Calgary is certainly a desirable destination in the heart of Western Canada! With the silhouettes of the majestic Canadian Rockies lending a picturesque scene in the distance, you’re sure to be intrigued by Calgary in more ways than one.
Home to the University of Calgary, a provincial park, diverse community events and an ever-expanding culinary and Fine Arts scene, there is truly something for everyone! With the proximity of the Rockies (including Canmore, Kananaskis Country and Banff and Jasper National Parks), if you’re an adventurer and nature enthusiast, a multitude of summer and winter pursuits await!
Here is your ACN-Approved Healthy City Guide to the best vibrant living Calgary, Alberta has to offer!
Calgary is continually experiencing growth in its health and wellness sector, including cold-pressed juice shops, farm-to-table restaurants, numerous farmers’ markets, a variety of boutique yoga and fitness studios and the always available mountain adventures. When in Calgary, the community spirit and love for the outdoors won’t cease to amaze you!
Where to Eat
The Coup. At this ethical vegetarian restaurant located in the heart of 17th Avenue (as pictured above), you can delight in a seasonal menu that largely uses local, organic, sustainably-sourced ingredients and from-scratch cooking techniques. A percentage of the income generated at this eatery is donated to Mealshare, thereby providing a meal to someone in need. Customers also receive a 5% discount for any takeaway containers they bring in with them for meal pick-ups. Become intrigued by a variety of flavorful breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and beverages, such as the Messy Jessy, The Green House Effect or the Chia Cactus-Soother!
Ten Foot Henry. With a ‘fresh vegetable-anchored menu’ that you will quickly come to love, Ten Foot Henry offers family-style dining all day long, as well as weekend brunch until 2 pm. Named after a long-standing Calgary icon (the famed 1930 comic strip character, Henry), the trendy and welcoming atmosphere is hard to resist! Treat your taste buds to a variety of small and larger plates, featuring ingredients such as Asian pear, rainbow chard, broccolini and yam tortilla. As an alternative to the family-style dining experience, you may stop into their attached café – Little Henry.
Seed N Salt. This spot is rooted in supporting local farmers and building relationships, knowing where your food comes from and what ingredients are part of it, as well as a focus on today’s superfoods, and a lifestyle that emphasizes both kindness and community. Seed N Salt offers a wide range of menu items including breakfast, salads, bowls, seasonal delights, smoothies, smoothie bowls and treats. Whether it’s the Mediterranean Bowl, Kalefornia, Red Coconut Curry, Dragon bowl or Avocado Banana Loaf, you’re sure to be recharged and satiated!
Our Daily Brett. This market and catering company is committed to creating and sharing good, honest food, offering not only a casual dine-in and takeaway menu, but specialty retail products as well. Enjoy this trendy, naturally-lit spot with a breakfast bowl, tostada, avocado toast, falafel sandwich or soup-of-the-day, for example. Alternatively or additionally, enjoy checking out NHBR (NEIGHBOUR, by Our Daily Brett).
Jusu Bar. With a hand-crafted menu that is sure to have you wanting to try one of everything, JUSU is dedicated to providing food selections that “will awaken your cells and energize your life!” Offering both grab-and-go menu items as well as JUSU body care (a full line of all-natural skin, hair, and bath products), there is much goodness to be enjoyed! Look forward to 100% organic and non-GMO ingredients in a menu spanning elixirs, shakes, smoothie bowls, sandwiches, wraps, toasts, salads, bowls, elixirs, cold brew, snacks and desserts.
Raw Eatery & Market. Located in Kensington Village, this vegan menu is locally sourced and crafted with love using fresh, local and healthy ingredients. Rejuvenate with such plates as the Kale-Mary or The Garden Spaghetti. Owned and operated by nutrition practitioner Megan Pope, visitors may also choose to benefit from the Nutrition Services she provides to the public.
