Stay-cation, Day-cation In Calgary’s Top 3 Parks!
Calgary radiates unrivaled lively energy, with a sparkling downtown core, a soothing picturesque mountain backdrop, and rivers that meander through many of its communities. The city is undeniably fun, outdoorsy and active. Citizens have access to over 8,000 hectares of parkland, as well as 800km of pathways to enjoy. (Calgary Parks)
Soon enough all us Calgarian’s will be outside soaking up the warm summer sun, but what park will you be headed to? With so many options we’ve rounded up 3 of our favourite Calgary parks to put on your summer fun list! Each park offers unique activities and a remarkable setting for your memorable summer nights with friends and family.
1. BOWNESS PARK
Bowness Park is a 30-hectare urban park on the Bow River in the community of Bowness in the north-west quadrant of the City. This park is truly astonishing all season round. Offering a generous assortment of paved and unpaved pathways with brilliant views of the shimmering bow river. In the winter the large lagoon and canal are transformed into a skating rink that will have you feeling like your in a rom-com with your sweetie as you break for a Hot Chocolate and cuddle by the outdoor fire pit.
Come summer the park is turned into an outdoor oasis and the prime setting for a family gathering that won’t require a frantic cleaning of your home beforehand. Impress your friends and family at The Seasons Restaurant nestled right alongside the lagoon with a delightful patio to kick back and soak up the sun with some cold drinks in hand. If you’re looking for a quick lunch to enjoy while admiring the Bow River the Seasons Market offers fresh healthy alternatives to park concession food and drinks. If you have a group you really want to wow, take the hassle out of a beautiful picnic and order a picnic basket for 1-6 people from the Restaurant beforehand!
It doesn’t stop there, the park also includes a ridable miniature railway that leaves kids roaring with laughter and beaming from ear to ear. Pick up a Boat Rentals at the Boat House and get out onto the lagoon for a relaxing paddle before snagging a BBQ pit for some patties and hot dogs. Bring the littles to the wading pool for a refreshing break from the summer heat. This park is nothing short of remarkable from the babbling canal, lively lagoon, glistening blue bow river, bbq pits, activities, and playgrounds. It’s the ultimate location for your next family gathering!
Bowness Park was built before the First World War as part of a land trade by John Hextall, a local land developer. It was built in the town of Bowness as a weekend retreat for nearby Calgarians, offering a picnic and recreational area complete with swimming pool, refreshment center, dance hall, and boating lagoon. Seasons of Bowness Writes about the History saying,
“In the days just after the war, Bowness Park’s gate charge was 5 cents per person and 5 cents per vehicle and a streetcar ticket would buy a 5-minute merry-go-round ride. For 25 cents, one could swim all day. Children under 14 could swim for a charge of two for 25 cents or 15 cents each. Towels were 5 cents each and swimming suits 10cents. Boats and canoes rented at 50 cents per hour. Cabins were rented at $20.00 per month or $5.00 per week. Tent space was 1.00 per week, with free firewood provided.”
The Mini Train is reminiscent of the Calgary Municipal Railway that begun carrying Calgarians to Bowness Park at a time when mobility was limited due to economic hardships imposed by the Great World War. (https://seasonsofbownesspark.ca/about/#history-of-bowness-park) It was originally constructed (in an earlier version) during the 1950s, and closed for 3 years after damage in the Calgary 2013 flood, the Bowness Park Mini Train is a treat for all Calgary kids! (Bowness Park)
- Skating rink
- Restaurant on the water
- Market Cafe
- Picnic Baskets
- BBQ pits
- Green Space
- Bow River
- Wading pool
2. EDWORTHY PARK & DOUGLAS PARK
The area known as Edworthy Park was used by indigenous cultures as a campsite long before Europeans arrived in Calgary. (Edworthy Park Info)Today the park offers green space and trails to exercise, hike, picnic or relax around a fire with friends and family – even the furry ones!
