A Visit to Calgary’s Heritage Park | Alberta

History comes to life at Canada’s largest living history museum, Heritage Park. It’s an immersive experience and tons of fun for the whole family. Visiting is absolutely a must-do when exploring Calgary. And make sure to set aside a full day for this adventure as there is so much to do and see!

pin image for Heritage Park

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Disclosure: A huge thank you to Heritage Park for partnering on our visit. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

Heritage Park Calgary sign

As a kid, Heritage Park was my absolute favorite place to visit in Calgary. Anytime we had a free weekend, I was begging to go! Between the midway rides, the reenactors in period costumes, and the fun treats, there was nowhere better to be.

Now, (more than!) twenty years later, I was excited to bring back my children and see if Heritage Park still lived up to the hype or if it was one of those cases where the nostalgic memories were better than the current experience. And without a doubt, it is still as fantastic as ever.

historical dirt street in Heritage Park Calgary

Heritage Park is located just 15 minutes south of downtown Calgary and only 45 minutes from the airport. Nestled on 127 acres near the Glenmore Reservoir, the park explores the history of the Canadian west. Visiting truly is like stepping back in time.

Boy with backpack looking at Storyseeker exhibit Innovations Crossing

We started the day at the brand new Innovation Crossing building. Here, the STORYSEEKER exhibit helps guests learn about Canada’s energy history, as well as about different artifacts housed within the park. It’s one of the few buildings with air conditioning, making it a great place to check out on a hot afternoon.

girl walking into Prospect Ridge Heritage Park

And then we headed outside to explore! Much of Heritage Park is outside, so make sure to dress accordingly and pack sunscreen, especially during the height of the summer season.

Heritage Park oil rig

At Heritage Park, you can explore Western Canada‘s history from the 1860s to the 1950s. The park is broken into sections focusing on different time periods.

  • Heritage Square, technically outside the park (so you can visit without paying admission), focuses on the 1930-1950s.
  • Prospect Ridge explores Western Canada’s Natural Resources from the 1880s-1930s.
  • At The Settlement, you’ll find the 1860s-1880s fur trading fort and First Nations Encampment.
  • The Ranch is an early 1900s pre-railway settlement.
  • The Village Centre is a c. 1910 Prairie Railway Town, and the nearby Antique Midway, with rides and games, is from the same period. 

oil rig and reenactor at Heritage Park

The historical reenactors, dressed in period costumes (of which the park has 13,000!), are what make Heritage Park so unique. Yes, it’s fun to walk around and look through the historic buildings, but the reenactors truly bring history to life.

Kinsman Railway Playground Calgary

I have fond memories of playing on the Railway Playground when I was younger. We didn’t take the time to play on this visit – mainly because there’s so much to see and do at Heritage Park. But it’s nice to know there’s somewhere that the little ones can run around and play while visiting.

Heritage Park Midway Rides

Smiling kids riding The Caterpillar amusement park ride

As a kid, my absolute favorite part of Heritage Park was the midway rides. No, they’re not the big thrill rides you will find in today’s amusement parks, but they will still put a smile on your face! And the midway rides are included in the price of admission to Heritage Park Historical Village!

Bowness Carousel at Heritage Park Calgary

The Bowness Carousel was a gift from the City of Calgary in the 1980s, though it was initially built in 1904. Unlike traditional carousels, where the horses go up and down, the horses on the Bowness Carousel go back and forth.

2 kids on Ferris Wheel

Common in a traveling amusement park in the early 1900s, Heritage Park also has a Ferris wheel. Technically, they have two – one for the youngest visitors and one that’s open to people of all ages.

smiling girl with red sno-kone

With the summer heat, sno-kones from the Midway Treatery are a must! One of the things that I appreciate most about Heritage Park is that the prices are very reasonable.

girl on boat swing Calgary

The park has the cutest Children’s Boat Swings! Built about 100 years ago in what was then known as Czechoslovakia, they were donated to Heritage Park in the 1980s.

Lunch at Heritage Park

lunch at the Wainwright Hotel Heritage Park Calgary

We opted to have lunch at the Wainwright Hotel – partly as a break from the intense heat (close to 40º C – nearly 100º F), but also because I’ve heard great things about the menu! You definitely HAVE to get the pickle fries – they were absolutely delicious, with a bit of a kick. The Wainwright Hotel has quite a few choices on the kids’ menu and even has an option to swap the fries for fresh fruit!

teen boys enjoying lunch at the Wainwright Hotel Calgary

If you know anything about Ben, you know that if tacos are on the menu, he WILL order them! Nick went more traditional with the Sausage and Perogies entree, and both choices were delicious!

Smiling girl with giant cookie from Alberta Bakery

Ellie was excited that her lunch included a chocolate chip cookie from Alberta Bakery (located inside the park). We got it to go, and she enjoyed it as we continued walking around.