Veg-In YYC. This globally inspired vegan and vegetarian street food café in the heart of downtown Calgary blends Western and traditional Indian recipes. The owners are dedicated to preparing easily accessible, homemade food and support local food suppliers as much as possible. Enjoy a veggie burrito (on a garden vegetable tortilla), a burger (on dairy- and egg-free buns), one of the chef’s signature creations, or a raw, vegan dessert! Those with severe gluten allergies are advised against selecting the gluten-free menu items, due to possible cross-contamination within the facility; vegetarian menu items do contain dairy.
River Café. Situated in the heart of Prince’s Island Park along the Bow River lining the north side of the downtown core, River Café is the ultimate fine dining experience. Rated one of Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants 2018 (CANADA’S 100 BEST) and one of Calgary’s Best 25 Restaurants 2018 (Avenue Magazine), you may indulge in seasonal Canadian cuisine in a spectacular setting. The team at River Café is “dedicated to sourcing the best tasting local ingredients in season, connecting directly with growers and producers at their farms, gardens and ranches”, while upholding the value of environmental stewardship. Relax and become lost in menu items including the Heritage Greens, Pine Mushroom Roasted Eggplant or the Line Caught Pacific Halibut.
Deane House. A re-modelled Heritage Home in Inglewood, where the Elbow River meets the Bow River, Deane House is a bright, cozy, and memorable fine-dining experience (similar to that of River Café). Enjoy lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, as you explore regional Canadian cuisine. During the summer months, really satisfy your senses with their Summer Jazz Series on the patio (Sundays 12-3 pm).
Made By Marcus. By far the most popular ice cream spot in Calgary, this handcrafted ice cream uses local ingredients, including organic dairy from Vital Green Farms in southern Alberta. Made By Marcus specialties include hard ice cream and sorbet in cones/cups, sundaes, soft serve and ice cream cakes. There are always both seasonal and vegan options on their menu; past vegan options have included such flavors as Wildberry Lavender, Salted Caramel Cashew Date, and Coconut Mango. On a hot summer day or night, particularly on the weekends, be prepared to stand in a determined line-up, but rest assured that it is worth the wait!
High-Vibe Health. In Midnapore, south Calgary, this gem of a spot is Alberta’s only certified organic bone broth shop. Whether it be the chicken, turkey, pho, beef, bison, vegetable or ‘Chocobroth’ you’re after, you’re in for a real treat! Stop into the broth shop for your supply of frozen broth, a hot mug of broth or bowl of bone broth-based soup, a ‘Broth Pop’, and/or a gluten-free baked snack. Furthermore, delight in a variety of other high quality, healthy, local products.
Bruhe. Located in the heart of Ramsay, this small and mighty food stand is focused on old school nutrition (embracing real food). The menu is a true treat! Sit down and relax with a nourishing beverage, such as a mug of some organic bone broth, an organic Japanese matcha latte, kombucha or “Liquid Gold” (a turmeric-based beverage). You may also enjoy a gluten-free, organic treat, or invest in a loaf of organic sourdough bread (available in buckwheat, coconut or rice varieties)!
Happy Belly Kombucha. This family-based local taproom and brewery is dedicated to handcrafting a raw, organic kombucha of superior quality, “creating more Happy Bellies in the world, one glass at a time”. Happy Belly Kombucha crafts a multitude of kombucha flavours using the finest and freshest ingredients, including Grapefruit Hops, Pineapple Hops, Ginger Turmeric, Mint, Haskap Berry, Strawberry Hibiscus Ginger, Purple Ginger and the intriguing “Love Potion”! You’ll have to pay this taproom and brewery a visit to discover more, including the flavours unique to their taproom. Whether you’re new to kombucha or a seasoned consumer, this is the spot to learn more about this health-promoting, digestion-supporting beverage.
Best Markets IN Calgary
Crossroads Market. This 30-year-old city market composed of over 150 valuable vendors (as pictured above) offers a welcoming market experience. Supporting new and local businesses, this market stands behind numerous organizations and events throughout Calgary, including fundraisers that support students in Calgary schools, extra-curricular activities and not-for-profit organizations. Catch this market experience every Friday-Sunday (9am-5pm).
