Does your family love the great outdoors? If so, you must visit Canmore with kids to enjoy some of the most incredible mountain scenery you’ll ever see. Canmore is an Alberta mountain town ideally located in the middle of both Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. And… it’s our hometown!
The Canadian Rockies are one of the most beautiful places to visit on Earth. Everyone knows about Banff National Park (Canada’s oldest and most visited national park), but not many people outside Alberta know about Kananaskis Country. Kananaskis is a collection of provincial parks which showcases the same stunning Rocky Mountain scenery as neighboring Banff.
With such easy access to these amazing Alberta mountain parks, you’ll have a hard time choosing from all the fun things to do in Canmore with kids.
Table of Contents – Canmore with Kids
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Canmore Family Travel Advice You Can Trust
At Travel Banff Canada, we are a real family who live in Canmore with our kids. What you will read in this blog post about Canmore with kids are based on years of living and playing here. These are our experiences in Canmore with children and our family pictures, which we are excited to share with you for your family trip to Canmore!
We’ve been visiting the Alberta mountain parks of Banff and Kananaskis for decades, before and after having kids. Our children spent the first few years of their lives visiting the mountains every weekend from Calgary, until we moved full-time to Canmore – just minutes from the Banff park gates.
Why are we telling you this? Because this is not the case for the majority of the other travel blogs you will read about traveling to Canmore with kids. Look at their pictures – where are the kids? Makes you wonder…
What is the Best Time to Visit Canmore with Kids?
To get the most out of your time in Canmore, mid-June through mid-September is the best time to plan your family trip.
The mountain lakes will be starting to show their stunning turquoise blue color in June, wild flowers will begin to appear and the hiking trails will be dry. The days will be getting warmer and the water activities will be starting to pick up.
Mid-June is when high season starts in Canmore and will continue throughout July and August. Though it will be busier and prices will be higher in these two months, it’s really the best time to visit. The days are long and warm, everything is open and the mountain meadows will be teeming with wildflowers.
Winter is also an excellent time to visit Canmore. Not only do you have great skiing in Banff, but there are also a ton of great things to do in Canmore in winter. If you are planning to visit Canmore for the amazing winter scenery and activities, then late November through March is the best time to visit Banff in winter with kids.
How Many Days to Visit Canmore with Kids?
How many days you visit Canmore with kids will be dependent on how much you want to see and how much energy your kids will have to be on the move every day.
Although many families from Calgary spend a weekend in Canmore, if you are coming from further afield we recommend a minimum of 5 days for a Canmore family vacation. This is a good amount of time to see the Bow Valley highlights and even do a hike or two. With more time in the area you can either slow your pace or add in even more activities in Kananaskis or Banff for kids.
Is Canmore Kid Friendly?
Yes, with its stunning mountain setting, sandwiched in-between Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country, Canmore is a very kid friendly destination. With so many outdoor activities, kids will love their family adventures in nature. From wildlife spotting to canoeing on a pristine mountain lake, your kids will love your family adventures and the raw beauty of the Canadian Rockies.
How to Get to Canmore with Kids
The closest airport to Banff is the Calgary International Airport, located a 70-minute drive away in Calgary. For visiting Banff with kids, the best way to get to Canmore is by renting a car in Calgary. For a family trip to Canmore, having a rental car is the most convenient way to go as it enables your family to travel at your own pace. You can sneak back to the hotel if one of the kids forgets something, needs a nap, etc.
If renting a car isn’t your style, it’s possible to get around Canmore without a car. Our post on how to get to Banff National Park covers the many ways to get to Canmore without a car.
Once in Canmore, there are two local bus routes in Canmore (routes 5C and 5T operated by Roam) which are completely free, even for visitors. In addition, there is a Roam bus connecting Canmore with the Town of Banff. Once there, it’s easy to get around Banff without a car and there are plenty of hikes in Banff by public transit.
Insider’s Tip: Driving can get boring for kids, even in a place as beautiful as Canmore. Keep your entire family entertained with the Banff audio guide by GuideAlong. This entertaining and educational GPS activated audio tour will greatly enhance your visit to Canmore and Banff National Park.
Where to Stay in Canmore with Kids
There are plenty of fun places to stay in Canmore with kids, whether your family is outdoorsy and loves camping or prefers more space.
Camping in Canmore with Kids
Located in the a beautiful river valley through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, there are plenty of amazing places to go camping in Canmore with kids.
There are several campgrounds within the Town of Canmore, but most are very close by within the Alberta provincial parks of Kananaskis Country.
