I am sure CountryWife can provide some great advice, but also looking to hear from some families that may have stayed at a Calgary hotel recently and ventured to the zoo or downtown. We have a car, so we can go anywhere (even drive to a c-train park and ride - which is totally fine).
I've narrowed down my hotel search to three. None perfect, but it's what fit into my budget and was available (there are some hotels that are sold out already during the first weekend of Stampede!):
1. Best Western Port O-Call Airport - yeah, it's a trek to Stampede Park, but it's a really well-rated hotel here on TA, has a pool for the kids (which is usually a must) - plus slide, free breakfast, and lots of space - plus it's CHEAP (at least for Stampede time!) ~$150/night.
2. Holiday Inn Macleod Trail South - at over $200 a night, it's a bit of a stretch. The location is good, being right by the c-train, BUT...there's a lot of cons associated to that (mainly excessive traffic/noise and crime/safety issues, from the reviews I've seen here on TA). The rooms are small and there's no included breakfast.
3. Best Western PLUS Suites Downtown - it's over $200 a night, too - but has bigger rooms and a free breakfast and free parking. It looks perfect EXCEPT - no pool for the kids. That's kind of a deal breaker, since we'll be there for 4 nights (July 4-8)
We're doing the parade and rodeo on the Friday and the evening show on Saturday - so only two days getting to and fro. The rest of the time will be spent visiting friends that live there and seeing other sites. I am less concerned with the proximity of the hotel due to that fact - so I am still thinking the Port O Call is our best bet. I spent a fair amount of time digging, but if you have any other suggestions, I'll gladly have a look. Thanks in advance!