Calgary Farmers’ Market. Certainly one of Calgary’s busiest markets, this market provides over 80 vendor experiences. Vendors encompass local produce, meat and poultry, international foods, jewelry/clothing/retail goods, as well as a play area for children. You might even experience some live music or other types of featured artists. Enjoy this prominent market environment every Thursday-Sunday (9am-5pm).
Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market. Dedicated to growing a good food community, this market is year-round and situated in the heart of the Hillhurst Sunnyside neighbourhood of Calgary. The outdoor season spans mid-May to mid-October (3-7 pm), where you can enjoy high-quality items from a diverse group of vendors, including local farmers, food creators and artisans. Come mid-October the market may be enjoyed indoors, until mid-May.
Lions Club of Bearspaw Farmers’ Market. This bustling and spirited outdoor market operates every Sunday from late June to the end of September (10am-2pm), with over 100 vendors to learn about and enjoy. A number of vendors can also be found indoors within the Bearspaw Lions Community Hall. Sample some freshly squeezed lemonade or certified organic bone broth, or invest in some farm-fresh chicken. Regardless, there are plenty of passionately made and appealing options to explore!
Blush Lane Organic Market. With multiple locations around the city of Calgary, Blush Lane Organic Market is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds! Voted the “Best Organic Grocery Store” (Golden Fork Awards 2018), this market is committed to sustainable agriculture, ethical practices and environmentally conscious actions, and sourcing responsibly and locally grown products. Beyond pristine, fresh produce, bulk food options and a range of packaged goods, Blush Lane Organic Market also provides visitors with natural supplement and beauty care departments.
Community Natural Foods. A longstanding health food store and market in Calgary (since 1977), its three locations can be counted on for a wide range of natural and organic products, including natural supplements, personal care products and nutritional resources, such as cookbooks and culinary tools. Community Natural Foods was Calgary’s first grocer to go single-use plastic bag free, as well as Calgary’s first retail store to go single-use plastic water bottle free, valuing various types of sustainability initiatives. The 10th Avenue Market regularly hosts public workshops/lectures that are often live-streamed to the other locations; most workshops are free to the public.
Light Cellar. A small grocery and café like no other, the Light Cellar is your go-to stop for anything and everything superfood. The highly knowledgeable staff will help you locate exactly what you are looking for, whether it be raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi, wild-harvested/dried reishi mushroom or maca powder, for example. At their Elixir Bar, indulge in some self-care with a nutrient-dense elixir and a handcrafted snack. In their culinary classroom, they regularly host a variety of workshops, where you can learn how to make raw chocolate, gut-supportive recipes or effectively support hormonal balance in the body. Guided forages in the Calgary area are also available. The Light Cellar has recently expanded with a second location in Inglewood, being housed within Bite Grocer + Eatery.
BEST Yoga and Fitness IN Calgary
BARRE BELLE. A boutique fitness studio with multiple locations in Calgary (as pictured above), these classes are led by talented and motivating instructors possessing a background in dance, fitness and other mediums. These classes combine barre exercises with cardiovascular interval training and resistance training to provide an undeniable, full-body workout. Whether it’s the Barre Belle Fit, Barre Belle Fat Burn or the other class options, you can expect to use a few types of equipment to support your workout. This may include dumbbells, resistance bands and medicine balls, all to the beat of a playlist of adrenaline-pumping tunes!
Junction 9. In the heart of Inglewood is Junction 9 Yoga and Pilates, a calming and beautiful space that represents inclusion, community and fellowship. Participants may choose from a variety of different yoga styles, including (but not limited to) Vinyasa Flow, Sunrise Flow, Hatha Flow, Yin By Candlelight and Prenatal Yoga. With the Pilates instruction, participants are required to attend a Pilates Principle Workshop prior to attending the other Pilates reformer class options. Private Pilates classes are also available!
