Travel

The Perfect Weekend Family Getaway #CaptureCalgary

Summer 2016 is finally here, and if I could stop and pause time for awhile I would definitely do it in July. It’s my favorite month of the year, and I wish I held more than 31 days! I love the hot weather, the thunderstorms, the lazy days, summer camps and get togethers with friends and family. Summer vacation goes by much too fast, so I try and pack as much fun into it as I can. Of course, we’re fortunate that fall on the prairies holds beautiful weather so we enjoy these next few months as much as possible (can you tell I detest winter?)

Having lived in a few different communities in Saskatchewan, we simply judge how long it will take us to get to Calgary each summer based on our current location. When we lived on the West side of the province, it was a 6-hour drive with two small preschoolers. Now that we’re back in Regina, the drive itself is about 8 hours, albeit with a tween and two school age girls now! A flight is also a possibility, depending on if you can catch a great seat-sale but the majority of Saskatchewanians (it’s a word here!) simply pack up the car and head West in the summer months.

I love Calgary. I love the beautiful landscape, the busy city, the bustling restaurants and malls, and the variety of activities for families. We typically take advantage of at least one family destination on each visit, and recently took a trip to Calgary to pack in some family visiting and fun in a long weekend. If you can plan out your stops ahead of time, it’s possible to pack a bunch of family fun into just three days in beautiful Calgary, Alberta.

Here’s what we managed to fit into three days and nights in the city!

Where To Stay:

The beauty of Calgary is that while it’s undoubtedly a huge city, if you understand the basic arteries that carry traffic through the city, it’s not hard to get to your destination if you plan around rush hour. We stayed at a hotel close to some of our family destinations, making it super-easy to get to where we needed to go in minutes! Consider Four Points by Sheraton Calgary West on your next visit!

The Four Points provides the perfect accommodation for anyone experiencing the thrill of major Calgary attractions including the Winsport campus, which includes the Bobsleigh, Zipline, Skyline Luge, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Sitting on the western edge of Calgary, this hotel offers the perfect basecamp to see the best of Calgary, the Bow Valley, and Banff National Park. We loved the suites to fit larger families. Our suite had a separate room with a sofa, table, fridge and TV that my tween claimed as his own.

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We had ample room for ourselves and our 2 girls in the bedroom area with two large beds and another TV. With a restaurant on site and McDonald’s across the street (I saw a Starbucks a block over as well), you have everything you need once the day is done and you’re back in your room. If you still have some energy, the pool area is fabulous! Comfortable patio furniture invites mom to relax while dad and the kids swim in the pool and hot tub. The pool itself doesn’t have a shallow area for little ones, so pack a life-jacket for small children; the waterslide is a ton of fun and creates huge splashes at the bottom too!

Where To Eat:

While it’s tempting to check out the chain-restaurants those of us in Saskatchewan don’t have in our province (Olive Garden, anyone?) I love getting recommendations from locals on where the best eats are (kind of like our own personal “You Gotta Eat Here!” tour). On our recent trip, we checked out three restaurants that even some of my local friends hadn’t visited yet themselves. One in particular is a new favorite and we’ll be returning again and again!

Gaucho Brazilian BBQ

 

Gaucho Brazillian BBQ – If you like meat, I mean really really really like meat, you’ve found your Utopia. With locations in both Canmore and Calgary, this restaurant is known among locals and a must-visit if you have elastic waist pants!

Gaucho is Calgary’s only authentic Churrascaria- Brazilian Barbecue and easy to find as it’s across from Chinook Centre Mall. Gaucho is inspired by the dynamic and rich cultural heritage of the Brazilian cowboy, the time honoured tradition of Churrasco (barbecue) and Rodizio (round-about) service.

Rodizio Style dining is an hours-long experience where your family can visit the bountiful buffet over and over, adding salads and sides to their plates while back at the table your barbecue chef of the evening will come around with massive churrasco-style skewers, each with a tender cut-of-the-day. Meat will be sliced straight to your plate, and it won’t stop till your table turns its card over to display the red side.

