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Find the 10 best things to do in Calgary with your children

Last updated 3rd April 2024

If your family loves outdoor adventure, immersive culture and retreats into nature, Jody Robbins has found 10 things to do in Calgary that you’ll really love.


Beehive Active Learning Park © Travel Alberta/Erik McRitchie

Though Calgary is the gateway to Banff National Park (just over an hour’s drive away), it sports enough troop-pleasing activities to justify a multi-day visit in its own right. Here are our top recommendations for where to play and stay with your kids in Calgary.


Calaway Park © Calgary Tourims

Experience all the thrills at Calaway Park in Calgary

Western Canada’s largest amusement park lies on the city’s western edge. Its manageable size makes it easy for families to navigate. Families on a budget will appreciate that Calaway Park is a one-pay gate. Admission includes unlimited rides, all entertainment, and parking.

Here, you’ll find a wide variety of rides to suit all ages—including toddlers. For the younger set, there are rides that accommodate their height and sense of excitement. Older kids can get a jolt of adrenaline on rollercoasters and free-fall drops.

Into camping? The onsite Calaway Park RV Park and Campground offers 100 sites for campers, RVs and tents with full power and mountain views. Be sure to snag an overnight package with complimentary day passes to the amusement park so your family can wake up and be first on the rides.


Lunch in the past © Heritage Park Historical Village

Step back in time at Heritage Park

You don’t need a time machine to step back into the Old West at this historical village. Families looking for things to do in Calgary that are filled with good old-fashioned fun should head to Heritage Park for a ride on the steam train, animal encounters, and an antique midway.

Stunning views of the mountains and downtown skyscrapers are found on the Ferris wheel, or you can steal a kiss on the Caterpillar, just as they did in the Edwardian era. There are even rides for the very wee ones and plenty of retro games to try your luck.

Baking from scratch has become a lost art, so consider it your parental duty to visit the bakery. Will you tuck into freshly baked cheese buns or gooey butter tarts that are still warm from the oven? Don’t forget to hit the Candy Store, where brown paper bags can be filled with brightly coloured penny candies to savour throughout the day.

Take your treats on a relaxing ride as you explore other park areas, either on a horse-drawn wagon ride or a century-old steam train, as it winds past three stations, much to the delight of Thomas the Tank fans. Should petite pioneers get pooped out, revive them with a rest on the paddle wheel boat as it completes a leisurely circle in the Glenmore Reservoir.


TELUS Spark Science Centre © TELUS Spark

Ignite a sense of discovery at TELUS Spark

The innovative facility offers hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Inside TELUS Spark Science Centre is the Creative Kids Museum, a tricked-out toddler and pre-school area with immersive tables for water play, air sculptures and magnetics.

Older innovators can seek out interactive exhibits in the other galleries. Popular experiments include starting a canyon at the erosion table inside the Earth & Sky gallery or building toys and dressing mannequins inside the Open Studio.

Kids can discover the science of play outdoors at The Brainasium. This outdoor park on the science centre grounds boasts a tower leading to a 63-ft slide! Within the one-acre space, there are a dozen experiences—all physically engaging and designed to combine brain and body adventures.

Insider tip: Sweeten your visit with an oh-so-instagrammable planetary cone at the Astronaut Ice Cream café.


Penguin watching Calgary Zoo © Tourism Calgary

Get up close and personal with wildlife at the Calgary Zoo

Rated one of North America’s top zoos, the Calgary Zoo is home to 4,000 animals across more than 100 species. Suppose you don’t make it outside the city. In that case, this is the spot to view native Canadian species such as bison, caribou, and bears, in addition to four species of penguins and Australian and African animals. If your brood is still wild after sussing out the enclosures, try taming them at the zoo’s expansive playground.

Families are encouraged to learn more about the animals’ natural habitats and conservation programs. In-depth interactions range from brunches with polar bears to storytelling in the Gorilla Amphitheatre.

Note: The Calgary Zoo and TELUS Spark are only a two-minute drive and a five-minute walk away, making it easy to visit both attractions in one day.


Family of Man sculpture, downtown Calgary © Travel Alberta

Explore downtown Calgary

Get a bird’s eye view of Calgary’s landmarks from the top of the Calgary Tower. With its 360-degree observation Deck, families can take in sweeping views of the prairies surrounding the city, all the way to the Rocky Mountains. Want to feel like a giant? Gather your courage and step onto the glass floor on the Observation Deck, peering at all the tiny cars beneath your feet.

Sky 360 is the rotating restaurant at the top of the tower. It’s a two-in-one deal: Entrees include complimentary elevation to the viewing deck. They have high chairs, a changing table, and a children’s menu, plus those rotating views should keep kids nicely entertained throughout your meal.

A mere two blocks away from the Calgary Tower lies Olympic Plaza, home to a wading pool in summer and an ice skating rink in winter. Alberta is the only Canadian province with no sales tax, making it a mecca for shoppers. Head inside The CORE, a downtown shopping centre that also houses the Devonian Gardens, a tropical home for over 500 trees and shrubs, with lots of room for burning off energy should the weather not cooperate.

