Are you a visitor or a local looking for things to do in Canmore with kids in the winter? If so, you are in the right place. My two children were very young when we moved to Canmore almost two decades ago. We have been in your situation many times, trying to find things to do with young kids through to teenagers.
We have given you various options, some for younger children, some for teenagers, and many of the activities suit all ages. Many of the activities are free or have minimal cost. For those activities where you might feel more comfortable (and safer) with a guide, we have recommended companies we have experience with and trust.
Don’t have time to read the full article? Our favourite things to do in Canmore with kids in winter are:
- Take a Johnston Canyon Icewalk – the best way to experience the frozen landscape.
- Try a Canmore Caving Adventure Tour – for kids looking for adventure.
- Go tobogganing – for a fun, cheap/free activity for all ages.
Explore the Icy Splendor of Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is an enchanting destination for an ice walk that’s both accessible and awe-inspiring. This scenic trail, located 50km north of Canmore, transforms into a magical winter wonderland, ideal for families seeking a unique outdoor experience.
The Johnston Canyon trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, making it an excellent option for families with children. However, the icy conditions in winter necessitate the use of ice cleats or crampons. These provide the necessary traction to explore the canyon’s frozen beauty safely.
For those looking for a more structured experience, check out the guided Johnston Canyon Icewalk tour. This four-hour excursion is suitable for children aged eight and up, making it a perfect family outing.
“Jake the tour guide was awesome! He was incredibly knowledgeable and funny. The conditions were great and the scenery was amazing“– Julie (SEE MORE REVIEWS)
The tour includes round-trip transportation from Banff, ice cleats, and hiking poles, ensuring everyone is well-equipped for the journey. A professional guide will lead you along the canyon’s steel walkways to the stunning lower and upper waterfalls.
The guide’s insights into the canyon’s history and geology add an educational element to the adventure. As you navigate the icy path, watch for local wildlife that thrives in this winter habitat.
Whether you choose the self-guided path with your family or the guided tour, walking Johnston Canyon in winter is an unforgettable experience. It’s a chance to marvel at nature’s frozen artistry in one of Canada’s most picturesque settings.
Try A Winter Caving Adventure
For something a little different from the usual winter sports, try a family-friendly caving experience at Rat’s Nest Cave. Canmore Cave Tours offers the Canmore Caving Adventure Tour, a 4.5-hour guided adventure suitable for children from ten years up.
This tour will appeal to adults and children alike, and while winter might not seem the best time for a cave tour, the temperature remains pretty constant (and above zero!) year-round.
“Cave tour was amazing! Our guide John made us feel comfortable and kept us safe at all times while having a blast!!”– Kodi (SEE MORE REVIEWS)
Children are naturally curious and adventurous. Rat’s Nest Cave provides a safe yet exciting environment for them to explore and satisfy their sense of adventure. They will enjoy crawling through large caverns and climbing over rock formations.
The cave is a natural classroom. As children navigate the cave, they’ll encounter fascinating geological formations like stalactites, stalagmites, and even prehistoric bones.
This is an opportunity for children to engage in a fun, educational, and physically active experience, making their Canmore visit even more memorable.
This is a great one for younger kids; they will love it if you don’t have a toboggan; first, head to Canadian Tire, where you can pick up toboggans for very little.
Then, you have a few options for location.
Canmore Nordic Centre
The Nordic Centre has a dedicated area that’s free to use. A gentle slope is located in a scenic bowl next to the Wax Room Building. It’s a great spot to enjoy beautiful mountain views while you sled.
Eagle Terrace is a residential area, and this tobogganing hill is very popular with the locals. It suits kids of different ages, as you can opt for a speedy ride down or a shorter, gentler slide more suitable for younger children.
It is set in an attractive park on the eastern side of town with a playground nearby. Simply head for the Eagle Terrace parking lot.
This is quite a long tobogganing run on the eastern side of town. Look for a small parking lot on the right side of Benchlands Trail a few 100 metres after you cross the highway.
