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Canmore with Kids ~ Activities for All Seasons Near Banff National Park

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Most people know Banff National Park, but few have heard of its sweet little sister, Canmore. Located five minutes outside Canada’s most famous National Park, Canmore is a gem of a mountain town that’s well suited for families. With affordable accommodation options and kid-pleasing activities it’s a go-to for many Calgarians (like me!). Tourists go to Banff; locals head to Canmore. Here’s a look at why you should visit Canmore with kids.

Why visit Canmore, Alberta ~ Banff's Little Sister

Why visit Canmore, Alberta (Photo credit: Tourism Canmore Kananaskis)

Canmore Nordic Centre

You’re in the mountains, so you really ought to take advantage of it. Downhill skiing isn’t easy to pick up on your first winter holiday, but cross country skiing sure is. At the Canmore Nordic Centre, families can ski across on an Olympic cross country course (site of the 1988 Winter Olympics). You can also try fat-tire winter biking, ice skating, tobogganing and snowshoeing. The Day Lodge cafeteria has you covered for meals, while a wood burning fireplace thaws out cold toesies. 

Canmore with Kids ~ Activities for All Seasons

Canmore with kids ~ this town is Banff's sweet little sister (Photo credit: Tourism Canmore Kananaskis)

During summer months, the site turns into an awesome mountain bike park with trails suitable for kids. Or your family can play a round of disc golf. No matter which season you visit, you can snag cross country ski and mountain bike rentals (plus lessons) at Trail Sports located on site.

Bicycling Canmore ~ Canmore with Kids

There are many bike trails to explore from town and the Nordic Centre in Canmore (Photo credit: Tourism Canmore Kananaskis)

Elevation Place

As much as you probably want to be outside when you’re visiting Canmore, sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. When that’s the case, Elevation Place is where you'll find fun and games galore. This is no ordinary rec center. It sports a lazy river, waterslide, kiddie pool, and a 25-person hot tub. Dry off and tackle their rock climbing gym, where there’s tons of pitches perfectly suited for kids. Housed in the same facility is a (small) gym and public library. Yep, you can spend an entire rainy day here!

Elevation Place ~ Canmore with Kids

Elevation Place offers climbing walls to suit all ages and abilities (Photo credit: Travel Alberta)

Main Street

Unlike many mountain resort towns, Canmore retains an authentic small town vibe, thanks in part to its Main Street. For book lovers, check out Cafe Books, a wonderful shop with a great children's section. Tucked away is their tea and reading room, where you can snap up second-hand titles and enjoy a cuppa. HiJinx Toy Shop can’t be missed, nor can the Olde Thyme Candy Shoppe. In summer months, an old yellow school bus is converted into an ice cream shop, but the Scoopin’ Moose is open all year round.

Cafe Books ~ Canmore with Kids

Kids love browsing at Cafe Books, a charming independent book store (Photo credit: Cafe Books)

The great outdoors in Canmore with kids

Situated smack-dab in the Rocky Mountains, Canmore is a paradise for outdoor lovers. Families can gently ease their children into hiking by strolling along Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk. Just past the Nordic Centre, Grassi Lakes is a superb trail for an easy family hike. In winter, you’ll want to skate outdoors at The Pond, a quaint natural ice surface only two blocks from downtown. If you’re new to Canada, you’ll want to catch a hockey game. The Canmore Eagles are a Junior A team (whose members are poised to enter the NHL), and they draw crowds up to 800 per home game!

Ice skating in Canmore, Canada near Banff ~ Canmore with Kids

Go ice skating at the edge of downtown (Photo credit: Tourism Canmore Kananaskis)

Family-friendly restaurants

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. gets top marks for its organic offerings, and the pizza oven play set entertains tots waiting for their meal. The Iron Goat is a gastro pub with some of the best views of the Bow Valley. Their children’s menu is impressive (duck wings!), yet it feels miles away from your typical family restaurant. In the Three Sister’s area, The Market Bistro is a hidden gem, with toys and an elevated European-influenced menu.

Iron Goat Restaurant ~ Canmore with Kids

Iron Goat Restaurant appeals to all family members (Photo credit: Iron Goat)

Canmore with kids sounds lovely, doesn't it? Next time you're headed to Banff, tack on a couple of days to spend in Canmore. You'll be glad you did.