Exploring the Historical Village

learning about the printing press at Heritage Park

One of my favorite parts about Heritage Park is how educational the whole experience can be. As a child, I wasn’t really aware that I was learning when we visited, but as an adult, it’s easy to see how educational the visits with the reenactors actually are. These people are the real deal, and they know what they’re talking about. Many have worked in the park for decades, and they are all well-versed in the history of the Canadian west.

acid relief images in newspaper

We’ve seen printing presses MANY times but usually in the context of printing a book. Ever the curious one, Ben asked how they go about printing different images in a weekly newspaper because it’s not the same image over and over (like in a book). They took the time to explain how they printed images wayyyyy back in the day, and we learned all about acid relief.

Print shop at Heritage Park

We also learned about the Linotype machine. Rather than setting individual letters, this machine allowed you to set entire lines of type, drastically speeding up the typesetting process.

learning about linotype at Heritage Park printer

The historical reenactors at Heritage Park go above and beyond. While they all have their usual lines about their location, they could also answer every question we asked. And trust me, my kids can ask the most random questions! Like meeting Disney characters, you get out of the experience what you put in. If you ask questions and are involved in the conversation, you will learn SO much more.

Front Street in Heritage Park Historical Village Calgary

Isn’t Heritage Park just the cutest?!

Front Street has a row of shops, including Gledhill’s Drugstore, the Claresholm General Store, and the Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour. All of the shops are open for perusing or actual shopping, and historical reenactors staff them.

girl eating a slice of saskatoon pie

As work ramped up on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s, Chinese immigrants arrived in droves to work the rails. Once the railway was complete, these immigrants, mainly men – and numbering over 17,000, couldn’t afford to return home to China.

Many opened up businesses in western Canada, mostly grocery stores, laundries, and cafes. The Club Cafe is a recreation of a typical Chinese cafe in southern Alberta, and interestingly, “Club Cafe” was the most common name for Chinese cafes in Alberta!

These Chinese cafes didn’t actually serve Chinese food. Instead, they served a western menu at a low price point and were an institution across the Canadian Prairies! We split a slice of local Saskatoon pie at the Club Cafe at Heritage Park! Yum!

Flett's Blacksmith shop Heritage Park Calgary

I love how the people in the shops are actually working on their craft. At Flett’s Blacksmith Shop, two different blacksmiths were busy creating when we visited, and they put on quite a show. They stopped to answer our (many!) questions and then got back to their work.

girl standing on fence watching horses Calgary

Ellie wanted to spend all afternoon watching the horses out on the farm. She called and called and called but couldn’t get them to come over to her.

family with five kids standing on farm under trees

The grounds of Heritage Park are just beautiful. Watching Ellie skip down tree-lined paths was a glimpse at what life would have been like in the 1900s. It is such a fun place to explore, and I love that you can let the kids have some free reign to wander a bit.

kids drinking soda at Drew's Saloon Heritage Park Calgary

We stopped in at Drew’s Saloon for a round of drinks. The Saloon is open to visitors of all ages and does serve beer/cider in addition to the sodas the kids picked out.

girl learning to play poker

And the kids even learned how to play poker! Drew’s Saloon was stocked with decks of cards and sheets explaining different hands – perfect for the youngest gambler!

teen boys drinking soda from glass bottles

While so much of Calgary has changed since I lived there in the 1990s, at Heritage Park, time continues to stand still. Walking through the gates brought me back to the turn of the century (1900s) in Calgary, as well as back to my own childhood.

Heritage Park has the ability to magically transport you back in time to the days when life was simpler. And if you’re planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, you should definitely make time to visit Heritage Park, too.


  • Double-check the park hours with Heritage Park. While Heritage Park Towne Square is open year-round, the historical village is not. The Historical Village is open daily during the summer, but it switches to weekends only from September through November.
  • Also, check the schedule if you’re interested in riding the steam train or the S.S. Moyie – the paddle-wheeler on Glenmore Reservoir.
  • Bring cash for the midway games! They’re only $2CAD, and you’re almost guaranteed to win a prize!
  • Make sure to bring sunscreen since much of the park is outdoors. It was super hot when we visited, and the kids said we should have brought the fans we take with us to Disney!
  • Plan to spend the whole day exploring. We were there from park opening until park closing (10am-5pm) and didn’t have enough time to see and do everything!

Do you like living history museums? Have you ever visited Heritage Park??

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Itinerary | Western Canada Part One

This summer we went on the most epic road trip in western Canada. It was a six-week road trip, with a one-week Alaskan cruise in the middle, and it was beyond fantastic. Seriously, the trip of a lifetime! The first part of our trip serves as a great Canadian Rockies road trip and could totally be done on its own.

