A version of this post was originally published on the Travel Alberta website.
Your first inclination for retail therapy might be to hit the mall, but in Calgary, there's no need to limit yourself to suburban outlets. In fact, if you do, you'll completely miss out on what makes shopping here fun.
Instead, you’ll want to check out the city’s many distinctive shopping districts. They make for an entertaining day of poking around and discovering a unique find or memorable souvenir. Here's a rundown of some of the most popular places to get your shopping fix.
17th Ave SW
Calgary's go-to retail and entertainment district, 17th Ave and its adjoining streets are a pedestrian-friendly area complete with a lovely park for people watching while sipping locally roasted coffee and devouring a gourmet donut. Whether you're after a touch of whimsy, high-end chic or just plain cool, you'll find it on 17th Ave. The street is a literal deluge of quirky, coveted, and gorgeous clothing, home decor, jewellery, and even stationery. If you don't meet with shopping success here, you're probably not doing it right.
One of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and home to Calgary’s original main street, Inglewood has morphed from an industrial area into a vibrant shopping, restaurant, and cultural hub. Known for its antique and vintage stores, it also has its share of contemporary furniture shops, contemporary art galleries, collectible glass, rug shops, clothing and kitchen boutiques, and a step-back-in-time spice shop. Stop in at The Nash, a refurbished historic hotel, for one of a kind cocktails and charcuterie.
Stephen Avenue Walk
A national historic site, Stephen Avenue Walk is a major downtown pedestrian mall with the distinctive character of a late-nineteenth-century retail streetscape. Situated along 8th Ave SW (Stephen Avenue), it spans five blocks from 1 St SE to 4 St SW. Amidst a diverse mix of boutiques, galleries and department stores, you'll also find local vendors at kiosks sporting handmade and one-of-a-kind wares. If you're after some authentic cowboy duds, do not miss Riley & McCormick. Adding to the ambiance, buskers and musicians perform year-round while the summer stage features a changing roster of performers. When hunger takes over, try a beef or bison sausage from a street-corner hot dog cart – pile on the mustard and the sauerkraut!
The city’s only downtown shopping centre, the CORE is the ultimate luxury shopping experience. Tour through 160 stores spanning several blocks without having to go outside, including the high-fashion, flagship Holt Renfrew. Not only is the shopping awe-inspiring, the CORE also features the largest point-supported structural skylight in the world. When you need to rest your feet, Devonian Gardens, Calgary's only indoor public park with 10,000 shrubs, fish-filled ponds, and 550 tropical palm trees is a literal oasis.
Kensington has undergone some dramatic transformations, but has maintained its status as one of the best destinations in the city for shopping local. Tea? Check. Candy? Check. Skincare? Check. The list goes on. Kensington is home to an eclectic mix of more than 250 shops and services offering everything from wine and cupcakes to contemporary furniture, books, art supplies, and fabulous toys. It's all an easy stroll across the river from downtown Calgary.