My young daughter was enthralled by Calgary on our first trip. She gorged on barbecue, decided cowboy boots were the ultimate form of footwear, and proclaimed her future lay in barrel racing.
Calgary is the perfect destination for a family adventure. The nearby Bow River is ideal for lazy rafting trips, while the city’s abundance of family-friendly restaurants means everyone stays happy and full. Best of all, you don’t need to sacrifice urban comfort for classic Canadian wilderness—Banff National Park is a 1.5-hour drive away.
Pack your active gear, including hiking books, and wrap up warm in winter.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a sightseeing tour of downtown.
Start your adventure at the Bow River, which runs through Calgary. A bike tour shows you the riverside in an engaging way, while spots such as Prince’s Island Park and St. Patrick’s Island Park encourage exploration. Otherwise, opt for a raft rental to take advantage of nature’s lazy river.
In the evening, fuel up for the trip ahead at one of Calgary’s many barbecue restaurants. Big T's BBQ & Smokehouse is a family-friendly classic.
Calgary’s colorful past is on display at Heritage Park. To arrive from downtown, it's a 20-minute drive, or 40 minutes on public transit. Attractions such as vintage carnival games and rides, a historical village, and a museum of antique cars encourage kids to view history as immersive.
In the afternoon, see more of the city on a downtown sightseeing tour. Kids can discover how a place evolves, but keep the historical theme going as you explore via vintage motorcycle sidecar.
Get out of the city for your final day to immerse yourself in Alberta’s famous nature. No matter the season, adventure can be found—Banff National Park (a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary) offers hikes and opportunities to ski or snowboard, while smaller Kananaskis (a 1-hour drive from Calgary) is the perfect destination for canoeing or snowshoeing. Brush up on your wilderness skills with a family survival lesson and keep your camera at the ready to capture wildlife such as elk and bears.