Yoga Santosha. With locations in both Kensington and Mission, this yoga community provides a variety of yoga class styles for all levels of experience. Yoga class styles include (but are not limited to) Ashtanga, Flow, Yin/Yang, Warm Hips and Hamstrings and Warm Yin/Restorative. Authentic practice and self-realization are focal points of the instruction. Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training is also available for those desiring to pursue training in this field.
YYC Cycle. Join the “Biker gang” for a spin class like no other. With three locations in various parts of Calgary, this spin studio offers high-energy, 50-minute spin classes multiple times daily, where the lights are off, the spotlights are on and the music is pumping! Your “Motivator” (instructor extraordinaire!) is sure to take your fitness to the next level, including intervals of spin and dumbbell-based exercises to build your upper body strength, as well. YYC Cycle has certainly blazed a new trail with regards to the indoor cycling experience!
Lagree YYC. Also offering a core-strengthening, full-body workout that is sure to have you burning plenty of calories in one class, The Lagree Method™ is taught using the Megaformer machine. This machine is “a moving platform manipulated through a system of springs, straps and cables in combination with your own body weight to provide resistance”. Although this workout is high-intensity and set to music, the participant controls the intensity of the movements through slow, controlled exercises that minimize the impact on the joints of the body.
9Round Fitness. This unique fitness experience in multiple locations around Calgary offers participants the opportunity to drop-in at any time of day and complete a 30-minute, kickbox-based fitness circuit, complemented by the support of personal trainers and nutritional guidance. Available to all fitness levels, it’s sure to be a full-body workout that allows you to start at where you’re at and progress at a rate suitable for you. Using functional movement through interval training, cardiovascular training and an established circuit, your cardiovascular and muscular fitness are sure to be transformed!
Revive Lifestyle Fitness. This boutique fitness studio offers participants a 55-minute low-impact, heart-pumping, HIIT workout using stationary bikes, water rowers, kettlebells and TRX. If you’re looking for a well-rounded, full-body workout, then this space is the place for you. Their cycling technology (Matrix IC7) allows instructors to customize the intensity level on the bikes by using a wattage calculation and four color-coded training zones. Their Heart Rate Training provides participants with the opportunity to monitor their progress to prevent the body from reaching a plateau during training.
Natural Spas IN calgary
Clear Float Spa. Indulge in some relaxation for both your body and mind with float therapy. Well-researched and relying on the use of magnesium salts, float therapy supports chronic stress relief, relaxation, poor sleep/insomnia, heightened senses, meditation and faster healing/muscle recovery. Choose from a guided floating meditation, calming floating music or various lighting options to best suit your needs. Look forward to some complimentary tea or kombucha during your visit, as well.
Leela Eco Spa. An environmentally conscious spa and socially conscious organization, Leela Eco Spa (pictured above) depends on eco-friendly, organic products for its clients. Enjoy a massage, acupuncture, osteopathy and/or esthetic service that relies on natural methods and cruelty-free products, This spa has three locations in Calgary and partners with local businesses that also share a passion for environmental stewardship, including Green Start Recycle and Bull Frog Power. A paperless business, Leela Eco Spa relies on a water filtration system rather than disposable plastic bottles, as well as all-natural cleaners for facility maintenance and an enjoyable client experience.
Exige Medi Spa. Dedicated to a holistic approach to natural healing with a multi-practitioner environment, Exige Medi Spa provides opportunities for massage, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, cupping massage, reflexology and other natural remedies for the mind and body in a beautifully relaxing zen environment. Treatment plans for a client are able to take multiple practitioners’ perspectives into mind.
Inner Balance Spa. This alternative therapies spa – focused on philosophies of holistic health – will support bringing your body into a greater state of balance, whether it be via a massage, acupuncture treatment, aromatic steam or infrared sauna. A bright, clean and inviting space, the holistic team of experts at Inner Balance Spa use products that contain natural and organic ingredients that are sure to have you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated! Enjoy some complimentary, immunity-enhancing tea during your stay as well.
