Calgary is a truly great place to raise a family. With so many amenities for parents and kids, it’s impossible to be bored in our incredible city! Whether it’s a beautiful sunny day outside or the ground is covered in three feet of snow, there are tons of great places to visit to keep busy both inside and outdoors. We’ve rounded up a list of the 15 best places to take kids in Calgary – which are your family’s favourites?
1. Southland Leisure Centre and Village Square Leisure Centre
Kids of all ages will love the activities that the Southland Leisure Centre and Village Square Leisure Centre have to offer. Whether you’re in the mood to take on the waves or ride the slides in the pool, lace up your skates and play some shinny in the rink, tuck and tumble in the gymnastics area, or try your hand at the climbing wall, both of these City of Calgary centres are extremely popular destinations for families. Check out the websites for each facility to learn more about the activities and amenities they offer, as well as scheduling and pricing.
2. Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton
Prepare to have your breath taken away as you enter the world’s largest YMCA, located in Calgary’s Southwest (fun fact: the world’s second largest YMCA is located in Calgary’s Northwest, in Rocky Ridge). The YMCA at Seton has an indoor surf simulator, a waterslide, a 10 lane pool, a huge library complete with a real helicopter for kids to explore, a fitness centre, running track, skating rinks, and a theatre. Did you know that, through the support of the Calgary Flames Foundation, every Grade 6 student in the city is eligible for a free YMCA membership until the end of the 2018/2019 school year?
3. Granary Road
Granary Road has a year-round Public Market and the Salt Box Restaurant, but the real fun happens outside starting in the spring when the Active Learning Park opens up. Spread out over 36 acres are a petting zoo with everything from goats and ponies to pigs and peacocks, 3.5 kilometres of trails, and a huge variety of themed exhibits for kids to run through, climb over, jump around and slide down! You truly have to see Granary Road to believe it – the bug, animal and agriculture exhibits are absolutely larger than life!
4. Indoor Play Places
Calgary has a ton of awesome indoor play places that can keep kids from tots to teens active and engaged. Whether your kids are looking for huge climbing structures, inflatables or trampolines, there are great spots to check out all over the city. Check the link above to see a roundup of our favourite ones!
5. Horsin’ Around
If you’ve got horse lovers in your family, you’ve got to check out Horsin’ Around, located only 5 minutes from Mahogany and Auburn Bay in Southeast Calgary. Every Saturday, 45 minute lessons are available to pre-purchase for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders over the age of 8. They also have pony rides, a petting farm, bouncy castles, inflatable slides, laser tag and more!
6. TELUS Spark
TELUS Spark is one of those great destinations that parents will love just as much as their kids. This hands-on discovery centre sparks curiosity of learners of every age and ability level as they engage in hands-on activities revolving around the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Dome theatre shows will wow viewers as they learn about ever-changing topics like outer space, animals and the earth. The Brainasium will keep kids busy as they climb and slide their way through the outdoor adventure space while rotating exhibits and permanent ones like the Being Human Exhibit, Creative Kids Museum, Open Studio and Earth and Sky Exhibit will keep your family busy for hours!
7. Calgary Zoo
No list of Calgary’s best attractions would be complete without the Calgary Zoo. The Zoo is open year-round, except for Christmas Day, so you can visit animals like gorillas, pandas, lions, tigers, hippos, penguins and even dinosaurs any time you wish! Exhibits at the Zoo include the Canadian Wilds, Prehistoric Park, Eurasia, Destination Africa and the Dorothy Harvie Gardens, with different plants and creatures featured in each one.
8. Calgary Public Libraries
Calgarians are truly fortunate to have some absolutely incredible library spaces scattered throughout the city. Of course, The New Central Library has become a destination for visitors not just around the city but also around the globe to sneak a peek at – it was even named one of the world’s 9 most futuristic libraries by Architectural Digest! However, this isn’t the only library in the city worth seeking out. The Fish Creek Library and Seton Library both boast two amazing play areas for young kids in addition to having fantastic book and audio/visual collections. Each library in the city also offers a huge variety of free programs for absolutely everyone, so be sure to check out Library Connect to see if anything catches your eye!
Even though WinSport is technically a Winter Sport Institute, they still have plenty going on in the spring and summer, including bike programs, camps for hockey, skating, and ringette, summer bobsleighing, ziplining, free-falling, mini golfing, luging, and more! In the winter, the Acura Tube Park, the skeleton, winter bobsleigh riding, and skiing and snowboarding are added to the list of activities hosted by the park. If you’re an adrenaline junkie in search of adventure, Winsport is sure to have an activity you’ll love no matter what time of year it is!
10. Calgary Tower
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Take your family for an incredible 360° view of the city at the top of the Calgary Tower! If you’re brave enough, stand on the glass floor and look down 191 metres to the ground below. Take in a complimentary multimedia tour and check out the short film: Calgary Tower – Building and Icon in the brand new theatre room on the Observation Deck. The Sky 360 Restaurant and Lounge is a delicious dining destination where you can enjoy incredible food and take in views of the city as it revolves once per every 45-60 minutes.
11. Spruce Meadows
Spruce Meadows is a beautiful venue in Southwest Calgary that hosts a variety of expos and events throughout the year including horse jumping, an International Christmas Market, a holiday light display, The Calgary Pet Expo, The Rock-A-Palooza Gem & Mineral Show, Drive-In Movies in the summer and even dog shows, just to name a few things. There is always something to see or do at Spruce Meadows, so check their calendar to make sure you don’t miss out!
12. Heritage Park
Heritage Park is Canada’s largest living history museum and comes complete with an antique midway, a steam train, heritage buildings and homesteads, incredible shops, delicious restaurants, the Gasoline Alley Museum and the Historical Village. The park also hosts special events throughout the year, like the unforgettable Day Out With Thomas, Ghost Tours, Once Upon a Christmas, Canada Day celebrations, and more!
13. City Parks
Calgary has no shortage of beautiful parks to visit during every season of the year. Whether you’re looking for pathways to explore by foot, bike, rollerblade or snowshoe, want to catch a glimpse of wildlife like birds, deer or fish, pack a pic-nic and find the city park closest to you! Pearce Estate Park is a destination for anyone looking to try out white water rafting, paddling, canoeing and kayaking at the recently rebuilt Harvie Passage. In addition, visitors to Pearce Estate Park can check out the Bow Habitat Station where families can try their hand at casting in the trout pond, or visit the fish hatchery and discovery centre inside!
14. Studio Bell
Studio Bell is the destination for music lovers in the city. As you wander through interactive exhibitions spread over 5 levels, prepare to explore the contributions of Canadian musical artists, make some music of your own from instruments created out of everyday objects and even your body, take a guided tour and more. Check the calendar for special events like visits by some of your favourite artists (Raffi and The Barenaked Ladies are just a couple of examples of recent performers to play at Studio Bell!)
15. Calaway Park
Calling all thrill seekers! Calaway Park is Western Canada’s largest outdoor family amusement park with 32 family-friendly rides, delicious treats, awesome games and more. May 12th marks the opening day of the park for season’s pass holders, while the park will officially be open to the general public on May 18th. Attractions like The Vortex Rollercoaster and Timber Falls log ride are popular for anyone looking for a heart-pumping adventure, while rides like The Tot Yachts and The Rocky Mountain Railroad are perfect for younger kids. Bring along your own lunch or visit the concession stands and get ready to spend the whole day enjoying the sunshine at Calaway Park!
Are there any amazing destinations in the city that you think should be added to the list? Do you have some great tips for visiting the ones listed above? We’d love to hear them in the comments!