With a trip of this magnitude, you better believe I spent a boatload of time researching and planning everything. And now, I’m sharing it all with you!!

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Itinerary

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This post is the first in a four-part series about our itinerary, and then I will link up other posts that go into more detail on the places we stayed and things we did. This is really serving more as an outline rather than an in-depth look at specific attractions, activities, hikes, hotels, etc.

This first part was ten days, focusing on the Canadian Rockies. We started this leg of the trip in Calgary and ended in Lake Louise, but you could definitely return to Calgary if you wanted to do this as a standalone itinerary.

Because our trip was so long and involved so many different places in Western Canada, it will take a while to get all of this done. This post and the other itinerary posts will be a work in progress probably for the rest of the year. But, I will make sure to update with links as other blog posts get finished.

kids at Canada sign in Calgary International Airport YYC

June 1, 2022: Fly to Calgary

Where We Stayed – Hampton Inn Calgary University Northwest

smiling kids at Hampton Inn Calgary University Northwest

There’s not a lot to say about the Hampton Inn & Suites Calgary University Northwest; it was a run-of-the-mill Hampton Inn. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, but there was nothing special about it either. I booked a King 1 bedroom suite + a connecting 2 queen room using our Hilton points.

To maximize points, we almost exclusively stay within the Hilton family of hotels when we’re traveling. A lot of our spending goes on the Hilton AMEX Surpass card, so we rack up A LOT of Hilton points that we redeem for stays like this one. If you’re looking for a new credit card to maximize points/miles travel, I highly recommend the Hilton AMEX Surpass, and right now, you can get 150,000 points for free after making $3000 in purchases. There is a small annual fee, but I’ve found the rewards to make the fee totally worth it.

What We Did in Calgary

Rental Car

OK, so the first thing we did was pick up our rental car at the airport from Enterprise. We almost always rent with either Enterprise or Alamo, but it’s definitely always done through the Costco Travel website. You cannot beat Costco travel pricing even with military deals or coupon codes. Seriously, if you travel a lot, it’s worth it to have a Costco membership!

Groceries & Supplies

Next, we made stops at Costco and Walmart (there’s no Target in Canada! ????????) to pick up groceries and supplies. We bought an inexpensive cooler so that we could get lunch meat and cheese and things like that to make lunches on driving days. Groceries were more expensive in Canada than I expected, so we stuck to the basics and didn’t buy a variety of treats.

On our trip last summer, we also grabbed a kids’ sleeping bag for Ellie to use since she can be picky about who she’s sleeping next to. I was able to pack it in my duffle bag and didn’t need to get a new one this summer!

June 2-5, 2022: Banff, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Canalta Lodge

2 queen + bunk loft suite at Canalta Lodge Banff

We absolutely loved Canalta Lodge! I went back and forth because there are tons of options in Banff, but Canalta Lodge worked out absolutely perfectly for our family. It is not the closest hotel to all the action on Banff Avenue, but it is well worth being a little bit further away from everything.

We stayed in a double queen + bunkbed suite, and it was amazing. Plenty of beds and enough room to spread out, which is invaluable when traveling with a larger family. It also had a full kitchen that we likely would have used if we’d stayed longer. And, perhaps most importantly, our suite had two bathrooms!

What We Did in Banff

Johnston Canyon Hike

kids on hike at Johnston Canyon Banff

Johnston Canyon is a great hike near Banff, and it’s only about 1.5 miles round-trip to the Lower Falls. One of the coolest things about this hike is the elevated boardwalks on the canyon’s sides- it’s totally different from just walking on a trail. And if you go, make sure to check out the cave with an awesome (wet!) view of the falls. It’s about 3 miles round-trip to go to the Upper Falls and about 7.5 miles round-trip to the Ink Pots.

Banff Gondola

Girl looking towards Banff from top of Banff gondola Sulphur Mountain

If you’re looking for one of the best views of Banff, you can’t beat the Banff Gondola. It whisks you 2300 feet up to the top of Sulfur Mountain. Once you’re at the top, take in the views of the town of Banff and the surrounding mountain ranges, hike one of the many trails, and check out the Above Banff Interpretive Center.

Lake Minnewanka

girl steering boat on Lake Minnewanka Banff

At Lake Minnewanka, in Banff National Park, hop aboard a boat for one of their famous lake cruises. Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff National Park, and a Lake Minnewanka boat tour is one of the best ways to see the lake. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and motorboats if you want to explore on your own.

Banff Avenue

five kids smiling on Banff Ave

Banff Avenue is the main street in town, with the bulk of the hotels and restaurants. The road is typically closed to traffic in the downtown business area, and it’s a great place to wander around on foot. Pay attention to parking signs downtown because while there are a couple of free lots (like the train station), you’ll need to pay to park in most places.

