This is the where-to list for getting out and about in the city this summer.
Wet & Wild
The City of Calgary Wading Pools:
Bowness Park – 8900 48 Ave. NW
Canmore Park – 19 St. & Chicoutimi Dr. NW
Riley Park – 800 12 St. NW
Rotary Park – 617 1 St. NE
Somerset Square – 999 Somerset Dr. SW (Community operated)
Stanley Park – 4011 1A St. SW
The City of Calgary Spray Parks:
Barclay Mall (Eau Claire Area) – 3 St. & Riverfront Ave. SW
Bowness Park – 8900 48 Ave. NW
Prairie Winds Park – 223 Castleridge Blvd. NE
Shaw Millennium Park – 1220 9 Ave. SW
South Glenmore Park – 90 Ave. & 24 St. SW
Valleyview Park – 28 St. & 30 Ave. SE
Variety Park (in South Glenmore Park) – 90 Ave. & 24 St. SW
Take a Walk on the Wild Side:
Beaver Dam Flats – Beaver Dam Flats borders the Bow River and is surrounded by various natural habitats that attract beavers, which build dams in the area, hence the park name.
Bow Habitat Station at Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery – Get up close and personal with millions of trout, or test the water to understand why wetlands are called “nature’s kidneys.” Location: On the bank of the Bow River in the heart of Calgary.
Butterfield Acres Children’s Farm – Listen to the sheep munching on their hay, or wiggle your fingers into the curly wool of a newborn lamb, or inspect the hair in a calf’s ear. Find out what makes a real farm tick. Location: 254077 Rocky Ridge Road. www.butterfieldacres.com.
Calgary Zoo, Botanical Garden & Prehistoric Park – Travel the world without ever leaving the city. Go on a Safari, visit Australia or check out the creatures of the night. www.calgaryzoo.com.
Cochrane Ecological Institute and Cochrane Wildlife Reserve – This reserve has the only breeding colony of the Swift Fox (endangered in Canada). The reserve also provides care and rehabilitates injured wildlife. Location: Cochrane. www.ceinst.org.
Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area – Visitors watch as the crisp waters of the mighty Elbow River collide with the craggy rock faces of the mountains in a spectacular natural show. The surrounding park offers a number of trails (wheelchair accessible), plus picnic and camping facilities. Location: Hwy. 66, 30km west of Bragg Creek.
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.
Fish Creek Park – Only a hop, skip and a jump from Calgary’s southern suburbs, Canada’s largest urban park covers more than 10kms of protected river valley. Take a tour through Calgary’s Prairie history on one of the self-guided interpretive walks or visit the Bow Valley Interpretive Centre or Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre. www.tpr.alberta.ca/parks/fishcreek.
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary – Over 250 bird species and a variety of mammals call these 32 hectares of natural area home. See what birds you can identify during your visit. Location: on the Bow River at 2425, 9 Ave. SE.
Nose Hill Park – A unique natural environment park located in northwest Calgary just 15 minutes from downtown is 1127 hectares in size, making it the largest municipal park in Canada.
The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area – You can get a true feel of Calgary’s ranching legacy just south of the city. Donated from their land by the historical Cross ranching family, the conservation area’s mandate is to protect local wildlife on 4800 acres of rolling foothills. Location: Southwest of the city off Hwy. 22X. Area is open to hikers by appointment only. Call 931-2042 to book a visit. www.crossconservation.org/about.html.
History in the Making:
Bar U Ranch National Historic Site – The Bar U Ranch paints a colorful picture of ranching history, with the Rockies as a backdrop. Location: 15km south of Longview.
Big Rock – About a half-hour drive south of Calgary is the bedroom community of Okotoks, and just a few miles outside its limits are two huge rocks that sit alone in the middle of a field. An interpretive park explains the strange story of how they arrived there.
Calgary Ghost Tours – Experience Calgary’s Ghostly past with spine-tingling walking tours. Believers & skeptics alike will enjoy local legends and history. Tours leave from the base of the Calgary Tower and from Inglewood – and new this year, Kensington. www.calgaryghosttours.com.
Fort Calgary – Try on a Northwest Mounted Police Uniform; hear fascinating stories of the Northwest Mounted Police; ride in a virtual streetcar through historic Calgary; take a walk through a 1930s drugstore, automobile repair shop, newspaper publishing office and radio station; or simply walk the pathways. Location: 750, 9 Ave. SE. www.fortcalgary.com.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump – Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Head-Smashed-In is one of the world’s oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jump’s known to exist and has been used continuously by aboriginal peoples of the plains for more than 5,500 years. Location: 18km north & west of Fort Macleod.
Heritage Park Historical Village – Nestled among cool waters, tall trees, and stately peaks, Canada’s “largest living historical village” recreates the prairie life of western settlers from 1864 to 1914. Take a trip to the past and celebrate Dominion Day, Heritage Day or even a historic Fall Fair. Location: 1900 Heritage Drive SW. www.heritagepark.ca.
Reader Rock Garden – This 70-year-old garden is a three-acre site with trails waiting to be explored. Take a self-guided tour or join a group and discover the history within.
The Archaeology Interpretive Centre – The Archaeology Interpretive Centre is located in the Bow Valley Ranche Visitor Centre at the east end of Fish Creek Provincial Park.
