to use. If you plan on bringing lots of friends, you can book the picnic site in advance to make sure you will have a spot.
Other options we like for BBQ are:
- Edworthy Park
- Bowness Park
- Stanley Park
- Sandy Beach Park
7. Watch sunset in Nose Hill Park
Sunsets and sunrises are spectacular whenever you are. For the best view of the city from above, go to Nose Hill Park. After just a short hike up the hill you’ll have a great view to enjoy nature’s show.
8. Go for a bike ride
Calgary has over 700 km of bike paths, and many of them are scenic along Bow River or Elbow River. Our popular rides in the city are
- From Prince’s Island to Edworthy Park with a stop for ice cream in Angel’s café (20km)
- Nose Hill Park for mountain biking (you can choose any difficulty or distance)
- Around Glenmore Reservoir (15 km/1 loop)
- Fish Creek Park before sunset for watching wildlife (any distance you choose)
9. Sail in Glenmore Reservoir
Learn to sail or rent a boat and enjoy an afternoon with your friends. Glenmore Sailing Club offers sailing lessons for youth and adults.
I wish stand up paddleboarding would be allowed on Glenmore Reservoir, but unfortunately, it isn’t. You can only go on kayak, canoe, or boat.
10. Try yoga class in the park
This is one of my favourite summer activities in Calgary. You can either practise yoga by yourself in the park or join other yogis in different parks throughout the city.
Many yoga studios run yoga classes in parks, usually free or for a donation to local charities:
- Stanley Park Yoga every Sunday
- Yoga in Bowness outdoor on sunny days
- Beltline Outdoor Yoga every Tuesday and Thursday
- Fish Creek Outdoor Yoga on Wednesdays
44 Adventure ideas for a fun weekend!
11. Play beach volleyball
Playing volleyball on the sand feels like being on a real beach. You can get a beach feeling right in downtown Calgary. There are 3 beach volleyball courts at 12 Street & 9 Avenue SW. All you need to bring is a ball and few friends.
If you’re new to Calgary, I highly recommend meet ups from Couchsurfing or joining groups on Meetup.com. That’s how we’ve met some fun people to play volleyball with.
12. Try zip lining in Canada Olympic Park
North America’s fastest zipline provides the biggest adrenaline. You will slide down from the largest ski jump at Canada Olympic Park that was used during 1988 Winter Olympic Games with a bird’s eye view of Calgary. It’s 500 metres long, reaches a speed of 140km/h and admission starts at 63 CAD + GST per person.
Watch the video of speeding down the zipline at 140km/h. It’s thrilling!
13. Play piano in downtown
Three pianos in downtown invite passers to play or exchange a book from the cabinet on the back. The Downtown Street Piano Series features professional piano players during lunch hour and invite to sit in comfortable chairs and listen to different genre of the music. Performances are Tuesdays and Thursdays during the whole summer.
14. Watch Northern Lights
You won’t believe it until you see it. Green light across the sky dancing above you. Sign up at Aurora watch to get notifications when there’s a high chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
Then head out of Calgary and look for a clear sky with low light pollution for the best view. I would suggest driving north of Airdrie or east towards Drumheller.
15. Attend Stampede rodeo
The “greatest outdoor show on Earth”, known as Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo and festival held in July. 10-day event is popular among visitors from around the world, attracting more than one million per year.
16. Watch Shakespeare by the Bow River
Recently graduated drama students meet up every summer in Prince’s Island Park to perform a Shakespeare play. The performance runs five times a week in the evening on a pay-what-you-will basis.
17. Surf on the Bow River
This is the last activity that anyone would expect in a city, but here it is. You can ride a standing wave close to the 10th Street Bridge on the Bow River. Outlier Surf offers surfing lessons with all the equipment included.
Recently, Alberta River Surfing Association started developing a project to create an urban surf beach and river waves. Let’s hope they succeed! How amazing it would be to enjoy a beach right in downtown Calgary where you can swim, surf, stand up paddleboard or just lounge and enjoy a summer day.
You can also attend a yearly Slam Festival in August with surfing lessons, live DJ’s and bands, hang outs & hammocks, floating on Bow River, cocktails and prizes. Everything that a beach party should have!
18. Ride the sled with Skyline Luge
The Calgary Luge is the world’s longest Luge track. Ride down the 1,8 km track on a sled in Winsport Olympic Park. It’s a great family-friendly activity to get an adrenaline rush. I loved the fact that you can control the speed and go as fast (or as slow) as you’d like.
It’s one of the most fun things to do in Calgary in summer.
19. Visit T’suu Tina Nation’s Powwow
Powwow is a gathering of the First Nation’s people from around the country. They come together every summer in Bragg Creek filling grounds with tipis.
First nation’s people are dressed in extraordinary colourful outfits dancing in circle to the rhythmic beat of the drums. We’ve been twice already and had a great time.
20. Eat in Burger 320 in Bridgeland
After all the fun, you must eat. Try burger, a typical meal for Alberta. I highly recommend Burger 320 for meat-lovers and vegetarians as well.
