Romance can be in the air this time of year. You don’t need a special day to celebrate all the Northwest has to offer– from outdoor adventures at Nose Hill Park to exciting culinary journeys in neighbouring communities — this quadrant of the city offers something for all. We may be biased but we think it’s one of the best places to get creative with your rendezvous!
Whether you’re looking to spice up your routine, go on a first date, show some extra love for parents or kids, or celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, University District is close to some of Calgary’s most imaginative activities that will add a unique element to your outing. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.
Take a look at our U/D-approved list of ideas that go beyond the standard fare and are sure to impress the next time you want to explore a little more with those you care about..
Photo credit: Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern and Central Alberta
Free doesn’t equal boring – if anything, it means you get to be a little more adventurous with how you plan date night with your special someone. Here are some of our exciting, out-of-the-box ideas for those on a shoestring budget.
Everyone loves a romantic evening spent at home together, snuggled up on the couch with a good movie. However, once in a while it’s heartwarming to get out in the community and give back. Turn your date night into a do-good, feel-good activity! Volunteering together at Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern and Central Alberta’s Home for Dinner program is a great way to make a difference in just a few hours. Not only could it be something new and different to do, you and your partner can spend quality time together contributing in a meaningful way for the families staying at the House. Get some inspiration from these fun ways to give back together.
Tip: Celebrate your hard work at one of NW Calgary’s cutest little cupcake shops, Bliss & Co. Cupcakes and Desserts. Delicious cookies, drool-worthy tarts and perfect little cupcakes. Whatever your vice is, drop in and stay a while to enjoy a treat with someone special. Who doesn’t love dessert?
Bliss & Co Cupcakes and Desserts: 728 Northmount Drive N.W. | 403-281-8821 | blisscupcakes.com
Have a knack for antique spotting? Spend an afternoon shopping for trinkets and oddities at the Hillhurst Flea Market. From its well-curated selection of vendors, browse for everything from books and records to antiques and collectibles of all kinds. Hosted by the Hillhurst Community Centre for over 40 years, this year-round Sunday flea market (open from 7am to 3pm) is like a memory lane museum with objects ranging from old-fashioned to offbeat. Grab your partner, kids, parents or grandkids and make it an afternoon outing the whole family can enjoy! Remember, with bargains abound it’s easy to splurge so remember to set a budget.
Tip: Pack a lunch or fetch a snack from nearby Euphoria Café as you make your way to Glow – Calgary’s Downtown Winter Festival. This FREE, family-friendly light, art and music festival is a magical experience. From February 14th to 18th, enjoy an array of one-of-a-kind interactive light art installations that bring downtown Calgary to life this winter!
Hillhurst Flea Market: 1320 5th Avenue N.W. | 403-283-0554 | hsca.ca
Euphoria Café: 5403 Crowchild Trail N.W. | 403-313-0503 | euphoriacafe.ca
Enjoy the comforts of your own home and stay in for date night – cooking together is always a fun alternative than making the trip out and braving the cold. From creating your own homemade pizza with tips from U/D’s newest retailer Blaze Pizza, to an extravagant stuffed chicken or sensational steak, food tastes best when made with love! Even if your cooking skills are still a work in progress, there’s nothing simpler or more romantic than sharing a meal that you’ve prepared together. Pop a bottle of your favourite bubbly, dim the lights and get cookin’!
Have kids or grandkids at home? Get them in on the action and make it a fun and educational family affair!
Tip: End your meal on a sweet note with a rich, sumptuous milkshake from local favourite Peters’ Drive-In. There’s nothing more satisfying, or more Calgarian, than enjoying a cold treat during winter. To add a truly dramatic background with a bird’s-eye view of the city, stop off in Crescent Heights to McHugh Bluff for an incredible view of the city’s skyline and beyond. It’s a viewpoint that never disappoints!
Peters’ Drive-In: 219 16th Avenue N.E. | 403-277-2747 | petersdrivein.com
McHugh Bluff: Crescent Rd NW & Centre Street N | calgary.ca
Forget dinner and a movie – it’s time to throw a dash of excitement and spontaneity to date night. NW Calgary is home to fantastic attractions that take advantage of our city’s beautiful landscape and various seasons, both indoors and outdoors.
Photo Credit: Calgary Climbing Centre Rocky Mountain
Who can climb the furthest? Who can climb the fastest? There’s a reason why challenge date nights are so popular – they keep things interesting and add just the right amount of competition to allow you to compete while still cheering on your partner. Whether you’re an advanced climber ready to master the most challenging route or just starting out, there’s something for everyone at the Calgary Climbing Centre, open year-round and just minutes west of Calgary Olympic Park . If you dare, try climbing their 65-foot high walls!
Tip: Tantalize the taste buds and tame your belly at Calypso’s Greek Taverna. A short 10-minute drive away, this NW locale offers guests the delights of a home-style meal that will satisfy your need for comfort food, especially after building up an appetite from climbing! Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional Greek souvlaki or an epic appetizer platter for two, you’re in for a pleasurable evening of good food and drinks.
Calgary Climbing Centre: 10721 West Valley Road S.W. | 587-231-9116 | calgaryclimbing.com
Calypso’s Greek Taverna: 201 Centre Street N.W. | 403-250-5533 | calypsostaverna.com
This classic romantic date has fitness built right into it and the Northwest is home to arguably the cream of the crop for skate date locales! Bundle up for an evening skate session at Bowness Park or stay indoors at the Olympic Oval, home of the world’s fastest ice and our friendly neighbour. This is one old-fashioned date that you’ll never tire of!