Meet cute critters at Butterfield Acres

Calgary may be a city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time at a farm. Butterfield Acres is a multi-acre city farm offering hands-on experiences, from pony rides to milking goats to hunting for freshly laid eggs.

If your crew likes snuggling with little lambs and baby bunnies, visit during Barnyard Baby Days, which takes place each spring.

Insider tip: Butterfield Acres doesn’t have an on-site restaurant, but it’s the perfect spot for a picnic. Pack a lunch and settle in under the canopy of mature trees providing optimum shade.

bow-habitat-station-credit-ian-holmes-irrational carny

Fishing at Bow Habitat Station © Ian Holmes Irrational Carny

Catch fish at Bow Habitat Station

Hugging the banks of the Bow River in leafy Pearce Estate Park, Bow Habitat Station is a hands-on discovery centre where families can learn about fish, wildlife, and aquatic ecosystems.

Besides touring the hatchery and enjoying programmer-led interactive activities, small fries can crawl through a beaver lodge, feed thousands of fish or try to reel in a big one at the catch and release Trout Pond (fishing rods are available onsite).

Surrounding the station are 15 hectares of natural trails ripe for exploration. These wetlands are home to a variety of urban wildlife, such as birds, deer, muskrats, porcupines, coyotes, and even a bobcat. You never know what you might come across.


Active Learning Park, Granary Road © Travel Alberta/Erik McRitchie

Play at Granary Road

This entertainment and dining destination in south Calgary features a gourmet farmer’s market with 40 vendors and a sit-down restaurant. The Active Learning Park stays open (weather permitting) until the end of October and offers adventures on giant climbing apparatuses, slides, and a trampoline pit.

For animal lovers, there’s an amazing petting zoo with llamas, and each year, new baby goats join the fold. Even if you’re not the bendy type, you’ll have so much fun during goat yoga offered on summer weekends that it won’t even matter.

Watch the Calgary Flames

One of Canada’s most beloved NHL teams, the Calgary Flames, plays out of the iconic Saddledome at Stampede Park. Arguably, no other team in the NHL has the support of its fans quite like the Flames do. If you’re headed to a home game, be sure to wear red, or you’ll stand out like a sore thumb. If your brood is into ice hockey, this is one experience not to miss.


Aspen prairie train ride © Travel Alberta/Colin Way

Take a train excursion at Aspen Crossing

Over a century ago, Calgary was very much a part of the Wild West. An easy way to get a feel for what this might’ve been like is by choo-chooing your way across the tranquil prairie—until a train robbery (reenactment) shakes you out of your reverie. Less than an hour’s drive south of Calgary, Aspen Crossing offers family-friendly railway journeys that showcase the Prairies at their best.

There are western-themed train rides and BBQ rides that include dinner and a (dramatized) train robbery. The Kidd Ranch Trains are tops for families, and they stop at a ranch to meet some cute critters.

Amp up the experience by spending the night in a train caboose on a real train track.

Though Caboose Cabins take you back to a simpler time, these glamping units provide all the modern amenities. If you’d prefer old-school camping, there are 120 fully-serviced campsites with laundry facilities, showers, and flush toilets.


The annual Calgary Stampede parade

The rest of the best things to do in Calgary this year

There’s always something exciting going on in the city. Tourism Calgary’s events calendar is an excellent resource to check while planning your visit.

Thomas the Tank Engine chugs into Heritage Park May 4-5 and 10-12. Day Out With Thomas is a ticketed event that often sells out, so you’ll want to secure your ride in advance.

Food trucks and family fun at the Lilac Festival

One of Calgary’s most popular street parties is the Lilac Festival. Held along 4th Street SW on the first Sunday in June (June 2 for 2024), families can expect live entertainment, food trucks and bouncy castles galore.

1 July is Canada Day, and the City of Calgary puts on several events in the downtown core. Expect live music, Indigenous programming, and fireworks to cap off the day. This year, July 1 marks the 60th anniversary of Heritage Park. Being a historical village, they celebrate “Dominion Day” the old-fashioned way, but with plenty of cake.

Don’t miss the annual Calgary Stampede

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede, is an annual 10-day cowboy extravaganza that begins the first Friday in July. In addition to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and chuckwagon races, there are dog shows, show-band performances, midway rides and plenty of farm animals to visit. Stay tuned for more details on this bucket-list festival.


Waterslide at Delta Hotels by Marriott Calgary South

Where to stay

Families who appreciate a serious indoor water slide need to take this as their cue to stay at Delta Calgary South. The Big Gusher, a 130-foot indoor water slide, sits in a soothing Atrium. The lush, tropical greenery just might calm your kids down—no promises, though.

Anchored along the Bow River, at the edge of downtown, Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire is slightly more upscale and sports a large indoor swimming pool and waterslide. Numerous riverside pathways link the hotel to the zoo (less than a 10-minute drive away) and Calgary’s revitalized East Village.

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