Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Kids Activities

Family Activities in Calgary during the Winter.

It’s freezing out.  What kind of family activities in Calgary are available to you? And more importantly…in… THE WINTER.

 Today I wanted to present a list of options that you can do during the winter, ranging from expensive to frugal, that will help you get through those cold winter days with your sanity in check 🙂 

This list is tailored for parents rolling with little ones under the age of 6. So here we go, more than ten fun things to do with children in calgary.

#1: RECREATION (GYMNASTICS, POOL, OPEN GYM) ($2-$10) The City of Calgary provides some great drop-in programs at its recreation centres for a minimal cost.  The key is printing off and getting to know the schedules.  On Sundays at our local pool, Canyon Meadows, there is $2 swimming. 

At certain days and times, you can access the facilities for much cheaper than usual.  

Since Calgary is a huge city, it is easier to search by location (quadrant) and then see what the offerings are each day.  Here is a link to search by location.

In the south of the city, we like the independently operated TRICO Centre which has a variety of drop in play, gymnastics and open gym programs for great rates. 

#2 EARLY LEARNING SPACES AT CALGARY’S LIBRARIES (FREE) The Early Learning Spaces at Calgary Public Libraries. Our favourites are Fish Creek and the brand-new Downtown Library, and Calgary Playground Review has given an awesome preview of each of the Libraries, check them out here! 


Explore Devonian Gardens and its fantastic indoor playground inside of the core shopping centre downtown.  A nearby foodcourt and stores to check out makes it a great option. 


This is an expensive day out, but make your $19 per child last by taking in a Dome show and the creative kids museum at Telus Spark (in addition to the main museum.) 

#5 Visit the Calgary Children’s Reading Place (free-reservation required)

An absolutely magical house in Inglewood, filled to the brim with books, secret nooks and crannies and magical themed rooms for your little readers.  There’s also a lovely little craft room upstairs for your creatives! Absolute favourite place of ours.  

#6 Attend a Craft Workshop at Michaels Stores 
Michaels is always running crafts for all ages for a minimal cost (often a toonie for the Saturday Kids Club classes which run 1-2 hours)  – you do need to stay in the store, though.  Just try not to spend a gazillion dollars while you are there.  🙂 

#7 Treehouse Indoor Kids Playground

I have a hard time with indoor playgrounds (read: anxiety) but Treehouse Calgary which has a north and south location, has quickly become a favourite of ours and is well worth the admission.  Includes a cafeteria and seating area so you can sip a coffee and let the littles free in the expansive playground (which is lovely and clean with friendly staff, btw.) 

#8 Watch a $5 movie at Canyon Meadows Cinema

Canyon Meadows cinema is a hidden gem, which screens $5 movies.  It’s a great day out for the kiddos.  

#9 Attend Family Yoga (or drop them off for Unparented Yoga or full day workshops) at Wymbin Yoga in Inglewood.

Wymbin runs wonderful kids yoga & activity programming and has a variety of options, including a 2 hour unparented class for ages 3 and up, with options to add on extra time.  It is a great opportunity to explore inglewood or gather your sanity at a nearby cafe or restaurant 🙂

#10 The Esker Foundation Art Gallery often has wonderful programming and tours for children. 

They have a mini masters art class, as well as a “bring the baby” art tour of contemporary art. 

#11 Family Skating at the Olympic Oval (they have rentals and skating assist frames for the kids) at the Olympic Oval

#12 Go cuddle the animals and gaze at the tropical fish at any Petland Store – we personally like the Deerfoot Meadows Location which has a cuddle room for their cat residents too.  

#13 Take your crazy cat lady / man to the Regal Cats Cafe in Kensington and enjoy a coffee!

#14 Load up on crafts at your local loonie store and keep a cold / rainy day craft box. 

#15 Make an indoor obstacle course in a long hallway in your house, using pillows to jump over, shoe laces that are ‘snakes” and of course, red shirts that are ‘hot lava.’

#16 Feed the baby Trout at Bow Habitat Station and get a tour. 

Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature and Forest Play, Outdoors Activities

Winter Activity Ideas for Families (and Christmas, too!)

When we first moved to Canada, we were amazed by the snow, and very quickly became acquainted with frost bite, frozen eyelashes and all sorts of other classic Canadiana childhood moments.  25 years later, we haven’t lost our love of this magical season.  

And 25 years later, I still hold to the philosophy that if you are going to live in a country where winter runs from October to May (we had snow in September this year) – well, you might as well learn to love it, right?