Don’t miss the Servus Credit Union Free Family Day Skate on February 18 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm and remember, safety first! Bring, borrow or rent a helmet from the Olympic Oval Skate Shop for $2.50.
Tip: Make a date for a memorable meal at Oak Tree Tavern. This intimate, dimly lit restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy an after-activity meal, as well as a decadent liquid treat with their enticing list of cocktails, wines and spirits. Share a laugh or two with your partner every Wednesday for Comedy Night!
Olympic Oval: 288 Collegiate Blvd N.W. | 403-220-7954 | oval.ucalgary.ca
Oak Tree Tavern: 124 10 Street N.W. | 403-270-3347 | oaktreetavern.ca
Photo Credit: Showshoe Hare Loop by All Trails
Are you winter birds that love the snow? Head 15 minutes west of the city to Bragg Creek, strap into some snowshoes and hit up trails like Snowshoe Hare Loop and Ranger Summit Trail. Breath in the fresh Alberta air while you get in a workout and enjoy the sounds of the crisp snow crunching beneath as you explore the stunning landscapes of the Canadian Rockies. Make sure to bundle up and pack a thermos filled with your favourite hot beverage.
Tip: Come back to the city and warm up at this small and intimate restaurant nestled in the heart of Kensington. Ikeman Ramen Bar, known for tender noodles swimming in a fragrant broth, is filled with fresh veggies and high quality sourced ingredients that is sure to hit the spot on a winter day. Try the Roasted Tomato Seafood Ramen or the Chashu Cold – delectable and University District approved!
Ikeman Ramen Bar: 210 10 Street N.W. | 403-452-2148 | ikemanramenbar.com
Photo credit: Higher Ground’s not to be missed and oh-so-tempting hot chocolate! They are part of this year’s YYC Hot Chocolate Fest.
Foodie couples and friends, get ready to spice it up with these exciting culinary date ideas that combine your favourite things – food, wine and your favourite person! Why not book a spot for one of Calgary’s hippest food tours or opt for a wine tasting? Whatever you fancy, there’s a feast of foodie options to choose from in this corner of the city.
Creating your own foodie roadmap is an absolute must for any serious food couple when you have delicious eats right in your own backyard. From exploring the vast array of delectable eats in Brentwood to combing the streets of Kensington’s foodie mecca. Planning your own culinary journey is a great way to get to know your partner and the food culture of a neighbourhood. It just takes a little research and planning. Remember to come hungry and leave plenty of room for seconds, thirds and fourths!
Tip: One of the best things to do after chowing down on a series of divine eats and tasty treasures – top it off with a sweet, hot drink! During the month of February, you can try some of the city’s best hot chocolate concoctions, like Seasons of Bowness Park’s Reese’s Pieces hot chocolate or Higher Ground’s decadent hot chocolate topped with banana syrup, vanilla whipping cream and a lovely maraschino cherry. Be adventurous and take a chance on these sweet blends during YYC Hot Chocolate Fest! We think it’s one of the more tasty activities in the city the whole family can enjoy. Don’t forget, every cup sold supports Calgary Meals on Wheels.
Photo credit: Cuisine et Chateau
Whether amateur or professional, food enthusiasts will love the array of classes offered by Cuisine et Chateau. French, Mexican, bread-making classes – there’s plenty of mouth watering options for you and a friend. You’ll cover everything from ingredients and prep work to techniques, to execution and plating. The biggest bonus of the night will be savouring every last bite together! Let’s not forget, they even offer a kids program for your little chef in the making!
Tip: Don’t let the night end there. Make your way to Oolong Tea House, a 5-minute stroll away for a slice of decadent carrot cake and a cup of speciality tea. Or enjoy a quiet, cozy evening with a cup of perfectly brewed homemade tea, with this step-by-step guide from our friends and retailer partner, Analog Coffee. Don’t forget, the launch of its own line of teas is this spring!
Cuisine et Chateau: 103, 227 – 10 Street N.W. | 403-764-2665 | cuisineandchateau.com
Oolong Tea House: 110 10 Street N.W. | 403-457-5450 | oolongteashop.ca
Photo credit: Market Wines
It’s wine o’clock somewhere! For couples who love their partners and their wine, a wine tasting is an ideal match. Swirl, sip and savour heavenly wines from around the world and taste an array of delectable hors d’oeuvres at Calgary Winefest from February 22 to 23. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just a sewer of wine, make this your tastiest date night yet!
Tip: Make a weekend staycation out of it. Get a hotel room at the new and nearby Alt Hotel and order in from Blue Nile Ethiopian restaurant! Eat with your hands for a sensuous, intimate and mindful meal that creates a connection to the food and will leave a pleasant lingering aroma on the fingers. Our favourite – Injera – a spongy, slightly sour, crepe-like bread made from teff grain!
Calgary Winefest: Stampede Park BMO Centre | celebratewinefest.com
Blue Nile Restaurant: 322 10 Street N.W. | 403-270-4550 | blue-nile-calgary.com
Get inspired and break the mold when it comes to date ideas. Whether you want to treat your long-time partner and kids to an unforgettable night out, or looking to introduce some playfulness to your life, throw caution to the wind and get ready for some serious quality time with those you care about!
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and a closer look at the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.