Around this time of year I begin thinking about ways to pass the time with my two young sons over the forthcoming winter months. Finding activities that are fun and inexpensive can be challenging, especially when all that comes to mind are indoor play centers, restaurants and museums. But there are plenty of things to do with the family without blowing the budget, sometimes without even spending a dollar.
Take a driving adventure.
Driving around the city is, in itself, an adventure – for my kids anyway! What might seem like an ordinary street to me is a veritable treasure trove of interest to them. Last year we went on driving trips through some of the city’s parks – North Glenmore Park is our closest – looking at the snowy landscapes and watching out for wildlife. We’d also drive around construction sites (of which there are always plenty in Calgary), because for my sons, there’s nothing more exciting than a gathering of diggers and dump trucks. Driving around downtown (avoiding rush hour obviously) was another favourite, because there you can find an eclectic mix of buildings, vehicles, tourists, workers, billboards, sky scrapers and more. The best part of a driving adventure? Getting a drive-through coffee on the way!
Free in-store activities around town.
Several stores in Calgary run free events for kids throughout the year. My local Chapters Indigo (Signal Hill) runs a free story time for kids most mornings at 10:00 am. Pages bookstore in Kensington runs a free story time for kids aged 6 months – 4 years every Monday at 10 am. Monkeyshines Children’s Books in Marda Loop offers a free story time for kids between the ages of 3-5 every Thursday at 10:30 am. (pre-registration is required).
Calgary Public Library runs a number of free programs for kids at its various locations around the city. I had completely forgotten about this until a friend reminded me recently. You can check out the schedules here. There are a range of programs available – everything from story time to yoga. Some programs require registration and others don’t, but the programs fill up quickly apparently.
During the cold months, malls are warm and dry, and while you’re finishing off your Christmas shopping, you can burn a few extra calories by picking up the pace and getting a fast stroll in – especially if you’re pushing a stroller or carrying a baby in a carrier at the same time. Most of the malls in and around Calgary have indoor play areas for kids: Market Mall, South Center, Cross Iron Mills, Marlborough Mall and Sunridge Mall. Just be sure to check whether you need to pre-book a time for your children to play there first.
Yes, it’s cold, but the fresh air and exercise is still good for the family (obviously in short doses when it’s really cold) and most parks in Calgary stay open during the winter months. Bundle up the kids and take them on a short jaunt to the park. And maybe take a thermos of hot chocolate to be safe!
What about you, readers? What other inexpensive things have you found to with kids during the winter months in Calgary?
Sarah is a mum to two boys aged 3.5 and (almost) 2 and is always looking for new and different ways to entertain them. She blogs at Lady Mama.