A Day in Calgary, Alberta: Must do Family Activities
Last month my husband and I had planned a family vacation. We planned to road trip our way from Saskatchewan, Canada to enjoy the magic of Disneyland; unfortunately, some problems arose on the farm and we had to cancel our plans. We didn’t let that stop us from a family travel stay closer to home but far enough that it still felt like a vacation, in our neighbour Province, Calgary, Alberta.
After we cancelled our initial holiday we didn’t make new plans but our in-laws invited us camping at Saskatchewan Landing. We spent a couple of days with our extended family before deciding that we didn’t want to go home and turned West towards Calgary instead. We only had a couple of days to spend in Calgary, one of which was spent visiting close friends, and we wanted to make the most of it with these must do family activities.
Calgary Zoo – Morning Family Activity
Everything we planned was completely spontaneous. At first I thought this was a recipe for disaster with the kids but it was actually the most relaxed vacation we’ve had.
Having not been to the Calgary Zoo in a very long time we decided this was our first stop and let me just say that the zoo has developed a lot since we were there last. Dinosaurs Alive was one of the newest additions and it is spectacular. We could have easily spent a few hours with the interactive zoo app which allows you to use your smartphone to view all 14 dinosaurs included in the park in a 3D environment. If you have a Dinosaur lover in your family, this is the place to go; from our 2 year old to the big kids, each of us enjoyed this experience.
I think the best part about this dinosaur experience for all of us was the animated life-size dinosaurs. They looked pretty realistic if you ask me; I may or may not have screeched a little.
No matter where we go as a family we are always seeking out the must-have tasty treat; at the Calgary Zoo, this happened to be BeaverTails. If you don’t know what this is, don’t feel bad; my teens didn’t either and were almost giddy to try one for their first time. A deep-fried pastry slathered in chocolate, fruit and icing or your favourite sweet toppings…something this good has to be tried. It was a toss up for who was more messy, the teens or the toddlers.
The animals were out sun bathing when we arrived at their exhibits. I was surprised to see the African Lion so picturesque. In the same area we had the pleasure of watching the Giraffe feed on tree leaves high in the air; it seemed he was following us as we walked. A little ways away, we came upon these Chilean Flamingo’s and I had to take a picture; they definitely rock that pink.
Features of the Calgary Zoo
- Stroller or wagon rentals available for $8, plus a $2 deposit. If you are looking for a shaded stroller, you will want to bring your own.
- Several buildings to get out of the sun or rain, if needed.
- Public parking is a bit of a walk but doable. We parked fairly close to the front gate. Parking is $8 for the day.
- Purchase tickets at the front kiosks or inside at guest services. We found Guest services to have no lineup. Kids 2 and under are free.
Being limited on time and with rain predicted in the forecast, we spent the morning exploring the Calgary Zoo and moved on to Calaway Park for the afternoon. You could easily spend a day at the zoo with your family to enjoy the many exhibits; it was an absolute pleasure to spend time with our family there.
Calaway Park – Afternoon Family Activity
Calaway Park is about a 45 minute drive from the Calgary Zoo but it happened to rain while we were driving and by the time we arrived the rain had stopped so it was perfect timing and the kids were excited to get on their first ride.
Depending on the ages of your children, Calaway Park has rides and shows for most ages. This year the new 3D show, The House of Magic 3D is playing at the ShowTime Theatre within the park. If you need to step out of the sun, or rain as we did a bit later in the day, this show is entertaining for everyone in the family.
The teens favourite ride was the new attraction, Timber Falls. Anyone 36″ and up can ride this attraction, with an adult for heights between 36″-46″. With 3 interactive themed buildings and high velocity drops for that notorious butterfly feeling, it’s no wonder this was a favourite. I admit I enjoyed watching and just when they thought they were through the wet part of the ride, I used the water cannons as they drifted by. It was a small victory of mom revenge.
Features of Calaway Park
- Stroller rentals for $5. These are pretty basic strollers without back/neck support. We didn’t bring a stroller so we made this work but if you have a choice, bring your own for shade coverage and comfort.
- Locker and wheelchair rentals.
- Family admission. Kids under 2 are free.
- Nearby RV Campground for you to “Stay and Play”.
Where to Stay
We had a blast at Calaway Park but it started to rain and the kids were exhausted. Making a joint family decision, off we went back to our hotel, the Delta Calgary South. Initially we thought we booked a hotel close to our friends but realized we were a bit of a drive; 20 minutes isn’t too bad when you aren’t in rush hour. From the hotel to the zoo it was only about a 5-10 minute drive and honestly, we loved this hotel. The family suite was perfect for our family of 6; we had a set of bunks, double on the bottom, a pullout sofa and a separate master bedroom.
At first I was a bit concerned about the location of our room being right off the atrium, it echoed and well, kids can be loud. We quickly learned that the kids were so tired by the time our day was done that they fell asleep quite quickly. The waterslide and pool area helped achieve that status of exhaustion; it was nice to be able to sit and watch from the 2nd level while the teens entertained the little ones in the water. I think the teens enjoyed playing like little kids again too.
Features of the Delta Calgary South
- Family suites available. Children under 17 stay free with parents.
- Clean comfortable rooms and beds with more than enough towels and linens for all of us.
- Waterslide and pool area with hot tub and change room.
- Fitness Room.
- Restaurant with a buffet style breakfast and an omelette station. Children under 6 eat free.
- Extra touches by the friendly staff, cookies and milk for the kids and for the parents, we enjoyed a platter of cheese and fruit and a bottle of wine.
- Just-in-case extras for little ones, such as night lights, cribs and highchairs.
- Close proximately to local attractions and shopping, like the Calgary Zoo, Olympic Park, Heritage Park and Chinook Centre.
Our time was short but sweet in Calgary. We stayed at a hotel that we would definitely reserve again and had an action packed day between Calaway Park and Calgary Zoo, both fun for the whole family. If you are planning a trip to Calgary and you are short on time, you can easily enjoy yourselves reconnecting as a family at these locations.
Have you been to Calgary and if so, what are your favourite places to go with your family?
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was provided accommodation in order to conduct an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.
Thanks for letting us know about the zoo! We live about 4.5 hours from Calgary. Sometimes we do a day trip for shopping at IKEA and lunch! We’ll have to plan an overnight trip to see the zoo!
You’re very welcome. We loved it and can’t wait to go back. We couldn’t spend a lot of time there because our trip was short but it was worth squeezing it in; the Dinosaur Alive portion is pretty spectacular.
If you come to Calgary often you should take advantage of discount coupons for lots of local attractions on http://calgaryattractions.com/coupons/
Thanks for the tip! We do go to Calgary often enough; we’ll check this out for next time. 🙂
Lots to do at the Calgary School .
I’ve never been to Calgary yet but it sounds like a great destination for families. I would probably visit during the Stampede and plan our activities around it.
This article is so true! Thanks for posting!