The last few years I have put together a list of some of Calgary’s best playgrounds. This year instead of curating a list of my picks, I set up a survey to find Calgary’s favorite or most popular playgrounds. The results were pretty strong with the top 15 standing out from the pack. There are lots of great playgrounds that aren’t on this list but these are all solid choices.
Looking at the ones that made it, a few trends show up.
1. A great playground in an awesome park
2. Playgrounds with imaginative themes
3. Playgrounds perfect for toddlers
4. Playgrounds with unusual equipment
5. Playgrounds that work for a wide age range.
This year’s list is ranked with the playground with the most votes first.
Location: Prince’s Island Park, just north of downtown.
Calgary’s most popular playground is a definitely a destination playground. The surrounding park area is gorgeous, complete with pathways, mature trees and the surrounding river. During the summer months you can also walk over to the wading pool at Eau Claire. The playground itself is one of the largest in Calgary with something for everyone. It is partially accessible with great shade. The Calgary theme with a cowboy hat swing set and Fort Calgary climber, completes the package.
Bowness – Bowness Park – 8900 48 Ave. N.W.
Coming in close behind is the new accessible playground at Bowness Park. One of Calgary’s most popular parks for years, now has an excellent playground as well. Younger kids will love the ramps and the train structure and older kids will love running up high on the bigger climber. Bowness Park is scheduled to fully reopen later this year. When it does Bowness Park will have many other great features including a wading pool and miniature train.
East Village – 1300 Zoo Rd. NE (you can access it by car through the South Zoo parking lot)
New last year, as part of St. Patrick’s Island redevelopment project, this playground (and park) has already become a Calgary favorite. The playground has a wonderful setting and includes unusual equipment and many slides built into the hill. It also now sports a canopy to keep the slides from getting too hot. Older kids will love the climbing structures and the fast tall slides. Toddlers will find the climbing structures a little challenging but will still enjoy many of the other playground features. Be sure to visit the other side of the park where you’ll find a river wading area and a rocky beach.
Curie Barracks – 2953 Battleford Ave SW
Another recent addition, this playground really stands out. It has become instantly popular even though it can be a little tricky to get to because of the construction in the area. The airplane theme is really attractive, the flooring is accessible and the control tower slide is really tall.
Hillhurst – 800 12 St. N.W (South of SAIT)
Riley Park is another popular recreation park for families, featuring beautiful rock gardens and a lovely wading pool. With the addition of this new accessible playground, the park is even better. Little kids love running up and down the ramp, bigger kids like challenging themselves on the rope bridge and going down the tall slides.
Capitol Hill – 20th Avenue and 15th St. NW.
Located at the Capitol Hill Community Centre, this community playground has quickly become one of Calgary’s favorites. This playground provides great opportunities for imaginative play and will have your kids begging to go to the dinosaur playground.
East Village – 7 Ave and 6 St SE
The popularity of this playground has brought more kids than ever to the East Village. This playground is very different from other playgrounds in Calgary from the equipment itself to the position of the playground along a hill. Bigger kids will love challenging themselves on the ropes and logs. Really young kids will love trying to walk around the uneven ground and climbing up on the stumps and platform. And everyone will love the roller slide.
Parkdale/West Hillhurst – 5th Avenue and 27th St. NW.
This playground was really popular when I first started reviewing playgrounds 6 years ago and is still going strong. It’s large with plenty of equipment for older and younger kids and has a helicopter theme. The area for younger kids has accessible flooring. This playground is great for groups with a big age range.
Elboya – 46 Ave & 4a St. SW
It is no surprise this community playground made the list. The playground is big and bright and sure to please. The playground has accessible flooring, and plenty of equipment for both older and younger kids. Making the playground even better is the landscaping surrounding it including small hills, rocks, pathways and trees.
Applewood – Applestone Park, Applewood Drive SE
Applestone Park has a huge accessible playground with equipment suitable for kids of all ages and ability levels. Hands down one of Calgary’s best and biggest playgrounds. I would encourage everyone to make the trip to see it but especially if you have a child with special needs.
New Brighton – 2000 Brightoncrest GRN SE
This playground is designed especially for kids 5 and under. Featuring accessible flooring and a cute treehouse theme this playground is sure to spark your child’s imagination.
South Glenmore Park – 90 Ave. & 24 St. S.W.
This playground is older than most of the playgrounds on this list but it really has everything. It has a toddler area, a big schooled aged play structure and a new nautical spray park. The park area has mature trees and there are pathways that run by the playground that continue along the water. There are picnic tables and a large gazebo. In the summer months there are even washrooms right next to the playground. The spray park is completely accessible and there is accessible flooring throughout the playground.
Location: 9th St and Centre Ave NE.
This playground really shows what you can do with a only a modest footprint. It provides lots of different activities for little kids and big kids and with the ramps and recycled tire flooring, it’s accessible too. Every community should have a playground as good as this one.
Westwinds/Castleridge – 233 Castleridge Blvd. NE.
Located on the South side of Prairie Winds Park this playground features accessible flooring, saucer swings and a huge Merry-go-round spinner (Apollo). This playground is hugely popular – you are unlikely to be lonely visiting this playground. Prairie Winds park is one of the most popular recreation parks in the NE. It is undergoing redevelopment and parts of the park will be closed this year including the spray park and wading pool (Summer 2016). The park promises to be better than ever afterwards with a new Northern playground and an improved wading pool with lazy river.
Location: Renfrew – 811 Radford Road N.E. (Beside the Renfrew Community Association – NOT the athletic park).
This playground is designed exclusively for children 5 and under. With safe fall carpet flooring and ramps there is no better playground for early walkers and even crawlers. More proficient walkers will love the independence they can have on the wide variety of equipment that is just their size.
Location:Prestwick – 1 Prestwick Manor SE
Unlike many of the playgrounds on his list, this is located on a very modest park area but it is still a Calgary favorite. With a pirate ship play structure on one side and a castle play structure on the other this playground provides an amazing opportunity for imaginative play. Nothing could be cooler than playing in a castle except maybe a pirate ship. This playground is very visually appealing and provides great opportunities for pretend play.
Is your family going to go on some playground adventures this year?
Download a checklist of Calgary’s 15 Most Popular Playgroundsn- 2016
Find Calgary’s Most Popular Playgrounds on a map
What are your favorite Calgary Playgrounds?