1 - Calgary Tower
Even if the 191-metre Calgary Tower (101 Ninth Ave) pales in comparison with the many futuristic needles with revolving restaurants that have sprung up around the world, it’s still charmingly evocative of The Jetsons’ 1960s optimism. Looking west, past the gargantuan glass stalagmites of the oil company monoliths, you see the brilliant line of the Rocky Mountains and, crashing into them from the east, the endless prairie. This is a city built on cowboys and oil. It isn’t necessarily raw or rugged, but it certainly is elemental, infused with Texas-like optimism and bluster, tempered by natural Canadian deference. Open 9am-9pm. Entry is CA$14.75 (£9.30).
2 - Oak Room at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel
Next door at 133 is the Palliser hotel. Originally part of Canadian Pacific Hotels, it is now operated by the Fairmont Group (fairmont.com). Opened in 1914, it has never lost its pre-eminence and remains the address for visiting royals and heads of state. The Oak Room’s austere elegance is probably not so different from when the men with high collars and side arms stopped by to sample the genteel luxury of a city-slicker bar. Order a Caesar, Canada’s bestselling cocktail, with more than 250 million reportedly consumed each year. It’s basically a piquant Bloody Mary made with clam juice. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-12am, Sun from 2pm.
3 - Art Central / Micah Gallery
Go up Centre Street to Art Central (open Mon-Sat 11am-6pm; artcentral.ca), which houses a collection of art galleries. A great place to find gifts, the Micah Gallery (112, 100 Seventh Ave; micahgallery.com) specialises in the work of native Canadian cultures, including jade from British Columbia, soapstone carvings from the Arctic, Polar Bear diamonds, and pieces made from local mammoth ivory. They also have a stunning collection of ammolite jewellery.
4 - 17th Avenue
A 15-minute walk takes you to 17th Avenue, a quintessential Calgary neighbourhood. Tubby Dog (number 1,022) serves award-winning hot dogs and family-recipe Ukrainian sausage, is licensed for alcohol and showcases local bands, while Public Social Lounge (number 1,137) serves 25 styles of wings and 100 types of vodka. For gifts, Steeling Home (number 1,010) sells affordable cowboy kitsch or for something a little special, go to Rubaiyat (number 722), which has a good selection of Inuit carvings. Visit uptown17.ca
5 - The District
Any cowboy knows you can’t walk so much without strapping on the feedbag, so make your way to the District, at 607 11th Avenue. There are no menus, only blackboards, and everything is cooked fresh. The signature starter is “bucket of bacon” – they go through 100kg a week – served with a side of maple syrup. Order the charcuterie for a gustatory tour of Canada’s wilderness: air-dried musk-ox from Nunavut, elk salami from the Elk Farmers Co-op, and cured bison and duck bacon. Wash it all down with a beer from their brewery next door. Open Mon-Thurs 11.30am-11pm, Sat 5pm until late, Sun 4pm-10pm.