by Dan Leahul
Striking a balance between contemporary flair and old-fashioned comforts, Bowness has undergone a bit of a renaissance over the past few years. The community, which was its own town until 1964, still maintains its welcoming, small-town vibe, but a wealth of new residents has branded Bowness as one of Calgary’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods. A number of eateries focus on global cuisine, but there’s still old-fashioned diners complete with milkshakes. While the shopping scene slants towards those seeking a bit of adventure, there are also spots to pick up something unique. What’s undeniable is the area’s beauty, the winding Bow River is the star of the show, and offers a number of family-friendly activities throughout the year.
Bowness Park is a favourite spot for locals throughout the year with its thick evergreen trees, open grassy fields, playground areas and river access. On winter days, the shallow lagoon that runs through the park is filled with skaters,and open burning fire pits are kept nearby to warm chilled hands. The park is a beautiful venue for an afternoon of cross-country skiing, and there is a concession stand on site that sells hot chocolate and hot dogs (8900 – 48 Ave NW).
Although the paint is hardly dry on the walls, Spoonful is already a favourite spot for many Bownesians. The restaurant serves affordable Chinese, Thai and Malaysian fusion cuisine. Try the Tom Yum Kung, a spicy Thai soup, or the Swimming Rama, chicken served with spinach, peppers and peanut sauce (6404 Bowness Rd NW).
Salt n’ Pepper, another local legend, serves authentic Mexican fare. Head there on a Tuesday for all-you-can-eat tacos (6515 Bowness Rd NW).
Fire Escape is a pottery painting studio buzzing with amateur artists. The shop is stocked with shelves of raw pottery, from plates and bowls to more extravagant pieces, like skulls. Pick your pottery off the shelf and select from a rainbow of 50 non-toxic glazing colours, and paint a mantelpiece masterpiece. The shop “fires” the pottery in their own kiln, and your work can be picked up after three days. Drop-in rates range from $6 to $9, plus the price of the pottery (6305 Bowness Rd NW).
If you’re in the need for a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat, head to Cadence, an inviting and unassuming café that serves a mean latte and fresh apple pie. We recommend the Rueben sandwich, piled high with Montreal smoked meat and sauerkraut, dripping with warm Swiss cheese. (6407 Bowness Rd NW).
A family-owned business in operation since 1957, Bow Cycle is a Calgarian institution. It was first established as a small bicycle and sporting goods store, but these days the shop encompasses a massive warehouse, packed to the rafters with mountain, road and pleasure bikes, as well as parts and accessories, with a repair shop on site, bustling with knowledgeable staff (6501 Bowness Rd NW).
Down Bowness Road are the paddle-sport experts at Undercurrents, in a 5,000-square-foot facility housing a huge selection of the kayaks, canoes and boards, which are also available for rent, as well as gear and casual outdoor clothing. The shop hosts regular lessons and weekly pool sessions throughout the off-season at Mount Royal University, so paddlers can practice their skills while the weather is cool (6531 Bowness Rd NW).