Ultimate Guide to Canmore with Kids in Summer

Are you looking for the ultimate family vacation destination? Look no further than Canmore, a charming mountain town nestled in the Canadian Rockies. With a plethora of activities suitable for all ages, there’s something for everyone in your family to enjoy.

As locals to Canmore, we are excited to share our mountain town with you! From exciting outdoor adventures to leisurely strolls, get ready to create unforgettable memories on your family vacation to Canmore with kids in summer!

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Best Things to do in Canmore with Kids in Summer

With its stunning mountain scenery, Canmore is the perfect mountain town for the whole family to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature. If your family loves to be outdoors, visit Canmore and immerse yourself in its breathtaking surroundings.

This post focuses mainly on activities that are in or very near to Canmore.

Canmore Walking Paths

The town of Canmore has several walking paths that meander along the Bow River and even connect the neighborhoods outside of the the downtown core.

If your family prefers a more leisurely pace, the walking paths along the Bow River offer a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of places to stop for family picnics, as there are numerous rest areas and picturesque spots to enjoy a meal together. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the stunning mountain views and potential wildlife sightings will provide fantastic photo opportunities.

Engine bridge in Canmore.
Scenic view of the Engine Bridge in Canmore.

The Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk is another scenic trail that meanders alongside the creek, offering a peaceful, family-friendly stroll. The trailhead is conveniently located near the Big Head Sculpture in downtown Canmore, making it easily accessible for a relaxing walk.

Riding Bikes in Canmore

The Bow River pathways aren’t just excellent for a walk, they are also ideal for a fun family bike ride. The pathways that meander around the Bow River, past the Engine Bridge also venture up into the Three Sisters Area of Canmore.

Two kids biking on the paved bike paths in Canmore.
Our kids riding bikes from Three Sisters to downtown Canmore.

These paved trails are easy to navigate and make for a perfect summer morning outing. Just make sure your kids don’t venture too far ahead, due to wildlife.

Exploring Downtown Canmore

Downtown Canmore offers a charming and vibrant atmosphere for families to explore. With its pedestrian-friendly main street, a visit to downtown Canmore is perfect for shopping and dining with kids.

You’ll find shopping opportunities for the whole family in downtown Canmore. Here are some recommendations for kid-friendly shopping in Canmore:

  • Café Books has a collection of books by local authors.
  • HiJinx Toy Shop is full of fun toys for kids. Good luck getting your kids to leave.
  • Olde Thyme Candy Shoppe is the perfect stop on a summer evening walk.
two kids eating ice cream at Ice Cream Bus in Canmore in summer.
The Old Ice Cream Bus is a favourite for our family.

Don’t forget to also enjoy ice cream from one of Canmore’s best ice cream shops on those hot summer days. The Old Ice Cream Bus is a local favourite.

Canmore Hiking Trails

Canmore is a hiker’s paradise, with a variety of family-friendly trails that cater to all ages and abilities. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a more challenging trek, there’s a trail for everyone in your family to enjoy.

mother and children in front of Grassi Lakes in Canmore.
When we still had to carry a baby up the Grassi Lakes hike.

Grassi Lakes Trail

Total Distance: 3.8 km / 2.4 miles

Elevation: 170 m (560 feet)

Hiking Grassi Lakes trail in Canmore with Kids.
Our kids hiking up the Grassi Lake Upper Trail.

The Grassi Lakes Trail is a must-do for families visiting Canmore. This popular hike offers two route options, one of which is more difficult. The Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail is the more difficult one that includes more stairs and switchbacks. The Grassi Lakes Upper Trail is easier as it continues on the wide path all the way up to the lakes.

Both trails are the same distance and lead to the stunning turquoise Grassi Lakes, where you can marvel at the mesmerizing colors and watch rock climbers scaling the cliffs behind the lakes. Please note, there is NO SWIMMING in the Grassi Lakes.

