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Statistics say that Prince's Island is one of the most used urban parks in North America. Come here on a sunny day and you will not doubt it. Originally, the island was used to catch felled trees floating down the Bow River from logging projects upstream. Now this bit of serenity in downtown serves as a favorite venue for joggers, football tossers, family picnics, flocks of Canadian Geese, buskers, Shakespearean actors and nearly every major festival that Calgary hosts. This is also a great place for a quiet paddle down the river.
When a cold north wind is howling and the mid-winter temperature is too frigid, this downtown greenhouse is a welcome oasis of greenery and warmth. It showcases many local and tropical plants, fountains, waterfalls, reflecting pools stocked with carp, wooden bridges and a small playground where harried parents can let loose their children.
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 and 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 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.
Calgary boasts the largest pathway system in North America. Nearly every day of the year, regardless of the weather, you can find Calgarians running, walking, riding, rolling and even skiing along 223 miles (360 kilometers) of paths. The network twists its way through countless municipal parks, alongside rivers and reservoirs, past skyscrapers, into valleys and through mini-forests, fields of wildflowers and other surprises. Use of the pathways is absolutely free. Maps are available from several outlets.
Located on the northern side of the Bow River, Bowmont is a lush natural park established in the 1980s. The park features miles of hiking trails, picnic tables, playgrounds, a soccer and baseball field. This expansive park is spread out over 164 hectares (405 acres) and attracts adventure sports enthusiasts, families, birders, dog walkers and those looking for a fun day outdoors. Be sure to check out the park near sunrise or sunset for spectacular photo opportunities!