If you have been reading for a while you know that I grew up in Saskatchewan. However, the West was pulling me and after University in Alberta I ended up in Vancouver. I always knew that I wanted to live near the ocean and we did for 5 years. Often my view while playing with my girls was an endless sea of blue with towering mountains as the backdrop.
My heart dropped a little when we were moving to Calgary as I knew that I would miss the fresh salty air and the long beach days. I knew that Calgary offered lots of different hiking options like these 10 hikes for preschoolers. But Calgary has not disappointed and I have found 10 beaches to explore near Calgary to fill my water fun needs. Just make sure to bring a pail and shovel!
10 Beaches to Explore near Calgary
Location: Sikome Lake, Fish Creek Provincial Park Map Distance from Calgary: Located in the South of Calgary Activities: Sandy beach; Swimming; Playground Facilities: Flush Bathroom; changerooms; picnic tables Cost: 0-5 free $2/single; $10 /family; Season passes available Accessibility: Accessible facilities AND a beach wheelchair available for use at the main (north) entrance.
Sikome Lake is a man-made beach located in theSouth side in Fish Creek Provincial Park. This has a nice sandy beach for anyone wanting to play in the sand and the water is warmer than glacier-fed water. The water from the lake is provided by 3 freshwater wells and an on-location water treatment plant makes the quality of the water is maintained. The one downside is that is now costs to enter as Alberta Parks needs the funds to maintain the facility costs. Learn more about Sikomi Lake here.
Location: Under bridge on south side of Edworthy Park Map Distance from Calgary: Locate in Calgary Activities: River access; Playgrounds Facilities: Flush toilets, picnic tables located in park , Angel’s Cafe Cost: Free Accessibility: Bathrooms accessible and park but rocks to water a challenge for those with limited mobility.
Just under the bridge on the south side of Edworthy park is an awesome spot to hang out by the water. Enjoy throwing rocks into the Bow river or playing under the bridge. It is a great place to enjoy the water and if you get hungry make sure to head across the bridge to Angel’s Cafe on the north side for coffee, ice cream, or lunch! Learn more about Edworthy Park here.
Caution: The Bow River flows quickly. Use extreme caution if you decide to go into the water. Knee deep is often too deep and a fall can on occasion cause kids to be swept by the current.
Location: Bowness Park Map Distance from Calgary: In Calgary Activities: River Access; Lagoon Access; Playground; Wading pool Facilities: Flush Toilets, Coffee shop, Restaurant; Train rides (summer); Boat rentals (summer) Cost: Website Accessibility: Accessible Park
Located on the North Side of Calgary is one of my favourite places to take the kids. The bow river flows quickly through the park but rocks that extend into the river allow you to dip your toes and throw rocks. The lagoon is a favourite for kids where you can watch ducks and when the water is low enjoy throwing rocks into the water. In the summer months boats are available for rent and a train runs through the park as well. Learn more about Bowness Park here.
Location: The Breach, St. Patrick’s Island Map Distance from Calgary: Downtown Calgary Activities: Swim; River Access; Explore; Playground (~500 m) Facilities: ~500 m bathroom; food 700 m walk Cost: N/A Accessibility: Accessible trails but rocky to “beach”
Another one of my favourite places to go in Calgary. From East Village it is located across George C. King Bridge (formerly St. Patrick’s Bridge). The Bow River flows into this little “inlet” allowing kids to swim and play safely on the rocky beach. We have spent hours playing by the water and exploring the rest of the island. Enjoy a chocolate croissant from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and a coffee from Phil and Sebastien’s at the Simmons Building while watching your children play! Learn more about St. Patrick’s Island here.
Location: Sandy Beach Park Map Distance from Calgary: In Calgary Activities: River Access; Playground; Facilities: Picnic tables; playground, washroom; Cost: Free Accessibility: Picnic areass accessible; Rocky near River
Sandy Beach is not a sandy beach but a really nice rocky beach for kids to play by the slow moving elbow river. The slow moving, shallow water makes this rocky beach one of the safest river spots for kids to play in Calgary. Learn more about Sandy Beach Park here.
Location: Big Hill Springs Map Distance from Calgary: 42 km; 35 minutes from downtown Calgary Activities: Play in water/waterwalls; Explore; Sand; Trails Facilities: Outhouses Cost: Free Accessibility: Wheel chair accessible to water; Trails are TrailRider accessible
Big Hill Springs is not just a great place to go for a short hike. It also boasts a really fun place for young children to swim and explore. On a hot day it can get quite busy but the shallow water, small waterfalls and logs to balance on will provide endless exploration for your little ones. On this rainy day after the hike our daughters waded and explored for an hour after having lunch. It was impossible trying to drag them away! Learn more about Big Hill Springs here.
Location: Sibbald Lake Day Use Area Map Distance from Calgary: 81 km; 55 minutes from Downtown Calgary Activities: Sand; Swim; Trails Facilities: Outhouse Cost: Free Accessibility: Down 2 sets of wooden stairs to sandy beach area
Located in Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreation Park is a small lake with a sandy/rocky beach. Although this lake is a little murky I wanted to mention it as an alternative to some of the more frequented beach spots around Calgary. It is perfect for dipping your toes, digging in the sand and paddling around in a small raft or paddle board. The picnic tables are located at the top of the hill and to get down to the beach is 2 sets of wooden stairs. Learn more about Sibbald Lake day use area here.
Location: Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country Map Distance from Calgary: 85 km; 52 minutes from Calgary Activities: Rough Sand; Swimming; Trails Facilities: Outhouses Cost: Free Accessibility: Need to go down big rocks then ~20 metres on the sand
A beach with beautiful mountain views located in the Kananaskis area. Avoid the first exit to the Barrier Lake Information centre and keep driving less then 5 minutes to the Barrier Lake exit. The small inlet away from the Dam is our favourite place to dip our toes and dig in the sand. Bring a small boat, paddle boards and life jackets to enjoy floating on the water. Learn more about Barrier Lake here.
Location: Near Nordic Centre in Canmore , Alberta Map Distance from Calgary: 104 km, 1 hour from Calgary Activities: Swim; Rough Sand Beach; Trails; Facilities: Outhouses; Picnic Tables Cost: $20.00 parking for 4 hours. Accessibility: Easy to get too on wide gravel path. Beach to water is 3 m.
Quarry Lake uplifts my soul every time I visit with the kids. It is an hour drive from Calgary to a beach surrounded by mountains. Bring a pail and shovel, blanket and enjoy the views! The only facilities here are the outhouses so make sure to pack a picnic lunch. There are lots of trails around the area and they are perfect for jogging with your stroller if you want to get enjoy some extra activity. Learn more about Quarry Lake here.
Location: Johnson Lake, Near Banff Map Distance from Calgary: 130km; 1 h 30 minutes from Downtown Calgary Activities: Swim; Sand; Trails Facilities: Outhouse; Picnic Tables Cost: Free Accessibility: Beach accessible from Parking lot
An hour and 30 minutes from Calgary and just outside of Banff is Johnson Lake. This lake is a nice sandy beach with stunning mountain views. Bring a paddle board or small row boat and life jackets and head on a little adventure upstream. This mountain beach is a popular spot for enjoying the hot summer days. Learn more about Johnson Lake here.
Want more to discover beautiful easy hikes near Banff, Canmore, Calgary, Kananaskis and Bragg Creek?
Purchase our hiking guide for families Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.
Purchase (Ebook) Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.