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Voted as one of the most fun outdoor sites in the country, Calgary Zoo features more than 1,100 animals from around the world and an ever-growing portfolio of innovative exhibitions. The fascinating programs put on by the zoo, allow guests to get up close and personal with its less ferocious animals through the Creature Features Program. Life-sized dinosaur models lurk in the badlands of the Prehistoric Park, and the more genteel setting of the Botanical Park includes a butterfly garden that is sure to delight visitors of all ages.
From the Nose Hill Park, the view of Calgary is incomparable. Visitors may have to exert a bit of effort to hike up a gentle slope to the top of the hill, but once at the top, the view makes it all worth it. The top of the hill affords a 360-degree view spanning the Rocky Mountains, with the skyscrapers of downtown rising out of the Bow River Valley and the prairie stretching off to the east. The surrounding long-grass prairie offers glimpses of the local wildlife, as numerous deer, jackrabbits and red-tailed hawks can often be seen in this area.
During the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Olympic Plaza was the focal point of much of the event, including most of the medal ceremonies, laser, and fireworks displays. Tens of thousands of people jammed into the square on any given evening during the games. The square looks much as it did then and is now the focal point for many civic events, particularly for welcoming successful athletes home from the recent Olympic Games. The large area in front of the stage is now a wading pool in the summer and flooded for ice skating in the winter.
There are many bridges in the city, but the Peace Bridge with its lovely design clearly stands apart. It has won accolades and awards for its excellent architecture and was opened to the public in 2012.
Although some of downtown Calgary's office towers are actually taller, the Calgary Tower remains the city's most distinctive landmark. Officially opened in 1968, it remains a popular visitor attraction, providing a panoramic view of the mountains to the west and the surrounding foothills and prairie. On the observation deck, there are binoculars, multimedia information kiosks, and the thrilling Glass Floor Experience. The dining room rotates, allowing visitors the chance to relax with a meal while viewing the entire city from their window-side tables at the Panorama Dining Room.
Winding its way from the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Alberta foothills, Bow River is an expansive waterway. Along its route, the river passes through Calgary and the river banks are a popular outdoor recreation spot for the city dwellers. Many walking paths and scenic vistas can be found along the river. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can find kayak rentals, fly fishing options, cycling tracks and much more. Deer, great horned owls, and beavers have been spotted along Bow River.
The sandstone buildings along downtown's Stephen Avenue Walk were constructed after a fire destroyed much of the neighborhood. Several of those historic buildings fell victim to developers wrecking balls, but the few that remain are worthy of an afternoon stroll during which you can revel in their architecture. Along the way, you can indulge in the diversions offered by many popular shops and restaurants.
Fort Calgary gives visitors a hands-on look at early Calgary life. Fort Calgary lies on 16 hectares (40 acres) of the riverside parks. The interpretive center reconstructs the original 1875 fort, a facility North-West Mounted Police built after being dispatched from the settled east to establish law and order among pioneers, and to stop the culturally devastating whiskey trade. Children will love trying on the officer's uniforms that have been laid out and exploring the interiors of the old prison. Visitors can grab a bite, or indeed a shot of whiskey at The Deane House, the on-site restaurant.