The trail is suitable for all ages and abilities and is just a short drive from downtown Canmore, making it an ideal activity for families.

Heart Creek Trail

Total Distance: 4.7 km / 2.9 miles

Elevation: 300 m (900 ft)

two kids walking across log on Heart Creek hike in Kananaskis.
Our kids balancing on one of the many logs along the Heart Creek trail.

Another popular kid-friendly hiking trail just east of Canmore off the TransCanada highway is the Heart Creek trail. This easy Canmore hiking trail follow the creek over bridges until you reach a the end of the trail where there’s a large rock wall. Kids will love hiking over the bridges and throwing rocks in the creek.

You can also spot some rock climbers along the way.

Heart Creek Bunker

Distance: 4.0 km / 2.5 miles

Elevation: 235 m (770 ft)

Hiking Heart Creek Bunker with Kids.
We took Grandpa to the Heart Creek Bunker.

You can extend your day by hiking to the Heart Creek Bunker. This short hike leaves from the same parking lot but at the opposite end.

The Heart Creek bunker hike itself is nothing special, but at the end you’ll reach this Cold War era bunker carved 55m deep into the side of the mountain. Built in the 1960’s, it was designed to protect the nation’s critical documents against a catastrophic emergency, such as a hydrogen bomb.

Venturing into the cold, damp and VERY dark cave is incredibly fun for kids of all ages. Don’t forget to pack headlamps for this adventure.

Grotto Canyon

Distance: 5.2 km / 3.2 miles

Elevation: 259 m (850 ft)

boy hiking Grotto Canyon near Canmore.
Our son hiking up Grotto Canyon in the fall.

For a memorable family adventure, hike the Grotto Canyon Trail near Canmore. This scenic trail winds through a picturesque canyon and features a beautiful waterfall, as well as ancient pictographs (please don’t touch them).

You will spend some time crossing the creek and hopping from rock to rock, so shoes that can get wet are a good idea (especially for kids)! This is the type of exploratory hike that kids love!

Quarry Lake

When the summer sun is at its peak, Quarry Lake is the perfect place to cool off. This stunning mountain lake, transformed from a former open pit mine site, provides a range of family-friendly water activities like swimming, sunbathing, and nature walks. You can even bring your stand-up paddle board for a fun paddle on the lake.

There’s a small sandy beach area where kids can play, it has a boundary of large rocks in the water. Be aware the water gets deep quickly past those large rocks.

Mountain reflection on Quarry Lake in Canmore.
Mountain reflections on Quarry Lake.

With stunning mountain views and crystal-clear waters, Quarry Lake is the perfect spot to spend a hot summer day with the family.

Remember that the lake is not supervised by a lifeguard, so swimmers must take responsibility for their own safety.

girl standing in front of Quarry Lake in Canmore.
Our daughter playing at the beach at Quarry lake.

For those interested in exploring the area around Quarry Lake, numerous nature trails await. The Quarry Lake Loop is a short and easy walk around the lake that offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Local Tip

Paid parking is in effect at Quarry Lake and it is closely monitored, so don’t risk getting a ticket.

Mountain Biking with Kids in Canmore

If mountain biking is more your family’s speed, rent mountain bikes and head to Canmore Nordic Centre. You’ll find a network of trails suitable for all skill levels.

For younger kids, the trails around Quarry Lake are perfect, providing a safe and enjoyable biking experience. And for the more experienced riders, challenge yourselves on the more technical trails at the Nordic Centre.

girl mountain biking in Canmore.
Our daughter mountain biking around Canmore.

You’ll be delighted by the stunning mountain views and well-maintained trails!

If you don’t have your own bikes, don’t worry! There are several bike rental shops in Canmore, plus Trail Sports at the Nordic Centre has rentals.

Family Orienteering

If you’re looking for an activity that combines outdoor exploration with problem-solving, orienteering is the perfect choice for your family trip to Canmore. The Canmore Nordic Centre offers four exciting orienteering courses set amidst the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains. Equipped with a map and compass, your family will navigate through checkpoints, honing your map reading skills and teamwork.