Everything you need to know is found in our guide to camping in Canmore.
Stay in a Kid-Friendly Canmore Hotel
As a popular Alberta mountain town, there are lots of good quality hotels in Canmore for families. A few suggestions for family-friendly Canmore hotels include:
- Pocaterra Inn: This centrally located Canmore hotel features a large indoor waterslide and swimming pool. Fuel up for your day of fun in Canmore with kids with their free breakfast buffet. It’s also one of the best affordable places to stay in Canmore.
- Blackstone Mountain Lodge: Rent a 2-bedroom suite to help ensure the entire family gets a good night’s sleep, giving you plenty of energy to play in the Rocky Mountains. As one of the best Canmore hotels with a swimming pool, your kids will love the year-round outdoor heated swimming pool.
- Malcolm Hotel: Possibly the best hotel in Canmore, the Malcolm Hotel has a stunning location across from the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk. The views from the heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs are breathtaking. If you want to bring the family pet, the Malcolm Hotel is also one of Canmore’s best pet-friendly hotels.
Of course, there are plenty of additional family-friendly hotels in Canmore, for every travel style and budget.
Get a Canmore Vacation Rental
When we travel with our kids, we often prefer to get a vacation rental over a hotel. We prefer for everyone to have their own bedrooms, which helps ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep. In addition, having a full kitchen helps us keep costs down and feed our family healthier meals than eating out three times a day. In an adventurous mountain town like Canmore, having laundry facilities is a huge benefit – you can let your kids have as much fun as they want – who cares if they get dirty??
Our friends at Elk & Owl specialize in large group and family rental properties in Canmore. Their wide selection of family friendly vacation rentals range from charming 2-bedroom apartments, all the way up to lodges with room for 21 guests!
Use the code TravelBanffCanada at checkout and get 10% off your booking at Elk & Owl.
How to Save Money in Canmore with Kids
It’s no secret, visiting the Alberta mountain towns of Canmore and Banff can be quite expensive – especially in high season, and especially with kids in tow. Don’t let this stress you out, there are plenty of ways to save money on a family trip to Canmore. One of the best things about traveling here is that most of our favorite things to do in Canmore with kids are free.
Two simple ways to save money while in Canmore with kids are:
- Pack a picnic for lunch: Eating out three meals a day can be unhealthy and costly. Keep costs down on your Canmore family vacation by having a healthy self-catered breakfast and lunch. This strategy frees you up to enjoy a guilt-free family dinner at one of Canmore’s best family restaurants. Packing a lunch is especially nice when you visit one of Canmore’s picnic areas or the most scenic spots in Banff for a picnic.
- Choose free Canmore activities: If your family is outdoorsy, you’re likely to be doing this anyways. Many of the best hikes in Canmore are kid-friendly and they don’t cost a thing! If your Canmore family vacation takes you to Banff, there are all sorts of fun free things to do in Banff as well.
We have written a post of traveling to Banff on a budget. Most of the budget conscious advice within it applies to traveling to Canmore on a budget as well.
The 22 Best Things to do in Canmore with Kids
Based on our many years of living and playing in Canmore with our family, we are excited to share with you this list of our favorite things to do in Canmore with kids.
Kid-Friendly Hikes near Canmore
If you are planning a family trip to the Canadian Rockies, chances are good that you will want to go on some kid-friendly hikes around Canmore. Our children have grown up here, so we can confidently recommend these excellent kid-friendly hikes near Canmore. Each of these easy hikes is no more than 20 km from downtown Canmore.
1. Grassi Lakes Trail
The very kid-friendly Grassi Lakes hike is located just minutes outside of Canmore, just past the Canmore Nordic Centre. Grassi Lakes is the one of the most popular family hikes near Canmore as it is short, easy and has an incredible payoff.
It’s as short, slight uphill 2 km walk from the trailhead to the Grassi Lakes. If you visit Grassi Lakes on a sunny day, you simply won’t believe the other-worldly color of the water. No matter how many times I’ve seen the Grassi Lakes, it always takes my breath away.
As beautiful as the Grassi Lakes are, our kids inevitably get distracted by the rock climbers on the cliffs behind the lakes. It’s always fun for kids to watch exciting adventures activities like rock climbing.
We have all the information you need about this kid-friendly Canmore hike in our full post about the Grassi Lakes Trail.
2. Heart Creek Trail
We love hiking the Heart Creek Trail with our kids. This short & easy hike near Canmore is so much fun for kids. The hiking trail follows the shores of Heart Creek into the belly of a beautiful mountain canyon. Our kids love the Heart Creek hike so much as there are tons of fun bridges criss-crossing the creek along the way.
