AAA Travel Tips & Articles / 8 Free Things to Do with Kids in Calgary

8 Free Things to Do with Kids in Calgary

jewhyte/iStockphoto.com
By AAA Travel Editor Katie McPhee
April 13, 2018
Wondering what to do in Calgary with kids in tow? Admission fees for museums and tourist attractions can add up—especially if a visit to the nearby resort town of Banff, Alberta, is on the agenda. To help keep your travel budget in check, we’ve rounded up the top free things to do in Calgary that are kid-friendly, too.
The Calgary Tower at sunrise.
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Calgary's Plus 15 Network (+15)
Downtown
If you’re traveling on foot, navigating the streets of downtown Calgary couldn’t be easier thanks to the Plus 15, a network of glass-enclosed walkways and sky bridges that connect more than half the buildings in the downtown core. The climate-controlled walkways are 15 feet above street level (hence the name “Plus 15”) and include directional signs, public artwork and even an indoor playground. It’s a fun way to get to many popular Calgary attractions, including the Devonian Gardens, the Calgary Tower and the CORE Shopping Centre.
Rodeo horse in the Calgary Stampede.
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Calgary Stampede
1410 Olympic Way SE
(403) 261-0172
Take advantage of special value days at the Calgary Stampede, dubbed “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” The 10-day event takes place in Stampede Park each July and offers a Family Day (typically the first Sunday) with complimentary admission from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and a free pancake breakfast for early risers. A Kids Day (typically a Wednesday) offers free entry for children ages 0-12 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Keep in mind that you will need to fork over some cash if you want to participate in midway games and rides.
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CTrain bridge in Calgary, Alberta
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CTrain's Free Fare Zone
Downtown
(403) 262-1000
Train-obsessed tykes (and toddlers with tired legs) will enjoy a ride on the CTrain, Calgary’s light rail transit service. In the downtown core the CTrain runs along 7 Avenue and is free to all passengers between the West/Kerby Station (near 11 Street S.W.) and City Hall Station. You’ll have easy access to the Central Library, Olympic Plaza, the Calgary Tower and other kid-friendly attractions along the route. If you need to travel outside the downtown zone, kids ages 0-5 always ride free.
Grain in hand
Nastco/iStockphoto.com
Grain Academy Museum
1410 Olympic Way S.E.
(403) 263-4594
Parents in search of educational and fun things to do with kids will find success at the Grain Academy Museum, tucked away in Stampede Park on the upstairs level of the BMO Centre. Interactive exhibits, touchscreens and models tell the story of the grain industry in Canada and the process of turning wheat, oats, canola and other grains into food. Highlights include a working grain elevator and a model railway display which shows how grain moves from Alberta’s prairies to the shipping port in Vancouver, B.C.
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mallard duck
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Prince's Island Park
698 Eau Claire Ave. S.W.
(403) 268-2489
There is plenty of space to run, hike and play at Prince’s Island Park, a quiet oasis just steps from downtown Calgary. Surrounded by the Bow River on all sides, the scenic park is reachable via a series of pedestrian footbridges, so be prepared for a bit of a walk. Kid-focused points of interest include a huge playground near the center of the park and a pathway along the river’s edge where you can see Canadian geese, mallard ducks and maybe even a beaver or two.
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George C. King Bridge in Calgary, Alberta
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St. Patrick's Island Park
1300 Zoo Rd. N.E.
(403) 268-2489
Reconnect with nature at this revitalized urban park that is chock full of fun activities for kids. Kick off your shoes and wade into the water at the river channel, where a pebble beach and a lawn encourage both play and relaxation. A large playground blends into the natural scenery with a child-size log cabin and a huge concrete slide (recommended for ages 6 and up). The best way to get to the park is by foot via the George C. King Bridge from the East Village.
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Horseback riding and jumping Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta
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Spruce Meadows
18011 Spruce Meadows Way S.W.
(403) 974-4200
Many equestrian events are free and open to the public at Spruce Meadows, a world-class show jumping venue just south of the city. On days when no events are scheduled, guests may wander the property and visit the horses in their stables. Picnic areas, a playground and gardens are all free of charge.
Forensic evidence and magnifying glass
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YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre
5151 47th St. N.E.
(403) 428-5465
Sit in a patrol car, examine blood spatter patterns, match fingerprints to a perpetrator and learn about the dogs that make up the Calgary Police Canine Unit—these are just a few of the impressive exhibits at the YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre. Interactive displays teach pre-teens and teens what it takes to be a police officer and how crimes are solved and prevented. Don’t miss the Forensics Lab, where you can test your investigative skills by examining photos and evidence.
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