Small-town living is the best! The towns and communities surrounding Calgary are hidden local gems, full of wonderful things to do with your family. From outdoor adventures to must-try local food staples, there’s so much to enjoy!
We polled parents in the know and here is a selection of their top picks for things to do in their town:
Okotoks and Area
Aspen Crossing - This is a must-visit for kids who love trains! Aspen Crossing’s train tour is 28 miles round trip with beautiful prairie views. Book ahead for discounts on ticket prices and look online for special event train journeys, such as dinner theatre, stargazing, and even train robberies! Opens for the season April 1.
Chinook Honey Farm - Visit this honey farm to learn about how bees make honey, then taste some delicious local honey or mead! Check online to plan ahead for their many annual family events, such as Horde at the Hive in May when the Viking Village comes to visit!
Heartland Café - This café has been serving Okotoks for over 23 years in a unique reclaimed church building. A local favorite for traditional, healthy, and flavorful recipes. Try visiting for brunch!
Elma Street - This is a unique shopping street in Okotoks with plenty of art, jewelry, and other boutique goods sold out of the pre-war houses which line the street. Okotoks is well-known for its bounty of locally-owned shops!
Kayben Farms - Offering a wide variety of outdoor activities in the Sunshine Adventure Park from play structures to straw houses and farm animal displays, Kayben Farm offers a full day of fun for kids of all ages. Enjoy a meal in JoJo’s Café year-round, or wait until the Sunshine Adventure Park opens for the season May 1.
Marv’s Classic Soda Shoppe - Take your kids back in time with a trip to this ‘50s-themed diner in Black Diamond. Enjoy their famous peanut butter burger (it sounds weird, but it’s tasty!), a milkshake or a malt, and soak in the retro setting. Have your kids ever seen a jukebox? Now’s their chance!
Granary Road - A new addition to the Okotoks area last year, Granary Road offers 36 acres of outdoor fun activities, a public market, the Loft Kitchen, and plenty of annual events to keep your family entertained. The Active Learning Park opens in April.
Sheep River Provincial Park - This massive provincial park lies west of Turner Valley and features a wide variety of hiking trails, fishing, and horse trails at a variety of difficulty levels. This is a great spot to introduce kids to nature and the beauty of the foothills!
The Saskatoon Farm - Check out their market garden and garden centre, or come during the summer to U-Pick saskatoons, sour cherries, and blackcurrants! The Saskatoon Farm also features an excellent bakery, restaurant, and general store featuring fruits from the farm.
Airdrie and Area
Big Hill Springs - This small provincial park is located southwest of Airdrie and features beautiful waterfalls, babbling brooks, and easy paths for even the smallest feet. This park is a great place to spot the first signs of Spring.
Chinook Winds Regional Park - This massive 55-acre city park offers a wide variety of spaces for activities for kids of all ages. There are two kilometres of paved pathways, three playgrounds, a spray park, a skate park, volleyball courts, ball diamonds, and more!
Airdrie Farmers’Market - Open June to Thanksgiving, this local farmers’ market is a favorite with the Airdrie community. Recently, rotating food trucks have been added to the lineup and they have proven to be extremely popular visitors!
Water Valley Saloon - This quirky saloon welcomes kids until 8pm and is the centre of the tiny community of Water Valley. Come for the unique ‘Wild West’ décor, stay for the tasty pub grub!
RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre - Located near Innisfail, this police dog centre has public demonstrations every Wednesday afternoon between Victoria Day and Labour Day at 2pm. They also offer a range of dog training programs for your own pooch!
Iron Horse Park - A well-loved favorite among budding train aficionados, Iron Horse Park is home to kid-friendly 1/8th scale steam locomotives which take visitors on a 1.6 kilometre interpretive journey around the park. Open Victoria Day until October.
Sorso Espresso & Wine Bar - This independent coffee shop and wine bar offers - according to our readers - the best coffee in Airdrie! It’s also a popular brunch, lunch, and evening hangout spot. Try the ridiculously indulgent Bacon Mac & Cheese.
Paros on Main - This classic dinner spot offers some of the best Greek food in southern Alberta. Featuring nightly Greek music and live entertainment, Paros is a unique cultural night out destination.
YeeHaw Play - This super fun farm-themed indoor playground features a three-storey play structure. There’s a large toddler area designed to keep kids under three engaged, as well as a deli with cold drinks, coffee, snacks, and more.
Cochrane and Area
Cochrane Ranche - A great spot to learn some local history! Interpretive trail markers, winding pathways, and picnic spots make this a great stop to play outdoors as the weather gets warmer.
Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre - With 340,000 square feet of recreation facilities to enjoy, this sprawling recreation complex features a pool with waterslides, a warm water therapy pool, a climbing wall, curling, ice skating, an indoor field, fitness facilities, and more.
Glenbow Ranch - This well-developed provincial park has trails of varying length and difficulty in a beautiful foothills setting. The Ranch features lots of monthly events like park talks, stargazing, cultural displays, and more.
Guy’s Cafe and Bakery - This classic coffee shop is a cornerstone of the Cochrane community, with a wide selection of soups, sandwiches, and baked goods.
Cochrane Evening Street Markets - Starting in the late Spring, Cochrane hosts Thursday evening markets once a month with food trucks, late night shopping, and vendor stalls in historic downtown.
The Hub Café - Enchilada breakfasts every weekend from 7 to 11am. Need we say more?
Bragg Creek Provincial Park - This relatively quiet park is a great spot for a Sunday walk, picnic, or hike almost year-round with a wide variety of trail difficulties and beautiful mountain views.
Special thanks to Airdrie Elite Moms, Cochrane Moms Coming Together, and Okotoks Mamas for sharing their hidden gems! Allison is the assistant publisher of Calgary’s Child Magazine.
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