It’s a small and friendly place where the chef Mario makes the best home-made burgers in town. He uses locally raised brisket, homemade freshly prepared toppings and buns, hand-cut fries and makes their own gelato.
Side note: Alberta is a beef region but hopefully there will be one day a big market with fresh produce of fruits and vegetables (which they have plenty of in Quebec).
21. Visit historic Heritage Park
Relive the Wild West history in Calgary’s Heritage Park. The historic village beside the Glenmore Reservoir is history lover’s paradise. You can walk around the ranch, a 19th century replica of fur trading post, Gasoline Alley Museum, or take it up a notch and have fun by:
- Cruising the Glenmore Reservoir on a boat
- Taking a horse-drawn wagon
- Riding on a steam locomotive
22. Explore street art and sculptures
Hop on a bike or rent one of the electric scooters that are scattered around the city and go for a ride to explore Calgary’s street art and its iconic sculptures.
One of the most iconic sculptures is the Wonderland Sculpture in front of the Bow building, the tallest building in Calgary at 236 m. You can find other sculptures at Olympic Plaza, Stampede Park or in front of Calgary’s Public Library as well as inside.
An increasing number of murals are painted every year during the Bump Festival in Beltline. If you’re a fan of colours as much as me, this is a real treat. My favourites are:
- Blackfoot singer at 1232 17th Avenue SW
- Bees at 10 Avenue & 12 Street SW
- Cougar at 735 12 Avenue SW
- Indigenous dancer at 340 10 Avenue SW
- Cougar in the mountains at 1410, 11 Avenue SW
You can find a map of all murals here.
23. Celebrate Canada Day
Celebrate Canada’s birthday on July 1st and join the biggest party of the year. With celebrations happening all over the city, it’s hard to choose where to go.
The Prince’s Island Park holds several different venues easily reachable on foot – Indigenous Powwow, artisanal market, live concerts at Fort Calgary and along Riverfront Avenue. At 11 pm, catch the fireworks above Centre Street Bridge.
24. Swim in outdoor pool
Even though I like to take a quick dip in the cold Bow River in summer, especially after a bike ride, sometimes all you want to do is chill. That’s why Calgary’s outdoor swimming pools are great for. You can sunbathe on the grass and refresh in the water in between. Choose any of the 8 outdoor swimming pools.
Another option is to refresh in the channel on St. Patrick’s Island Park.
24. Relax in St. Patrick’s Island Park
One of the oldest parks in Calgary (located in downtown by the George C. King Bridge) was renovated in 2015. Now it’s a beautiful place with an amphitheatre, biking trail, children’s playground, several benches and resting areas across the park.
And of course, events, live music, and markets. It’s my favourite park for relaxing and enjoying the sun.
Visiting Calgary in spring? Head to Prince’s Island Park for cuteness overload. See our post Joys of spring in downtown Calgary to see what I mean 🙂
25. Get moving at Active Learning Park
Head south of Calgary to an amazing Granary Road. They offer an active learning park for kids full of activities and trails, and an animal inspired education stations and games to learn about agriculture and farming.
Adults can have fun in the rooftop bar, at a local produce market, or try goat yoga!
26. Bike up the Moose Mountain
Located in West Bragg Creek just 30 minutes from Calgary, Moose Mountain is a popular hiking and biking trail. I personally find biking up the mountain more fun, it’s 14.5 km return trip.
For the steepest last km at the end, you need to lock up your bike at the sign and hike up the scree to the fire lookout. You’ll be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view and then the downhill.
27. Visit Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth a visit if you’d like to know more about Blackfoot native people and how they used to kill buffalo for almost 6000 years.
Take a road trip through Southern Alberta on the Cowboy Trail, and you’ll find more gems along the way.
28. Hike Alberta badlands & discover dinosaurs
Due to the famous Rocky Mountains west of Calgary, other areas in Calgary tend to be overlooked. I have a great tip for you – head east to Drumheller, it’s like stepping into a western movie.
You can hike the canyons that thieves used to hide in, walk through the sandy hoodoos, have a drink at a historic saloon with bullets from the pistol in the wall or visit an enormous Royal Tyrrell Museum with dinosaur displays.
29. Get your mountain fix in Canmore
The first mountain town on the way to the Rocky Mountains is Canmore, a gorgeous little outdoor heaven.
Surrounded by mountain peaks, go stand up paddleboarding on Rundle Forebay, mountain biking to Canmore Nordic Centre, hiking to Grassi Lakes or just for a stroll along Bow River in search of wildlife.
30. Hike in the spectacular Rocky Mountains
We’ve compiled a list of 15 hikes near Calgary that are perfect for a day trip. A few of my favourites are:
- Galatea Lakes in Kananaskis Country
- Sulphur Mountain and Mount St. Piran in Banff National Park
- Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park
If you’re looking for an adventurous road trip while staying in campgrounds, book a Smile Campervan from us – a budget, family & pet-friendly option.
If you’d like to explore more Canadian cities, check out things to do in Winnipeg.
Search for even more summer activities in Calgary below:
*In the spirit of full disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission at no extra costs to you. We appreciate your support!
Are you ready to spend summer in Calgary? Which activity is on your list?
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