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Alternative Calgary for the Newcomer

Destination(s): Calgary

Calgary's common reputation as a more business-oriented city with a large suburb-dwelling population makes it easy to assume that it would have little to offer a newcomer seeking the hip, artsy or otherwise alternative hot-spots in their travels. On the contrary, Calgary boasts a uniquely thriving alternative scene with an surprising selection of unique destinations. direct-trade coffee shops, vegetarian-friendly dining, used record stores and vintage shops are found in abundance in the downtown core, frequented by the disarmingly-friendly community of Calgary's hipster subculture. Whether you're settling into the invigorating atmosphere of Cafe Mediterranean, Calgary's premier hookah lounge, or catching the local dub & raggae DJs for a night of dancing at Bamboo, Calgary has it covered for just about any niche market you might be into. Once you start exploring around downtown you're bound to find whatever you may be looking for, but if you're looking to quickly find the prime spots that the locals know and love, this guide is a great place to get you pointed in the right direction! For regular updates on what to do in Calgary, try following the NileGuide Calgary twitter feed @ngyyc. Enjoy! read more about Alternative Calgary for the Newcomer

Bumpy's Cafe

Bumpy's Cafe

Bumpy's Café is a Calgary institution, one of those places both locals and tourists alike visit to get their fix of caffeine and homemade breakfasts and lunches. The crowds here vary greatly, from the suits grabbing an espresso as the doors open before heading to their corner office downtown, to the yummy Mummys and their tots nibbling scones and sipping lattes around 11 AM, to the lunch rush, to college students and hipsters lingering throughout the afternoon. Award-winning latte art promises your café au lait will be prettier than you are, going perfectly with the fully customizable "soul-warming" oatmeal (try almonds and berries). Casserole dishes change daily, so pray you get there the day Bumpy's is serving their signature Gruyere Mac and Cheese. read more about Bumpy's Cafe

Lazy Loaf & Kettle

Lazy Loaf & Kettle

  • 8 Parkdale Crescent North West
  • tel:403 270 7810
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2N 3T8
Rajdoot

Rajdoot

  • 2424 4 Street SW
  • 4 Street and 25 Avenue
  • tel:403 245 0181
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2S 2T4
Caffe Beano

Caffe Beano

  • 1613 Ninth Street SW
  • tel:403 229 1232
  • Calgary, T2R 1E1
Avenue Diner

Avenue Diner

  • 105 - 8th Avenue SW
  • tel:403 263 2673
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2P 1B4
1886 Cafe

1886 Cafe

  • 187 Barclay Parade SW
  • tel:403 269 9255
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2P 4R5
My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe

My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe

  • 2048 - 42 Avenue SW
  • tel:(403) 287-3838
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2T 2M7

Ask any many-generation Calgarian – they probably begged their parents to go to My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe at some point in their life. Nestled into a little strip mall near Marda Loop in Calgary's Southwest, My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe is the go-to ice cream joint in the city, featuring such classic flavors as Coffee and Cream, Our Best Strawberry, and Rich Rocky Road (the more adventurous may be inclined to try Cherry Custard, Deep Dish Apple, or Moose Tracks). Don't be alarmed if the lineup is out the door, waiting only makes the ice cream taste better. Arcade games from the '80s, an ancient looking horsey ride, and the pointy white confectioners hats on the staff round out this trip into Calgary's delicious past. read more about My Favourite Ice Cream Shoppe

Alberta College of Art & Design

Alberta College of Art & Design

  • 1407 14 Avenue Northwest
  • tel:403 284 7600
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2N 4R3
Nectar Desserts

Nectar Desserts

  • 1216 9 Ave. S.E.
  • Upstairs
  • tel:403-263-8486
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2G 0T1
Ship and Anchor Pub

Ship and Anchor Pub

  • 534-17th Avenue SW
  • tel:403 245 3333
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2S 0B1
Boogie's Burgers

Boogie's Burgers

  • A-908 Edmonton Trail NE
  • tel:403.230.7070
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2E 3K1

