Map: The Calgary Stampede

Now in its 88th year, kickoff goes July 8. And these days, it's about more than just cowboys and bull riding.

Despite transforming long ago into an oil town and bustling business centre of Western Canada, the city of Calgary has clung actively to its cowboy roots. It’s a strange juxtaposition when a city modern enough to elect its mayor on a wave of social media strength is also host to big-money chuckwagon races and bullriding. But that’s why it’s worth the trip. Now in its 88th year, the Calgary Stampede is the perfect excuse to hit up a pancake breakfast, then experience the best of the city’s present and its Wild West past. Just remember to trade in the suit and tie for a pair of boots and a cowboy hat—it’ll make that “Yeehaw!” much more believable.

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 | Photos: Canadian Press; Alamy/Getstock; Veer; iStock; Corbis; Chef Paul Rogalski