Marketing A City

Our founder Jonathan Jacobs was invited by Tourism Calgary to author an article that will entice Americans to visit Calgary. Content marketing such as this is a useful tool in converting web traffic and search results into actionable customers. You can find the full article at this link and below:


Tips for exploring Calgary, Canada, from one American to another 

By Jonathan Jacobs

February 12th, 2019

I still remember the first time I saw them. I had just flown in from Florida a few days before to visit my girlfriend (who would later become my wife) and we were on the highway headed west.

The road reached a crescendo and the panorama caused me to inhale sharply. My eyes focused on the peaks of Banff for the first time and then slowly began to fill with tears. They were tears of sheer joy, and this is coming from a guy who grew up in the '90s with two older brothers. If you've got a trip on the verge of being booked in your other tab right now, understand that you're not just booking a flight. Know that you're booking the opportunity to stand in awe of something so grand that nothing mankind has built can even begin to compare - then pick the seats for your flight. 

The city is right next to the Rocky Mountains

As your in-flight movie wraps up, take a look outside your window to catch an Instagram of Calgary and the Rockies all in one shot. That's how close they are. Once your flight touches down, you'll find yourself in a recently renovated US terminal that gives you your first taste of contemporary conveniences in the city. This isn't the airport you remember from Cool Runnings (YouTube it.). Customs is a breeze with their self-serve digital kiosks. Grab your bag and get ready to start on your adventure. But before you hit that highway west, here are a few things you don't want to miss in Calgary. 

A few short turns into your drive, you'll look to your left and see the city shining in the distance.

As a photographer, one of the first things I have to mention about this city is how photogenic it is. Calgary sits in a subtle valley which provides incredible viewing angles from all directions. This, combined with impressive city planning showcases a balanced and diverse skyline. If you want to take a second to see the best views of the city to get the iconic "I was here." shot for your album, here are a few of my favorite lookouts: 

  1. Scotsman's Hill(View From The East)

  2. Mt. Pleasant View Point(View From The North East)

  3. McHugh Bluff(View From The North)

  4. Edworthy Park(View From The West)

After taking in that architecture from a distance, it's time to get up close and personal. At this point, you definitely would have noticed some unique shapes highlighted throughout the skyline. Of course, you saw the tallest building – Brookfield Place - which stands at a staggering 810 feet high. The Bow, with its beautiful curved design, would have also caught your attention. And perhaps you noticed Eighth Avenue Place with its sloped tops that are reminiscent of the mountains you will soon be visiting. 

While those skyscrapers definitely stand out, what impresses me the most is Calgary's foray into new styles of buildings that you would be hard-pressed to find in most other cities. Take TELUS Sky for example. The facade of this building appears to be made of individual blocks that are in the process of shapeshifting from a bland and typical high-rise into a more feminine form before your very eyes. Or look over to the developing East Village and you will definitely see the National Music Centre. This building that houses a museum, active recording studios and performance spaces, stretches majestically over 4th St SE while wearing a golden exterior that glimmers in the light. Standing next to it is the New Central Library.

Calgary’s New Central Library (photo: Michael Grimm)

If you only step foot into one building in Calgary, make sure you find yourself in the Library. As you approach the library, you'll immediately appreciate its layered design that integrates windows into the overall design motif of the building. Inside, you'll immediately find yourself staring up in awe at the braided multi-level interior in front of you. The library lends itself nicely to exploring, so just start walking and you'll find something exciting around the next turn. Of course, it has books. But it also has recording studios, meeting rooms, a children's play area, and even a teen zone with video game systems. It might sound unbelievable to imagine a library packed with teenagers, but this baby-faced 20-something-year-old couldn't even sneak in a quick game because so many teenagers were in there. If they aren't playing video games, you'll probably find them in the provided study halls. I really can't oversell this place. This library is sexy. If you spend too much time there, you might find yourself researching the real estate market so you can qualify for a free library card. Although you might not think a library is worth visiting on holiday, this one will change your mind forever!

At this point, you're probably getting hungry. Now for sure, there is your fair share of American franchises from your standard fast food, to Five Guys and Fatburger, to Olive Garden and Red Lobster. But if you're in Calgary, you have to try out their blossoming local food scene. If you've never been to Canada, most Canadians will tell you that you need to try poutine. If that word means nothing to you, think luxury fries bursting with flavor. One of my favorite places for poutine is a spot called Naina's Kitchen. They've got a huge selection of poutine varieties including Eggs Benny Poutine and Buffalo Chicken Poutine. While you're there (and if you've got any space left), you might also want to take a look at their stuffed burgers. There is a lot of variety on that side of the menu as well included a Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Burger.

For something a little fancier, check out Ten Foot Henry for a vegetable anchored menu. Definitely get the tomato and feta dish for a surprisingly complex mix of flavor. Another option is Cardinale for Italian. If you time it right, you can get their menu half-priced after 9:00 PM. 

For authentic Latin cuisine, check out La Casa Latina. We're talking incredible pupusas, flautas, fried plantain, and more. For a Caribbean plate including delicious jerk chicken, visit Simply Irie down on 17th Avenue SW. If you're in the mood for Indian, head up into the Northeast for the most selection, including Marina Dosa, which is approved by my Indian wife. And you'll have no shortage of Shawarma or Asian, such as Jerusalem Shawarma and Shibuya Izakaya respectively. The next morning, check out OEB for brunch. They have a wide variety of options, but I usually look at their BOX'D menu that features incredible potato anchored bowls. Pro-tip: swap out the potatoes for their waffle fries. They are the best fries in the city. And if all of these options are giving you option paralysis, just head over to Crossroads Market if you're here on a weekend. They have a great choice of food vendors from all different cuisines, including one of our favorite places called Waffles & Chix


See Pandas at the Calgary Zoo

Skyline Luge

Now that you're fed, it's time to have a bit of fun. Here are four experiences that you might want to look into while you're in Calgary. The first is taking a ride up to the top of the Calgary Tower. You could purchase the elevator only ticket that will give you access to the 360-degree observation deck. This fully enclosed glass room offers views of all of the buildings I mentioned earlier, as well as a great view of the mountains. I'd recommend coming about an hour before sunset to get the best experience of both the blue skies and city lights. The other option is to eat at Sky 360, the attached upscale restaurant, which will give you free access to the observation deck with the purchase of your meal.

If heights aren't your thing, here's an option that stays on the ground and occasionally in trees. Most big cities have a zoo, but how many of them have pandas? The Calgary Zoo has adorable giant pandas on loan from China as part of a partnership between the Chinese and Canadian governments and they are definitely a must-see. They will be hanging out in Calgary for a few years, so definitely add the zoo to your list if you'll be coming here soon.

If you're feeling competitive, you have to head over to Skyline Luge at WinSport. Open during the summer, Skyline Luge is the longest luge track in the world. If you're not sure what a luge is, think Mario Kart powered by gravity. You wind down more than 50 twists and turns using only continuous downhill trajectory and occasionally brakes if you lose your nerve. It's true what they say, one ride is never enough.

Finally, if you're looking for something in the Arts & Culture space, definitely look into 10 at 10. Founder Beni Johnson and his team have done an incredible job of curating a positive hip hop scene in the city by hosting a number of events related to music, poetry, dance, and really anything that promotes the culture. Double check to see if there is an event happening while you're in town because you won't want to miss it. 


After all that, I hope you still have time to make it out to the mountains you almost rushed off to. But if you do run out of time before you get to try everything, remember we're only a flight away.

To my fellow Americans, I hope Calgary treats you as well as it has treated me. And if you have any other questions feel free to connect on Instagram!