Those on diets should just stay home – Boogie's Burgers in Calgary's Northeast isn't for the faint of heart or meat-averse (although "Noelle's Veggie Burger" is quite tasty). Let the items on the menu speak for themselves: Doug's "Don't Fear the Reaper" Burger is four patties topped with bacon, cheese, a fried egg and a hot dog. For those with less of a pure meat hunger, try Boogie's lemon-pepper Salmon Burger, or a single-patty smothered in the signature red sauce. Fry choices include regular, spicy, yam or onion rings. Just in case your quadruple burger doesn't cut it, we're partial to topping it off with an extra thick Cappucino Shake. read more about Boogie's Burgers

Cafe Mediterranean

Cafe Mediterranean

  • 1009 1st Street SW
  • tel:403 286 8452
  • Calgary, T2R 0T8
The Sunflower Cafe

The Sunflower Cafe

Coup (The)

Coup (The)

Higher Ground

Higher Ground

  • 1126 Kensington Road NW
  • tel:403 270 3780
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2N 3P3
Eau Claire Market

Eau Claire Market

  • 200 Barclay Parade SW
  • Near 2nd Ave. SW and 3rd St. SW
  • tel:403 264 6450
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2P 4R5

On the north end of downtown, just across the way from Prince's Island Park, Eau Claire Market has sought for years to establish itself as a trendy, unique marketplace to rival Uptown 17th Ave. and Kensington Village. Eau Claire is home to several trendy restaurants, such as Joey Tomato's Kitchen and Prego! It also houses some unique shops, wine and liquor stores, and professional offices. The IMAX theater has moved, since one opened in Chinook Centre, but the Cineplex Odeon cinema is still in business. Eau Claire Market, sadly, has never really lived up to its potential, but it is a great location downtown.

read more about Eau Claire Market

Wicked Wedge Pizza Company

Wicked Wedge Pizza Company

  • 6455 Macleod Trail Southwest
  • tel:403-252-8558
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2H 0K8

The Wicked Wedge used to own the 17th Ave. pizza scene. But, they recently moved to Chinook Centre food court. This allows for more seating area than they used to have, but changes the atmosphere completely. The pizza is still tasty. The herb crusts and healthy ingredients make it seem like it's good for you! They still offer lots of variety, but delivery is limited to a 2km radius from the mall.
read more about Wicked Wedge Pizza Company

Nellie's

Nellie's

  • 2308 4th Street SW
  • tel:403 209 2708
  • Calgary, T2X 1S2
Broken City

Broken City

  • 613 11 Avenue Southwest
  • tel:403 262 9976
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2R 0X7
Bottlescrew Bill's Pub

Bottlescrew Bill's Pub

  • 140 - 10 Avenue SW
  • tel:403 263 7900
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2R 0A3
Hop In Brew Coffee and Beer House

Hop In Brew Coffee and Beer House

  • 213 12 Avenue SW
  • tel:403 266 2595
  • Calgary, T2R 0G9
Kensington Village

Kensington Village

Prince's Island Park

Prince's Island Park

  • 1st Ave and 4 St SW
  • tel:403 268 3888
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2P 4R5

Prince's Island is one of the most used urban parks in North America. Right downtown, this park is one of the most beautiful areas in Calgary. It's an ideal place to stroll though in the summertime, to watch the Canadian geese, play in the lagoon or walk along the adjoining pathway. There are also flower gardens and seasonal water fountains. In the winter, get a hot chocolate and enjoy the beauty the snow adds to the riverbank. Or stop into the River Café for a delicious bite to eat. The park also hosts a variety of events throughout the year – check with the city to see what's going on. read more about Prince's Island Park

Drum & Monkey, (The)

Drum & Monkey, (The)

  • 1201 1st Street Southwest
  • Aull Block
  • tel:403 261 6674
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2R 0V3
Uptown Stage Screen (The)

Uptown Stage Screen (The)

  • 612-8th Avenue Southwest
  • Suite 200
  • tel:403 265 0120
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2P 1G4
Peters' Drive-In

Peters' Drive-In

  • 219-16 Avenue NE
  • tel:403 277 2747
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2E 1J9
Kensington Pub (The)

Kensington Pub (The)

  • 207 10a Street SW
  • tel:403 270 4505
  • Visit website
  • Calgary, T2N 1W2