I bring to you a list of really fun things to do as a family in winter.

First, go on a Christmas decoration hunt!  Print off this PDF I made for you and have the kids cross off each item when they see it!  We grab hot chocolates (and peppermint mochas for the parents of course) and it’s a fun evening! 

Pick up some toboggans and google toboggan hills in your area.  In Calgary check out the brilliant toboggan ‘bowl’ in Mapleridge, just off Acadia Drive.  In Canmore, the toboggan hill at the Canmore Nordic Centre.  

Watch the Grinch (Jim Carrey version) and have popcorn doused in butter. Or, grab a bag of that DELICIOUS Boom-Chicka-Pop peppermint popcorn.  Don’t forget to put mint lindtor chocolates in the freezer.  A christmas classic! 

Play Christmas light bingo.  Grab a happy meal, and drive around locating different christmas lights and decorations.  

Try making Maple Taffy in the snow.

Build a Gingerbread House

Make Christmas ornaments with supplies from the loonie store – pipe cleaner christmas ornaments with beads strung on them, popsicle stick snowflakes with jewels stuck on, there are so many options!

Bake some cupcakes or cookies, have the kids decorate them and take them to an elderly neighbour. 

In Calgary, go skating on Bowness Lagoon (North), Olympic Oval (Central) or Spruce Meadows (South) – feeling ambitous?  Skate on Grotto pond just before Canmore. 

Make a bird feeder with a pinecone, honey and wild bird seeds.  Even better, in Calgary go to Fish Creek and find the chickadees.  Curious, friendly and very happy to flitter onto your arm. 

Print off 12 days of kindness cards and divvy among the family.  Each day, a family member does something kind, writes it on the back of their card, and puts it into a kindness jar.  It is a lovely ritual to read all of them out. 

 Make hot mulled wine, and go out for a winter walk with it in your coffee mug (not for the kids lol)

Have a winter time charcuterie picnic.  Ice wine, cheese, bread, crackers, meats and some nice dried fruits.  Don’t forget the blanket and snow pants 🙂

Fill squirt bottles with food colouring, and set up snow in a container for the kids to colour.  They can also ‘colour’ their snowmen. 

Make Poppycock and then try not to eat it all. 

Visit Santa at the shopping centre.  In Calgary, you can decorate a gingerbread cookie and watch a disney movie as well!

Write letters to Santa, go on a forest walk and hang them in the tree.  Replace them with Candy Canes so that the kids find them on the return walk.

Make Pinecone christmas ornaments with glitter glue and sequins, tie with a twine and hang in the tree. 

Go outside with a black cloth and look at snowflakes up close.

Sleep under the christmas tree!

Have a family photo shoot – in the winter!

Make an extravagant breakfast.  Waffles, pancakes, fruit – or perhaps german style with fresh bread, meats and cheeses. 

Take ALL of the pillows off the couches and make the best.pillow.fort.ever.  

Get walnuts and a nut cracker (for the older kids) and consume half your body weight in nuts by the end of the night. 

Make a frame out of twigs in the snow and make a scene using twigs, berries, pine cones, leaves, etc. 

Attend an event where carols are sung.  

Make smores on a fire pit or in your own living room.  Another option:  Roast Chestnuts.

Go to the library and pick up winter and christmas books. 

Mix up and sprinkle “Reindeer dust” on the snow on Christmas eve.

Dance to christmas songs

Watch Home Alone, of course!

Crafts, Family Activities, Nature and Forest Play

Nature Crafts and Christmas Crafts for Toddlers and Young Children, Christmas Pinecone Ornaments

As christmas approaches, I have been thinking about how to combine getting outside with the kiddos in nature, and christmas crafts.  Today I present to you a wonderful craft activity that is suitable for ages 2+ – I will warn you, glitter is involved…


Pine Cones, preferably gathered out in the beautiful fresh winter air, which will get you and your children outside and ideally in a forest.  the act of looking for and gathering pine cones is a wonderful mindfulness-based activity.

Get out there in the forest!

Glitter Glue and Sequins: 

+1 for Crayola glitter glue, I’ve tried lots of type and this stuff washes off of clothes great! 
I like this set of crayola brushes, the two bigger ones are great for crafts with glue, the two smaller better for painting.
I like this set of crayola brushes, the two bigger ones are great for crafts with glue, the two smaller better for painting.