Yes, that's a skewer of chicken hearts!
Yes, that’s a skewer of chicken hearts!

We sampled everything from parmesan beef to chicken hearts – yes chicken hearts! While I didn’t sample, I was super-impressed that my 12 year old son and 8 year old daughter followed their dad’s lead and tried them (and liked them!)

Tres Amigos at Gaucho Brazilian BBQDon’t forget about dessert! We loved the churros as part of the Tres Amigos dessert (three delicious desserts on one plate, yum!) and – this is a pretty high honor – my kids declared the churros at Gaucho “the best churros outside Disneyland!”

REGRUB Calgary burgers
Smoke ‘n Fire Burger at RE:GRUB

RE:GRUB is the best burger place in Calgary you’ve never heard of. Our family loves a good burger, this mom loves her french fries, and milkshakes are the life-blood of summer. Combining amazing tastes in all three means we’ve found our new favorite Calgary burger spot.

The restaurant describes their philosophy here: “Mass production and chemicals belong in factories, not in your food. Every element of RE:GRUB is built from scratch, assembled with fresh ingredients, sourced ethically always, and locally whenever possible.” And you know what? It shows. The restaurant, opened last summer at 11th Ave SW in downtown Calgary, had a line-up the entire time we were there.

asiago truffle fries at regrub calgary

The Smokey Caesar Salad was delicious, and the perfect appetizer before the big show (the burgers and fries!) Oh, the fries! My son picked Dante’s Peak Fries (with a sunny side egg on top!) and I am craving RE:GRUB Asiago Truffle Fries in the worst way since I’ve returned back home to SK! They were SO GOOD. Like, good enough to pass up a burger and milkshake, wave away the family, and sit in the corner with bowls of them for the afternoon kind of good.

I had the Smoke ‘n Fire Burger seen in the photo higher up, and took the advice of RE:GRUB founder Jose and put the pickled habanero on the side. Holy smoke ‘n fire was that a good plan – it was crazy spicy! If you love heat, you’ve found your burger.

Rainbow Style Milkshake
Rainbow Style Milkshake

Now about those milkshakes. If you follow @regrub_love on Instgaram, you’ll see a lot of milkshake photos – that’s because customers love taking photos of the delicious and very instagram-worthy creations!

 

Camp Ranger Milkshake
Camp Ranger Milkshake

If you don’t have enough room left after the delicious salad, burgers and fries, you can always make a special trip to RE:GRUB just for a milkshake. It’s certainly almost a meal itself!

Sky 360 View
Brunch at SKY 360

If you love the view in Calgary and want a restaurant with a great one, consider brunch at Sky 360 at the top of the Calgary Tower. Again, it’s one of those hidden gems that locals themselves may not have visited. With the purchase of an entrée, Sky 360 Restaurant takes care of your elevation fee and entitles you access to the Calgary Tower Observation Deck one floor above the restaurant.

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Doughnut Platter appetizer

Here’s the fun part – the entire floor of Sky 360 rotates while you dine. But don’t worry, it’s a slow movement and not likely to disrupt your dining or make anyone feel dizzy (unless you’re afraid of heights in which case, don’t sit closest to the window!) For those who love a great view, you’ll enjoy a wonderful view of Calgary and the mountains while you dine on delicious food and drinks.

bruschetta

The SKY 360 menu takes culinary inspiration from international cultures while maintaining a fresh & local ingredient base. Prepared through contemporary French techniques, this menu takes international cuisine to the next level.

While the entree purchase is what gets you the refund on your elevation fee and access to the observation deck, the appetizers were my favorite on our visit. Who wouldn’t be happy with a Doughnut Platter as an appetizer (yes, dessert before your meal!) or an incredible Bruschetta Three Ways – tomato / Kalamata olive tapenade / red pepper with fried polenta chips.

Where To Play:

Calaway Park family fun

Calaway Park has been a family-favorite for visitors to the Calgary area for decades. In fact, they’re celebrating 35 years this year! If you’ve never been, now is the time to visit!

Calaway’s one ticket gate admission includes all park attractions, making this an affordable full day of fun for families visiting Calgary.

