Apr 06

Family Fun in Downtown Calgary

by Shannon Calhoun · 1 comment

After a long, cold winter it feels like spring might finally be starting to arrive here in Calgary; what a perfect time to get the entire family out of the house and enjoy what the city has to offer!  Despite what many may think, there are a ton of fun and interesting things for families to do together in the downtown core.

Take a Family Walk or Bike Ride

There are not many better ways to spend the day than a nice walk or bike ride along the RiverWalk enjoying the view of the Bow River as it winds through the city.  Calgary is lucky enough to have one of the largest bike networks in Canada with about 400 km of recreation pathways and 200 km of bike lanes, why not take advantage of them?

A stroll along Stephen Avenue Walk is always a treat, particularly in the spring when many of the buskers are out.  On any given day you can see free performances by different musicians featuring everything from guitar and vocals, to violins, saxophones and drums.  Dancers, tarot card readers, magicians, and hypnotists have also been known to frequent the streets providing entertainment for passersby.  Another highlight of a walk through the core is the architecture and art.  There are many impressive public art pieces to see, and now, with a little help from the recently published Downtown Art Guide, it is easy to find and learn about them.  They’re also available in hard copy through the Calgary Downtown Association office or any Tourism Calgary Visitor Info Centre.

Discover Instruments at a Musical “Petting Zoo”

The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra offers Symphony Sundays for Kids, which gives parents a chance to bring the magic of music into your children’s lives. The fun starts before the show with a musical “Petting Zoo,” where kids can try out real instruments.  More details available here:

Check out the Theatre

The Y Stage at the Vertigo Theatre (located at the base of the Calgary Tower) presents plays that have been created specifically for young people by professional theatre companies and are on tour from across Alberta and beyond.  From April 8-10th, they are presenting “Darwin the Dinosaur.” Darwin the Dinosaur is described as, “A heart-warming adventure for the whole family and a truly unique and innovative theatre experience where electroluminescent crayon-like creatures light up the stage with a heart-rending tale of a dinosaur discovering the true meaning of love. To tell the story creators Corbin Popp and Ian Carney have developed an array of creatures and characters, using flexible electroluminescent wire, that are manipulated by their hands and bodies in a blackout setting. Imagination and innovation run wild in this visually magnificent production.”

Explore the Museum

The Glenbow Museum offers exhibitions, programs, and activities that educate, as well as entertain, visitors of all ages.  The whole family can stop by their ARC Discovery Room to participate in art activities and learn about their feature exhibitions.  Visit the website for more info on the Glenbow’s Family Programs.

Enjoy Storytime & More

The Calgary Public Library’s Central Branch on Macleod Trail SE offers a number of things to enjoy storytimes, art, concerts, poetry slams and more.  There are different programs that can be shared by the whole family, as well as some that are just for children and teens.

Take in Dinner and a Movie

If a “date night” makes you feel special just imagine how your kids feel when you plan a special night to share just with them.  Many restaurants downtown offer menus for children.  Sky 360 in the Calgary Tower is great place to try, with an amazing view and room that spins – pretty awesome even if you’re not a kid!  Many of the chains like The Keg (320 4th Ave SW), Milestones on Stephen Avenue and The Old Spaghetti Factory near Eau Claire Market also offer kid’s menus.

After dinner head over to a movie at one of the three theatres located right in the downtown core.  More often than not they have at least one G or PG rated movie playing.  Schedules are available here:
Globe Cinema Calgary
The Uptown Theatre
Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market Cinemas

Sweet Treats

You’ll be hard pressed to find a child, or an adult for that matter, that doesn’t love the occasional treat!  For the ultimate cupcake check out Bliss & Co. Cupcakes & Desserts at 108 3rd Ave SW.  Their cupcakes are unbelievably rich and delicious, and I am dying to try their creampuffs.  They look so light and fluffy and perfect.  If allergies are a concern in your family, you will be happy to know that they are a nut-free bakery.

There are also a number of other fantastic bakeries in the downtown core.  Rise Bakery is my personal favorite, with locations at Penn West Plaza and Bow Valley Square.  Their chocolate bread is unique and delicious – especially if you’re lucky enough to get some that is fresh from the oven.  The same goes for their scones - savory and sweet.  Sunterra in Bankers Hall is also a great place to pick up some goodies.  They have a fairly wide variety and I am in love with their date squares.

Artistic Endeavors

Want to encourage your child’s interest in the arts?  Check out The Art Gallery of Calgary. Along with their regular exhibits, they also offer a number of public and education programs for kids, and coming up in July they will be offering a Calgary Photography Walking Tour for families with children ages 5-12. This fun and interactive photography excursion for parents and kids will be led by Calgary-based photographer Cat Schick, who will take participants on an indoor and outdoor photography tour of the downtown area.

Art Central is another great place to wander about and feast your eyes on various styles of craftsmanship.  It is a visual art complex at the corner of Centre Street and 7th Avenue that contains 50 artist studios, galleries, retail, as well as a restaurant and café.  On the first Thursday of each month they have an event where admission is free and all ages are welcome. The next “First Thursday” event is on Thursday, April 7th from 5-9pm and will feature live music by fiddler Darcy Stamp, exhibition openings, art demonstrations, tours, and you can make your own t-shirt. RSVP’s are necessary.

As you can see, there are plenty of things for families to do together downtown if you know where to look.  We’d love to hear of any places that you like to spend some quality time with your family in the downtown core.

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