Calgary is a city of contradictions — a hub for the energy sector with cherished agricultural roots in the stampede. A prairie city on the cusp of the Rocky Mountains. Settle in for a winter of wind-chill, but don’t be surprised if a chinook warms things up for a day or two.
That makes Prince’s Island a perfect fit for Calgary — a lush green escape in the middle of the city, where you can gaze at the skyscrapers while listening to wild birds, then grab a bite to eat at a cutting-edge restaurant. No matter the season, on your next visit to Cowtown make sure to pencil in an afternoon at Prince’s Island.
Wild in the city:
Human-made wetlands at the eastern edge of Prince’s Island help to clean storm water before it re-enters the Bow River, and provide excellent habitat for wildlife in the heart of the city. The wetlands capture road salt, sediment and chemical run-off, keeping the river pure for humans and animals, and make a great spot for an afternoon stroll. Winding through the wetlands is the Chevron Learning Pathway with educational signs encouraging visitors to observe the bustling life around them.
Connect the Learning Pathway to other trails on Prince’s Island for a fresh running route, or rent a bike from one of the shops across the bridge in Eau Claire. Bring your Frisbee to frolic in the wide open field, and let the kids explore the nice big playground.
When the weather turns consistently cold between December and February, lace up your skates and twirl on the lagoon. While you skate you can pretend to be a log driver in the late 1800s, when the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company dug the lagoon to help move logs to the Calgary sawmill. The island is also a great spot for cross country skiing when the snow flies and the trees sparkle with frost.
Take shelter from the elements on nearby Peace Bridge, which looks a bit like a finger trap game with criss-crossing red steel. A great spot for a selfie!
The crown jewel of Prince’s Island is the River Café, a cosy restaurant serving exquisite, accessible food. Consistently voted one of Calgary’s (and Canada’s) best, the River Café was at the forefront of sustainable, farm-to-table food — but they’re not arrogant about it. Browse the menu for a taste of Alberta — grass-fed bison burgers, rainbow trout with greens from the restaurant garden, or wild boar bacon with farm eggs over-easy. Reserve a table for Weekend Brunch, or order a picnic basket to lounge in the park. The restaurant continues to innovate through the pandemic, with fun ideas like a take-home Thanksgiving feast.
Shop your heart out:
Just over the pedestrian bridge from Prince’s Island is Eau Claire Market, with one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, pubs and a movie theatre. When you’ve had enough of the outdoors on Prince’s Island, step inside Eau Claire Market to put your feet up.
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