These attractions are safe havens for kids to be hyperactive to their hearts’ content
By Laura Pellerine & Sally MacKinnon
When you’re on vacation, long car rides and the adrenaline of being away from home can have kids wound-up and needing an outlet for pent-up energy. We’ve come up with some of the best ways you can get their little hearts-a-racing (so you can get a break!) at attractions where they can run around, get wet and be as loud as they want. And hey, if you need to let loose, you can join in too.
BUTTERFIELD ACRES: FARM FUN
On this working farm, the fresh air and rural sights and activities will keep your children’s attention and occupy their energy. Kids are allowed to visit the farm’s pigs, bunnies, lambs and chicks directly in their pens, as well as hunt for freshly laid eggs, and try their hand at milking a goat. If that’s not enough, there are five themed playgrounds with swings, slides and even stilts, as well as “Gopher Town”—a large sandbox with tunnels that kids can crawl through. They can also climb on an old tractor, go on a pony ride, or sing as loud as possible to make the tractor “move” on a hay wagon ride.
Great for kids who are… 2-10 years old; though any animal lover will enjoy this attraction.
Location: 10 min north of Canada Olympic Park via Stoney Tr, west on Crowchild Tr, 3 km (1.8 miles) north on Rocky Ridge Rd (101 St NW), 403-547-3595.
Admission: $13.99 adult, $11.99 sen, $9.99 child, no charge for infant
CALAWAY PARK: THRILL RIDES
The 34 rides at this outdoor amusement park (the largest in Western Canada) offer kids and teens the chance to get their heart rates pumping. Thrill seekers will enjoy the upside-down twists and turns of their roller coaster “The Vortex,” as well as the 40-foot plummet on “Free Fallin’” and being flipped and spun around in the air on “Chaos.”
Younger kiddies can climb and bounce around the soft-mat playgrounds and ball pit, while all ages can try out their driving skills in a bumper car or boat. Plus, if it’s a hot day, Calaway Park’s log water ride, “Shoot the Chutes,” will cool the kids down.
Great for kids who are… 2-14 years old
Location: 10 km west of Calgary on the corner of Springbank Rd and the TransCanada Highway, 403-240-3822
Admission: $31.95 regular (7-49 years), $25 junior (3-6 years), $23 sen (50-plus), $75 family of four; reduced rates after 2 & 4 pm
KART WORLD: GO GO-KARTING
Kart World has very wisely divided their go-karts into age groups, from Buddy Karts (where toddlers can ride with a parent), to Speed Racers, reserved for teenagers aged 16 and over. And, for overgrown kids with a driver’s licence, there’s are Tomcat Karts. The track is half-a-mile long (0.8 km), and includes straight stretches, bridges, and two figure eights.
Great for Kids Who Are… Buddy Karts: any age, must be accompanied by an adult. Kidzkarts: ages 4-8. Wildcat Go Karts: 9 years and older. Speed Racers: 16 years old and up.
Location: 5202 – 1 St SW. Call 403-253-8301.
Admission: $5.50-$25 for 5 – 10 minute rides.
RAMPAGE: PAINTBALL WARS
For kids who are fans of Warcraft, they can safely experience the real thing (minus the bodily harm) at Rampage, a local paintball venue. There are three locations, but wherever you go, the concept is the same: eliminate the enemy with bullets of paint and a (hopefully) watertight strategy. Rampage Outdoor features 55 acres divided into seven different fields; Rampage Urban Combat is an 80,000-square-foot field with buildings, graveyards, and vehicles; and Rampage City is an indoor paintball park with 28,000 square feet.
Great for Kids Who Are… 10 years old and up.
Location: Rampage Outdoor: near Millarville. Rampage Urban Combat: near Okotoks. Rampage City: 4839 – 47 St SE, 403-251-5166.
Admission: $22-$90 per player, including equipment and balls.
CANADA OLYMPIC PARK: DARE DEVILS
Most people know Canada Olympic Park (COP) as the place for winter sports, but in summer there are still plenty of reasons to make the trip up Hwy 1. For mountain bikers, the property is home to 25 kilometres of mountain biking trails and a skills centre and stunt park. Those looking for a rush can take a ride down the zip line, which runs from the ski jump tower to the base of the hill. Or, you could try “zorbing,” a craze that started in New Zealand; all you have to do is strap yourself inside a giant translucent ball and stay calm as it’s rolled down a 600-foot track. And, for kids who can’t stop asking for a trampoline, there’s Eurobungy, a trampoline made safe with a harness and bungee chords.
Great for Kids Who Are… at least 6 years old, children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult; Eurobungy suitable for ages 4-18.
Location: 15 min from downtown on Hwy #1 heading west to Banff, 403-247-5452.
Admission: Zip line $55, Z-Trip (zorbing) $33, Eurobungy $9 for eight minutes.
INSIDE OUT EXPERIENCE: RAFTING THE RAPIDS
Even though Alberta has its fair share of mountain rivers, there is really only one that provides the conditions for whitewater rafting: the Kananaskis River. Luckily, this river is located a 45-minute drive outside of Calgary in Kananaskis Country, a stretch of mountain terrain between Calgary and Banff National Park. Inside Out Experience takes rafters out on half-day trips through Class I-III rapids, both natural and man-made. There’s also an allotted swimming time—if you’re brave enough, guides will tell you where to jump into the river from outcroppings of rock.
Great for Kids Who Are… 5 years old and up.
Location: To get to the meeting point, take Hwy 1 west and turn at Exit 114 (Seebee/Exshaw). Call 1-877-999-7238.
Admission: $62 youth, $72 adult for a half-day trip.
SHAKERS FUN CENTRE: GAMES CENTRAL
Be prepared: they’ll need a roll or two of coins for the 60-game arcade, which includes the popular Dance Dance Revolution, as well as some extra cash for a water war that lets you slingshot water balloons at an opponent under a target. While the kids are running loose, parents can choose to either join in (the go-karts and laser tag are adult-friendly) or have a seat on a picnic table with a coffee or beer.
Great for kids who are… 6-14 years old; though parents and the young-at-heart are welcome to join in.
Location: 9900 Venture Ave SE, 403-236-2213
Admission: Day passes range from $15.95 – $25.95 (depending on height)
Here is a list of “calmer” activities that are a must-visit around the city:
The Creative Kids Museum
Heritage Park Historical Village
Telus World of Science
Looking to get out of the city? Be sure to stop at these attractions:
Bar U Ranch
Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park
Royal Tyrrell Museum