Hot Town, (Short) Summer in the City: Scouting some of Calgary’s best patios to make the most of our brief, but beautiful season of sizzle

Summer time has finally come to the YYC. You can feel it by the way the sun beats down through the hat on you put on your head. As you walk down the street, you notice your feet are sweating in your sandals. It’s clear you need a nice cold drink. However, you don’t want to just leave that wonderful fresh balmy air. Luckily, in Calgary you have a selection of patios that meets every need under the sun. Want a good selection? Here is a great start

Porch (730 17 Ave. S.W.): It doesn’t get any cooler than to sit on a swing at a bar and have a signature cocktail. Porch is a place that knows how to bring the outside inside and vice versa. Their barbecue/picnic-style food mixed with classy cocktails makes this place a versatile experience for everybody from all walks of life to enjoy. The potted plants everywhere gives this unique experience while keeping it comfortable. But for a little added excitement, head out there on a Friday or Saturday night for an even more lively atmosphere and a bowl of flames being set alight. 

Oolong Tea House (110 10 St. N.W.): Ever want to feel like you are a kid again? This is the place to go! At the back of this little café is a seating porch that looks like it is straight out of a Mark Twain novel. I could see good ol’ Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer hanging out there. This patio with its wooden benches, little plants and a painted mural that reminds me of a treehouse that I had in my parents’ backyard. Just the place for secret missions and wild adventures that needed to be executed. The best part about all of this is, the iced tea that comes with it. Prepare to relive some happy memories here. 

Local Public Eatery (201 Barclay Parade S.W.): Out on a bike ride, riding a scooter, or just plain walking along the Bow River, you will find a stop in the heart of Eau Claire that calls to you like a siren from old fairy tales. Unlike that situation though, you will not regret coming here. There are good spots to hang out, whether you prefer upstairs or downstairs. Bright orange umbrellas are there to protect you from the sun should you need them, and you get a sample of their special wine of the day. A peaceful breeze can hit you anytime and provide the sweet relief you get after a good ride and bite at this handy eatery.

The Guild (200 8 Ave. S.W.): Stephen Ave. is the perfect place for a weary wanderer to find themselves in because there is a special stop that has character all on its own. The Guild is probably the best street patio you can find because it has the perfect view for people watching, listening to street musicians, and to take a gander at what is happening in the pop-up markets. This place has a history to it and it is not just evident by its gloriously carved arches. When you take a look around inside you can see by the old pictures along the walls that it once was a meeting place for merchants and artists in the past. A lot of stories are still waiting to be told.

Rooftop Bar at Simmons (618 Confluence Way S.E.): Warning! When you step out of that elevator and onto the roof, you will be hit with a sight that takes your breath away. This patio provides the best wraparound view of the city and  river a person can get lost in. A hip, fun place with some serious dance beats, it can have you enjoying everything from an elaborate birthday party to a simple drink. Not to mention that the Simmons Building has been a Calgary landmark since 1912, when it was a mattress factory. It’s worth it to stop in and see what it has to offer. 

Hotel Arts poolside patio

Hotel Arts (119 12 Ave. S.W.): With all these patios providing the best of everything, what else is needed? A pool perhaps? There is one at this Beltline hotel and everyone is welcome to it if you are prepared to pay $20. Nothing like a little mini vacation with cocktails included to get away from it all. Whether you want to sit in the shade underneath an umbrella, bask in the sunshine on a lounge chair, or float in that beautiful reflective water, this is the spot to hang for a day. If you can’t get enough, stay the night. After all, who doesn’t deserve a staycation every once in a while? 

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant (15979 Bow Bottom Tr. S.E.): One of the best and most upscale places to be is the Bow Valley Ranche in south Calgary. Each dish is prepared with love, care and artistry, but to be quite frank, it’s best to go there for sitting on their porch, looking out to Fish Creek Park, and enjoying one of their many varieties of wine. Sometimes after a good hike, there is just nothing like sitting outside of a beautiful historical home and gazing out at the natural beauty that surrounds it. 

Trattoria Bonterra (1016 8 St. S.W.): If you want a Tuscan experience without getting on a plane, this is the place to go. Bonterra has a romantic, traditional Italian experience right in their courtyard. Their climbing trees, bistro tables, stone walls and delicate flowers gives you the experience that Italy is known to provide. So, when you are there sitting at a table underneath a string of lights, order yourself a nice bottle of vino, and enjoy the Italian flavour. Not everything has to happen under the Tuscan sun.

The Rooftop YYC (414 3 St. S.W.): Welcome to the jungle that nestles in the centre of our beautiful city. You have trees, tropical flowers and vines everywhere. The only thing missing is the Jumanji characters swinging into action. You can never get lost here thanks to all the neon signs labeling everything you could ever need. You get fruity cocktails and some great pizza to really bring your whole adventure together. A perfect hangout for all the party animals, but, hey if you are a wallflower then that’s “No Big Dill.” (Sorry — got their pizza on the brain.) 

Trolley 5 (728 17 Ave S.W.): A beach theme and awesome DJs spinning their tunes. What more can you ask for? A beer? They have that there too, and they make it fresh for you since this wonderful establishment is a brewery featuring some of the best local beers you can get. Armed with a Hawaiian shirt, and a house-made beer, you can sit up on their rooftop patio with the slats open. Catch some of those rays while you listen to some of the city’s trendiest and coolest music provided to help put you into a laid-back mood. You might just be at the beach party of your dreams. 

Vegan Street Kitchen and Lounge (1111 7 St. S.W.): A big “hurray” for all of those with plant-based diets out there! There is a sweet little patio that has a solarium and a pet friendly place to hang out. Who knew that George Stanley’s (designer of the Canadian flag) childhood home would become such an easy-going and carefree spot for the city’s animal lovers? The food is pretty awesome too. You never would have guessed these dishes are vegan. But we all saw the big sign out front. Order up one of their special dishes and feel guilt-free at the end of your visit.

Central Taps + Food (110 224 -12 Ave S.W.): The quirkiest place to find yourself on a hot Sunday afternoon. Their yellow-and-white-striped umbrellas, vintage electronics and refreshing drinks are sure to bring some much-needed sunshine into your life. The toe-tapping music helps as well. Central is a place made for smiles. This hidden gem in plain sight stirs up some good times and groovy vibes. So sit down, chill out and make a friend or two in this sociable place. 

The Palomino Smokehouse (109 7 Ave. S.W.): For a true honky tonk feel, this bar has you covered. Country music is prevalent, picnic tables with umbrellas are everywhere for your sun protection needs, and the theme of this place is straight out of a classic western. With a drink in your hand and live music to be heard, you might just get transported into your favourite John Wayne movie. Just don’t get into any showdowns while you are there. You don’t want to spill your beer. 

Gringo Street (101 – 524 17 Ave. S.W.): Mexico is always calling, but if the timing is wrong, this awesome patio has the same vibes as a Mexican cantina. Lively Latin music fills the air and the best time to go is for their happy hour. It not only lasts from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the dozen flavours of margaritas and mojitos are 50% off. Don’t forget the tacos are also at a wonderful discount of $3 each. So, you can live la vida loca for a whole afternoon. All you need now is to get some salsa dancing going. 

The season of summer in Calgary is a time that we all wish wouldn’t end. That’s why it is important to take advantage when we have such a short but sweet period of it. Our local pubs, eateries and cafes give us this service every year. It’s never too late to take in some sun and open our minds, hearts and lungs to the fresh air that our outdoor patios provide. Jump on that and enjoy!