When you think back to your favorite play places, what was special about them? Boulders and trees for climbing, secret forts, or watering holes? When you look through the eyes of a child, there is magic and fun all around! Landmarks become destinations to visit again and again. Here are a few of my girls’ favorite spots around Calgary. See how many you can recognize! For more information, including route descriptions, maps, and directions, click on the links.
We love Waterfall Valley as it’s a short, fun hike with stairs, boardwalks and a nice lookout, but for bigger falls (and caves!), go to Fish Creek Park. January is the best time to see lots of ice and cross the creek to see the ice cave!
|Ice Falls & Ice Cave, Fish Creek Provincial Park|
|Waterfall Valley in Fall, Bowmont Park|
|Waterfall Valley in Winter, Bowmont Park|
|The Douglas Fir Trail has 400 year old Douglas Fir trees and a nice lookout.
Only 2.2 km round trip from Angel’s Coffee!
Besides a cool ice cave, there are three more caves to explore in Fish Creek Park! Put splash pants on the kids as it can be mucky inside the caves (but so much fun it’s totally worth doing laundry!).
|Caves at Fish Creek Provincial Park|
Do you know of any other caves in Calgary?
Lookouts make great hiking destinations, as well as perfect picture and snack spots.
Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Park:
|Douglas Fir Trail
(The trail is open to this point, but ice cleats required in shoulder season.)
|Nose Hill Park – a great view of downtown and the airport!|
Silver Springs Lookout is southwest of Silver Ridge Drive NW and Silver Crest Dr NW,
just off the Bow River (paved) Pathway. Head down the hill to the Storm Ponds and Twin Bridges or stay on the plateau.
Glacial Erratics (Big Rocks Moved By Glaciers)
There’s a famous glacial erratic in Okotoks, but did you know we have some of our own big rocks in Calgary? Split Rock in Confluence Park broke off of Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper and was moved here by glaciers thousands of years ago. The Big Rock near COP has a similar history.
|Split Rock, Confluence Park|
|Split Rock Up Close, Confluence Park|
|Big Rock, Paskapoo Slopes|
Sculptures & Art Installations
From largest to smallest, here are some cool sculptures and art installations to visit around Calgary.
Poppy Plaza, at Memorial and 10th Street, is a tribute to our veterans.
It includes a large wooden deck with seating, and weathered steel walls engraved with quotes from world leaders and Canadians.
|River Passage, Pearce Estate Park|
|Bloom, St. Patrick’s Island Park|
|Medicine Wheel, Nose Hill Park – so not a sculpture exactly, but worth checking out!
For more information on medicine wheels, see this post.
|Bison Sculpture, Tuscany Ravine
(Near Tuscany Hills Way NW & Tuscany Hills Bay NW,
GPS coordinates: 51.121589, -114.237430)
|“Caballo” Horseshoes Sculpture
See this and many more sculptures at Fish Creek Provincial Park
(near Bow Valley Ranche).
|Playful Cubs, Baker Park
GPS Coordinates: 51.099856, -114.220016
|Rabbit Rise, Edgemont Ravine
Park on Edgepark Rise NW and head north on pathway about 300 metres.
There’s a playground and picnic area on the way!
|Old Beaters, Paskapoo Slopes|
There are several ponds in Calgary, but these are a few of our favorites.
|Confederation Park – a popular place to feed the birds!
The pond is on the west side of 10th St NW. Park at Rosemont Community Centre.
|Intermittent Pond in late fall, Nose Hill Park
It’s cool to see how the pond grows and shrinks throughout the year.
|Kids Can Fish Pond, Bow Habitat Station, Pearce Estate Park
Free fishing for kids 16 & under at this stocked pond!
|Carburn Ponds at Carburn Park are lovely too.
Picnic, walk/bike, birdwatch, and fish there in summer and skate in the winter!
If Sikome Lake (Fish Creek Provincial Park) is too far or you don’t have access to a private lake (Arbour, Bonavista, Chaparral to name a few), escape the heat at this gravel beach in Mission. The water is quite shallow and teaming with minnows, so the kids can enjoy watching the fish and wading. Best of all, when you’re done with beach time, there are good eats just a couple blocks away on 4th Street. We like nearby Yann’s bakery for a special treat!
|Mission/Roxboro Beach – Just west of 25 Ave SW & Erlton St SW|
Sandy Beach (SW) and Edworthy Park (NW) are a couple other good options. Sandy Beach, like Mission Beach, is on the Elbow River so the water flows gently by. Edworthy Park is on the Bow River, so the water is deeper, faster, and colder. Not a great wading spot, but we enjoy throwing rocks in the water, riding our bikes, playing in the many playgrounds, and getting an ice cream at Angel’s.
These are a few of our favorite bridges in Calgary. Which do you like best?
|Peace Bridge, Eau Claire Park|
|Peace Bridge, Eau Claire Park|
|George C. King Bridge connects
River Walk/East Village with St. Patrick’s Island
|The Twin Bridges of Bowmont Park, built in 1883|
|One of the Twin Bridges, Bowmont Park|
|Stoney Trail Bridge connects Baker Park and Bowness Park|
|Harry Boothman Bridge, Edworthy Park|
|Centre Street Bridge is accessible from the Bow River Pathway|
Prince’s Island Park has some nice pedestrian bridges too (as well as a great playground). Visit the splash park and wading pool near Eau Claire Market while you’re there!
|Prince’s Island Park|
What are your family’s favorite landmarks in Calgary parks?
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