When you think back to your favorite play places, what was special about them? Was it boulders and trees for climbing? Or maybe it was secret forts or watering holes. When you look through the eyes of a child, there is magic and fun all around! Landmarks become destinations to visit again and again.
Here are a few of my girls’ favorite local spots around Calgary. See how many you can recognize!
We love Waterfall Valley as it’s a short, fun hike with stairs, boardwalks and a nice lookout. For bigger falls (and caves), go to Fish Creek Provincial Park. Tip: January is the best time to see lots of ice and cross the creek to see the ice cave!
Besides a cool ice cave, there are three more caves to explore in Fish Creek Provincial Park. Put splash pants on the kids, as it can be mucky inside the caves (but so much fun; it’s totally worth doing the laundry!).
Lookouts make great hiking destinations, as well as perfect picture and snack spots:
Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Park - See the Twin Bridges, mountains and Canada Olympic Park.
Nosehill Park - You and your kids will get a great view of downtown Calgary and the airport.
Silver Springs Lookout - Located southwest of Silver Ridge Drive NW and Silver Crest Drive NW, just off the Bow River (paved) Pathway. Head down the hill to the Storm Ponds and Twin Bridges or stay on the plateau.
Glacial Erratics (Big Rocks Moved by Glaciers)
There’s a famous glacial erratic in Okotoks, but did you know we have some of our own big rocks in Calgary? Split Rock in Confluence Park broke off of Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper and was moved here by glaciers thousands of years ago. The Big Rock near Canada Olympic Park has a similar history.
Sculptures and Art Installations
From largest to smallest, here are some cool sculptures to visit around Calgary:
There are several ponds in Calgary, but these are a few of our family’s favorites:
Confederation Park - A popular place to feed the birds! The pond is on the west side of 10 Street NW. Park at the Rosemont Community Centre.
Intermittent Pond in Nose Hill Park - It’s cool to see how the pond grows and shrinks throughout the year.
Kids Can Fish Pond at Bow Habitat Station in Inglewood - There is free fishing for kids 16 and under at this stocked pond!
Carburn Ponds at Carburn Park - Carburn Park is a large natural area park nestled along the Bow River featuring three man-made ponds, a regional pathway, and numerous wildlife, waterfowl and wildflowers.
Mission/Roxboro Beach - If Sikome Lake (Fish Creek Provincial Park) is too far or you don’t have access to a private lake, escape the heat at the gravel beach in Mission. The water is quite shallow and teaming with minnows, so the kids can enjoy watching the fish and wading. Best of all, when you’re done with beach time, there are good eats just a couple blocks away on 4 Street. Mission/Roxboro Beach is located just west of 25 Avenue SW and Erlton Street SW.
Sandy Beach (SW) and Edworthy Park (NW) are a couple other good options - Sandy Beach, like Mission Beach, is on the Elbow River so the water flows gently by. The Bow River flows through Edworthy Park, so the water is deeper, faster and colder. Not a great wading spot, but our family enjoys throwing rocks in the water, riding our bikes, playing in the many playgrounds and getting ice cream at Angel’s Cappuccino & Ice Cream Café.
These are a few of our family’s favorite bridges in Calgary:
What are your family’s favorite landmarks in Calgary parks?
Karen is married to her backpacking sweetheart, and is a mother and a lover of maps, mountains and mochas. With her geography degree and experience leading hikes and backpacking trips in the Rockies, she is full of ideas on where to go and what to do. The mission of her blog, Play Outside Guide, playoutsideguide.com,
is to provide everything families need to know to get outside and have fun.
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