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Great day trips from Calgary with the grandparents

Are you looking for something fun to do while your parents are in town? Try one of these kid-approved day trips with fun for all ages! Make memories while trying a new-to-you activity, and learn something new about each other. When’s the last time you asked your parents what their favorite dinosaur was?

For Dinosaur Lovers: Drumheller

Drumheller is dinosaur central with the ’World’s Largest Dinosaur’ (climb up inside it and take a photo from its mouth! Admission fee required) and state-of-the-art Royal Tyrrell Museum. Allow at least 2 hours to explore the museum exhibits; longer if you plan on attending an interpretive program. The museum offers guided hikes, awesome dino digs, and fossil casting; register online to ensure you get a spot.

After, head outside to the Palaeo Play Park, a large dino-themed playground with sandbox, or get a family photo in the badlands. The 1.4km interpretive trail through Midlands Provincial Park is beautiful!

More ideas: See how many dinos you can find on the downtown Dino Walk, check out the animatronic dinosaurs and fossils at Fossil World Discovery Centre, cool off at Rotary Spray Park (opens May long weekend), and get burgers and milkshakes at Bernie and the Boys Bistro.

Accessible Mountain Vistas: Banff Gondola

For a mountain experience without hiking, visit the Banff Gondola! Soar to the top of Sulphur Mountain for sweeping views of six mountain ranges. The gondola cars and Upper Terminal are wheelchair accessible.

Learn about route-finding, knot tying, animal tracks and more in the interpretive centre, watch a movie in the Above Banff Theatre, and look for Aurora the mirrored bear on the viewing deck. When you get hungry, Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen is a family-favorite, and Sky Bistro is perfect for special occasions.

If you’d like to stretch your legs before heading down, the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak (500 metres one way) offers breathtaking views in more ways than one - it has 368 stairs! We promise it’s worth the effort though.

Nearby: Treat yourself to Afternoon Tea at the “the castle” aka The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Open 11am to 4pm daily, reservations recommended.

Cave and Basin, the birthplace of the National Parks system, is an interesting free (free admission with park pass) stop. Go inside a little cave with thermal springs, check out the exhibits, watch a short film, and walk the interpretive trails.

Outdoor Escape Room/Scavenger Hunt: Mystery Towns Clue-Solving Adventures (Calgary, Cochrane, Canmore, or Banff)

Work as a team to race the clock and solve a mystery while visiting landmarks, historic sites, and sculptures in Calgary, Cochrane, Canmore, or Banff. These outdoor walking tours will keep you thinking and moving, and take you to some hidden gems! 

How it works: Pay for a clue-solving adventure, and investigate clever clues on the app to solve a mystery.

While the tours are tailored for adults, kids ten and up can solve most clues and younger kids can solve some with a bit of help. If you get really stumped, you can ask for a hint or pass, but be warned that time will be added to the clock setting you back on the leaderboard. Scheduled breaks are included so you can stop for a coffee/washroom break without penalty. For families, we recommend the Treasures of Banff (around downtown Banff) and Smuggler’s Blues (around Canmore downtown). Allow 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the adventures and expect to walk 3 to 4 kilometres.

Enjoy BeaverTails (fried pastries with your choice of toppings) in Banff, or lunch at Rocky Mountain Flatbread in Canmore after your walking adventure tour. If you prefer to picnic, Cascade Ponds in Banff has picnic tables and fire pits with a view. Canmore’s Centennial Park has free parking, a shaded picnic area, and playground.

Fish & Fire: Mount Lorette Ponds

Mount Lorette Ponds is the perfect place to try fishing for the first time. The ponds are stocked with rainbow trout several times a year starting in early May, and the water is crystal clear so you can sight fish. With wheelchair/stroller-accessible paved trails around the ponds (700-metre loop and 230-metre loop), and well-treed picnic areas with fire pits, you can easily spend an afternoon here. Bring your own firewood and bucket to put the fire out, and don’t forget marshmallows and roasting sticks!

Know before you go: Fishing licenses are required for everyone sixteen to sixty-four years of age, and Alberta Fishing Regulations are in effect. At time of writing, the limit is 2 trout.

Nearby: On your way home, don’t miss the Colonel’s Cabin, Old Guard Tower, and History Loop across from Barrier Lake. In summer, you can rent canoes and stand-up paddleboards at Barrier Lake. And if you need an afternoon pick-me-up, there’s a Tim Hortons near Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino.

We hope you enjoy these day trips with the grandparents!

Karen 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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