Calaway is a safe environment where the family can spend their entire day together creating memories. You can have a worry-free adventure with your entire family, enjoying a variety of attractions from thrill rides to 3D theatres, live performances, games, and great food.

Timber Falls Calaway Park

There are new rides and attractions including of course, Timber Falls – promising to make you scream, laugh, and yes probably a little splashed too! If you’re lucky, you’ll even capture a photo like this on the ride. Can my 5 year old BE any cuter? Don’t worry, she thoroughly enjoyed herself and asked to go again!

Calaway Park Fun

My advice, go in the morning as soon as they open and enjoy little to no lines, then stop for lunch when you’ve exhausted yourself (almost) completely. After lunch, you’ll notice the crowds pick-up a bit but it’s still manageable, especially if the kids have experienced their favorites earlier in the morning.

Something I’ve noticed and appreciate as a parent with kids each 3.5 years apart, the layout of Calaway Park keeps families together. The larger rides are not on one side, with the smaller rides on the other. As you walk, eat, and play games you can also stop for a ride for the 5 year old, while the older two kids visit a ride directly across from it! I love this, not only is it efficient but it helps avoid any complaints when one child has to wait for the other, and no one feels left out.

LUGE

Skyline Luge Calgary is probably the city’s best-kept secret for family fun. While many from Saskatchewan visit Calgary to take in the Calgary Zoo or Calaway Park and both have been well known for decades, if you mention Skyline Luge to a friend chances are they haven’t heard of it just yet. That’s changing though, thanks to social media and people sharing their visits on Facebook and Twitter! After seeing the huge smiles in family photos on the Skyline Luge track, people are asking how to get there in the comments.

Skyline Luge Calgary families

With more than 50 twist and turns and covering a distance of over 1800 metres on a continuous downhill trajectory, the Skyline Luge in Calgary is the longest in the world!

Skyline Luge Calgary for families

Invented in New Zealand in 1985, Skyline Luge is a unique wheeled gravity ride that provides the rider full control over their descent on a purpose built track. The unique braking and steering system control speed and direction – it’s easy to learn and is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. But most of all – it’s fun, great fun! The simple enjoyment of hurtling down the track in the specially constructed Luge kart as you navigate the twists, turns and bumps never fails to make adults giggle like children. And the children will beam with excitement, before hopping back on the chairlift to the top so they can do it all again. Those under 6 years old (or less than 110cm tall) can even share a ride with Mom or Dad (like our daughter in the photo above), so no-one misses out and the whole family gets to have some safe fun. A note, when I rode with my 5 year old she informed me that I don’t go fast like dad does, apparently.

Skyline Luge Calgary prices are posted on the website, and their slogan is appropriate – once is never enough! So, I would suggest the Family Eight Luge Rides ($64) to make a full morning or afternoon of fun! I also love that Skyline Luge understands not all families are 2 parents, 2 kids. The Family Luge Passes are for 2 adults and unlimited children (or, alternatively to qualify for family pricing you must have at least 1 adult with the kids).

Calgary Tower tourist destination

We also checked out the Calgary Tower in downtown Calgary (also featured on The Amazing Race Canada this month!) The Calgary Tower is one of the city’s icons and a great spot to see the city and surrounding countryside. The observation deck is perfect for families and the glass floor provides a truly unique experience for those brave enough to check out the view directly under their shoes.

glass floor of Calgary Tower

Amazing, isn’t it? I could only stand there for a moment or two to get some photos, it’s very unsettling yet super cool all at once! Remember that when dining at Sky 360 – your elevation ticket is refunded and applied to your dining cheque with the purchase of an entrée, making the pairing of the restaurant and observation deck a great combination for a family.

Can you believe we packed all that into a long weekend in Calgary? In fact, we also visited family in Okotoks and stopped at my favorite mall – CrossIron Mills – before heading to the airport on Sunday night! I love the city, and we’ll be returning again and again. If you’re interested in planning a visit to Calgary and need more information, tips and ideas, check out visitcalgary.com and follow @TourismCalgary on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

 

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  • I’d love to visit Calgary, the food and fun sounds amazing, esp the Gaucho Brazillian BBQ! You wouldn’t get me high up like that, I feel dizzy looking at the photos!

