As I cleaned out a mountain of toys from both of my kids’ rooms this past weekend, I started to think about the upcoming holidays and influx of toys that will inevitably be heading our way. While holiday gift-giving is tons of fun and we love seeing the excitement on our kids’ faces as they tear open their presents, we’ve started to consider the idea of experience-based gifts in addition to (or rather than) the more traditional gift of toys. We’ve rounded up a list of 40 experience-based gifts for kids in Calgary that will be just as exciting to open as any toy!
Calgary (and area) has tons of great museums that everyone in the family can enjoy. Dinosaur fanatics will love the Royal Tyrrell Museum, located in the heart of the Canadian Badlands, about 2 hours outside of Calgary (but totally worth the drive!) For history buffs, there’s the Glenbow Museum, Heritage Park, and Fort Calgary. Parents and kids alike are sure to love exploring science in the fun, hands-on environment of Telus Spark. Music-lovers can take in five floors of interactive exhibitions that activate all of the senses at Studio Bell. For anyone passionate about the world of Sports, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, located at Canada Olympic Park, has 12 different galleries filled with Canadian Sports memorabilia and hands-on fun to explore.
Looking for the perfect gift for the animal lover in your family? Why not fill their stocking with a taste of the animal kingdom thanks to a Calgary Zoo pass? For kiddos itching to learn how to ride, Horsin’ Around has horseback riding lessons available starting in April 2020. For a totally unique experience that everyone in the family will be talking about for ages, get out into the great outdoors on the back of a dogsled or take a trip to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary!
Lessons or Recreation Centre Passes
For anyone on your list who loves to stay active and try new things, passes to recreation centres make an excellent gift. Whether you’re picking up passes for a gym or pool, or would love to gift someone a session of lessons, there are tons of sites around town guaranteed to have just what you’re looking for. The City of Calgary has centres all around town filled with activities from skating to swimming and everything in between. They are currently offering a Kids Stocking Stuffer booklet with 10 coupons inside ($70 in value) for a cost of only $5. You can also access their build-a-pass option to purchase a pass that includes all of your favourite activities. Memberships at facilities around the city are available at very reasonable rates. Some of our favourites include the Trico Centre, the Genesis Centre, Vivo and the YMCA.
Indoor Play Parks
Indoor Play Parks are always a hit with busy kids of all ages. Our family loves to visit spots like KidzGo and The Big Box, especially during the winter when it gets too chilly to head outside. Ball pits, slides, and tons of spots to run, jump and climb mean hours of fun for younger kids. If you have a kiddo in your family who has outgrown the traditional play place experience, why not consider a membership to a spot like Flying Squirrel, Injanation, or iFLY? An indoor skydiving experience is definitely a gift they won’t be expecting to unwrap on Christmas morning (but they’ll be totally excited when they do!)
Calgarians are incredibly fortunate to live a stone’s throw away from the Rocky Mountains. If you’ve got a powderhound to shop for this season, a lift pass at their favourite ski resort is the perfect gift. Calgary Co-Op stores have the Lake Louise Plus Card, which gets you a free lift pass on your 1st, 4th and 7th visits to 6 top ski resorts (Lake Louise, Castle Mountain, Panorama, Schweitzer, RED Mountain and Silver Star) and 20% off lift tickets all season long. Also available at Co-Op is the RCR Rockies Card which gets you into Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberly and Nakiska with free days on your 1st, 4th, and 7th visits. Passes to Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Nakiska would all make an awesome gift, but if you’re looking for something a little closer to home, why not pick up some passes to Canada Olympic Park, located at Winsport?
Looking for a stocking stuffer for the sports fanatic in your family? Tickets to a Flames or Hitmen game will have your hockey fan cheering. Check out Calgary Co-Op for ticket deals for both teams before they hit the ice. If football is more your style, tickets to a Stampeders game are definitely a must!
Adventure Parks and Attractions
There’s no shortage of fun to be had with all of the attractions in and around Calgary. Just a short drive out of the city is the ever-popular Calaway Park amusement park. Co-Op has an awesome deal on Season Passes until January 1st – for only $43.95 + GST, thrill-seekers can get an entire summer’s worth of rides. The Calgary Tower is always a fun spot to visit. Stand on the clear glass floor and look all the way down if you dare! Our kids love to play and explore at the many outdoor adventure parks located in and around the city. Granary Road, Butterfield Acres, and Kayben Farms are just a few favourites that our kiddos never get tired of. A season’s pass for any of these locations would definitely make an incredible gift!
If a trip to the theatre sounds like the perfect night out for your family, the gift of show tickets is a great way to make memories. For younger kiddos, don’t miss your chance to check out Peppa Pig and the PAW Patrol as they hit the stage at the Jubilee. Kidz Bop Kids and Mini Pop Kids will also be making stops in Calgary in March. For a totally immersive movie experience, watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Star Wars: A New Hope as the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra plays the score live along with the films. If a simple night at the movies is what you’re after, Co-Op has Movie Duo passes which include 2 admission and concession treats for Landmark Cinemas. Gift cards or passes to Cineplex also make for a perfect gift!
Will you be giving any experience-based gifts this year? We’d love to hear what’s on your list in the comments!