Hammam Retreat and Spa. If you’re looking for more of a Turkish Hammam or Moroccan Hammam experience, then this is your place! This unique spa experience aims to get rid of dead skin cells and enhance good blood flow to leave your skin feeling rejuvenated like never before! Between a visit into the sauna, laying on a heated marble slab and enjoying a full-body exfoliation, rinse and moisturizing treatment, you’ll be well looked after! Following the treatment, look forward to some light snacks and tea. As an alternative, a Moroccan clay facial or hot stone massage may be just what your body needs!
BEST HEALTH-INSPIRED ACTIVITIES IN calgary
East Village. Calgary’s “Urban Village” (as pictured above), the East Village offers a multitude of things to do! The new Calgary Central Library is a stunning site to see! Pay a visit to Studio Bell, which houses the National Music Centre, delight in the various public art installations that decorate the neighbourhood or explore some history at Fort Calgary.
The Jack and Jean Leslie Riverwalk™ is an award-winning pathway that can be enjoyed on foot or by bicycle. With divided lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, there is plenty of space for all to enjoy this scenic pathway along the Bow and Elbow Rivers. Spanning Centre St. to 9th Avenue SE and dotted with periodic benches, it certainly is a relaxing, scenic and enjoyable path in the city!
St. Patrick’s Island is a gem of a spot in the East Village, situated on the Bow River. It is a revitalized, 31-acre island designed for nature lovers, families and urban explorers alike. Offering a public art installation, picnic space, a Playground for kids and a fishing cove, there is much to explore! Take in a public market and live music during the summer months in Confluence Plaza, which houses an amphitheatre. Let the boardwalk and trails, amidst the natural wetlands, lead you to new destinations and a whole lot of outdoor fun!
Prince’s Island Park. Home to Calgary’s Canada Day celebrations and the Calgary Folk Music Festival, this popular and beautifully maintained park in downtown Calgary boasts numerous picnic areas, a playground, walking trails, flower gardens, the aforementioned River Café and scenic views of Calgary’s downtown core. It is also home to Shakespeare by the Bow during the summer months. Visitors may also enjoy some cross-country skiing and outdoor skating in this area, during the winter season!
Calgary Zoo. At the Calgary Zoo, animal lovers may explore 100+ types of species. The zoo’s Center for Conservation Research works with its partners to develop strategies that will benefit species-at-risk via community conservation and reintroductions. Providing special programming for its visitors, including a Safari Sunday Brunch and Zoolights (during the winter holiday season), there are plenty of opportunities for animal lovers to enjoy!
TELUS Spark. Ignite your curiosity at this playground of wonders! Explore science, technology, engineering, math and art experiences designed for a wide range of ages and interests. Explore The Brainasium, an outdoor adventure space, craft something new in the Open Studio or take in a live science demonstration.
WinSPORT. The Winter Sport Institute at Canada Olympic Park is where you may enjoy quite a thrill if you’re so inclined. Offering both summer and winter activities, including a zip line, summer bobsleigh, skyline luge, scenic chairlift, mountain biking, hockey, skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing, you’re sure to have an adventure (or three)! Lessons and camps are available, in addition to single-day experiences. If you’re a lover of physical activity, this is certainly the place for you to enjoy a unique, outdoor adventure.
Calgary Tower. Majestically towering approximately 191 meters over Calgary’s downtown core, the Calgary Tower offers spectacular views of the city. Visitors are able to experience a 360-degree view of Calgary’s finest features, including the spectacular Rocky Mountains in the distance. The complimentary multimedia tour (available in seven languages) explores Calgary’s history, landmarks and future plans. If you feel inclined, take a few steps onto the glass-bottom floor! Approximately 155 meters up the tower you’ll find the SKY 360 restaurant; which makes a full rotation every 45-60 minutes, depending on the time of day.
