Growing up in the Southern US, I thought that snowy weather meant huddling indoors until it passed. Moving to Calgary has taught me that winter can be full of activities both indoors and out. Visiting Calgary in the winter can be a blast as long as you are prepared. Here are some of my tips for travel to Calgary in the winter as well as some fun ideas for you and your family.
Winter Tips for Families
Winter Tips for Families
Prepping for a winter trip to Calgary
First, let’s talk about what you need to pack. Calgary in winter can be bitterly cold, but we also get Chinooks that can make the temperatures rise above freezing. Packing a variety of cold weather layers, as well as a good winter coat, mittens, hat/toque, and a scarf can keep you warm and toasty in all the winter temperatures you are likely to encounter. Keep your feet toasty with a good pair of winter boots that allow you to navigate snow, slush, and possibly slick conditions. If you will be taking part in outdoor experiences like snowshoeing, skiing, or sledding, a pair of snow pants is also a must-have.
Next, let’s talk about driving. If you are like me, you may not be used to driving in snowy conditions. Calgary does a pretty good job plowing major roadways but side streets can take a bit more time. One game change for me was driving a car with winter tires. If you are getting a rental, upgrading to winter tires is definitely worth it. When driving, take your time, adjust driving to the conditions, and remember to keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.
Rent Snowshoes and Explore Nose Hill Park
Snowshoeing is my favourite winter sport. All the beauty with none of the flying down a hill at high speed. Rent a pair of snowshoes and explore the 11.7 square kilometres of Nose Hill Park in northwest Calgary. It’s one of the largest urban parks in North America and a great way to escape the hustle and bustle without leaving the city.
Ice Skate at Olympic Plaza
Ice skating on an outdoor public rink beneath the lights of downtown Calgary is magical. Rent skates and take a turn around the Olympic Plaza rink with your family. Check out all the great outdoor public skating rinks in Calgary.
Rent a Fat Bike to Explore Fish Creek Park
Fat bikes have wider tires that make them more stable on snow. This makes them the perfect vehicle to get out and about during winter. Make sure that you ask about additional equipment you might want when you rent your bike to keep yourself warm and have a great time. Fish Creek Provincial Park is a great place to start exploring on a fat bike.
Visit TELUS Spark Science Centre
TELUS Spark Science Centre is a great place to visit for the entire family. For younger children, there is a fully interactive Creative Kids Museum with play area. An ever changing exhibit area, Infinity Dome Theatre, and live science demos will keep the entire family engaged and learning during your visit. Make sure to allow most of the day for your visit to see everything.
Sledding and tobogganing are much loved by Calgary’s children. Visit a local store like Canadian Tire or Walmart to pick up an inexpensive sled and hit the hills around Calgary for some easy winter fun.
Go Snow Tubing
Zip down the hill in a snow tube at WinSport’s Tube Park for a fun and exciting day. Tubing has all the fun of the ski hill without the learning curve of skiing.
Take in a Local Family Friendly Event
Calgary is a busy city with tons of activities going on at any given time. Check out the Family Fun Calgary calendar for local events happening during your visit.
Visit an Indoor Play Area
Calgary has a lot of great indoor play areas. It’s a great place to warm up and let kids burn off their excess energy. Some indoor play areas even have cafes and Wi-Fi to keep parents entertained as well.
Grab Cocoa and Explore the CORE Shopping Centre
When the weather is frightful, take stroll through Calgary’s downtown shopping experience. The CORE Shopping Centre is the perfect place to get away from the cold weather and explore the only downtown shopping centre.
Learn to Ski or Snowboard
WinSport’s Calgary Snow School offers lessons for all ages and skill ranges. Winsport ski lessons are a great way to take the entire family to the ski hill to try your hand at skiing or snowboarding without leaving Calgary. Make sure to read all the information about what to bring and what to expect before you go.
Visit Calgary’s Chinatown for Dim Sum
One of our favourite things to do as a family is explore Calgary. A visit to Calgary’s Chinatown is a great way to explore. Head to Silver Dragon or Regency Palace on weekend mornings for a delicious dim sum feast. Not sure you know what to order? Check out my guide for first time dim sum visitors. Chinatown is also a great place to dine before heading to Prince’s Island Park for some outdoor exploration!
YYC Hot Chocolate Fest
If you visit Calgary in February, you are in for a treat. Calgary Meals on Wheels throws YYC Hot Chocolate Fest every year in February. Local businesses go all out to win the title of best hot chocolate while raising money for a great charity. Visiting different businesses to try their hot chocolates can be a great way to see different parts of our great city.
ZOOLIGHTS at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo
Winter definitely does not put a damper on the fun in Calgary. Come prepared for the snow and possible cold and enjoy all the best that winter has to offer!