Summer is short in Calgary, so everybody wants to make the most of it – unfortunately, sometimes that means it can be an expensive season. Want to enjoy cheap or free family activities in Calgary all summer long? We’ve got all kinds of options for you!
Beat the Heat
Splash and Swim at City of Calgary Pools. Every Saturday and Sunday at select pools enjoy a splash and swim during regular public swim times. $2 per adult and $1 per child or senior. Calgary.ca/pools
Splash Parks and Wading Pools. Beat the heat and enjoy the summer weather in Calgary by visiting one of our many wading pools, spray parks and outdoor pools around the city. These are totally free and a great place to cool off on a hot day – don’t forget your sunscreen! Wading pools, spray parks and outdoor pools are typically open from mid June (weather dependent) until fall. Find locations here!
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre is totally free to enjoy and has been providing migratory birds with a place to rest their wings since 1929. That’s more than 80 years of conservation! To date, 270 species of birds, 21 species of mammals and 347 species of plants have been recorded at the Sanctuary and Nature Centre. The Nature Centre is open to visitors. The centre has interpretive exhibits and information about local wildlife and parks, and there are occasional programs for visitors. Visit the website for more information.
Stay N’ Play & Park N’ Play. Looking for free, high-quality programs for your kids this summer? These safe, supervised programs are designed to help children make new friends and learn fun activities to help them on their path to healthy and active lifestyles. Programs run weekdays and are weather dependent. Look for more details at calgary.ca/cns.
Mobile Adventure Playground. The City’s mobile adventure playground is back this summer in a park near you. The playground runs from now until September 29. The mobile adventure playground is not a registered program, but a playground that offers a different way to play. Onsite play ambassadors are there to inspire play and keep the playground safe, but not directly supervise the children. Parents are encouraged to stay and watch their children play and see how their imaginations soar in this new adventure space. Visit Calgary.ca to see dates and locations.
Bow Habitat Station. Marsh Dipping Tuesdays go on all summer long – for just $4, have buckets of fun in the Interpretive Wetland’s marsh discovering the critters who make their home there. Check the website for more information.
Spruce Meadows Movies at the Meadows. For just $15 a carload (if you buy ahead,) enjoy a family movie at Spruce Meadows every Wednesday night at dusk from July 19 – August 23. Bring a chair, blanket and friends and enjoy a movie under the stars! Popcorn, movie treats and meals are available to purchase on the lower Plaza, so feel free to come early. Check the website for movies.
Visit a New Playground. Calgary is home to an incredible variety of public playgrounds! A memorable day out can be as simple as checking out one your kids have never been to before. Calgaryplaygroundreview.com is a wonderful local website featuring reviews for dozens of playgrounds across the city.
Glenbow Museum. The museum offers free admission from 5pm – 9pm on the first Thursday of every month; perfect for a quiet summer evening!
Play a Game at Pips Board Game Cafe. For just $5 per person, play as many board games as you want for as long as you want – kids under 3 are free. Parents play for 1/2 price on Monday! Pips has a great selection of games suitable for kids; just ask!
Grain Academy Museum. This completely free museum is located on the plus 15 between the LRT and the BMO Centre at Stampede Park. Guests can watch a video depicting how the prairies were settled, watch a working grain elevator demonstration, view a model train display showing the movement of grain from the prairie to the terminals at Vancouver, and much more! Check out the website.
Cineplex Family Favorites. Every Saturday morning at 11am, watch a family favourite film for only $2.99! A portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting Free The Children. Check the locations and movies here.
Crafts at Michael’s. Michael’s offers crafts and art projects for kids at extremely low prices a few times a month. Options vary depending on your local store, but prices start at $2. Check the website for your store’s calendar.
Projects at Home Depot. Hands-on Workshops designed for children ages 5 – 12. Held on the 2nd Saturday of each month at all The Home Depot stores. Each child can bring home a newly constructed project, an achievement pin and certificate, free of charge. Check the website for more information.
Devonian Gardens. While most of the gardens are still closed for repairs, the playground is now open! Perfect for a rainy day. Check the website for more information.
Calgary Public Library Programs. There are a huge variety of free programs for kids of all ages offered at library branches across the city; register online here!