Bring the four-legged friends and let them expend some energy at the off-leash park before bringing them down the picnic and play area. Host your family gathering at one of the many fire pits and vast green space as you gaze over at the bustling bow river.
Walk along the shoreline or take the family on one of the many trails, most notably the trail to Lowry Gardens and the Douglas Fir Trail. These pathways will have you forgetting the hustle and bustle of city life with the lush vegetation slung overhead and wildlife singing you their songs. If you’re feeling especially energetic use this park as your starting point to bike into the city alongside the scenic bow river pathway system. Alternatively, take the “lazy route” and gather some friends to hit the water in your raft for a lazy float to the downtown core. (see regulations here) Edworthy Park is a popular launching point for avid floaters – just make sure you have a vehicle ready at your final destination or it may be a long trek back with your raft on your back.
Edworthy Park was once a part of the Cochrane Ranch and was eventually purchased by Thomas Edworthy in 1883. Alongside his neighbour John Lawrey, Edworthy established a profitable garden market that supplied fresh fruit and vegetables to railway crews and homesteaders. In later years, after discovering sandstone on his property, he operated sandstone quarries for the construction of many buildings in Calgary. The land was purchased by The City in 1962 for the development of a park. (Edworthy Park History)
• Hiking trails.
• Playground areas.
• Picnic areas and barbecue pits
• Water fountains.
• Fishing access on the Bow River.
3. STANLEY PARK
Located along the Elbow River in southwest Calgary, Stanley Park is a favourite destination place for picnicking, swimming, floating, canoeing, sports, tobogganing, and lawn bowling. Tucked away in Parkhill, it can get overlooked as a summer destination but it has plenty of fun to offer. The park is bursting with life in the summer, from the Calgarians splashing in the river to joggers on the trails and community members coming together for outdoor yoga. Being nestled in the Parkhill community there’s a unique hospitable vibe to this park that’s unrivaled.
Introduce yourself to the park by attending the popular outdoor Yoga sessions starting back up May 5th, 2019! It’s a 60 min vinyasa flow class for all levels hosted by Calgary Outdoor Yoga, and kids are welcome too! No sign up needed, just show up and pay what you want. After your yoga session take a stroll around the park and grab a refreshing ice-cream from one of the Ice cream vendors before relaxing on a park bench to wave at fellow Calgarians floating by on the Elbow River.
Invite your sporty family members for a game of tennis at the tennis courts, play soccer on one of the open fields or try your hand at a game of lawn bowling at the lawn bowling facility (home to the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club). Bring your littles to the outdoor pool to splash around and cool off on the especially warm Summer days. There’s an activity for everyone at Stanley Park, and you’ll feel welcomed your entire stay!
The small park was named after Princess Tania Obolensky, who, at 11 years old, fled Russia with her family during the revolution in 1917. She and her husband, Austrian count Leo Von Kunigl, emigrated to Canada in 1931 and lived at the Bow River Ranch south of Calgary. When her husband moved to South America, the Princess opted to stay in Alberta during the depression and World War II. In 1952, she opened a very successful clothing and gift shop called La Boutique that eventually moved to 7 Avenue across from the Bay. The shop was as much a social centre as a fashion centre. The park was dedicated in memory of the Princess in 1984. (Stanley Park History)
- Sports field
- Tennis courts
- Playground areas
- Picnic areas and BBQ stands
- Toboggan Hill
- Washrooms (seasonal)
- Water fountains (seasonal)
- Fishing, canoe/raft access to the Elbow River
- Outdoor swimming pool with wading pool
- Lawn bowling facility – home to the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club (public welcome)
- Contains Princess Obolensky Park
Who are we kidding, all of Calgary’s parks are stunning and there are plenty more parks to choose from. Each one has a unique atmosphere with their own activities and events! Read about ALL of Calgary’s beautiful parks and programs and take your pick-nic! What a beautiful city we live in!