At the end of the hike, there is a fun place for kids to get down and play in the water – it’s FREEZING, but that never seems to stop kids from having fun.
We have all the information you need about this family-friendly Canmore hike in our full post about the Heart Creek Trail.
3. Grotto Canyon Trail
Another one of our favorite kid-friendly hikes near Canmore is the Grotto Canyon Trail. As with the Heart Creek Trail, the Grotto Canyon hike follows the path of a mountain stream deep into a mountain canyon. It’s less structured than Heart Creek, meaning your kids can choose their own adventure for most of it.
Along the way you may be lucky enough to spot 500+ year old pictographs from the Hopituh Shi-nu-mu people, and there’s a nice waterfall at the end. They are very sensitive, so please ensure your kids do not touch them.
In the winter, this popular Canmore activity transforms into the Grotto Canyon Ice Walk. It’s easily one of my favorite things to do in Canmore with kids in winter.
Learn more about the kid-friendly Grotto Canyon Trail.
4. Heart Creek Bunker Trail
Another of our favorite things to do with kids around Canmore is to hike to the Heart Creek Bunker. The 2 km hike to the bunker is nothing special, but it has a super fun payoff at the end.
Carved deep into the side of Mount McGillivray in the 1960’s, the Heart Creek Bunker was designed to protect Canada’s critical documents against a catastrophic emergency, such as a hydrogen bomb. This Cold War relic extends 55 m deep into the mountain, with a side channel over 40 m long.
Our kids love venturing into the Heart Creek Bunker. It gets surprisingly cold and very dark inside the bunker, so dress in layers and make sure everyone has their own powerful flashlight or headlamp.
Learn more about the family-friendly Heart Creek Bunker Trail
You can get all the details on these kid-friendly hikes near Canmore in our list of the best easy hikes in Kananaskis.
Great Family Walks in Canmore
The kid-friendly hikes above are all amazing, but if you’d prefer a nice family walk over a hike, there’s a wealth of great walking trails in Canmore. A few of these easy Canmore walks stand out and are worth mentioning here:
5. Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk
I love Policeman’s Creek. I have so many cherished memories of taking our small kids for walks along this beautiful, perfectly flat walking trail near downtown Canmore. Most of the Policeman’s Creek trail is on a wooden boardwalk over a marsh, adjacent to the tranquil namesake creek.
Kids love walking on boardwalks, there’s usually lots of ducks and the surrounding mountain views are breathtaking. I hope your family loves a easy stroll along the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk as much as we do.
6. Canmore Reservoir Trail
As with Policeman’s Creek, I just love going on a family walk along the Canmore Reservoir Trail. This amazing family walk takes place on a nice and wide, perfectly flat dirt trail on a berm right next to the Rundle Forebay Reservoir.
The man-made berm is one of the highest spots in Canmore and there are no trees immediately next to the trail. The result of this combination is a family walk along the shores of a beautiful lake, with 360 degree views of the stunning Rocky Mountains around Canmore.
We love to go walking with our kids around our beautiful hometown. We give all the details on Policeman’s Creek, the Rundle Forebay Trail and many more in our post on 15 Easy Canmore Walking Trails.
Kid-Friendly Cycling near Canmore
Of course, hiking with kids is not the only amazing family activity around town – there’s a ton of kid-friendly cycling near Canmore too! If you left your family bikes at home, keep reading for recommended places to rent bikes in Canmore.
7. Cycling the Banff Legacy Trail
Built in honor of Banff National Park’s 125th anniversary, the Banff Legacy Trail is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Canmore. This 27 km long family-friendly cycling path extends from the Town of Canmore all the way to the Town of Banff. As you can imagine, the mountain scenery is incredible.
If your kids are old enough to cycle the full 54 km round-trip, a fun idea is to cycle to Banff in the morning and reward yourselves with lunch at one of Banff’s many excellent restaurants. Then cycle back to Canmore in the afternoon.
Our kids are not quite capable of cycling the round-trip. We’ve learned the best ways to cycle the Banff Legacy Trail one-way (hint: Banff to Canmore is almost all downhill!).
Get all the details in our full guide on the Banff Legacy Trail.
8. Cycling Canmore’s Path System
We mentioned Canmore’s excellent pathway system for easy walks around town, but the great news is that almost all of Canmore’s trails are multi-use trails. This means you can enjoy a family bike ride on paved trails right in Canmore!
