Whether you’re looking for gardening inspiration, the perfect photo shoot location, or somewhere to relax, there are several gardens in Calgary that fit the bill. Here are the best gardens and flower walks in Calgary from our city’s largest botanical garden to its newest National Historic Site.
Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs
Silver Spring’s Botanical Gardens, comprised of 14 gardens lovingly maintained by volunteers, are the largest public gardens in Calgary. Our favorite spots are the Labyrinth, Oval Garden, Old Post Garden, Rose Garden, Sunflower Garden, and Shakespeare Garden. Expect to walk about one kilometre one way to see all of the themed gardens. For a map of Silver Springs Botanical Gardens, visit: www.bgss.ca/garden-directory. Stroller friendly.
Park in the gravel parking lot past 37 Silver Springs NW and head north (note: there are three gardens south of the baseball diamond, but the majority are north of the parking lot). Admission is free; donations welcome.
Senator Patrick Burns Memorial Rock Garden & Riley Park – 30 8 Ave NW
Senator Patrick Burns Memorial Rock Garden is a beautiful garden in northwest Calgary named for one of the Big Four founders of the Calgary Stampede, a senator, rancher, and man behind Burns & Co. (one of the world’s largest meat packing companies).
To get there, park at Riley Park and make your way to the northeast side of the park. The gardens are along 10 Street NW. Wind your way through the trees on flagstone steps and paths lined with flowers. Fun fact: The flagstones – 20,000 of them – came from Senator Patrick Burns’ demolished mansion! After a peaceful stroll, enjoy the wading pool at Riley Park or adventure playground in the SW corner of the park.
Not stroller friendly. Street parking on 12 St NW or parking lot ($) on 8 Ave NW.
Calgary Zoo Dorothy Harvie Gardens and ENMAX Conservatory ($) – 210 St Georges Dr NE
The manicured Dorothy Harvie gardens and Enmax Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo are popular spots for wedding photos and family photos. Plants that thrive in our climate are showcased in the 6-acre expanse of Dorothy Harvie Gardens (and labelled if you’d like to know what you could grow in your garden). Look for the “Just a Taste” sculpture and Sun Dial.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, retreat to the heat of the conservatory; one side has a permanent exhibit of tropical plants, while the other has seasonal displays and butterflies in the spring.
Stroller friendly. Zoo admission fees apply. Pay parking available. Go midweek to avoid the crowds.
Honorable Mentions: Baker Park and Rotary Park
Baker Park is home to a pergola, flower-ringed Sun Bowl, paved bike path, bear sculptures, and large disc golf course. The Sun Bowl is on the south bank of the Bow River, 200 metres from the main parking lot (head straight, towards the river). Bike the paved path to Bowness Park’s playgrounds and picnic areas. Stroller friendly. Free parking.
Rotary Park (617 1 Street NE) offers a great view of downtown, playground, and spray park. The park is stroller friendly, but most of the flowers are along the stairs leading up from Centre Street. Street parking on 1st St NE.
South Calgary Gardens
Reader Rock Garden – 325 25 Ave. SE
Reader Rock Garden is a hidden gem with four acres of flowers nestled among the trees. Follow winding stone pathways, stairs, and footbridges to Reader’s Garden Cafe, a replica of Parks Superintendent William Reader’s home which stood on the same spot from 1913-1942. We love that there is lots of shade; the original shelter belt built to protect the home from wind still stands.
Reader Rock Garden and Reader’s Garden Cafe opened to the public in 2006 and became a National Historic Site in June 2018. If you’d like to dine at the cafe, reservations are recommended – and we recommend the scones and clotted cream! Get more information from the City of Calgary here.
Free parking. No dogs allowed. Not stroller friendly. There is, however, a short stroller / wheelchair accessible path from the parking lot to Reader’s Garden Cafe.
Central Memorial Park – 1221 2 St SW
Calgary’s oldest park is home to a Victorian style garden with fountains, water features (unofficial spray park), sculptures, walkways; Memorial Park Library; and Box Wood Cafe. Kids will love running through the water, then playing at nearby Haultain Park Playground (225 13 Ave SW). For more information on Haultain Park, please read Dana Wheatley’s story on Calgary Playground Review here.
Stroller friendly. Street parking. Nearest public washrooms: Memorial Park Library.
Combine this outing with a trip to Lougheed House’s Beaulieu Gardens, only 2 blocks away! More info follows.
Lougheed House Beaulieu Gardens – 707 13th Avenue SW
Lougheed House is a national and provincial historic site, museum, and restaurant with gorgeous gardens (2.8 acres) that are open to the public. Take a stroll through the Beaulieu Gardens, sign up for a guided tour, dine, or attend one of the many cultural events offered year round. It is free to explore the gardens, but there is an admission fee for the museum and tours.
Built in 1891 by Senator James Lougheed and his wife Lady Isabella, Lougheed House is one of the finest sandstone mansions in western Canada. It would make a wonderful wedding venue! For more information, visit www.lougheedhouse.com/gardens/.
Park on the west side of Lougheed House. Stroller and wheelchair accessible.
Honorable Mention: Elliston Park Rose Garden
Elliston Park is a huge park in southeast Calgary with a Rose Garden, sundial, playground, and pond. It is also the home of the annual GlobalFest Fireworks Festival. To access the Rose Garden, park at west parking lot east of 60th St SE & south of 17 Ave SE.
For more information on things to do at Elliston Park, check out Dana Wheatley’s story on Calgary Playground Review here.
Downtown Calgary Flower Walks and Gardens
Prince’s Island Park
Prince’s Island Park is a summer hot spot with lush lawns for sunbathing or playing frisbee on, a nature trail, restaurant (River Cafe), and paved bike paths. Enjoy the flowers along the main paths and Jaipur footbridge. Across the bridge, you will find Eau Claire Market, an indoor playground, ice cream shop, and spray park/wading pool. We like biking to Prince’s Island Park from Edworthy Park; the Peace Bridge is a must-see en route.
Closest parking is at 698 Eau Claire Ave SW, but there’s cheaper parking across the river near Calgary Curling Club (CPA Lot 59). Stroller friendly.
Stephen Avenue Walk & Olympic Plaza
Stephen Avenue Walk is located in the heart of downtown Calgary. While it’s definitely not a nature walk, you can expect flowers and live music throughout the summer, good eats and shopping. Start at 8 Ave SW and 3 St SW, then head east towards Olympic Plaza at 1 St SE (700 metres one way). Don’t miss the Famous Five sculpture, in the SW corner or Olympic Plaza, which commemorates five extraordinary Alberta women who worked to have women recognized as “persons.”
Stroller friendly. Street parking or underground parking.
Devonian Gardens (In the CORE Shopping Centre) – 400, 317 7 Ave SW
With tropical plants, a playground, small climbing wall, and pond, the Devonian Gardens are a good place to play on a rainy day. The 2.5 acres of botanical gardens are indoors and stroller friendly. Located inside CORE Shopping Centre on the 4th floor. Underground parking available.
Which garden is your favorite?