Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Kids Activities

What to Do in Calgary, Inside, in the Winter, With Young Children

It’s freezing out.  What do you do inside, in Calgary, with young children in tow and the desire to keep your sanity in check?!

 Today I wanted to present a list of options, 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. 

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. 

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! 

DEVONIAN GARDENS AND INDOOR PLAYGROUND / THE CORE SHOPPING CENTRE

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. 

TELUS SPARK SCIENCE MUSEUM- CREATIVE KIDS MUSEUM + DOME SHOW $19

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.) 

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.  

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.  🙂 

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.) 

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.  

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 🙂

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. 

Go for a Skate (they have rentals and skating assist frames for the kids) at the Olympic Oval

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.  

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

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

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.’

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

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

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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!