Seen from a pedestrian bridge the winding Bow River cools off Calgary on a lazy summer day.
DAY 2 Saturday
Starting with the July 8 parade of everything from stock dogs to bagpipers and running through July 17, the Calgary Stampede ($9.06; Stampede Park, on Olympic Way; www.calgarystampede.com, 800/661-1260, or 403/261-0101) is a rowdy combustion of the commercial and the cowboy ― from midway rides to cutting-horse competitions ― stemming from the stampede's roots as the 1912 Wild West Show. On mornings during the stampede, watch square dancers do-si-do at the free breakfast in Olympic Plaza's Rope Square (Seventh Ave. S.E. at MacLeod Trail S.E.). Spend afternoons in the grandstand of the 137-acre Stampede Park, where rodeo cowboys ride, rope, and wrangle for cash prizes. Evening chuck-wagon races are a must, when drivers hurtle around a 5/8-mile track.
Visit wild animals. Take a break at the Calgary Zoo, Botanical Garden & Prehistoric Park ($12; 1300 Zoo Rd. N.E.; www.calgaryzoo.com or 403/232-9300) and see 1,400 animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The excellent Canadian Wilds exhibit features mountain and plains animals, including cougars and grizzly bears.
Meet the First Nations. The Glenbow Museum ($9.84; 130 Ninth Ave. S.E.; www.glenbow.org or 403/268-4100) is one of the best in North America. Its 20 galleries contain more than 180,000 artifacts and works of art, ranging from a Blackfoot Indian tepee to a contemporary, four-story, aluminum-and-acrylic Aurora Borealis by James Houston.
Shake it up. Calgarians have been lining up since 1962 for cheeseburgers and fresh berry milkshakes at Peters' Drive-In ($; 9 a.m.-midnight; 219 16th Ave. N.E.; 403/277-2747). Or you could dig into New York steak with "The Only" barbecue sauce at 49-year-old Hy's Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar ($$$$; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner daily, reservations recommended; 316 Fourth Ave. S.W.; 403/263-2222).