Written by Stacie Gaetz
Whether you’re planning a weekend sleepover or just an afternoon visit, there are lots of great activities to help your kids make memories with your parents! Although your parents may want to spend time with their grandkids, it can be difficult to think of things to do together that both generations will enjoy.
Here’s a fun list of exciting and unique things to do in Calgary for kids and grandparents to do together to help create special memories:
Get dressed up for a grand day out
- Go to a live performance. There are tons of local theaters that welcome and include children or are designed specifically for them. Dress up and make it a night out at Storybook Theatre, Loose Moose, Jubilations Junior, Alberta Ballet, Alberta Theatre Projects, Calgary Young People’s Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre, Pumphouse Theatre and Stage West for Kids.
- Go for tea. Get out your hats and pearls and make it an elegant afternoon to remember. The Lougheed House, Heritage Park and the Palliser Hotel often offer an afternoon tea complete with tiny sandwiches and tasty desserts. Pinkies up!
- Listen to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. At various points throughout the year, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra presents Symphony Sundays, a symphony experience specially designed for children.
- Disney on Ice. This iconic travelling show features figure skaters portraying the roles of Disney characters in performances derived from various films.
- Spruce Meadows. See horse jumping during one of the six annual outdoor or eight annual indoor tournaments. Spruce Meadows also breeds, trains, and sells horses and holds an annual "Name the Foal" contest, in which three foals are selected to be named by the public.
- Lunch at a restaurant downtown. Put on your power suit and have a 'business lunch' together. Try any of the great restaurants downtown (many of them have less expensive lunch specials) or for a very special treat, try Sky 360, Calgary’s own revolving restaurant located at the top of the Calgary Tower.
- Go on a walk. This can be down the street or up a mountain – whatever mobility and time allows. Encourage your parents to explore somewhere new with the grandkids. Take them to a nearby pond or forested area, walk to a favorite coffee shop or restaurant or take a day trip out of town for a hike.
- Garden. Get your hands dirty! Whether it’s early spring and you are planting your seeds and bulbs, tending to your garden in mid-summer, harvesting your veggies in early fall or even taking care of indoor plants in the winter, growing greenery teaches kids a ton of skills and is just plain fun.
- Play hide and seek. Encourage them to bring out their inner child by participating in a game of hide and seek with the grandkids in the backyard or indoors.
- Go to the park or playground. Let’s face it, mom and dad are tired of bringing the kids to the same old park all the time. Why not encourage the grandparents to take the kids to the playground you went to when you were a kid or the biggest and best one near your house for a change of scenery?
- Go on a picnic. Pack a lunch for your kids and their grandparents or go together as a big family. Complete the outing with some lawn games that you bring along or take a walk together. Play mini golf. There are about a dozen minigolf places in and around Calgary and it’s a great choice for multiple generations! Who will be the winner? Maybe you can even make it interesting and bet on whether you get ice cream on the way home. (Who are we kidding? You’re with Grandma and Grandpa… of course they are getting ice cream!)
- Play board games or puzzles. Games have come a long way in the past few years! There are exciting and interactive games that are a lot more complicated and fun than chess or checkers. Learn a new game or an old favorite together.
- Play cards. Ask Grandma and Grandpa how to play Crazy 8’s, Rummy or Bridge, or teach each other your favorite games and see who comes out on top.
- Read books. Books from your childhood, your child’s favorite book; grandparents can read to them or they can read to their grandparents; it doesn’t matter what you read or how you read it, just snuggle up and crack open a page turner.
- Cook or bake. Ask your parents to pass along that secret recipe that has been in the family for years or show them how to prepare a meal from the country your family originated in. Time in the kitchen together is always time well spent.
- Color. When was the last time Grandma and Grandpa picked up some pencil crayons, markers, or crayons? Coloring can allow for hours of fun and some great conversation.
- Teach each other something. There is a good chance your parents have hobbies that your kids have never experienced before, and their hobbies may be a mystery to your parents. Ask them to take a stab at teaching your kids how to knit and then let your kids teach them how to play their favorite video game.
Get out and about
- See the sights. This one might seem self-explanatory, but there are some attractions in and around Calgary that you may never have been before! Make a list and pick one for the grandparents and your kids to visit together. There are the staples like the Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park, and Calaway Park but don’t forget about Butterfield Acres, Granary Road, TELUS Spark, Bow Habitat Station, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Winsport and Calgary Farmyard.
- Go bowling. Line ‘em up and knock ‘em down! Whether Grandma is a pro who played in a league for years or your parents haven’t picked up a ball in over a decade, this is sure to be a fun adventure that everyone will love. Try five-pin bowling for a truly Canadian experience!
- Go to a farmers’ market. There is just something kids of all ages can’t resist about a farmer’s market. Ask your parents to bring the kids with them to shop and then make a meal together. You might be surprised at their willingness to eat healthier foods when they have helped pick things out!
- Go out for a meal. Have fun with this one. Grandparents can connect with their grandkids over a meal at a special restaurant – a special occasion favorite, one with some family history, or maybe something brand new where everyone can enjoy some dishes they’ve never had before!
- Go to a museum. There is no shortage of museums in and within a few hours of Calgary, and these can often be great places to go to help encourage conversation between the generations. Just a few include the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame, The Hangar Flight Museum, The Military Museums, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Fort Calgary, YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre, Gasoline Alley Museum and Studio Bell Music Centre.
- Go to a game. Pick a sport, any sport. Hockey, soccer, football, lacrosse… whether it’s with the pros, a recreational league or anything in between, nothing brings you closer than cheering on your favorite team together.
Stacie is the associate editor of Calgary’s Child Magazine and mother of a delightful daughter and silly son. Her days are filled with playing in parks, creating crafts and keeping up with the chaos. She thoroughly enjoys supporting, connecting and informing parents through interesting stories like this one.
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