10 Stops in Calgary for Mind-Body-Spirit Wellness

From poolside yoga in a hidden oasis to sipping natural wines at one of Canada’s best restaurants, you can move and relax your way to total bliss in Cowtown

Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr 

Visit Calgary this summer and return rested and rejuvenated

Calgary’s wellness and culinary scenes are booming—and with its reliably sunny weather, there are tons of exciting vacation activities to fill your mind, body and spirit batteries.

From poolside yoga in a hidden oasis and luxury facials that benefit the bees to sipping natural wines at one of Canada’s best restaurants, you can move, fuel and relax your way to total bliss.

If you haven’t visited Calgary lately, and need a rejuvenating getaway, click through for 10 reasons to head back this summer…

Photo: Downtown Calgary’s Hotel Arts has a fleet of Brooklyn cruisers for guests to explore the bike-friendly city

Credit: Hotel Arts

Stay at Hotel Arts for poolside yoga and brunch – plus excellent in-room amenities

Hotel Arts, located in downtown Calgary, is the total package for mind-body-spirit wellness. The newly renovated, art-centric rooms are the first in Canada to feature Vancouver-based natural skincare line Skoah’s amazing products—with built-in dispensers to reduce the waste that comes with those tiny bottles you only use a few squirts from.

Hotel Arts’ inner courtyard has a lap pool and licensed, full-service patio, plus HotShop Yoga provides poolside yoga all summer (weather permitting) on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m., open to guests and community. Roll up your mat and pull up a chair for an epic brunch (and optional handcrafted cocktail) from the hotel’s Yellow Door Bistro. Try the vegetarian omelette with asparagus, summer squash and lemon ricotta, or the vegan Alberta steel-cut oats with peaches and coconut cream. Poolside DJs provide the soundtrack after noon on weekends.

If you choose to venture offsite, grab one of the hotel’s complimentary Brooklyn cruiser bikes and head for Calgary’s impressive network of cycling routes.

Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr 

Explore Calgary by bike on North America’s longest urban pathways

Calgary has the longest urban bike pathway system in North America at 700 kilometres. Local celebrity blogger Mike Morrison of Mike’s Bloggity Blog has created an awesome map, called Calgary By Bike, with all of the safe routes via bike paths, bike lanes and shared roadways. The map also highlights notable neighbourhoods, viewpoints and can’t-miss photos along the way, with “130 must-see place and things to do on your bike in and around downtown Calgary” (with 75 new listings for 2016). Calgary By Bike maps—which include the Cyclists Welcome loyalty card with discounts at participating retailers—are available online and in various locations around town.  

Credit: River Café

Walk or bike to lunch at River Café, Calgary’s farm-to-table pioneer

Centrally located on Prince’s Island Park, surrounded by the Bow River and accessible by foot or bike only, the River Café seems part of the natural environment with its lush, mature landscaping. Even though they’ve been serving customers seasonal Canadian cuisine for more than 15 years, River Café continues to receive culinary awards—most recently named one of Calgary’s top 10 restaurants by Avenue magazine—and is one of Calgary’s founding farm-to-table restaurants, sourcing mindful, local ingredients. In the sunny summer months, patio umbrellas dot the restaurant’s expansive riverside patio and mouth-watering features like the red lentil hummus wood-fired oven flatbread and an international selection of boutique wineries, including Brut Rosé from B.C.’s Blue Mountain Winery, grace the tables.

Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr 

Get shredded for the surf at Studio Revolution

Studio Revolution is Calgary’s first and only certified SurfSet studio, offering a range of surf-specific and surf-inspired workouts on 6-foot, stationary, unstable surfboards that wobble like you’re on water. The Shred has you paddling, duck-diving and popping up, while Surf Salutations has you adding some serious core stability to your yoga practice. The intimate classes (maximum 12) are led by a dynamic and experienced team of instructors who bring their love of surfing to dry land, and make it incredibly fun to challenge your heart, lungs and every teeny tiny muscle in your body. Studio Revolution also offers TRX classes and private personal training.

Credit: The Dandy Brewing Company

Visit The Dandy Brewing Company

There’s a place for mindfully made local beer in one’s wellness regime, right? Let’s call it fuel for the spirit. The Dandy Brewing Company was started by four friends—a teacher, a chef, a chemist and a businessman—in 2014, following new legislation in December 2013 from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, dropping the minimum 500,000 litres-per-year requirement for a commercial licence, allowing microbreweries to finally exist.

The Dandy Brewing Company, Calgary’s smallest brewery, was one of the first out of the gates and pride themselves on unique brews, local ingredients and truly handcrafted products—the four owners are currently the only staff, and all pitch in, assembly-line-style, on bottling days.