Don’t worry if you’ve never tried orienteering before! The courses at Canmore Nordic Centre, including the Olympic cross country course, cater to all skill levels, ensuring a fun and engaging experience for everyone.

Disc Golf

With two popular disc golf courses in Canmore (one in the Three Sisters area and the other at the Canmore Nordic Centre), here’s another activity that the whole family will enjoy. You get to be out in nature and having fun as a family.

Playgrounds

As parents we know that some times kids just need time to play and burn off energy. Luckily, Canmore has playground situated with some of the BEST views! Grab yourself a coffee and enjoy the views while your kids play on the playground structures.

girl playing on playground in Canmore in summer.
Our daughter enjoying one of Canmore’s most scenic playgrounds!

Three of playgrounds with the best views in Canmore are the West Canmore River park, the Eagle Terrace Park and the Three Sisters Train Park. These Canmore playgrounds are fun and challenging for kids plus you’ll often find other kids there for them to play with.

Picnic in Canmore

A warm summer day just screams picnic! Riverside Park or Quarry Lake are the two best places in Canmore for a picnic.

two kids sitting on bench having a picnic.
We tend to do our picnics along the hiking trail!

Lazy River Floats

For a truly memorable experience, enjoy a relaxing float down the Bow River with your family. With the stunning mountain views surrounding you, floating down the river is a fantastic way to appreciate the natural beauty of Canmore. We recommend a guided float trip with Canmore River Adventures, who offers a family-friendly 1-hour scenic float on the Bow River.

Elevation Place: Indoor Fun on a Rainy Day

If the weather turns unfavorable during your Canmore vacation, don’t worry – Elevation Place is your refuge. This impressive indoor recreational center hosts a variety of activities to keep the entire family entertained, such as:

  • a remarkable rock climbing gym
  • a lazy river
  • waterslide
  • kiddie pool
  • hot tub

Elevation Place’s indoor climbing gym offers a thrilling experience for all ages. With climbing walls suitable for beginners to experts, everyone in the family can challenge themselves and have a great time. If you’re new to climbing, lessons and equipment are available to help get you started.

Elevation place climbing gym in Canmore.
Our son at the climbing gym at Elevation Place in Canmore.

Along with a fitness centre, Elevation also has a pool with a hot tub and sauna. The large waterslide is currently closed, but kids will still have fun on the small slides and play area in the pool.

Canmore Cave Tours

For families in search of a distinctive and exciting adventure, Canmore Cave Tours provides a an experience that everyone will go home talking about. Explore the underground wonders of Rat’s Nest Cave with knowledgeable guides, and learn about the area’s geology, cave formation, and fossils during your caving expedition.

With tours suitable for kids aged 10 and up, this is a fantastic opportunity to discover a hidden world beneath the Canadian Rockies.

Cycle the Legacy Trail

For a family-friendly outdoor activity that merges exercise with stunning scenery, the Legacy Trail is your answer. This 26.8 km paved path connects the town of Canmore to Banff and offers a fantastic cycling experience for all ages and abilities.

boy and father biking Legacy Trail between Canmore and Banff.
Dan and our son riding the Legacy Trail from Banff to Canmore.

With ample scenic stops and picnic spots en route, the Legacy Trail offers an ideal way to spend a day discovering the beautiful surroundings.

Since the Legacy Trail can get busy on summer days and especially with tourist on e-bikes, I always recommend biking the Legacy Trail with kids first thing in the morning when it’s less busy. If you want to go only one way, Banff to Canmore is the easiest way to bike the Legacy Trail.

The Roam Transit regional buses (route 3) are equipped with bike racks which you can take to get back to your car if needed.

Gear Up in Canmore is a great place to rent bikes.

Visit Kananaskis

The area surrounding Canmore (including the Canmore Nordic Centre) are part of the Kananaskis Provincial Park. Within Kananaskis, you can find even more kid-friendly hikes and summer activities.