With craft time I prefer to let my kids freely design, the younger (3) is a big glitter bomb and the older (5) did cool little blobs to make it look like christmas ornaments.

When you are finished, simply tie with cooking twine or ribbon that you have on hand! 

Family Activities

Fun and Free Activities for Families in Calgary, Things to do in Calgary with Toddlers

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Hi everyone!  My husband and I are taking a class called “debt destruction” which includes lots of brilliant financial coaching and habit reconstruction.  One of the topics that came up recently was family entertainment expenses.

This summer, with a 3 and 4 year old, was quite a big shock to the system – why? We started getting them into registered programs.  We easily spent several grand this summer on that – we definitely accumulated some pretty good debt in the process. A  registration for September here, a camp there, summer school for two little ones and a few other things added up FAST on the credit card.  I endeavoured to pay these things off once I returned to work from mat leave but as you know, you are so busy playing catch up on other things, you don’t do it!

After that, my husband and I realized that we simply can’t (and don’t want to) keep up with the registered stuff with three kids, and we both like more flexibility in our schedules and spontaneity anyways. We’re all for free play and random adventures and hate having our schedules booked up.

So, if you are feeling the same after this summer, and have toddlers and young children in your house, here is a list of fun and frugal family activity ideas in Calgary!  Crafts deserves its own section because it is a passion of mine, so stay tuned for seasonal craft posts.  But for now, some ideas for fall!

Fish Creek Library (amazing section for the kids with free story and song times) 

Downtown library (visit the firetruck (Engine23) for stories read by real firefighters!)

Grab a copy of Calgary’s Child Newspaper, sit down with your iphone and add events into your calendar that capture your interest.  So often we simply forget what’s going on  / coming up.

Devonian garden and its fantastic indoor playground.

Calgary Police Headquarters Youth Link / Museum is AMAZING for the little people

Baking – no comments, not my area of strength lol

Community skating and toboganning areas

Cycle along the pathway in east village – there is an excellent playground by the East Simmons Building.

Go hiking

Tumble time / play time in community centres. Usually weekday mornings. Our favourites?  Lake Bonavista ($4 per kid, from 9:30 – 12:30) and Mackenzie Lake Community Centre.

Explore the many pathways, steps and gazebo at Reader Rock Garden

Many community churches also have parent-tot playgroups and non-denominational events.  Most of them are listed on Meetup! 

Go on a Halloween scavenger hunt – print out pictures of pumpkins, ghosts, etc. and get the kids to point them out / cross them off.

Look at Calgary Meetups, Rad Mums YYC or Born to Be Adventurous Mamas YYC for Calgary Mom get-togethers outside in nature.  Free!

Take the kids and a few logs down to Fish Creek Provincial Park, roast marshmallows in a firepit.  If it’s snowy, take maple syrup and try making maple candy!

Sip a coffee at the Calgary Farmers’ market while your kids play in their cute little indoor playground (free)

Buy a 12 pack of submersible colour changing LED lights, make a GIANT bubble bath and pop a light in there for each kiddo.  This was a HUGE hit with my kids.  I like these ones on Amazon! – You can also pick them up in Safeway!

Attend the Michaels Craft Stores $2 kids craft Saturdays 10-12, sign up in store.

Download the Geocaching app, or buy a few cool things from the loonie store and do your own treasure hunt in the trees with the kids (they LOVE this stuff.)

City of Calgary pools have $2 family swim days, these are called “Splash Swim” – they are busy, but very affordable!

In Inglewood, visit Plant YYC and pick up some ‘terrarium supplies’ and a miniature figurine or two.  Your child will love collecting moss and making their own little house.

Make a fairy garden, you can buy cute doors at Michaels and spend only $5 – less if you use the weekly 40% off coupon (use the Flipp App)  – they have theme doors based on the season which is SO fun!

Book a visit to Calgary Children’s Reading House in Inglewood

Watch planes take off from the YYC airport runway (there is a great viewing area at the end of the runway) – the Edward Laborde Airplane Watching Area 

Set up a tent in your basement, the kids LOVE “camping out” in it!  You can even give them some LED lights for their ‘campfire’ and marshmallows on sticks.  These are easily available in Loonie Stores.

Go to Loose Moose Improve Theatre’s childrens’ shows and watch your kids hysterically laugh!

Snow?  Toboganning!  Check out this great toboganning park review by Family Fun Calgary! 


I hope these got your creativity going.  Get out there and enjoy! xo