Two of our favorite places to go cycling with our kids in Canmore are:
- An easy 1.5 km family bike ride along the Bow River in-between one of Canmore’s best playgrounds the Engine Bridge.
- An incredibly scenic bike ride on the Three Sisters Pathway in a meadow near the Bow River.
Both of these kid-friendly cycling paths are near downtown Canmore. For all the specifics on these trails, along with our other recommended trails in Banff and Canmore, see our post on the best kid-friendly bike trails near Canmore.
9. Kid-Friendly Mountain Biking in Canmore
Chances are good that if you wanted to come to an adventurous mountain town like Canmore, you may want to get off the paved bike trails and get some dirt under your wheels. Two of the best kid-friendly mountain biking trails in Canmore are near Quarry Lake (another of the best things to do in Canmore with kids – more on this later).
- The Forest Fun Trail is a really fun, mostly downhill winding mountain biking trail for kids. It’s around 1 km long and runs through a beautiful forest, ending just outside the Quarry Lake parking lot.
- Mosquito Bites is another primarily downhill mountain biking trail from the Rundle Forebay Reservoir to the Quarry Lake dog park. This winding trail has a lot of wooden features – be sure to inspect them for safety first as some are in disrepair or not suitable for beginners.
- The Canmore Nordic Center, the host location for the nordic events in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, is home to numerous mountain biking trails. Most of them are intermediate or difficult, but there are a few MTB trails which are suitable for all skill levels.
Get In and Get Out are our two favorite kid-friendly mountain biking trails at the Nordic Centre. A 1 km loop, we like to ride them around and around through the beautiful evergreen forest.
10. Ride Canmore’s Bike Skills Parks
And finally, before we completely say goodbye to the family friendly activities on two-wheels around Canmore, we should mention that there are several good pump tracks near downtown Canmore. These are great fun for kids to practice their mountain biking skills.
11. Visit Quarry Lake with Kids
Quarry Lake is easily one of our favorite places to visit with kids in Canmore. A former open pit mine site, Quarry Lake is an exceptional reclamation success story. Today, the pit has been filled with water to create a popular park with a mountain lake and stunning mountain views in all directions.
There are so many things to do at Quarry Lake with kids :
- There’s a small beach which is a great place for kids to cool off on a hot summer day.
- Have a picnic at Quarry Lake on one of the many picnic tables or grassy areas.
- One of our favorite family walks in Canmore is the short walking trail around Quarry Lake.
We have all the information about this family-friendly attraction in our full post about Quarry Lake in Canmore.
12. Go Stand-up Paddleboarding with Kids in Canmore
In addition to the other fun things to do at Quarry Lake, we also like to go stand-up paddleboarding with our kids there. It’s a reasonably small lake, but the incredible mountain vistas make up for it.
Another place we like to go SUPing with our kids in Canmore is the Rundle Forebay Reservoir. It’s a larger body of water, allowing for a longer paddle, and as mentioned above in the Canmore family walks section, it has some of the best Canadian Rockies scenery available anywhere in town.
See even more SUP locations on our list of the best places to go Stand-up Paddleboarding in Banff and Canmore.
13. Canmore Playgrounds
One thing that we’ve learned traveling with our kids is that it’s really important to give them time to play. This small investment in their mental health usually pays off big time in other areas of your family trip.
If you’d like to give your kids some time to play, there are two great Canmore playgrounds near downtown which we love taking our kids to:
- The West Canmore Park playground is our kids favorite playground in town. It’s easily reached by a short walk on the TransCanada Trail from downtown.
- The Centennial Park playground is a great playground to visit on a hot day. It’s a really fun playground, surrounded by lots of mature trees, providing wonderful shade from the hot sun.
14. Play Disc Golf
Disc golf is a great family activity in Canmore. It’s a great way to spend a lot of time in the clean mountain air enjoying the views and it’s a great way to get some exercise and plenty of laughs.
15. Canmore Cave Tours
For something unique, Canmore Cave Tours offers tours of the Rat’s Nest cave all year long. Two options for tours include the 4.5 hour Explorer Tour or the 6 hour Adventure Tour.
Minimum age for these cave tours in Canmore is 10 years old for the Explorer Tour and 12 years old for the Adventure Tour.
16. Get a Family Picture with Canmore’s Big Head
There’s a fun family photo op on main street right across the street from the Polemans’ Creek Trailhead. The Big Head Sculpture is an iconic piece of Canmore art by Albertan artist Alan Henderson. The bald giant head is half-buried in the ground, making it appear like the entire body is buried up to his nose. It’s a popular photo spot and will make a great addition to your family photos.