This is an attractive spot on the banks of the Bow River; it is quite a short and gentle slope but can work well for very young children.
Finally, ensure you stay safe and maybe consider renting or buying helmets for the kids. And always make sure their path is clear before they set off; I have seen a few near misses over the years.
Ice Skate With Santa
A Christmas tradition with locals is skating with Santa on Canmore’s Town Pond, and this was always one of my favourite things to do in Canmore with kids.
Each year, as December rolls in, Canmore Town Pond freezes and transforms into a winter wonderland. You can skate here any time, but the highlight is when Santa Claus laces up his skates to join in on the fun.
Families, friends, and visitors gather around the pond, creating a cozy community atmosphere.
The event usually includes hot chocolate and treats, adding a sweet touch to the chilly evening. It’s a unique way to experience Canmore’s natural beauty while participating in a fun, family-friendly activity.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, if you have young children, skating with Santa at Canmore’s Pond is a must-do magical experience.
Not got skates? Don’t worry; you have several options for skate rental, including Gearup Mountain Sports Rental.
Discover Grotto Canyon’s Winter Charm
Winter transforms Grotto Canyon, just a 15-minute drive from Canmore, into a magical wonderland. Walking this canyon in the colder months reveals a serene, frosty landscape that is easily navigable and perfect for a family adventure.
What makes Grotto Canyon a standout winter hike is its accessibility. Even in snowy conditions, the path remains easy to follow. For families venturing on their own, the key is to be well-prepared.
Ice cleats or crampons are essential for safe navigation on the icy terrain, ensuring a secure and enjoyable hike for everyone, including children.
A hiking tour, such as the Canyons & Cave Paintings tour, is a safe, hassle-free option if you are more comfortable with a guided experience. A guided adventure is not just a hike; it’s an educational excursion where families can learn about the local geology and history, including intriguing Hopi native stories.
“The whole family including three teenage sons really enjoyed the trip (my sons normally hate walking). Jacob was a great guide. We loved the tales as well as the trail. Highly recommend”.– Cara (SEE MORE REVIEWS)
A tour will provide ice-walking crampons, plus the bonus of a provided snack keeps the energy high.
The hike meanders through a water-sculpted canyon, past ancient pictographs, captivating waterfalls, and unique hoodoo formations. This three to four-hour hike is suitable for children aged 12 and up, making it an excellent choice for families with older kids.
Skate On An Outdoor Ice Rink
Skating on the outdoor ice rinks is one of the best things about winter for many local children. Living just a stone’s throw from one of these rinks, our kids would disappear for hours after school with their skates, helmets and hockey sticks.
If you are a visitor travelling without skates, head for one of the sports rental companies in town (such as GearUp) and get yourselves kitted up with skates and helmets.
Canmore offers four outdoor rinks, each catering to different preferences and abilities. The Rundle Crescent and Peaks Park Ice Surfaces are ideal for the little ones, including toddlers. These locations offer a safer and smaller environment that is perfect for young beginners.
If you have older children or want to play ice hockey, the Cougar Creek and Larch Ice Rinks are more suited to your needs. Both are equipped with boards, lighting for evening skating and onsite washrooms. Plus, their ice surfaces are maintained daily, ensuring a quality experience.
Join The Locals At A Hockey Game
Catching a game of the Canmore Eagles, our local junior hockey team is a fantastic way to spend an evening in Canmore. If you haven’t ever seen an ice hockey game, then I would highly recommend you give this a try.
The Eagles, part of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), bring some real energy and skill to the ice, making it an exciting event for everyone, whether you’re a big hockey fan or just looking for a fun local activity.
Games are held at the Canmore Recreation Centre, which turns into a lively spot on game nights. It’s an excellent place for families and friends to come together and enjoy the game. Kids, in particular, get a kick out of watching the fast-paced action right before them.