Union Cemetery – If headstones could talk, oh, the stories they could tell! Many of Calgary’s colorful characters lie buried in Calgary’s oldest existing civic burial grounds. The City of Calgary Parks department tells these fascinating stories through free guided walking tours of Calgary’s historic Union Cemetery, every Sunday during the summer months. Sundays only, May 18 to Oct. 26 (except Oct. 18) at 2pm. Meet at the entrance to Union Cemetery off 27 Ave. & Spiller Rd. SE.
Living off the Land:
Bearspaw Lions’ Farmers’ Market – Here you will find locally produced vegetables, fruit, home baking, and poultry. Visit Sundays, 11am to 3pm from June 1 to Oct 5. Location: Take Hwy. 1A west from Calgary to Bearspaw Road, just west of the city limits. Turn north onto Bearspaw Road and immediately east onto Nagway Road.
Blackfoot Farmers’ Market – Located at 5600, 11 Street SE, the Blackfoot Farmers’ Market features over 100 vendors, including organic farmers. Don’t miss the craft village and garden centre featuring bedding plants, perennials, and trees. Visit 8am to 5pm Fridays and Saturdays and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.
Calgary Farmers’ Market – This market provides farm fresh products every week. Open year round every Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 9am to 4pm. Location: Currie Barracks Hanger #6, 4421 Quesnay Wood Drive SW.
Calgary Grassroots Northland Market – Located at the Northland Village Mall. 5111 Northland Drive NW (parking lot). This market features vendors that bring you a variety of fruit, veggies, flowers, crafts, bakers and more. Tuesdays beginning June 13 to September 26 from 3:30 to 7:30pm rain or shine.
Crossroads Market – This is Calgary’s largest fresh indoor/outdoor market. Friday to Sunday 9am to 5pm. Location: 1235, 26 Ave. SE.
AFRIKADEY! 2008 – August 4 to 9. Various locations. www.afrikadey.com.
BBQ on the Bow Festival – August 30 & 31. Location: Eau Claire Festival Market. www.bbqonthebow.com.
Calgary Folk Music Festival – July 24 to 27. Location: Prince’s Island Park. www.calgaryfolkfest.com.
Calgary Highland Games – August 30. Location: Shouldice Park. www.calgaryhighlandgames.org.
Expo Latino – August 22 to 24. Location: Prince’s Island Park. www.hispanicarts.com.
GlobalFest International Fireworks Competition – August 15 to 23. Location: Elliston Park located at International Ave. (17 Ave.) and 60 St SE. www.globalfest.ca.
Kensington Sun and Salsa Festival – July 20. Location: Kensington Rd. and 10 St. NW. www.visitkensington.com.
Marda Gras Street Festival – August 10. Location: Marda Loop. www.mardaloopbrz.com/mardagras.htm.
Shakespeare in the Park – July 3 to August 23. Location: Prince’s Island Park. www.mtroyal.ab.ca/shakespeare-in-the-park.
Taste of Calgary – August 7 to 10. Location: Festival Market at Eau Claire. www.atasteofcalgary.com.
The Spin Cycle:
Baker Park/Bowness Park – This 6km trail is a great one for kids of all ages. The paved path follows alongside the Bow River and through Bowness Park. Better yet is the option of stopping to cool down at the spray pool or visit at Angel’s Drive-Inn home for an ice cream cone or a great burger.
Bow River Corridor – This popular route stretches from the Pearce Estate Park (just beyond the Calgary Zoo) in the east, all the way to Bowness Park in the west, including the very busy Kensington and Prince’s Island area. It’s an easy ride, mostly flat, with some undulations in the pathway as you go under some bridges; always use caution in these parts. Check out the Douglas Fir Hiking Trail region on the south side of the Bow, just down from Edworthy Park. Each way is approximately 25km.
Confederation Park – This is one of the quieter places to take the kids in Calgary. While traveling along this path, enjoy the vast manicured lawns which are perfect for picnics or take a moment to watch families of ducks swim in the creek that flows throughout the park. The paved 4km trail makes for an easy ride through this stunning park.
Glenmore Reservoir – The reservoir is Calgary’s largest body of water and provides amazing views of the mountains. This 16.5km trail takes you through the Weaselhead Corridor and allows you access to Sandy Beach, Heritage Park and Glenmore Landing. Catch a glimpse of the wildlife who call this reservoir home or look for the S.S Moyie as it paddles its way around.
Kensington to Prince’s Island – Both the north and south sides are heavily frequented by joggers from the nearby YMCA as well as countless walkers, rollerbladers and cyclists. Despite the traffic, the scenery is spectacular with the majestic Bow River flowing on one side, while the trees and greenery flourish all around River Park/Sandy Beach. A rare oasis of expansive greenery & peacefulness in central southwest Calgary, this spot offers paved pathways that are busy on weekends and unpaved pathways are more popular with walkers and off-leash dogs. You’ll find great views of the Elbow River here. The Marda Loop area is not far away for refreshments, including the legendary My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe at the corner of 42 Avenue and 20 Street SW.
Nanica is a freelance writer who writes from home amid the distractions of her three cats, her husband and the never ending pile of laundry.
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