Over the past couple years, we have been travelling around Alberta looking for awesome things to do with kids right in our own back yard. Cool Little Towns suggested we try out one of their new driving tours of Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Longview and it seemed like high time we hit the road and checked out these Southern Alberta small towns. Cool Little Towns encourages exploration of Southern Alberta’s little towns like Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Longview.
We took suggestions from the Made in Alberta tour and added in a stop to the Okotoks Erratic, a couple of playgrounds (of course) and the Bar U Ranch Historic Site. It ended up being a great day and we are looking forward to another trip in the future to visit some places we didn’t have time for this trip.
Black Diamond/Turner Valley is about an hour away from Calgary making it a great day trip distance – far enough so you feel like you’ve gone somewhere but close enough so you don’t spent too much of your day driving.
Okotoks Erratic – the Big Rock
West of Okotoks along Highway 7
This huge rock was deposited in this spot from the Jasper Area on a glacier. For a while the Big Rock near Okotoks was difficult to access, now however, it is a historic site with a parking lot and pathways. It is really impressive to see and it hard to imagine just how big it is until you are there in person. (please stay on the pathways and do not cross the fence to climb on the Big Rock).
Turner Valley Spray Park and Dr. Lander Memorial Outdoor Pool
207 Main Street NE, Turner Valley
It was a bit late in the year for outdoor water fun but in warmer weather this would be a great spot for the kids to run around and play. It is free to access and right next to the Outdoor Pool if you are interested in a swim instead.
105 Sunset Blvd NW, Turner Valley
This has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. They have a great reputation for Alberta beef burgers, breakfast options and more. They don’t have a kids menu but they say they will happily cater to kids so don’t be shy to ask for what your little one would like. We were there right around 11 on a Saturday and had to wait a bit for our table but it was well worth it. Please note the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch.
121 Centre Ave W, Black Diamond
Marv’s is set up to look like a classic diner and soda shop serving up burgers, fries and hot dogs as well as ice cream and many kinds of bottled soda. They have a small kids menu too.
We stopped in for some ice cream – they also have shakes, fountain pop and sundaes.
Wilrich Park Playground
1st Ave and 4a St NW – Black Diamond
Wilrich Park was heavily damaged in the flood a few years back but has been rehabilitated and has a brand new playground.
C Ian McClaren Elementary School Playground
402-3rd St. SW – Black Diamond
Another great playground stop is at C Ian McClaren School. It has a few lovely large trees, swings, a big play structure, a big rope spinner, saucer swings and an outdoor classroom set up made out of rocks.
Highway 22 is known as Cowboy Trail because it passes through a lot of ranch country. There are a lot of really beautiful views of the prairie with a mountain backdrop. It’s practically worth the trip all by itself – my kids really enjoyed seeing all the cows and horses.
148 Morrison Rd, Longview
The Longview Jerky Shop boasts world famous jerky made from Alberta Beef. You can also get sausages gift boxes. If you like jerky it is a must stop for sure.
South of Longview along Highway 22 at Highway 540
Bar U Ranch is a national historic site and living history museum (think Heritage Park, but a ranch instead of a town). It commemorates Canada’s ranching heritage.
At the entrance, you can catch a ride on a horse drawn wagon that will take you into the park and drop you off at a round up camp where an interpretive guide will talk to you about the ranch and offer you some cowboy coffee.
There are many buildings to explore with interesting displays and interpretive signs and lots of room for kids to run around. My kids particularly liked seeing the horses and trying their hand at cattle roping.
If you are interested in doing a driving tour like this, check out Cool Little Towns for more ideas for places to eat, things to do and stuff to see.
You may also be interested in Things to Do in High River with kids.
Disclosure: This post was facilitated by Cool Little Towns but was otherwise not sponsored or compensated in any way.