Trying to get the kids out of the house on an adventure, but need to watch your budget? Calgary is full of free (or nearly free) activities which are fun for children of all ages! With a little creativity and planning, you’ll never run out of things to keep everyone occupied.
Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre Museum - The only museum in Canada devoted exclusively to Chinese culture. Location: 197, 1 Street SW. $5 adults, $3 kids 6+, kids under 5 free. Take a walk around Chinatown after your tour of the museum and enjoy a bubble tea or lunch!
Take a Food Tour - Calgary is blessed to be very multicultural, and you can find just about anything from just about anywhere if you know where to look! Check out T&T Supermarket, Basha Foods International, the British Pantry, Edelweiss Imports, or any of the dozens of unique import stores around the city. Go with recipe in hand and try your hand at cooking something new together, or sample snack food from around the world!
YouthLink - Calgary Police Service Interpretive Centre - Learn about the role of police in society and the consequences of crime for young people. Location: 5111, 47 Street NE. Admission is free.
Grain Academy & Museum - Grain industry education and interpretive centre with model train and elevator displays. Location: Plus 15, BMO Centre 20 Roundup Way SE. Admission by donation.
Calgary Public Libraries - There are hundreds of programs for every member of familyavailable on an ongoing basis. For more information, visit calgarylibrary.ca. Membership is free to anyone with a Calgary address.
Explore the +15s Downtown - Make sure to check out the double-decker bridge between Bankers Hall and TD Square for a great view up and down Stephen Avenue!
Do the Artwalk - There are 56 pieces of public art downtown. Can you find them all? calgarydowntown.com/imagedir/File/artwalk_web.pdf
Visit a Farmers’ Market - There are plenty of Farmers’ Markets in and around Calgary during the spring, summer, and fall. We recommend the playgrounds at Symons Valley Ranch and the Calgary Farmers’ Market! Many Farmers’ Markets are year-round, but some are seasonal - most of these run to the end of September or early October. Check your local Farmers’ Market’s website for more information!
Visit a Board Game Café - Calgary has a bunch of new board game cafés this year which offer a wide variety of games. Pips offers half-price gaming (regular $5 a person) on Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 4pm. Boxcar is $5 a person, or $2.50 per hour on Friday to Sunday. Metal Galaxy offers free drop-in gaming with the purchase of food or beverages from their bistro. Hexagon just opened in Kensington, and offers gaming for $2.50 per person, per hour.
Beakerhead - Even as the weather gets chilly, there are still plenty of great Fall festivals in and around Calgary! Beakerhead is a massive, city-wide festival celebrating science and technology for all ages. Check out beakerhead.com for more information!
Rothney Astrophysical Observatory - Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, U of C. Visit on a public stargazing night and check out the wonders of the universe for free! One of Canada’s largest telescopes patrolling for killer asteroids. For more information, visit ucalgary.ca/rao/.
Fish Creek Park - Only a hop, skip and a jump from Calgary’s southern suburbs, Canada’s largest urban park covers more than 20 kilometres of protected river valley.
Nose Hill Park - A unique natural environment park located in Northwest Calgary, just 15 minutes from downtown.
Reader Rock Garden - This garden, three-acre site has trails waiting to be explored.
Elbow Valley Wetland - An incredible variety of sights and sounds greet you at this constructed wetland in the Calgary area. Location: Hwy 8 (Glenmore Trail SW), just 800 metres west of Sarcee Trail.
Beaver Dam Flats - Beaver Dam Flats is surrounded by various natural habitats that attract beavers. See if you can spot one!
Allie Percival, BA, B.Ed, is a copy and feature writer and assistant editor at Calgary’s Child Magazine.
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