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10 Best Family Summer Experiences in Calgary

Our family of four had an unforgettable summer adventure in Calgary! This iconic city in the heart of Alberta has so much to offer in the summertime. There’ s something here for everyone, even for the dino and animal lover in our family, (Ollie!) the ice cream lover, (Mom!) the music and adventure lover, (Dad!) and the all around fun lover (baby Daisy!). From reaching new heights above the city to exploring cool neighbourhoods, to hanging out with dinosaurs and indulging in handcrafted ice cream, Calgary is packed with fun for all ages. We’ve rounded up ten of our favourite things to do in Calgary to help make your summer visit one for the books!

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Table of Contents
10 Must-Do Summer Activities for Families

1. Explore the Calgary Zoo

Embark on a wild and wonderful adventure with your family this summer at the Calgary Zoo! This iconic attraction offers an unforgettable experience where you can learn all about the zoo’s dedication to wildlife conservation. Roam through diverse ecosystems like lush rainforests, sweeping savannahs, and our fave, the Penguin Plunge! And don’t miss Ollie’s favourite – the incredible Prehistoric Park, where you can step back in time to when dinosaurs ruled the Earth by walking amongst life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. The Calgary Zoo is more than just a place to see incredible creatures – it’s also a space where kids and adults can learn about wildlife conservation and the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity. It’s easy to want to spend an entire day discovering the Calgary Zoo!

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2. Take the family for a walk (and swim) on St. Patrick's Island

Stroll through St. Patrick’s Island for unparalleled views of the city. This park is such a unique spot to get a taste of nature, right in Calgary’s East Village! Playgrounds, beautiful pathways, beaches for wading, scenic lookouts along the Bow River and so much more. Whether it’s a family picnic you’re after, cooling off in the river or simply looking to enjoy the outdoors, a visit to St. Patrick’s Island is a must – we never miss it whenever we’re in Calgary.

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3. Experience a summer festival or market

Nothing says summer in the city like the vibrant markets and festivals that pop up in the different neighbourhoods of Calgary. We were lucky enough to to be in Calgary for both Folk Fest and Inglewood’s Sunfest. Calgary Folk Music Festival is four-day family-friendly cultural and musical extravaganza. Located at Prince’s Island Park, you’ll find both local and international artists playing across multiple stages, activities for all ages, delicious food trucks serving every type of food you can imagine, an artisan market, and so much more. Good food. Great vibes. Amazing music. It’s the best time! 
Inglewood is a quirky, eclectic neighbourhood. As one of the oldest (and coolest!) neighbourhoods in Calgary, Inglewood is known for great shopping, an amazing restaurant scene and tons of diverse activities and events. Inglewood Sunfest is a fun day of free entertainment, shopping, food trucks and patios! We had a blast perusing over 200 vendors, eating delicious food and watching some of the live entertainment. 
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4. Browse the books at Calgary Central Library

Prepare to be wowed with a visit to Calgary’s Central Library. More than just books, it’s a stunning architectual masterpiece and a dynamic space where families can explore and learn. We absolutely loved its breathtaking design and interactive spaces, including the best children’s section that we’ve ever seen. Visiting this libarary is an adventure in itself! There are cozy reading corners, interactive games, (we even saw a Lego table and a giant Connect Four!) and an impressive indoor play area. It’s the perfect place to ignite imaginations and add to a fun day in the city.

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5. Enjoy Calgary's coffee scene

Stay caffeinated and enjoy some of the best coffee shops that Calgary has to offer. When it comes to the coffee scene, this city has it locked down. We had so many cafes on our list and only so much time, but every stop was a winner! Some recommendations of spots we loved and would visit again and again: Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Monogram Coffee, Analog Coffee, Deville Coffee – all must visits in our opinion (all in terms of aesthetic, IG-worthy interiors and incredible coffee).

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6. Take the family up the Calgary Tower

Rise above the city – 191 meters above to be exact – and view Calgary from up high! Take in the 360 degree panoramic views of the city skyline from the observation deck of the Calgary Tower. On a clear day, you can even see across to the magestic Rocky Mountains. If you’re brave enough, step onto the glass floor and experience a thrilling birds-eye perspective of the city below. Capture memorable moments, learn about Calgary’s history, and witness the beauty of the landscape from new heights. 

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7. Escape to the Devonian Gardens

Escape to this lush oasis in the heart of Calgary at the Devonian Gardens! We stumbled upon this indoor paradise on the top floor of the CORE Shopping Centre and we’d absolutely recommend you stop by. This lovely botanical garden offers a serene retreat where you can unwind and take a break, regardless of the weather outside. With its lovely tropical plants, water features, koi fish and impressive living wall, the Devonian Gardens is a pretty place to sit and have a bite to eat or wander along the pathways. Plus, there is an amazing indoor playground for kiddos nestled amongst the garden! 

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8. Check out the TELUS Spark Science Centre

The Telus Spark Science Centre is a hub of exploration and discovery, offering an array of interactive exhibits that are fun and engaging for all ages. From hands-on, intractive exhibits to mind-bending displays that challenge perceptions, this museum promises a day filled with learning, fun and shared moments. With its focus on sparking innovation and fostering a love for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), this is the perfect destination to inspire young minds during your family’s summer adventures in Calgary.

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9. Go for a stroll down Stephen Avenue Walk

Step into the heart of Calgary’s vibrant urban scene with a stroll along Stephen Avenue Walk. This bustling pedestrian street is a fun spot for entertainment, shopping, and dining options for the whole family. With its lively atmosphere and historic architecture, Stephen Avenue Walk is a great place to get a feel for what Calgary has to offer. Shop, eat, watch street performers, or people-watch – a leisurely walk along Stephen Avenue is a must-do activity!

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10. Treat yourself to some ice cream

Every time we visit a new place, we search for the city’s best ice cream shops. Two standout gems that you absolutely must experience are Village Ice Cream and Made by Marcus. We were steered to Village Ice Cream by our followers and we can see how they’ve captured the hearts of locals with their artisanal approach to crafting frozen treats. Using locally sourced ingredients, they create a rotating lineup of seasonal flavors that are bursting with flavour. Try the Honeyberry – it’s unreal! Made by Marcus was also recommended to us – it’s is a haven for those looking for inventive and delicious ice cream flavours. Known for their unique flavour combos and dedication to quality, Made by Marcus pushes the boundaries of traditional ice cream – we suggest trying their Lemon Curd Blueberry…yum!

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Bonus: Drumheller, the Badlands and the Royal Tyrrell Museum

Embark on an epic day trip from Calgary to the dinosaur capital of the world, (and Ollie’s favourite place), Drumheller, Alberta. Just a short drive away, this journey takes you back in time to a to a prehistoric world filled with dinosaurs and Canadian history! Go on a dinosaur walk through the town and check out all the dino statues and dino themed shops and streets. Climb up the steps and emerge into the jaws of Tyra, the world’s largest dinosaur! The star of the show is the world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum, where you and your family can experience one the most impressive and captivating exhibits of prehistoric life. The Dinosaur Hall is definitely a highlight, as one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains. Take a scenic drive through Drumheller’s spectacular Badlands, go for a hike through the hoodoos, stop for a view over Horse Thief Canyon – it will take your breath away. Don’t forget to search for fossils along the way, you never know if you’ll make the next big discovery!

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