Good food. Trendy stores. Basements packed with discount items. Galleries and performance spaces. Hillhurst has it all.
If it’s been a while, it’s time you explore this area again. We’ll help you tour through it so you don’t miss any of the highlights. (A few must-see spots are marked with a star.)
If you don’t want to walk to the start of your walking tour, we recommend taking public transit. Take the Northwest Line to the SAIT/ACAD/Jubilee stop and you’ll be right at our recommended starting point. If you’re driving, there’s an Impark lot south of the ACAD campus. Otherwise, try to find street parking – you won’t be able to leave your car in the North Hill Mall parking lot.
Start your walking tour here: Alberta College of Art + Design
Start your walking tour of the neighbourhood by exploring ACAD’s Illingworth Kerr Gallery and Marion Nicoll Gallery. The galleries, both of which exhibit different visual artwork, are named after two Calgary artists who helped shape the visual arts in the city. Nicoll and Kerr were both teachers at ACAD – Marion Nicoll was the school’s first female teacher – and they were also both prominent Calgary painters. Stop into the Illingworth Kerr Gallery to see world-class work – currently Shannon Bool’s textile work is on display. The Marion Nicoll Gallery is a student-run gallery that hosts student work. In addition to these two galleries, ACAD has nine other exhibition spaces with work on display.
1407 14 Ave. N.W., 403-284-7680, acad.ca
The next stops of the tour
From there, walk south down 10th St. N.W. Instead of sticking to the road, make a detour once you hit Riley Park – it will be on your right. Walk past the Senator Patrick Burns Formal Gardens and through the green space until you hit 5th Avenue N.W. This is when, if you haven’t been to Hillhurst in a while, you’ll notice that things are a little different.
We recommend stopping for lunch (or a decent-sized snack) at the newest Red’s location – it officially opened its doors January 2017. You’ll find it in the base of the new Lido apartment building, which was named after a popular greasy spoon that had been a neighbourhood staple for more than half a decade. Order the Pacific Benny and sit at the barista bar for more of a personal, diner experience.
286 10 St. N.W., 587-356-1808, redsdiner.com
Keep walking along 10th St. N.W., making a point to stop and browse at Kensington Art Supply, the consignment store reFind and Purr Petite. (If you need to buy something for the toddlers you know, be sure to go into Purr Petite’s basement. You’ll find the products that are on sale down here.) Or, if Red’s was a little too busy this time around, try Kensington’s other recently opened diner, The Daily.
The next part of your tour is all about treating yourself. Turn right onto Kensington Rd. N.W. to reach Crave. Be sure to try the cupcake of the month (it’s passion fruit until February 28). A little further down Kensington Road, search for discounted books in Pages Books On Kensington‘s basement. A little further again, you’ll reach Raw Eatery and Market. It’s somewhat hidden – it’s down the stairs and underneath Peacock Boutique – but be sure to step inside to check out the healthy snacks and make a mental note of when the next special event will be running. In the past, there have been movie nights, yoga and brunches.
Then, be sure to walk as far as 12th Street N.W. to Kensington Wine Market. Here, pick up a growler filled with a local beer that you probably wouldn’t be able to find in bottles or cans.
This board game caf took over the space above Song Han Vietnamese Restaurant last summer. And if you haven’t been yet, go during your walking tour. For $2.50 an hour, choose to play any of the 1,000 board games here to play while you sip on Fratello coffee or a Village Brewery beer.
200, 1140 Kensington Rd. N.W., 403-209-2881, thehexcafe.com
The final spot in the tour: Oak Tree Tavern
You don’t want to leave the neighbourhood as soon as you’ve had dinner. (And there are plenty of dinner options here.) Instead, stick around and enjoy the evening. Next door to Hexagon Caf is Hayden Block where you can go for a whiskey-based drink (there will probably be a wait, but it will be worth it). Or, head back to 10th Street N.W. to Oak Tree Tavern. As well as good drink and food menus, depending on the day there is entertainment too. Wednesday is comedy night, there’s traditional Irish music on Sundays and there are various other special events taking place here too. Expect to pay a little for cover.
2, 124 10 St. N.W., 403-270-3347, oaktreetavern.ca
This hip spot is a must-visit if you’re into the arts. The space was designed by local design group Studio North to be a space dedicated to local creatives. You’ll be able to identify it by the distinctive mural that decorates the red exterior. While it’s a workshop space, it’s also a community hub where arts events are held every so often. In the past, there have been concerts, film screenings and book clubs. For more information on events visit Blank Page Studio’s Facebook page.
1221B Kensington Rd. N.W., studionorth.ca
The next time you’re walking the neighbourhood
If you walk through Hillhurst again in the springtime, you’ll notice a few more additions. The Regal Cat Caf, the city’s first cat caf, is scheduled to open its doors in early March. Look for it across the road from Midtown Kitchen and Bar. And Trapped, another locked room, is currently under construction in the spot formerly occupied by Cushy Life.
And, it looks as though the area will see even more changes in the upcoming months. A few well-loved businesses have closed their doors recently – Pie Cloud, Frogurt and Kilian International Design, to name a few – so keep an eye on those spaces.