17. Treat the Kids to Ice Cream
During the summer months, after a fun day of family adventure in the Bow Valley mountains, we love to venture into downtown Canmore to treat the kids to some ice cream. There are lots of great places to get ice cream in Canmore, but the most popular is the Old School Bus.
Literally operating out of an old yellow school bus, this popular Canmore institution serves up generous portions of high-quality ice cream. It’s typically lined up in the summer months, but it’s worth the wait.
Another top location for ice cream in Canmore is Scratch Rare Ice Cream on Main Street.
Best Things to do in Canmore on a Rainy Day
One of the best things about visiting Canmore in the summer months is the wall-to-wall blue sky. But weather is hard to predict in the mountains and sometimes you’ll need to find activities for kids in Canmore on a rainy day. Here are a few of the best:
18. Canmore Museum
Learn about the history of the Town of Canmore at the Canmore Museum. A virtual reality exhibit will give visitors an opportunity to relive the sights and sounds of the mines in the 1950’s. Other exhibits share stories of the Indigenous People and the history of mining in Canmore. A little education on a rainy day goes a long way.
19. Elevation Place
Our beautiful recreation centre, Elevation Place is full of family friendly activities for a rainy day in Canmore. Elevation Place has a leisure pool with a splash park, water slide and lazy river, a huge indoor climbing center, a library and even a small indoor playground for little ones. With so many amazing things to do around Canmore, it’s often quiet on nice days during the summer months, but it fills up quick on rainy days, so get there early.
20. Arts Place
Conveniently located in downtown Canmore, Arts Place is where community meets creativity. Offering a wide selection of programs and activities, it seems like there is always something fun going on at Arts Place. For families visiting Canmore, a good place to start is the single session workshops at Arts Place.
21. Top Things to do in Banff National Park with Kids
Chances are very good that if you are visiting Canmore, you will also take some day trips to nearby Banff National Park. If so, we highly recommend you read our full post on the best things to do in Banff with kids.
22. Top Things to do in Kananaskis Country with Kids
If we’re being completely honest, we’ve spent just as much time in Kananaskis with kids as in Banff. Both Alberta mountain parks have amazing family activities, but I think we enjoy the less touristy vibe of Kananaskis Country.
We mentioned a few of our favorite Kananaskis hikes above, but some of our most favorite things to do with kids in nearby Kananaskis Country are:
- Troll Falls Trail: An easy, rewarding 3.5 km walk through the forest to a beautiful waterfall. There’s even a newly created trail beyond the Troll Falls to go upstream to see even more waterfalls!
- Karst Spring Trail: Without question, the Karst Spring Trail is one of my favorite family hikes. The first stretch isn’t the greatest, but the payoff at the end is incredible. You won’t believe the power of the water simply emerging from nowhere out of the side of the mountain, creating this massive, cascading waterfall. Karst Spring is a sight you won’t soon forget.
- Blackshale Suspension Bridge: This easy Kananaskis walk is great fun for the kids. Located across a ravine on the High Rockies Trail, the Blackshale Suspension bridge is not only a ton of fun to walk across, but it affords some amazing panoramic views.
Don’t miss our full list of the best larch hikes with kids in Alberta if you are visiting in September.
Gear Rentals in Canmore
When packing for your family trip to Canmore, be aware that you don’t need to bring everything from home. You can rent a lot of important mountain gear when you get here.
Rent Camping Gear
Rental Bikes for Kids
When traveling, it can often be hard to rent bikes for kids. Thankfully you can find kids rental bikes in Canmore with 20″ or 24″ tires for rent. A 20″ tire bike should fit kids around 5 and half years old to about 8 years old. A 24″ tire bike will fit 8-11 years old. For kids younger than 5 years old a chariot trailer or trail-a-bike is another option.
For any bike rentals, make sure they will also have a appropriately sized helmet for both you and your child.
Bear Spray Rentals
You can’t bring bear spray on an airplane, but it can be purchased at any outdoor gear store when you arrive in Canmore. Bear spray is pretty expensive, so if you won’t need it outside of your family trip, you can rent bear spray in Canmore at Wilderness Equipment Rentals and Gear Up Mountain Sports.
Remember – bear spray is completely useless if it’s inside your backpack. Ensure you have a proper external bear spray holster with you.
Stand Up Paddle Board Rentals
Enjoy Your Trip to Canmore with Kids!
We are excited to welcome your family to our hometown! We hope that you found our post about traveling to Canmore with kids useful and inspirational.
More Resources for Canmore with Kids
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Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.