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 – 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 (LC 594). 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 – Free children and teen programs available on an ongoing basis. For more information, visit calgarypubliclibrary.com. 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? http://www.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!
Nature Drop-in Programs – During the summer months, the City of Calgary holds free drop-in programs at Ralph Klein Park to let you little ones get up close and personal with nature! http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Parks/Pages/Programs/Dropin-programs.aspx
Park n’ Play and Stay n’ Play – The City of Calgary offers high-quality free programming for kids 5-12 during the summer. These programs include crafts, games, active play and valuable social time with other children. http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/CNS/Pages/Children-and-youth/Summer-programs/Park-n-Play-and-Stay-n-Play-programs.aspx
Visit a Board Game Cafe – Calgary has a bunch of new board game cafes this year which offer a wide variety of games. Pips offers half-price gaming (regular $5 a person) on Tuesday-Friday from 11-4. Boxcar is $5 a person, or $2.50/hr on Friday-Sunday. Metal Galaxy offers free drop-in gaming with the purchase of food or beverages from their bistro.
Cool Off at an Outdoor Pool, Wading Pool or Spraypark – The City of Calgary has tons of places to cool off, either for free or at a low price. http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Parks/Pages/Locations/Wading-pools-spray-parks-and-outdoor-pools.aspx
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/
Skate Parks – Visit the world’s largest skateboard park. Shaw Millennium Park is North America’s largest free outdoor skate park. Boarders, bikers and bladers can climb, slide, twist, roll and flip through the park’s concrete terrain. The City of Calgary also hosts community mobile skate parks, the locations of which can be found at The City of Calgary Skate parks link, calgary.ca/CSPS/Recreation/Pages/Skateparks/Community-mobile-skateparks.aspx
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.
Sikome Lake – Life’s a beach at Calgary’s famous swimming hole. Enjoy cooling down on a hot day at this well-known South Calgary treasure.
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!
Enjoy a Festival or Street Market – Calgary has some truly unique events during the summer. Expand your horizons by sharing in some of these cultural events, which are often free or very low-cost.
For more great summer fun suggestions, visit calgaryschild.com!