Supporting the Eagles is also a great way to connect with the Canmore community. The team is a big part of the town, and there’s a sense of local pride in cheering them on.
Snowshoeing in Kananaskis Country
Snowshoeing in Kananaskis Country is an incredible way to experience the Canadian wilderness during winter. I haven’t ever mastered cross-country skiing, but this is a great way to get out into the mountains. No previous experience or particular skills are required.
Imagine strapping on your snowshoes and trekking up 984 feet (300 meters) to a stunning sub-alpine lake, all while surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Canadian Rockies.
The Snowshoe in Kananaskis Country tour is a great activity, especially for older children who can handle a bit of a hike. The tour includes snowshoe rental, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own gear.
“It was the highlight of our Canadian adventure this year. Dennis was our guide and he was fantastic. I would recommend the tour to anyone especially families”– Craig (SEE MORE REVIEWS)
Following a guide is helpful, as they know the best trails for amazing views of the mountains, towering cliffs, and the serene winter landscape.
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself person, you can rent snowshoes and head to the Nordic Centre. They have a bunch of trails there, which are great for exploring at your own pace.
Hit The Slopes For Downhill Skiing Or Snowboarding
Canmore is the perfect base camp for families seeking exceptional downhill skiing (or snowboarding) experiences. There are four world-class resorts, all less than an hour away.
Nakiska Ski Area
Just a 45-minute drive from Canmore, Nakiska is a family ski haven. Remember the ’88 Winter Olympics? That’s where Nakiska comes in. It’s got runs for all levels and an excellent ski school for beginners. It’s perfect for a day of family fun on the slopes.
Only half an hour away, Norquay is a cozy, family-friendly spot near Banff. It’s got a mix of terrain and a cool tubing park that’s a blast for kids (and, let’s be honest, adults too). Mount Norquay is also the only resort in the region to offer night skiing.
About an hour’s drive, Sunshine Village is where you go for some serious snow. It’s got runs for everyone and childcare for the tiny tots, so you can hit those slopes knowing the little ones are having fun, too.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
Approximately 40 minutes away, Lake Louise Ski Resort is a jewel in the Canadian Rockies. Its stunning views, extensive terrain, and family-friendly slopes make it a paradise for ski enthusiasts of all ages.
So, grab some gear, round up the family, and explore the snowy magic outside Canmore.
Build A Snowman
When it comes to keeping children entertained during the winter months, building a snowman is a classic, joyful activity that never gets old. With abundant snowfall, Canmore is the perfect setting for this timeless winter fun.
Here are a few suggestions for places in Canmore to roll up some snow and create your frosty masterpiece with the family:
This small park is close to downtown Canmore; it overlooks the Bow River and has stunning views of Ha Ling Peak and the Three Sisters Mountains.
Quarry Lake Park
Quarry Lake Park is a local favourite just a short drive from the town center. Its wide-open spaces are perfect for rolling the biggest snowballs and breathtaking surrounding views.
Located just north of the downtown area, Lions Park is a large park in a residential area. It is popular with the locals and has the added benefit of a playground.
So, grab your mittens a carrot for the nose, and head to one of these spots in Canmore for a snowman-building adventure with your kids!
Go Dog Sledding In Canmore With Friendly Huskies
Are you looking for a fun and different way to enjoy winter? If so, dog sledding in Canmore is a fantastic option! You get to meet many super energetic sled dogs excited to meet you and get going. These dogs love to run, and watching them in action is fantastic.
The rides take you through some beautiful spots in Spray Lakes Provincial Park, just outside Canmore. Imagine cruising through snowy trails with incredible views of mountains all around – it’s like something out of a postcard.
We would recommend Howling Dog Tours. Local couple Rich and Dana Bittner have run this company for as long as I can remember. Their love of the dogs is evident; they use only the best practices in working with and caring for them.
Attend the Canmore Winter Carnival
Every year, Canmore comes alive with its annual Canmore Winter Carnival, a weekend-long celebration packed with winter fun. You will find ice carving displays, skating, street hockey, competitions such as kid and mutt races and an all-ages party.