Would you like to visit Canmore with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama

After a career in international marketing and a few years spent living the high life as an expat, Jody now resides with her family in Calgary, Canada. Figuring travel writing was a good way to combine her wanderlust and parental duties, she’s spent the past few years working with both print and online media, contributing to the Calgary Herald Travel and Real Life sections and blogging about her adventures at Travels with Baggage (JodyRobbins.com). When not circling the globe with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband, one dog), she can usually be found snowboarding or pretending to enjoy hiking. Find Jody on Twitter at @Jody_Robbins.

Comments
  1. We stayed in Canmore this summer — such a more affordable alternative to Banff. We also ate at Iron Goat and Rocky Mountain Flatbread. I love the Canadian Rockies!

  2. I lived in Canmore for 2 years had the time of my life their. My self and now 10 year old son were always out doing things. For sure you must put on your bucket list, it’s truly an amazing place

  3. Jonathan Agudelo says

    We were going to stay in Banff first…than Calgary…now Canmore seems like a good option. What is the weather typically like at the beginning of April? With two toddlers (2 and 4) is there anything that is a must? Any advice? Maybe we stay in Canmore and do a day trip to Banff?

    • Jody Robbins says

      You could totally stay in Canmore and day trip to Banff. The restaurants are better in Canmore:) The Iron Goat has a good kid’s menu. Weather in April is fickle. This week we had 18C, but you could get 0 degrees celcius. Layers! I wouldn’t pack shorts. Trails could also be muddy. As for musts, take the Banff Gondola, take a dip in the Upper hot spring. Hike tunnel mountain. If the trail is clear, rent bikes and cycle from Canmore to Banff. It’ll take likely 2 hours with toddlers being towed. In Calgary for sure hit up the zoo and TELUS Spark – a great science museum with a special area for toddlers.

  4. Christopher says

    Great article thanks. We will be visiting the Canmore/ Banff area in July. My wife and I and 4 kiddos. Can you recommend good places to stay for a family of 6? Spacious accommodation with kitchen and convenience important features. And pool..? Will it be warm enough in July for kids to swim outdoors? Thank you!

    • Jody Robbins says

      It should be warm enough to swim outdoors in July. There are several condos available for short term rental in Canmore like Blackstone that have outdoor pools. And for a splurge, the Fairmont Banff Springs has a great outdoor heated pool.

  5. Marie-Soleil says

    Hi, we are planning to head out to Canmore with our boys 6 and 8 this summer. Your post was really heplful thank you. Any local breweries in Canmore? and which lake is best to go canoeing or paddle boarding?

    Thank you!!!!

    • Saucy Travel Mama says

      Hi Marie,

      Lots of craft brews in Canmore and area now. Grizzly Paw has it’s own restaurant and is kid friendly. In Banff, check out Park Distillery (for a meal and craft spirits). Canoe in Banff National Park. On Lake Louise or Moraine Lake is a classic and they have rentals on site. Paddleboard in Canmore at Grassi Lakes.

  6. My family and I are headed there on the 26th of December (2017), any updates to this list? I think I am going to bookmark this and take a print out just to be sure to hit all of the spots!

    • Jody Robbins says

      Hi Maria, Nothing has changed from this list. There are a few new restaurants that have opened, but the ones mentioned on this post are still my faves. If you go into Banff, I recommend Park for a family dinner or better yet, The Grizzly House for foundue. You must make reservations at the Grizz, but it is such an experience. I have a lot of info on both towns on my site as well: travelswithbaggage.com

  7. Candace Glenney says

    Canmore is a great family option! Awesome activities, dining and shops.

  8. really impressive wild scenery and the ski trails in Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park is a very ideal place, love adventures here

  9. WOW – this looks like an amazing place – it seems super cold yet welcoming. Absolutely! I would come to visit with kids!

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      Ha ha! But it’s not super cold. OK, maybe for a 10-day period each winter, but generally it hovers around 0 with lots of sunshine from December – March.

  10. Taj mahal tour by car             says

    Great, that place is looking so beautiful and amazing information you shared about that place. i always like that type place and so stunning photos you shared.

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      Thanks so much. It’s easy to take great pictures when the scenery is so mind blowing.

  11. Reesa Lewandowski says

    What a beautiful place!!! I would love to visit with my family!

  12. Hello my fellow Calgarian!! I love Canmore. I’ve been there many times and I can’t wait to go back. There is just so much to do there.

    • Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama says

      Hey Tara! Thanks for reading. I beet you have some good recs for dining out in Canmore with the family…

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