Known as “The Heart of the New West”, the city of Calgary is truly a fantastic place to live! Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and the Bow and Elbow Rivers there are endless opportunities for families to take advantage of the surrounding nature. However, in the middle of winter we often loose our enthusiasm for the city as we are stuck inside or bundled up. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 15 free or cheap fun activities to do in Calgary that your whole family will enjoy.
#1. Calgary’s Pathways
When a nice warm Chinook wind comes around bring the entire family out and take advantage of the most extensive pathway in North America. Many of the best views in the city can only be reached through these trails. Such as at the top of Nose Hill. Lucky for you and your kids, the 125 km of paths are actually cleared of snow all year long!
#2. Glenbow Museum
Save some pocket change and visit the Glenbow Museum on the first Thursday of every month for free admission! Your kids will love this educational adventure about art and history.
#3. Calgary Public Library
Residents of Cow Town often overlook or forget to stop by the various Calgary Public Libraries with their children. On a cold winter day this is the perfect place to pick out a new book. Some libraries even put on toddler story time. Hint: while your kids are occupied you may manage to snag a few minutes with the free magazine rack. Score!
#4. Heritage Park Historical Village
With over 200 attraction and exhibits Heritage Park is perfect for history and nature lovers. The village will take you and your kids back to the 1800s with awesome old time rides, candies and dressed up staff members. Although admission is not entirely free, entry is reasonably priced considering how much fun your family will have!
*Please note Heritage Park is closed for the majority of the winter aside from various special events. However, Gasoline Alley is open all year long!
#5. Chinese New Year Carnival
Check out the traditional Dragon and Lion Dance, music, martial arts, food and games at this year’s festival. Bring your kids to help celebrate the year of the monkey! Remember this event is for a limited time only and will be held every weekend from now until February 22nd.
Photo By: Calgary Herald
#6. TD Devonian Gardens
Bring your family and escape from the wind, rain or snow at the TD Devonian Gardens. Simply take the elevator to the top of the TD shopping centre downtown and you will find yourself in one of the world’s largest botanical gardens. As always this tropical escape is free to discover.
#7. Cineplex Family Favourites
Every week Cineplex offers a new family friendly film to watch. For the cheap price of $2.99 we think this would be an awesome evening out with the kids.
#8. YYC Hot Chocolate Festival
Presented by Calgary Meals on Wheels the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest is a delicious competition to find out who makes the best hot chocolate in the city. Throughout the month of February various cafes, chocolatiers and restaurants feature a signature hot chocolate drink. Customers vote online and eventually a winner is selected. Want to know the best part? A portion of the proceeds from each drink is donated to Calgary Meals on Wheels.
Sometimes the best things in life are free. One of our favourite things to do with our family, especially during sunrise or sunset is to visit the various viewpoints that the city has to offer. Check out the intersection at Crescent Rd NW and 2nd Street NW for a great view of downtown and near the Home Road and 32 Ave Nw intersection for a view of the mountains and Olympic Park on a clear day.
#10. Southland Leisure Centre
It may not be beach season yet but that doesn’t mean your kiddies can’t go swimming. For some pocket change you can take the family to Southland Leisure Centre to play in the huge wave pool, water slides, dive pool and even a rope swing.
Photo By: Youth are Awesome
#11. Stephan Avenue Walk
There is a reason why Stephan Avenue is so popular. Full of cute cafes, shops and restaurants this busy street is perfect for a Sunday stroll with the fam jam. If your kids are not into window shopping or chilling in a cafe take them on a free self-guided heritage tour. You can even download the tour guide map online.
#12. Fish Creek Provincial Park
Located in the southern part of the city Fish Creek Provincial Park is actually the largest urban park in all of Canada! We think this is the perfect place, on a nice winter day, to take the family for a walking, hike, or bird watching adventure.
#13. Telus Spark
Although admission is not free the Telus Spark Science Museum is a must-do for any and every family in Calgary. Full of enriching interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations and demonstrations the museum is a guaranteed hit for kids.
Photo By: Frugaled Monton Mama
#14. Prince’s Island Park
If you are in downtown Calgary and are looking for a place to have a wonderful winter picnic, hike some trails, or take your kids to a playground Prince’s Island Park is a safe bet. If your kids are interested take them down the Chevron Leaning Pathway to learn about wetlands and wildlife.
Gear up for a little road trip and head up to the town of Okotoks. Situated just 18 km south of Calgary on Sheep River this tiny town has an array of recreational facilities, parks, pathways and leisure activities that the whole family will enjoy.