I’ve lived in Edmonton for 91.6666% of my life, which means that Calgary has been my home away from home ever since my friends and I learned to drive. So when Tourism Calgary popped the question in an e-mail, asking me if I’d be interested in visiting Calgary for a weekend, I jumped at the chance to explore all the parts of Calgary that weren’t the Chinook Mall, restaurants on Macleod trail, or the Saddledome (because apparently that’s all I visit when I make my way down). The journey from Edmonton to Calgary is a mundane one. It’s a three-hour drive down a relatively straight highway that makes you extremely grateful that cruise control was invented. But throw in some friends into that equation, and all of a sudden the three-hour road trip has become a three-hour karaoke session (which means that the trip now feels like an hour and a half, because singing makes everything better… right?).
But anyway, I digress; we* embarked on our weekend trip to Calgary on Friday, June 17th at around 6PM (we being me, Eric, Phil, and Eddy), only to check into the Hotel Alma located on the University of Calgary campus grounds, three hours later. Magically, a late night dinner was set up thanks to Kyle and Elaine’s fantastic scheduling, and we quickly found ourselves at the Palomino, surrounded by a plethora of various bbq’d meats, garlic fries poutine (*drool*), and apples that looked like potatoes (this definitely doesn’t sound as funny now that I’m writing about it, but long story short, I tricked Eric into eating an apple when he was expecting a potato. It was really funny, I swear). As you can imagine, all of this food was the perfect recipe for itis (or what is formally known as a “food coma”)
Anyway, fast forward through a good night’s sleep and some good ol’ continental breakfast at The Alma, and it’s already (technically) eleven hours into our first full day of the weekend. We start off the day at the Esker Foundation in Inglewood—the largest privately funded, non-commercial contemporary art gallery in Calgary (in other words, there’s free admission).
Following our exploration through the Esker Foundation, we walked a few minutes to our lunch destination, Spolumbo’s Fine Foods & Deli, for hearty sausages and meat loaf sandwiches.
1:00 PM – make our way to Plant for a terrarium building workshop that has all of us at a level of excitement that I could only liken to that of a 12-year-old’s on Christmas eve.
As a self-prescribed black thumb gardner, I can never bring myself to actually buy plants (because, let’s be honest, we all know they’re going to die in a few days under my care). But I guess that’s the beauty in succulents. They don’t die. At least not that easily.
It’s almost an implicit rule that every cute neighbourhood have a cute, quintessential cafe to back it up. And that’s where we were headed next—Rosso Coffee Roasters. Fun fact, I hardly ever drink coffee, but they make a mean ice matcha latte. Seriously.
Next up on our itinerary was a visit to The Livery Shop—a retail outpost and workshop for several local brands located in a historic East End Livery (otherwise known as the “big red barn”). The cozy space offers a variety of hand-made and quality goods from local companies like Camp Brand Goods, Coutu Kitsch, Harlow Skin Co., as well as a permanent pop-up flower shop called Rhosyn Floral (which just so happens to be the latest addition to the Livery’s roster of cool things)
And as of really recently, The Livery has begun to rent bikes to people interested in exploring Inglewood a little faster than at walking pace. So with that being said, we were some of the first people to get to ride the new Livery bikes and take them out along Inglewood’s lush bike paths.
Eric and I wearing our new, snazzy Nowhere Fast tees.
6:30 PM – Following an incredibly enjoyable bike ride through Inglewood, we hit up The Nash (which is literally right beside The Livery) for dinner, as did everyone else in Calgary that night (because let’s be real, the food is just that good).
8:00 PM – We return to the hotel for a food coma-induced nap, only to leave our rooms shortly later to head to the Commonwealth Bar & Stage for some really on-point music.
After a great morning of sleeping in, we started our Sunday outside at Boxwood for breakfast. Located in Central Memorial Park, Boxwood is a casual eatery dedicated to a sustainable community by growing, sourcing and serving local, seasonal food from quality, fresh, raw ingredients (which was perfect for us considering how un-green our previous meals had been).
12:00 PM – We made our way down to ARCHEloft (only a 5 minute walk from Boxwood), which is an open collaborative space that houses a variety of talented artists, designers, and creatives, while also giving them access to hard-to-access equipment and resources. Wearable tech specialist and photographer, Kelly Hofer, was on hand to give us a small tour of the loft and even make us laser cut bracelets of Calgary’s skyline.
2:00 PM – Next up on our itinerary was a visit to the Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley, requiring a 45 minute drive throughout rather scenic hills and farmlands on the outskirts of Calgary’s city limits, prompting us to stop quite a few times on the side of the road to snap a few pictures here and there. Either way, after what seemed like a relatively quick car drive, we found ourselves in the small and sunny town of Turner Valley.
The Eau Claire Distillery, which is housed in the circa-1929 Turner Valley Movie Theatre and Dance hall, is a small batch whiskey, gin and vodka distillery that produces all of its spirits from local Alberta grain with traditional horse farming techniques. Owner David Farran was so kind as to give us a tour of the Distillery and show us just how much work and effort goes into producing Alberta-bred spirits
7:00 PM – Dinner and drinks at Calgary’s only outdoor alleyway patio bar, Container Bar.
8:00 PM – After watching the Golden States Warriors’ tragic playoffs loss on a kind lady’s phone, we moved to Container Bar’s slightly more ornate sister eatery, the Brasserie, for our second dinner and dessert.
Last outfit of the trip wearing New Classics Studios, Public School, and Ports 1961.
And that’s our #BestWeekendEver written up into a few hundred words and some photos I snapped on my Contax T2. For more Calgary fun, watch our travel vlog down below. You can also check out how to have the same weekend I did on Tourism Calgary’s site riiiiight here.
A huge thanks goes out to Kyle and Elaine from Tourism Calgary for inviting us to explore their wonderful city, to everyone who hosted us in their lovely spaces, and to you guys for tagging along this adventure!