Co-owner, sales director and “businessman” Matt Gaetz says, “Grain is local food and Alberta has the best barley in world,” of the regionally sourced grain that is sprouted and roasted to create the malt that’s fermented into a variety of favourites and unique beers.  It’s available for purchase onsite at their 20-seat tasting room and in dozens of local retailers—and their unusual sour beer even has probiotics. “It’s got the same bacteria as yogurt,” says Gaetz, “It’s good for your tummy!”

Credit: Junction 9

Unroll your mat for rooftop yoga at Junction 9

Named for both its location at the crossroads of Inglewood’s Ninth Avenue and Ninth Streets, and the joining together of mind-body and community, Junction 9 is a gorgeous multi-level yoga and Pilates studio in Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood.

The serene and stylish studio has a ground floor café with cold-pressed juice, Kombucha on tap and baristas serving locally loved Phil and Sebastian coffee, plus well-appointed change rooms featuring locally made products from eco-friendly Rocky Mountain Soap Company.

The beautifully designed second floor houses adjacent Pilates and yoga studios with classes led by a diverse team of more than a dozen instructors, and the impressive rooftop patio is home to sweet summertime classes—and even outdoor movie nights.

Credit: Swizzlesticks SalonSpa

Indulge in the extensive wellness facial at Swizzlesticks SalonSpa

Swizzlesticks SalonSpa (the owners came up with the name over a few cocktails, get it?) is a fabulous 25-year-old day spa and salon tucked away in Kensington Village. The staff is truly passionate about combining an exceptional guest experience with concern for the environment.

Swizzlesticks’ wellness facial alone will have you wanting to return ASAP, with its customized skin treatments, aromatic Aveda products and glorious massages for your neck, arms and feet while your pores are steaming and masks are working their magic. But their numerous do-good initiatives will make you one of many diehard fans.

Swizzlesticks, who’ve partnered with Green Circle Salons—whose mission it is to “make the North American salon industry sustainable by 2020”—diverts 95 per cent of their salon and spa waste from the landfill, with even hair clippings repurposed to make reusable booms for international oil spills.

One of the community partnerships they’re most excited about is their enthusiastic cheerleading of the city’s bee population through volunteer work and financial support of ABC Bees. They’ve even helped create a natural beeswax lip balm made with almost entirely local products, and proceeds benefitting ABC’s Bumblebee Rescue Program.

Credit: YYC Cycle

Psychedelic spin at YYC Cycle in Kensington

With two locations—in Kensington and Marda Loop—YYC Cycle is a Soul-Cycle-inspired studio driven by serious beats, tightly packed bikes and a light show that goes from blue to red to dark, inspiring you to push your muscles and mind.

Their team of 30, as advertised “motivators” make the 50-minute, all-levels, full-body-workouts fly by, with an upper-body weight-training component to strengthen you from head to toe. Friday night classes pay the feel-good forward with 100 per cent of the proceeds benefitting a rotating charity of choice.

Spin shoes, towel and locker service, plus shower amenities, are complimentary. 

Credit: Pigeonhole

Dinner at Pigeonhole – Canada’s best new restaurant

Pigeonhole’s cheeky logo, with a humble pigeon wearing a too-big crown, is a nod to its district of Victoria Park and its refusal to be categorized by the food it serves.

The restaurant’s playful nature and Victorian sensibilities continue inside with delightfully mismatched antique china, and then gets serious with delicious dishes like the charred cabbage with Mimolette cheese and jalapeno salad cream as well as the chicken liver mousse with rhubarb puree and toast.

In the year since they’ve opened, Pigeonhole has been getting attention—they were named enRoute magazine’s 2015 best new restaurant in Canada—for their scrumptious share plates and carefully curated wine list that leans heavily towards natural, organic and biodynamic labels.

Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr 

Feast on Calgary Food Tours’ Sunday Farmers Market Brunch and Adventure

Alberta has incredible local products, proudly featured at the Calgary Farmer’s Market, and there’s no better way to experience them than with Calgary Food Tours, founded in 2006 by local author, food writer, CBC radio food reporter and former nurse practitioner Karen Anderson. The tour starts with a boozy brunch at J. Webb Wine, where most of the knowledgeable staff are certified sommeliers, and moves into the market where you’ll learn about a dozen featured stalls and sample their products.

From the delectable artisan pastries at Yum Bakery that feature hydroponically, organically grown produce from neighbouring vendor Gull Valley Greenhouses to the handmade coffee at Fratello Analog Cafe, one of first roasteries in western Canada, Calgary Food Tours gives you a physical and philosophical taste of the mindful businesses offering local fare at the Calgary Farmers Market—and leaves you with a tasty plan for dinner that night.