Calgary is a very family-friendly city and there are many places and activities geared towards the whole family. We have really loved getting out and about with the kids, and we are never bored on weekends, as there is always something to do or somewhere to explore.
The cold and snowy winters certainly don’t stop people getting out and enjoying life and there are just as many things to see and do in the winter as there are in the summer. And a big bonus is that many of these activities are free!
Here are some of the great things to do with kids in Calgary:
Calgary has a wealth of museums and art galleries to explore. Telus Spark is an excellent science museum with loads of fun activities for the whole family. There is also a giant play centre there for the kids to expend some serious energy. Head to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame at the Canada Olympic Park (WinSport) to learn about all the city’s favourite sporting heroes. Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, is also a great day out for music lovers. The Glenbow Museum is another lovely art and history museum and families can enjoy doing some interesting craft activities there.
The Calgary Zoo
The Calgary Zoo offers a wonderful outing for the whole family, and it’s definitely one of the most popular family attractions in the summer. Tickets are not cheap, but for the price of about two entrance tickets, you can purchase an annual membership, which allows for unlimited access to the zoo year round. It’s really convenient to get there too, with the CTrain station right at the zoo entrance. In the winter they have the zoo lights in the evenings, which offers a really lovely family night out.
Walks in the woods and picnics in the parks
Calgary is full of beautiful green spaces, from open parks to dense forests, and you’ll never grow tired of exploring the beautiful wooded areas along the Bow and Elbow rivers. Take a basket of goodies and park off for a family picnic with some friends. Some of our favourite outdoor places include Griffith Woods, Carburn, Edworthy and Prince’s Island parks. Learn more about Calgary’s parks on the Calgary city’s website.
Bike rides and scooters
With hundreds of kilometres of bike paths, Calgary is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. The variety of different paths is fantastic, with options to explore the woods, pedal along the Bow or Elbow rivers, do some downtown city sightseeing, or just take a ride around your own neighbourhood. Bike riding is a wonderful family activity, and in the spring and summer you’ll see many families out enjoying the bike paths together.
Calgary’s public libraries are free and offer a great option for those days when you’re stuck at home and just need to get out for a bit with the kids. Most libraries offer free story times and have a nice play area for the kids to play a bit, and for mom and dad to chill out for a while. The Calgary central library in downtown is definitely worth a visit. The building is quite a spectacular work of art, and besides the millions of books, there are play areas, tables full of LEGO and puzzles and loads of great family activities to enjoy.
For those not afraid of heights, the Calgary Tower is a great place to visit. Catch the elevator to the top for fantastic 360-degree views of the city.
Every community of Calgary is dotted with play parks that are clean and well maintained, so when you just feel like getting the kids out the house for a bit, it’s usually an easy walk to a nearby park. This is also a great way to meet other families in your neighbourhood, as you’ll inevitably start seeing the same people out and about.
There are a number of theme parks in Calgary which offer a great day out in the summer. Located along the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir, Heritage Park is a living western-themed history museum with replicas of historical buildings and Gasoline Alley, an interesting car museum. Calaway Park is a massive amusement park located out in Springbank, with rollercoasters and lots of other fun activities for the whole family.
Ice skating, and especially ice hockey, is synonymous with Canadian culture, so it’s no surprise that there are many ice rinks dotted around Calgary. There are both indoor and outdoor rinks. The Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary has a great rink to practice your skating skills, with the walkers available for those just starting to learn, and you can rent skates and a helmet, but it’s not cheap. There are also many rinks run by community associations and the City of Calgary, which charge a fee, and then there are the free outdoor ice rinks, which are usually maintained by the local communities.
If you live in Calgary, it’s definitely worth having your own skates and helmet so you can enjoy this fun family activity. We love walking down the road to our local outdoor rink to meet friends for an afternoon of skating – and the best part is that it’s free!
After a good snow dump, tobogganing is a great family activity to enjoy. And another great thing is that it’s free. Most schools have a decent hill to go sledding down, and some of the communal parks also have some great spots. There are lots of options for buying a toboggan or sled, from cheap plastic ones to fancy wooden contraptions.
Swimming and splash parks
There are plenty of community centres dotted around Calgary that offer indoor swimming parks. We love heading to the pool for an afternoon on the super tube.
In the summer, there are also some great splash parks for the kids to run around and have fun. The South Glenmore splash park is particularly fun, with the huge play grounds and a new bike pump track, so there’s hours of entertainment for the whole family.
From ice fishing in the winter to fly fishing on the Bow River in the summer, there are loads of options to take the little ones fishing. Remember to have the correct permits for fishing as this is restricted in certain areas, and catch and release policies are also in effect in some places.
Hiking is a fantastic family activity and Calgarians are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful hiking spots. From easy hour-long walks in the woods, to advanced hiking trails in the Rockies, there is something for every fitness level, and it’s such a wonderful activity to do to get fit and spend time out in the stunning Canadian wilderness. AllTrails is a great app to find just the right trail for you and your family.
Exploring provincial and national parks
There are a number of provincial and national parks within and nearby Calgary that offer a fantastic opportunity for a day trip or weekend away. The scenery and wildlife to witness in these areas really is fantastic and we especially enjoy taking a drive out to Canmore and Banff over the weekends. I don’t think the drive through the majestic snow-capped Rockies, passing emerald-coloured lakes and forests, and seeing some of Canada’s beautiful wildlife will ever get old.
Camping is hugely popular in Alberta and there are so many options when it comes to where to camp – from provincial and national parks, to private camp sites and crown land. From May long weekend, as summer finally emerges, many Calgarians pack up their RV, trailer or tent and head out of the city to enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors.
Indoor play centres
With the cold winter months stretching out, Calgary’s indoor play parks offer a welcome relief for parents needing to get their kids expending some energy. Some of the best ones include Big Box, Treehouse and KidzGo. These are also great places to host a kid’s birthday party.
Catching a train
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can be fun for the kids, and parents too, like taking a train ride into downtown. We never drive into downtown if we don’t have to. We love taking the CTrain and enjoying the view of the Calgary skyline rising above us as we head into the city.
Have any other great activities you enjoy doing as a family in Calgary? Drop a comment below – we’d love to hear more!