87 days. There are 87 days of summer vacation for my two boys. They’ve been eagerly announcing it all day.

On the flip side, I’m already counting them down until they’re back in school. Is that terrible? I love having the boys around, but with two working parents, summer vacation doesn’t end up being that blissful exploration of the world I’d like it to be.

The boys may have 87 days of summer vacation – we don’t.

So I’ve carved up a list of things for the boys and our summer caregiver to knock off and explore around Calgary. They’ve got a few summer camps scheduled, Pedalheads is a given, but we’re also looking for free summer things to do for kids in Calgary.

Free activities are often the best. The resources aren’t always included, the schedule is often loose, and imagination is the most important thing you can use to get enjoyment from the day. So with 87 days of summer vacation ready to go, here’s a list of inspiration to find their muse .. for free!

Free Summer Kids Activities in Calgary

1. Wade in the city’s best pool at Riley Park and read Dr Seuss books with Seuss in the Park every Saturday

2. Mountain bike at Paskapoo Slopes

3. Wander inside Wonderland at the Bow Tower and then explore the dozens of other art pieces in a self-guided Calgary Art Walk

4. Watch Drive-In movies at Deerfoot Mall

5. Go to the beach. The best beaches are in the lake communities, but even if you don’t have friends there, you can still cool off at Sikome Lake or Sandy Beach. (check out this list of Calgary’s Best Beaches)

Sikome Lake

6. Go to the LEGO Store in Chinook Mall on the first Tuesday of the month for their free LEGO Mini Build. Get there early!

7. Bring your crayons, LEGO, books, Hot Wheels and more and play in a different park. Take your favorite toys and bring them somewhere new.

8. Explore Edworthy Park or Bowness Park. From the Douglas Fir Trail hike to the many playgrounds, to the bbq pits and picnic tables, to the river access to cool your toes or throw rocks, these parks are some of the best.

9. Register for the free programs at the Calgary Public Library like Reading Buddies, Math Minds, Supremely Skunks, or Worms Love Leftovers.

10. Follow the City of Calgary‘s Park N Play and Stay N Play program around town. Free daycamps are offered in different communities all over the city all summer long.

11. Watch the Calgary Stampede Parade

12. Follow the Calgary Stampede Caravan around town for free breakfasts

13. Have fun at Fluor Rope Square during the Calgary Stampede for free fun

14. Go splashing in the fountains at Olympic Plaza

15. Watch fireworks. From the Canada Day to the Calgary Stampede to Global Fest, there are free fireworks all summer long that you can see from different spots around the city.

16. Have a water fight with a friend

17. Go the Home Depot on Saturday mornings and join their Kids Club workshops to build birdhouses and other projects

18. Go geocaching at Patterson Hill, Griffith Woods, or the Weaselhead or anywhere you go this summer

19. Ride your bike all the way around Glenmore Reservoir (it’s almost 20 km!)

20. Check out the new spray pad at the South Glenmore Park or any of the city’s outdoor wading pools and spray parks (Eau Claire Plaza; Prairie Winds Park; Riley Park; Canmore Park; Rotary Park; Valleyview Park)

Glenmore Spray Park

21. Teach your kids skateboarding at Shaw Millennium Park, the world’s largest skateboard park.

22. Hold a Lemonade Stand for charity like Team Diabetes or the Alberta Birds Of Prey Centre

23. Check out a street festival. From Marda Gras to Lilac Festival to Inglewood Sunfest to Expo Latino, there is something almost every weekend celebrating culture all summer long

24. Get lost in Fish Creek Park. Seriously, go spend the day in Canada’s largest urban park covering more than 20 kilometres of protected river valley.

25. Go on a photo walk. Hand down an old iPhone, iPod, or digital camera you’re not using and put it in the hands of your kids and see what they can come up with!

26. Float down the Bow River or Elbow River in a raft. (make sure you’re wearing your life jackets!!)

27. Draw on the driveway. Maps, imaginary beings, tic tac toe, whatever, just take your bucket of chalk out .. and draw!

28. Read a book in a park and keep track with the Calgary Public Library’s Summer Reading Challenge

29. Play chopsticks on the street pianos hiding in downtown Calgary

30. Go fishing on the Bow River or at Carburn Park, or any of the other stocked ponds around town.

Fishing At Carburn Park

31. Ralph Klein Park has free drop in programs. On Tuesdays there’s a Wetland Bug Safari, while on Thursdays they play What Bird Is That?

32. Play board games. Outside! Sorry, Connect 4, Scrabble, Battleship, Yahtzee!, and others. Just bring them outside on to your patio to play.

33. Visit Spruce Meadows. The grounds, gardens, and stables are open to the public for free 365 days a year.

34. Explore the Big Rock in Okotoks

35. Ride a bike or go for a walk. There are over 125 km of pathways in Calgary.

36. If it’s raining, or too hot, have a picnic amongst the trees at the Devonian Gardens.

37. Be bored. Seriously. Boredom is the best way to bring out creativity.

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