|aka Fun Ways to Stay Sane on Staycation|
1. Be a tourist in your own town. (Admission fees for a family of 4: $$$ = $50-79, $$ = $30-49, $ = $1-29)
- Check out local tourist attractions. In Calgary, visit the Calgary Zoo ($$$), Heritage Park ($$), Telus Spark Science Centre ($$$), Calgary Tower ($$$), or Glenbow Museum ($$).
- Visit a bird/wildlife sanctuary or fish hatchery. My kids love exploring the Discovery Centre and feeding the fish at Bow Habitat Station ($$). Outside, there is a network of trails for cycling/walking, a pond that is stocked with trout for fishing in the summer months, and a playground. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre are fun for exploring – don’t forget your binoculars! Check out this family-friendly bike tour of Inglewood!
- Sample tasty treats at a Farmer’s Market. Calgary Farmer’s Market, Crossroads Market, and Symons Valley Ranch are open year round!
|Warming up in the Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo|
Play Outside Guide Tip: Look for coupons at www.calgaryattractions.com or Student Union Ticket Pack before you go to save on admission fees.
- Visit a park you’ve never been to and go for a bike ride/urban hike and picnic. Check your city Parks & Rec site for picnic areas, ponds, wetlands, beaches, viewpoints, interpretive trails and self-guided walking tours. If it isn’t muddy, bring a picnic blanket and make your own picnic spot. Eating on the ground feels more adventurous than eating at a table!
- Want to find a little waterfall, Medicine Wheel, or cool sculptures around Calgary? Check out this post on Landmarks to Look for in Calgary Parks.
- Some short dayhikes suitable for little legs are Waterfall Valley (Bowmont Park), Confluence Park, Douglas Fir Trail (Edworthy Park), and Confederation Park (Rosemont Community Centre to the duck pond), and Nose Hill Park. More info in 3 Family Hikes in NW Calgary.
- Confederation Park, Confluence Park, the Bow River Pathway, and Edworthy Park are great for young cyclists as the trails are quite flat. Try this route from Pearce Estate Park to Nellie Breen Park. More great bike rides in 10 Fun Family Bike Rides in Calgary.
- Much of Nose Hill and Fish Creek Park is suitable to beginner and intermediate cyclists. For bigger kids, Glenmore Reservoir is a great 14 km circuit and there is some pretty awesome mountain biking and geocaching in Nose Hill Park! For some fun cross country trails, go to Eastlands (east of Canada Olympic Park).
|Hiking at Nose Hill Park|
- Play at a different playground each day. Instead of the same old, same old, take the long way home from the store, or walk/bike a different route than usual so you can try a different playground. Take advantage of the school closures to play at the large, uncrowded playgrounds. Calgary Playground Review has excellent photos and descriptions of many playgrounds around town.
|Cycling at Edworthy Park (after having an ice cream at Angel’s)|
- Explore a neighboring town. One of the kids’ favorite daytrips last year was to Cochrane (30 km away). We rode our bikes to a playground, dined at Tim’s Pizza, walked by the river, then ended our day at MacKay’s Ice Cream. Although we were so close to home, the change of scenery made our short afternoon jaunt feel special. Other options less than an hour away include Airdrie (Ironhorse Park, Nose Creek Park, Genesis Place), Chestermere (bike park, Chestermere Lake), Okotoks (glacial erratic, BMX track), and Bragg Creek (hiking, xc skiing, snowshoeing, fatbiking, and mountain biking). Drive further down the Cowboy Trail, past Bragg Creek, and stop in at the Longview Steakhouse for a succulent steak and pick up some beef jerky from the Longview Jerky Shop.
- Visit a provincial/state/national park and go for a hike, bike ride, snowshoe, ski, or paddle. Glenbow Ranch and Big Hill Springs Provincial Park are only half an hour away. For mountain fun, head to Bow Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, or Banff National Park.
- See The Best Short Hikes Near Calgary (<4 km, within 1 hr from Calgary) for details on Tiger Lily Loop at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Grassi Lakes, Heart Creek, Troll Falls & Hay Meadow, and Bow Valley Provincial Park trails.
- MORE Best Short Hikes (Kananaskis Version)
- 4 Great Spring Hikes in Banff include: Johnston Canyon, Johnson Lake, Tunnel Mountain, and Fenland Loop/Vermilion Lakes Drive.
- More good hikes to do now are Bow Falls Viewpoint to the Hoodoos and Grotto Canyon (don’t do the ice walk if the creek isn’t frozen).
Ice cleats will be required for most mountain hikes at this time of year. The Yaktrak Pro ice cleats are an affordable option, but the best are Kahtoola Microspikes. A member of the Calgary Outdoor Playgroup recommends using zip ties to secure small ice cleats to children’s boots – genius!!
Play Outside Guide Tips: For day trips, limit driving time to 3 hours total. Everyone is happiest out of the car! Visitor Information Centres can provide up to date trail reports and maps. To save money, pack a picnic, or plan to barbecue at a picnic area.
|Snow fun at Lake Louise|
- Rent a fat bike ($$$) and go fat biking in Bragg Creek or Canmore. Rent from BikeBike in Calgary or Rebound Cycle in Canmore.
- Go on an ice walk. For more information on where to go and what to bring, please see my Ice Walk post here. If you have ice cleats or snowshoes, you can ice walk for free!
- Try geocaching! Instructions on geocaching with your smartphone are here.
- Go climbing at an indoor climbing centre ($$).
- Take a ski or snowboard lesson ($$$). Winsport is located in town and Nakiska is the closest ski hill to Calgary with terrain for all levels.
- Tubing at Nakiska ($$$), Mount Norquay ($$$), or Lake Louise Ski Area ($$$) is a blast whether you ski or not!
- Visit a local marsh and do some birding. Learn how to use the free Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell University here. Pearce Estate Park and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary are great places to try.
|Hiking/Ice walking at Johnston Canyon|
For Calgary Spring Break events and camps, visit: www.todocanada.ca/spring-break-activities-calgary/