The Canmore Winter Carnival usually takes place on the last weekend of February. However, the dates vary yearly, so watching the town website for the latest information is a good idea. As of now, the dates for the 2024 carnival are still to be announced.
What makes this event even better? It’s free to attend, whether you’re a local or just visiting; the Canmore Winter Carnival is a fantastic way to experience the town’s vibrant community spirit and winter festivities.
Take A Picture With Canmore’s Big Head
Big Head is a unique landmark in downtown Canmore that often captures the imagination of its youngest visitors. Standing prominently, this artistic piece isn’t just a regular statue; it’s a source of wonder for children.
Why do kids love it? Firstly, it’s the sheer size and unexpectedness of the sculpture. Children are naturally drawn to things that stand out, and the Big Head, with its larger-than-life appearance, certainly does that.
The sculpture is like something from a storybook come to life and a perfect backdrop for family photos. Make sure you build it into your trip to downtown Canmore.
Spend A Few Hours At Elevation Place
If the cold weather becomes too much and you are looking for an indoor activity for a few hours, head to the Aquatics Centre at Elevation Place.
The Aquatics Centre at Elevation Place is the perfect indoor water oasis with plenty to do for adults and children. The family can float down the lazy river, experience the thrill of the giant waterslide, or exercise in the full-sized lap pool.
There are also shallow areas for younger kids and adults, a large hot tub and a steam room.
Best Western Pocaterra Canmore Waterslide
Our choice of hotel in the days before we lived here was the Best Western Pocaterra Canmore. It is an excellent hotel in all respects, but its best feature for families is a pool complete with a waterslide. It was a great way for the kids to burn off excess energy at the end of the day. There is also a hot tub and a wellness centre for the adults.
Sample Treats At A Canmore Candy Store
Main Street has several Canmore candy stores for treats of candy, ice cream, chocolate and much more. Our personal favourite is the Old Tyme Candy Store, but we are a little biased because our son worked here when he was younger.
However, they do have a great range of sweet treats from around the world, and we love that we can buy British candy from here. If ice cream is more your thing, check out the Scoopin’ Moose, but be prepared to wait in summer; it is very popular!!
“….the waterslide and fresh cookies were a big hit with the kids. Also, the room was nice and spacious. Good service and hearty breakfast.”– Deepika
Indoor Activities In Canmore For Kids
Canmore is known for its stunning outdoor scenery; if the cold becomes too much, then the town also offers a variety of indoor activities in Canmore for kids. Here are a few options:
- Splash around and have fun at the Aquatics Centre at Elevation Place
- Ice skate at Canmore Recreation Centre
- Try out Canmore Museum’s interactive displays for children
- Watch a Canmore Eagles ice hockey game
Free Things To Do In Canmore With Toddlers In Winter
This is an easy one because toddlers love the snow. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Canmore with toddlers in winter:
- Build a snowman
- Have a snowball fight
- Go tobogganing
- Wrap up warm and head for a playground
- Walk Policemans Creek Boardwalk
Final Thoughts On Things To Do In Canmore With Kids In Winter
So there you have it, our picks for the best things to do in Canmore with kids in Winter. As the winter season blankets Canmore, the town transforms into a wonderland of activities, offering something for everyone, from the tiniest toddlers to adventurous teenagers.
For the younger ones, activities like building a snowman in Riverside Park or skating with Santa on Canmore’s Town Pond provide delightful and memorable experiences. Meanwhile, teenagers can find excitement in dog sledding adventures, hitting the slopes for skiing at Nakiska Ski Area, or experiencing the rush of an ice hockey game.
The key to enjoying these winter wonders is to wrap up warm and embrace the chilly outdoors. Canmore’s winter is not just about the cold; it’s about the warm community spirit, the joy of shared experiences, and the beauty of the natural landscape in its most peaceful form.