Kensington is considered Calgary’s urban village. The district spans across two northwest communities – Hillhurst and Sunnyside and has been around for over one hundred years.
Over 250 businesses are part of Kensington which makes it one of Calgary’s most vibrant communities. You could spend an entire day strolling the streets, checking out the local shops, and exploring some great cafes.
Sunnyside is located on the North side of the bow river adjacent to downtown Calgary. It was established in 1904. The Bow River is south of Hillhurst and was established in 1914. Together these communities form the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association.
The main areas of the community association are child care, outreach services, and services for seniors. Recreation programs are also offered through the association and their centre is available for various event rentals.
In 2020, Sunnyside ranked fourth-best neighbourhood in Calgary in Avenue Magazine’s Best Neighbourhoods in Calgary list. It received 249 restaurant access points and 55 public recreation facility access points. It also received a walk score of 75.
The community has many different amenities and features that make it a desirable spot in the city. It remains a favourite place for shopping and walking for both Calgarians and tourists.
Kensington shopping district is home to 271 different businesses. The best part of the district is that all the businesses are local! You won’t find big box stores here. With all the things to do around the neighbourhood, it’s easy to spend your entire afternoon here.
The vibe it has is unlike anything else in the city. Historic and modern elements are intertwined perfectly – it’s impossible to not fall in love with the neighbourhood!
The location is great for those who don’t own a car or prefer walking or biking. Kensington is within walking distance of the city centre. It is also transit accessible. The sunnyside station runs through the community. Four different bus routes also pass through Kensington Road NW. Route 1, 4, 5, and 65.
Riley Park is 9 hectares of park within walking distance of Kensington’s shopping district. The park includes a wading pool area, cricket pitch, and a memorial rock garden.
The Hillhurst and Sunnyside Community Centre playground is a fun place for young families to spend some time. Walk or bike by the river as well! Check out the Hillhurst Athletic Park as well for baseball diamonds, soccer fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts!
Prince’s Island Park is a short walk away so it’s the perfect destination for a picnic by the river or walking along the river paths.
Things to do
Kensington always has many fun events going on. Whether it be a stroll through the Christmas lights, attending the farmer’s market, or enjoying a festival for foodies. Kensington offers something for all residents.
Other events include summer movie nights, the #LoveYYC campaign that happens in the winter, and craft beer festivals.
Gather a group of friends and head to the Hexagon Board Game Cafe for a fun-filled board game night. Choose from hundreds of board games and puzzles. You can also enjoy some snacks and hot beverages while you play.
Looking for some new lunch spots? Sidewalk Citizen Sunnyside’s deli counter offers daily sandwich and pizza specials along with other baked goods. It’s a staple in Kensington!
If you’re looking for organic tea and coffee, try Higher Ground Cafe. It was established in 1982 and is committed to promoting sustainability on a global scale.
Another great cafe nestled right in Sunnyside is Vendome. They are more than just a coffee shop. They offer an extensive menu filled with brunches, burgers, cocktails, and wine.
For the book lover, Pages on Kensington is the place to be. The three-level store is lined with books for readers of all ages. From spine-chilling thrillers to autobiographies, this store is one of Kensington’s gems. There is also a section to purchase used books at a discount.
Enjoy a unique cafe experience at the Regal Cat Cafe. This cafe is the perfect place for couples and friends to enjoy hand-made coffee, teas, and sweet treats. The cafe houses up to 12 adoptable cats that you can interact with during your visit.
Every Saturday, the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association hosts an indoor Farmer’s Market from 10 AM – 2 PM. The goal of the farmer’s market is to become a thriving hub for community activity that is anchored in the exchange of high-quality, local food and goods. This enriches the inner-city and in turn, supports the local economy. The association also hosts a flea and antique market on Sundays from 7 AM until 3 PM. The flea market is great for finding furniture, classic CDs, crafts, and more.
SAIT is a post secondary institution located on the north side of Hillhurst. The University of Calgary is a short 10-minute C-train ride away.
Queen Elizabeth Junior and High School, Hillhurst K-9 School, and Rosedale K-9 School are also in the area. The number of schools for younger children makes Hillhurst/Sunnyside a desirable place for families.
Kensington Business Improvement Area
The award-winning Kensington Business Improvement Area (BIA) for planning events, keeping the space beautiful and the marketing of the shopping district.
They work with the City of Calgary to deliver municipal services in their zones as well as advocate for policies that support economic vitality.
Another part of their role includes enhancing the economic development of a certain area through marketing and promotions. The BIA continues to work hard to maintain the public realm, add new art, and create a safe and inclusive community.
This historic area of the city is truly a treasure. Although it is older, people of all ages from around the city can come and appreciate the beautiful architecture, local businesses, and enjoy the green spaces.
Calgarians won’t find another area in the city with the same atmosphere as Kensington.
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Here is a recent kitchen renovation in Kensington / Hillhurst Calgary completed by Reborn Renovations
A video preview of our Kensington Calgary renovations: