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May 01, 2016

Airdire’s delights

This small town is all grown up, and new lifestyle opportunities abound

Shelley Boettcher

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Sometimes Calgarians take Airdrie for granted.

But we shouldn’t. Located just north of Calgary — almost bordering, in fact — Airdrie has all the amenities of a big city, but with often-lower real estate prices, great schools and lots of independent charm.

With a population of about 42,000 people, the City of Airdrie is small enough to be friendly, but big enough for every major convenience: doctors, dentists, grocery stores and popular major chains. You’ll find many — Panago, Shoppers Drug Mart, Real Canadian Superstore, Starbucks, Waves Coffee — alongside cute mom-and-pop shops and eateries, too. Check out a few of our favourites.


Shop till you drop

One of Alberta’s biggest shopping malls, CrossIron Mills, is just a short drive from Airdrie. Here, you’ll find a range of popular stores and outlet shopping, including Coach Outlet, Indigo, Lucky Brand Jeans, La Senza, Levi’s and a movie theatre, too.

Back in Airdrie proper, the lovely Kitchen Boutique (208, 960 Yankee Valley Boulevard S.E.) carries beautiful dishes and gear, including appliances, cake decorating tools, knives, table linens and kids’ aprons, too. This is your place to go for Lampe Berger products as well as heirloom-worthy Le Creuset pots, in a range of rich colours.

Appearances can be deceiving. From the outside, you’d never guess that The Store Upstairs (209 Centre Avenue S.W.) would have much of anything. But this massive shop literally has something for everyone: funky hats, scarves, womenswear, jewelry, toys, handbags, knick-knacks and kitchen gear. Maybe you need a fondue pot? The Store Upstairs has a great selection from Trudeau, including a ceramic heat-resistant pot that can be used with chocolate, cheese or meat.

The brilliant Where On Earth Did You Get That? (, 325 Edmonton Trail S.E.) claims to be Southern Alberta’s largest antique mall, with 15,000 square feet of antiques: vinyl records, French farmhouse-inspired pieces, cool Canadiana and more. But if you see something you love, buy it; it may not be there when you return.


Eat. And eat out

Beer drinkers, rejoice; Airdrie has plenty of cool places to keep you happy. One neighbourhood favourite is the Toad ‘n’ Turtle Pubhouse & Grill (, 1900 Market Street S.E.). With 24 beers on tap — not to mention 40-plus single malt scotches — you’ll find something to slake your thirst. Grab a sandwich a burger or go for brunch and try the breakfast poutine. Bonus: there’s a big rooftop patio, too.

Tucked into a new industrial area, Il Forno (2914 Kingsview Boulevard S.E., offers pizza cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven. Upstairs, on Fridays and Saturdays, eat at Rose Rosse for an array of classic Italian-Canadian dishes: polpette (Italian meatballs), veal marsala, mussels, chicken cacciatore and more. 

If you’re a barbecue fan, don’t miss The Butcher Shoppe (, 705 Main Street S.). Pick up steaks, hamburger, sausages, bacon and dog treats here, too. You’ll wonder why you ever bought meat elsewhere.

Crave an indie coffee? Sorso Coffee Co. (, 401, 800 Yankee Valley Boulevard.) is the place to be. “Belly up to our antique bar for a beer or vino,” suggests staff on the website. Or bring your laptop and work while you sip on a latte made with beans from Rosso Coffee Roasters.

Sometimes you just need the perfect cake. Debi Macleod at Avenue Cakery and Bake Shop (, 620 First Avenue S.W.) can make you a delicious cake that will rival anything you’ve ever seen on the Cake Boss reality TV show. Her work is so intricate, it literally has to be seen to be believed.


Get fit

Love cycling? Stop in at PUSH Cycling Studio (30 Market Boulevard S.E., to burn calories and have fun. Whether you’re a beginner or a cycling pro, you’ll find a class that’s right for you.

On the other side of town, Cranked (3 Stonegate Drive N.W., has been helping Airdrie cyclists get fit since 2003. Buy a bike, get your own biked serviced, or take a spin class; it’s all here. 

Genesis Place (800 East Lake Boulevard, is the biggest gym in town, with swimming, two NHL-sized arenas, an indoor fitness centre, dance studio and child care, plus outdoor athletic fields and a running track, too.


Have fun

More than 100 years of history are represented at the Nose Creek Valley Museum (1701 Main Street S.W., Stop by to see memorabilia from First and Second World Wars, a blacksmith shop, First Nations displays, a barbershop, a vintage rail car and more.

Just next door, across the parking lot from the museum, is the Airdrie Street Art Gallery ( This small but ever-changing space showcases the creativity of Airdrie’s myriad spraypaint (a.k.a. aerosol) artists. One day, you may find a favourite cartoon character or two or 10; another day, maybe it’s all about words.

Last but certainly not least is Bert Church Live Theatre (1000 East Lake Boulevard on the east side of Airdrie right next to Genesis Place and East Lake Park) Bert Church Live Theatre is a fully equipped, live performing arts facility. The 377-seat facility provides audiences with a unique opportunity to experience world-renowned performers in a local setting. 

It certainly seems that Calgary’s sister city to the north is all grown up, and non-residents can certainly find a lot to do here for a day, which could certainly open eyes to the possibility of moving to this not-so-small town. CL

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