  • Being born and raised in Banff I spent a lot of my childhood summers at Calaway Park but I’ve never been to the Skyline Luge which looks super fun! I might have to check out those milkshakes!

  • The food looks absolutely amazing!! that glass floor though I don’t think I would be able to do it, I have a feeling I would start to get dizzy and pass out!! lol looks like you all had a great time!!

  • I’ve never visited Calgary, which is pretty sad as we are in BC. The Gaucho Brazillian BBQ looks too good to be true, but I’m not sold on the chicken hearts.

  • Thanks for all the information! I’ve never been to Calgary let alone Alberta but if I ever visit I’ll know where to eat and some local attractions. Those milkshakes look like they are worth a trip to Calgary!

  • It looks like you had a really good time 🙂 And just reading your post and seeing the food pictures has made me hungry. That burger looks totally amazing.

  • We actually have a few Brazilian-Style restaurant in Calgary- Gaucho, Bolero, Pampa, Minas- Try them all and then decide which one is your favourite! I love them all!

  • Grew up in Calgary ❤️ Love this post!!! Now we need to read some posts on what to do in Sask! This Summer it will be the first time I am there.

  • We flew to Edmonton last year then rented a car and toured B.C. On our way back we travelled via Lake Louise but didn’t get a chance to visit Calgary. If we travel out west again, at least we know which stops to make in Calgary. Thanks for sharing.

  • Skyline Luge would be so much fun as the adults and kids could try it out. We have done Calaway Park and that was fun and grandkids loved it. This was great blog post and gave me ideas for where to eat and play next time in Calgary.

  • oh the 360 looked like a place I’d want to go to eat but I’m not sure if I could do the Calgary Tower …. I like a view but I also like solid floors under me LOL

    thanks for all the sharing on your social media, there’s nothing like a video or pic to really get your interest

  • We’ve been to Calgary for the Stampede and had a great time. We loved the city and used public transportation to get around. We also visited Drumheller and Banff while there. It was a fantastic trip.

  • Oh yum! I’d check out the burger place for sure! Those milkshakes look SO good! I’m scared of heights but I would check out the tower for sure, just wouldn’t go on the glass floor lol

  • One day i will visit Calgary and eat gaucho Brazilian bbq and go to the Calgary Stampede! Thanks for the tips!

  • The restaurant gaucho Brazilian sounds amazing. I am a huge fan of meat so I know I would fit right in there. No way I would be standing or laying on that glass in the tower. I would freak right out !!

  • Love the RAINBOW style milkshake, makes me want one now that summer if finally here. Your trip looks like so much fun, what great parents

  • I’d love to visit Calgary,omg it looks like you all had a wonderful time and the food omg it all looks do delicious….but never in a million years would you get me on that glass floor…

  • Wow, you saw a lot in a long weekend! I have never been to Calgary, but I would LOVE to go. Your post gave me lots of family -friendly ideas 🙂 I have one more for you. My sister brought me a present from Calgary the last time she was there. Check out this amazing Calgary chocolate shop, http://www.thechocolatelab.ca I highly recommend the Chai On Life and Caramellow!

  • Looks like you had lots of fun! I will have to visit the Calgary Tower and make a special trip to RE:GRUB just for a milkshake next time I’m in Calgary!

  • This looks like it was such a fun trip! I hope to one day go there, haven’t travelled too much unfortunately!

  • RE:GRUB sounds like “THE” restaurant to visit when it Calgary. Those milkshakes are to die for. Yummm!

  • Love this tips Tenille as i live in Calgary and still gotta hit up some of these attractions like Skyline Luge!

  • I visited Calgary once, but I was too young to really appreciate what a wonderful city it is and all that it has to offer. I would love to visit again someday soon!

  • I’ve never been to the Canadian west coast but this looks like so much fun! Glad you had a good time 🙂

  • I had not heard of the Skyline Luge Calgary on my travels through Calgary before – we will have to check it out.

