21 Things To Do In Calgary When You're Broke AF
If you ain't got no money, you don't have to take your broke a$$ home.
It's getting harder and harder to get the squad together for a day or night out without having to completely break the bank. Calgary is notorious for having the most over-priced events, festivals, and restaurants. For the average high school or university student, a night out on the town isn't quite worth blowing the equivalent of an 8-hour shift at work or skipping out on your phone bill.
Believe us, we know the struggle. That's why we've put together a list of 21 things to do in the 403 for those of us who want to #YOLO without spending all the dough-dough.
Let's just state the obvious, we all love pancakes. Especially when they're free. During the 10 glorious days of stampede, most food trucks will be trying to convince you to spend $12 on 6 mini donuts and $4 on a bottle of water (yeah, freakin' right), however many lovely companies all around the city are offering free pancake breakfasts before 12 p.m. So, get the squad together and enjoy a delicious meal, completely free of charge. (Get a complete list of the stampede breakfasts here.)
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Drive-In Movies at Deerfoot Mall
"Netflix and Chill" the old school way. During the summer, Deerfoot Mall plays family classics at their "Drive-In Theatre" completely free of charge. Grab the keys, some snacks and do it like a 50's kid. The poodle skirts and greased pompadours are totally optional.
Float Down The Bow River
Grab a tube, raft, floaty, or whatever will keep you buoyant and glide down the Bow River. The Bow River gives you an insanely beautiful view of downtown Calgary, without all the busyness of the streets. This could easily be an enjoyable experience, possibly even romantic... or it could be completely mortifying. You might want to bring a lifejacket... and waterproof mascara.
Bike Riding/Hiking at Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek is the perfect spot for the adventurous soul. It has over 80 km of biking and hiking trails for the outdoorsy types. With tons of wildlife and a breathtaking scenery, most everyone will want to embrace the beauty of nature. Unless you're easily startled by birds, deer, frogs and other wildlife... then you should probably skip this one.
Have a picnic with the geese at Prince's Island Park
Prince's Island Park is arguably the most beautiful park in Calgary. Providing the perfect contrast between city and country, Prince's Island Park is stunning all year round. PIP is a popular picnic and festival spot in the summer but be warned the geese have taken over the place, so keep an eye on your dinner rolls.
Hangout at Eau Claire Market
If you prefer to dine away from the geese but still enjoy the scenery of Prince's Island Park, Eau Claire Market is just across the bridge. Eau Claire has everything from popular restaurant chains to a retro movie theater. Don't worry, it's a no geese allowed establishment.
Take A Stroll Down Stephen Avenue
You aren't truly a Calgarian unless you've visited Stephen Ave. Right in the heart of Calgary, Stephen Ave has beautiful architecture, street performances, restaurants, bars, cafes, you name it. Not to mention that sick street piano that anyone can play for free. Cars are only allowed on Stephen Ave between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., so you can take IG pics on the road without having to worry about getting run over. Let's just say a trip to Stephen Ave will turn you and your crew into #squadgoals.
Satisfy Your Cravings on 17th Ave SW
If you're a massive foodie, 17th Ave SW is for you. (Not to be confused with 17th Ave SE) 17th is the home of Calgary's best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. The interiors of these places are so aesthetically pleasing, it's hard to stop taking pictures. The best part is, most of these restaurants and coffee shops offer loads of free samples that you can snag to save some cash. Probably not the best idea for a first date though.
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Visit Kensington Village
While it's described as a "village", Kensington is far from that. Kensington has just about everything you can think of from outdoor attractions to coffee shops to spas. But the best part about Kensington is the street art. If you're into graffiti murals, Kensington is the place for you.
Price: Free Entry
Lilac Festival is one of YYC's best spring street festivals. This pet-friendly event contains loads of music, food trucks, and more. It's a great way to enjoy Calgary while supporting many local businesses. There's also street performers dressed up as different characters every year from Big Bird to Freddie Krueger. No matter how old you are, we all get excited when we spot someone dressed up as a Sesame Street character.
Yoga Classes at IVIVVA
Ivivva offers complimentary athletic classes in store. From yoga to dance, Ivivva helps you break a quick sweat without breaking the bank. Call Ivivva Chinook or check their Instagram for class times. Drop down and get your yoga on.
Visit Light-Up Okotoks
If you don't mind a drive and you're in the Christmas spirit, visit Light Up Okotoks. Just 15 minutes south of Calgary, the town of Okotoks holds an annual festival of lights in December. They pretty much light up the town with Christmas lights and fireworks. Quite literally, it's lit.
Explore The Museum of The Highwood
No, museums aren't just for field trips, children and the elderly. Museum of the Highwood is a historic site which tells many tales of the First Nations in Canada. The more you know.
Visit the Glenbow Museum
The Glenbow Museum is Western Canada's largest museum. Filled with beautiful architecture and exhibits. Entry prices are $9 for kids ages 7-17 and $15 for those 18+. Luckily, there's always loopholes - the Glenbow Museum offers free admission from 5pm - 9pm on the first Thursday of every month.
See A Cheap Movie at Canyon Meadows Cinemas
Canyon Meadows Cinemas offers $5 movies, every day of the week. That's right, $5. Although, they often tend to get new movies a couple months after big theatres like Cineplex, Landmark, and the Scotiabank Theatres do. But when you're broke, how can you pass up a $5 movie ticket?
Bring Out Your Competitive Side At PIPS Board Game Cafe
Would you like a board game with your coffee? Yes, this is real life. This cafe lets you play unlimited board games for $5. This just may be YYC's coolest coffee shop.
Clubbing On A Budget
Clubbing is great, besides the overpriced drinks, long lines and paying cover. While we can't do much about the overpriced drinks, we can eliminate the long lines and cover. Many clubs around Calgary offer a free guest-list which allows you and your squad to get in totally free sans line-ups. All you have to do is get in touch with the promoter/DJ before the event and let them know how many people you'd like to put on the guest list. Of course, not all nightclubs offer this, but clubs like Jimmy's, Nite Owl, Murmur and PURE do. The contact numbers are usually posted on the club's Facebook or Instagram page.
Go For A Swim at Sikome Lake
Price:$3-$5/person or $10/family
Of course, Alberta isn't as beach-rich as our sister provinces on the coasts, but YYC does have its fair share of lakes. Sikome Lake is a pretty popular one amongst Calgarians. Although, it was closed twice in 90's due to contamination by bird droppings, it's safe to assume the millennial birds are much more polite than their predecessors.
Yoga In The Park
Price: Free/By Donation
Many yoga instructors across YYC host yoga classes in the park throughout the summer. OutdoorYogaCalgary offers yoga classes every Sunday at 1 p.m. in Stanley Park from May to October. Release stress, tension and the guilt of that poutine you ate earlier. Push your body to its limits in a judgment free environment. Even if you prefer to lay in Child's Pose the whole time.
Taste of Calgary
Calling all foodies. Taste of Calgary is one of YYC's best food festivals held annually in Eau Claire Market. Get a chance to sample YYC's best local food, drinks and more all for $1.00 per taste ticket. All while enjoying a bunch of local talent and entertainment. Just say "food" and we're so there.
Catch Some Pokemon Around YYC
Everyone's latest obsession, (or guilty pleasure) Pokemon catching. Can't hate on that, gotta catch 'em all.