Fish Creek Provincial Park. An extensive park in the south of Calgary, Fish Creek Provincial Park is a nature lover’s escape, whether it be for an extended walk, hike, some bird watching, cycling, fishing, golfing, swimming, or to take in a seasonal event. Facilities including the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, the Sikome Aquatic Facility (for seasonal use), the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant and Annie’s Café.
Glenbow Museum. The Glenbow Museum is a key cultural experience here in Calgary, and has been for the past 50 years. Expect to be immersed in collections that illustrate the history of Western Canada and northwestern North America, including those of the Aboriginal people and the exploration of the frontier. In addition, explore one or several of the exhibitions also on display. Regardless of what you choose to explore, you’re sure to leave with a greater sense of understanding and an appreciation for the legacy of the remarkable people and events that have shaped our community.
Calgary Stampede. Need I say more?! Residents and international visitors alike flock to Calgary each July to experience this world-renowned outdoor celebration of our western heritage, culture and community spirit. Whether you choose to enjoy the rodeo, chuckwagon races, evening show, live entertainment, midway or other options, you’re sure to have a memorable time!
Where to Stay
Hotel le Germain. In close proximity to the Calgary Tower in downtown Calgary (as pictured above), expect a comfortable, luxurious and relaxing stay in a contemporary setting that relies on eco-friendly technology and houses plenty of natural light. You’re close enough to visit the TELUS Convention Centre, the Arts Commons and the Stephen Avenue Walk. On-site amenities include a fitness center, the RnR Wellness Spa and the CHARCUT Roast House.
Hotel Arts. The flagship location of the Hotel Arts Group, this design-centric, fashion-forward hotel has established strong relationships with Calgary’s arts and culture, tourism and local business scenes. It is a truly a gem in Calgary’s Beltline community! This hotel features two award-winning culinary experiences: enjoy some Asian-inspired cuisine in the contemporary Raw Bar, or try out “Calgary’s Best Brunch” (Avenue Magazine), lunch, dinner or dessert at the contemporary Yellow Door Bistro. Additionally, make sure you relax with some outdoor pool use (including poolside dining) in the beautiful courtyard. Outside guests who choose to enjoy the pool experience are able to with a $10 pool usage fee. Alternatively, explore the Hotel Arts Kensington property, including the Oxbow restaurant. This culinary experience specializes in comfort food dishes encompassing local and seasonal ingredients.
Fairmont Palliser Hotel. A historic landmark in the heart of Calgary’s downtown core (dating back to 1914), the Fairmont Palliser is sure to provide you with a relaxing, elegant and luxurious stay. Enjoy use of the Health Club/Spa (including pool, whirlpool and steam room) and some fine dining. The Fairmont Palliser is a short distance to the financial/business district and a plethora of shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues, including the Stephen Avenue Walk – Calgary’s popular and historic pedestrian-only downtown walk.
Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire. Situated very close to the Bow River in Calgary’s downtown core, delight in the views of the water and the many amenities that await in this all-suite hotel, including a fitness facility, indoor pool/waterslide and whirlpool, in-room massage treatments, bicycle rental and nearby jogging paths. The beauty of the Bow River along the downtown core is the opportunity to cycle or stroll along the river’s edge.
Hotel Elan. This boutique hotel located near 17th Avenue (Entertainment and Retail District) is prepared for you to have an incredible stay. Hotel Elan is the only boutique hotel in the city to offer combined accommodation and private in-suite meeting space, making the business travel experience more feasible. A Fitness Centre is also available for guest use. Due to its location, guests have easy access to over 200 shops and restaurants along popular 17th Avenue.
Airbnb. The beauty of booking with Airbnb is that you have a multitude of options, with regards to both accommodation style and location within the city. Due to the fact that Calgary is often visited en route to the Rockies, and therefore can be overlooked as a travel destination in itself, the potential for very reasonably priced accommodations waiting for you!
Photos courtesy of Leela Spa & Von der Rusch Photography.