  • Looks like you had a great time! The food looks amazing! The expression on your daughter in the ride picture is priceless!

  • My daughter lives in Calgary, so I’m there often. I never thought about going to Calaway Park. It looks like so much fun.

  • Mouth-watering food, thrilling rides, unforgettable family memories – everything you could ask for for a perfect summer vacation!

  • it looks so amazing and fun and the food looks delicious and the pole with the meat i mean like wow pretty neat o

  • I’d love to visit Calgary again. Thanks for the tips on where to eat. If one loves shoes a trip to A Churgin shoes is a must.

  • Looks like a great trip. I’ve never been outside of the Edmonton airport in Alberta and we’re going for a week in August!

  • Wow! I want to visit for that rainbow milkshake alone!! Haha but seriously Calgary is on my list – especially around the stampede !

  • I think all in all the luge would have been my favorite part, but so much fun stuff to do. I flew into Calgary once when I was going to work at Chateau Lake Louis (that lasted three whole days) but didn’t see much as I was placed in a van and shuttled to the resort. I’d love to get back and take in the stampede and many of the spots you have shown. Thanks for sharing your families adventure with us.

  • What an awesome weekend you and your family had!
    The Skyline Luge would be my favorite thing to do there,
    and it’s the longest track in the world.Fun!! 🙂 Then the
    awesome food you got to sample looks out of this world
    too! I have never been to the Canadian west coast but it’s
    on my bucket list of things to do.I want to check out that
    Gaucho Brazilian BBQ.Oh my gosh that looks amazing!
    Thanks for the awesome tips too. 🙂 #CaptureCalgary

  • Glad you had tons of fun in my home town! Sheraton is gorgeous and in a prime location, also Calaway park is always tons of fun!

  • I live in Calgary & still haven’t taken my family to the Skyline Luge but it’s been on my must-have list of things to do! And RE:GRUB has awesome reviews, I can’t wait to try their food & those out-of-this-world milkshakes!

  • Oh wow! The food looks amazing – especially your meals from Re:GRUB!

    I have been to the Calgary tower for dinner – it’s a great experience and meal

  • It looks like there is so much family friendly stuff to do in Calgary. I can’t wait to go back with the kids!

  • seeing the pictures makes me feel sort of homesick.. lived there 2 different times and absoultely loved Calgary and area!

  • We love going to Calgary. We really love the fun times we have at Calaway Park. I really must try RE:GRUB, I think my family would love it.

  • Wow, it looks like you did an amazing amount of fun things while you were there. No chicken hearts for me…but yes to the churros and milkshakes 😉
    The flume ride photo of the 3 of you is awesome.
    I have never been anywhere near Calgary, but it looks fantastic.

  • Returning from BC we stopped in Calgary to go to Calaway Park – but due to violent unpredictable hail…we opted just to stop for a meal. Stopped at Jimmy’s and had a chicken Shawarma on pita bread was outstanding….if you get an opportunity to dine in Calgary….place to check out.

  • Definitely never seen a fried egg on fries before but that looks amazing .. and the cuisine ..looks really good the room was very clean and family oriented and what a great memory you made with your family xoxoxo

  • Looks like you and your family had a great time. We have visited Calgary, but many many years ago. One day we hope to get out there during Stampede and then stay longer. Loved Calgary.

  • absolutely amazing, thanks for sharing those awesome pics, love the glass floor, reminds me of the CN Tower Glass floor which by the way I was a little afraid to stand on but eventually did lol. Happy Weekend hun!!!

  • am wanting to do a Zip line one day but now the Skyline Luge sounds interesting but somewhat scary to me. thanks for sharing.

  • I have never been to Calgary but have always wanted to visit. The food sounds delicious and looks like tons of fun.

  • wow sounds like a very busy weekend! And sounds like so much fun! If I am ever in Calgary I will be sure to check out some of these places, thanks for posting about them.

  • Looks like you had a great time! I was born and raised here in Calgary, and I’ve never been to the Calgary Tower before lol! Thanks for sharing your adventures 🙂

tenille-lafontaine

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