Just off the TransCanada Highway east of Canmore, you’ll find the Bow Valley Provincial Park. This park has camping, biking and hiking. The hiking trails are easy and kid-friendly as is the paved bike trail.

girl hiking in Kananaskis.
Our daughter hiking in Bow Valley Provincial Park.

Along Highway 40 in Kananaskis, you don’t have to drive very far to find some great family friendly activities. Barrier Lake is just a 30 minute drive from Canmore, where you can play on the rocky beach, kayak on Barrier Lake or go on a hike. Kananaskis Outfitters rents kayaks at Barrier Lake.

Barrier Lake in Kananaskis.
Barrier Lake in Kananaskis.

Near Kananaskis Village, you’ll find the popular Troll Falls Hike. This is a great family-friendly hike year-round.

two kids looking at waterfall on Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis.
Our kids at Troll Falls. They’ve been hiking this trail since they were toddlers.

Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Canmore

Canmore offers a plethora of family-friendly restaurants. Here are some of our favourite family-friendly restaurants:

Eating at Rocky Mountain Flatbread in Canmore with Kids.
Our son ready to dig into his pizza at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.
  1. Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. is a popular choice where you can expect delicious pizza made from fresh local and organic produce. They have a special kids’ night on Tuesdays where children can help make their own pizzas. Who doesn’t love pizza? This one is an easy choice!
  2. Summit Cafe is known for its generous breakfast options at affordable prices, with enough variety for kids to share or eat off of adult plates. The cafe provides a cozy atmosphere and is perfect for breakfast or lunch with kids.
  3. The Grizzly Paw is a great place for families looking to enjoy some delicious food in a warm, welcoming setting.
  4. Miner’s Lamp at Georgetown Inn offers great fish and chips among other kid-friendly choices, with a generous outdoor seating area complete with a play area for kids.
  5. Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. is a cherished local institution in Canmore. It specializes in freshly made artisan bagels, soups, cream cheeses, treats, and locally roasted coffee. They offer a wide variety of bagels and bagelwiches, featuring specialty cut meats and house-made cream cheeses, alongside local coffee and tea options.
  6. Boston Pizza is a chain restaurant in Canada, but sometimes you just need easy with kids. With a fun kids menu there’s guaranteed to be something your kids will enjoy in the menu in this family-friendly environment.
Eating at Boston Pizza in Canmore with Kids.
The activity books at Boston Pizza do a good job at keeping kids entertained while waiting for food!

Where to Stay in Canmore with Kids in Summer

Here are our recommendations on where to stay in Canmore with kids:

Pocaterra Inn is a cozy spot right in the heart of town, complete with a fun indoor pool and slide for the kiddos. Plus, their free breakfast buffet means you can fuel up for the day’s adventures without the extra hassle.

Blackstone Mountain Lodge mixes comfort with a touch of luxury, offering spacious 2-bedroom suites perfect for family rest after a day in the mountains. The outdoor heated pool is a year-round hit, ensuring fun times regardless of the season.

Malcolm Hotel offers stunning views and a prime location near Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk, making it a top pick. The outdoor pool and hot tub are just the cherry on top, and yes, your pets are welcome too, making it a great pick for the whole family, furry friends included.

Canmore is also where you’ll find the majority of airbnbs in the area. We know from experience travelling with our own kids, that a vacation rental can be a whole lot easier with kids. The extra space and a full kitchen is really nice. We enjoy not having to spend the time or money to eat out three times a day.

Elk & Owl specialize in 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 (in case you are travelling with more family members).

Use the code TravelBanffCanada at checkout and get 10% off your booking at Elk & Owl.

Best Things to do in Canmore with Kids
About the author

Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Banff with Kids. She has a passion for being out in the mountains with her kids any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find them hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, they enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skiing, skating and winter hiking.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other three travel sites: Travel Banff Canada, Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.

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