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.
Kensington is one of the popular areas of Calgary and is declared as a Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ). Here, you can explore the various shopping outlets or gorge on tasty fare at the lovely dining establishments. All in all, one can really have a good time at this bustling neighborhood.
Winner of several international awards, Bernard Callebaut's chocolates have the smooth and creamy consistency, prized by the true chocolate connoisseur. The aroma that permeates the air around this downtown factory inexorably draws passers-by in to try free samples and tour the display room. You can find chocolates in the shape of just about anything or choose from an assortment of truffles, liqueur-filled chocolates, and chocolate bars. The chocolate's unparalleled quality makes it well worth the price.
Uniquities Architectural Antiques offers one-of-a-kind 19th-century antiques and collectibles. The owner obtains most of the collectibles from England on regular sojourns. The treasures here include beautifully carved fireplaces as well as an iron spiral staircase that dates back to 1899. Although a lot of the items can be a little pricey, each item is incredibly detailed and handcrafted. Because most of these items are irreplaceable, Uniquities was the only Calgary store voted as one of the top 10 by Canadian House and Home Magazine.
It is not surprising that this award-winning bookstore is part-owned by author Peter Oliva, who is an award-winning author. Pages was a Canadian Booksellers Association Bookseller of the Year. This small, two-level store boasts a wide collection of fiction on the first floor and non-fiction on the second. Regularly scheduled author readings add a nice dimension to the book-reading experience. Shoppers determined to help wage a small-shop war against the encroaching book superstores, pack the aisles. Once you find your latest treasured tome, wander out into the surrounding Kensington neighborhood and enjoy one of its coffee-driven retreats.
It is an experience just to walk into Hot Wax Records, a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop, and stroll through the decades of vintage rock paraphernalia adorning every flat surface. The selection of used and unusual vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, and even 8-track cassettes is incredible. It is difficult to distinguish between veteran customers and staff, as both share a great enthusiasm for the music and know exactly where to find the rarest recordings.
If you're looking for a thick sweater to combat the chill of a Calgary winter, Amos and Andes Imports, at the Eau Claire market, is the place to visit. Although the eclectic boutique imports clothing and art from around the world, its best product is the handmade wool sweaters stacked at the back. The warm creations are spun from a variety of wools, then hand-dyed and knit into dozens of patterns, including the classic Mexican Eagle, Maple Leaf, Peruvian and Scandinavian designs.The painted ceremonial masks hanging on the walls, or the twisting, Celtic-inspired candle holders are sure to capture your interest. Call for more details.
One of Art Central's original tenants, Mary Pat Designs has earned a name for incorporating her flame-worked glass beads into her custom designed jewelery. It's not unusual to come into this store and find the artist at work on one of her dazzling creations. The artist uses semi-precious stones and glittering gems sourced from her travels to Asia and China. Apart from custom jewelery, this design shop also carries gifts and creative jewelery holders. So just bring in your outfit and request a piece of jewelery that complements your look. You can visit the space on Sundays too, but by appointment only.
This downtown area flower shop has been catering to Calgary's folks since 1984. Though it mainly offers flowers for different occasions, the boutique also doubles as a gift shop, carrying jewelry and other gifts for special occasions. Unique Floral Boutique produces elegant simple floral arrangements mostly based on the Japanese floral design of Ikebana. There are also gourmet gift baskets filled with sweets and candies in this shop.
The walls, floor, furniture, and even the ceiling of the House of Persian Rugs are covered by handmade Persian Rugs. It might be hard to tell where the store ends and the merchandise begins, so the best way to learn about the qualities and history of each rug is to get the owner to walk you through the room and show you the individual differences which make each rug unique. It usually takes two visits to decide on a rug, one to learn the finer points of rug appreciation and the other to select a rug and haggle over the price with the owner. Check website for more details.
In sharp contrast to the high rises all around, The Beehive soap and candle store is in a tiny cottage-like building with an immaculate yard and rustic wood sign in front. This traditional style extends inside the store, where hundreds of naturally-made soaps and candles in a myriad of shapes and sizes line the walls. Produced without the harmful compounds found in most commercial soaps, these claim to have less impact upon your skin, while still maintaining the same cleaning power. There is also an assortment of cute little handmade gifts and knickknacks.