Cave & Basin National Park

Cave and Basin National Park

In 1883, Canadian Pacific Railroad construction workers discovered the Cave and Basin hot springs just outside of the town of Banff. Banff National Park, the first in Canada(!), was created just a few years later to protect the Cave and Basin and Upper hot springs. Now, you can visit Cave and Basin National Historic Site and see those original hot springs.

Where We Ate in Banff

The Keg

smiling girls at The Keg Steakhouse in Banff

Ever since she ate there last summer, The Keg has been Ellie’s favorite restaurant. It’s a Canadian chain with a few locations around the US, but it is infinitely better in Canada, where you can get the absolutely delicious Alberta beef. There are two locations in Banff – we went to the downtown location, and it was delightful.


Beavertails pastry treat on Banff Ave

Kind of like a flat donut covered in toppings, BeaverTails are a quintessential Canadian treat. I highly recommend ordering several and splitting them with your group! Our favorites were the Mehple- maple flavored spread + maple sugar crunch, and the Coco Vanil – vanilla icing, crushed Oreos, and chocolate sauce.

Old Spaghetti Factory

girl with penne and meatballs at Old Spaghetti Factory

We also enjoyed dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Banff. Yes, it’s a chain with locations in the US and Canada, but we don’t have one around us. Every entrée on the menu is one of 3 courses and the kids thought it was fun to get a salad AND dessert with their dinners!

June 5-6, 2022: Icefields Parkway, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Glacier View Lodge

kids in lobby of Glacier View Lodge overlooking Athabasca Glacier

Located on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper, Glacier View Lodge has stunning views of the Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier. They even have glacier-view rooms! It’s also one of the only places to stay around the midpoint of the Icefields Parkway unless you’re camping or have an RV. The fact that it’s one of the only places to stay does mean that the prices are on the higher side. We loved staying at Glacier View Lodge, though, and wouldn’t hesitate to stay there next time we’re in town.

What We Did on the Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway

kids in front of Crowfoot Glacier Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the most scenic drives in Canada and maybe even the world. This road goes through the Canadian Rockies, connecting Banff and Jasper. Whether you drive it north or south, it is absolutely breathtaking – and we did both! There are LOTS of places to stop on the way, so even though it’s only 144 miles long, expect it to take you all day.

Columbia Icefield Skywalk

Columbia Icefield Skywalk glass bridge

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a glass observation platform that juts out from the side of a cliff and has expansive views. The platform is suspended 918 feet above the Sunwpata Valley floor, and it is not for the faint of heart! The Skywalk is made of 1.5-inch thick glass panels and can hold the weight of TWO Boeing 747s.

Athabasca Glacier

kids on Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields

Did you know that you can go out onto a glacier? At Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields, you can board an Ice Explorer – a 30-ton, specially designed bus – that takes you out onto the glacier. You’ll get about half an hour to carefully walk around, and you can even get some glacier water to drink from a glacier stream.

Sunwapta Falls

Located on the Icefields Parkway, Sunwapta Falls has both upper and lower waterfalls that are fed by the Athabasca Glacier. The Upper Falls are easily accessed from the parking lot. It’s a 0.8-mile hike down to get to the Lower Falls. We only visited the Upper Falls because it started to rain as soon as we got out of the car.

Athabasca Falls

smiling girl at Athabasca Falls on Icefields Parkway

Also on the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Falls is just north of Sunwapta Falls. This is another quick stop, as the falls aren’t too far from the parking area. There is a 1km hike over a few bridges and to observation lookouts if you’re interested and have the time.

Where We Ate on the Icefields Parkway

Car Picnics

kids eating a picnic in the car

We packed sandwich stuff in our cooler – lunchmeat, cheese, fruit, etc – and then we were able to stop and have lunch whenever we were hungry. It worked out so much better than trying to time our drive to be somewhere with restaurants at meal times. Plus, it was wayyyyy cheaper!


dinner at Altitude Glacier View Lodge

There aren’t many places to eat along the Icefields Parkway, hence the picnic lunches. We ate at Altitude, but it is currently only open to Glacier View Lodge guests. We had dinner there after we visited the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. It was a bit on the pricy side, but since it’s the only restaurant around, the prices were understandable.

June 6-8, 2022: Jasper, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Miette Mountain Cabins

Miette Mountain Cabins Jasper National Park

With a family of six, it can be hard to find accommodations – especially without paying for two rooms. I rerouted our trip to include Jasper kind of last minute, and there was very little availability in the town of Jasper itself.

Miette Mountain Cabins had an awesome suite in the lodge (not in a standalone cabin) with three queen beds plus a sofa bed, and it even had a full kitchen! It’s about a half-hour drive from the town of Jasper, at the turn-off for the Miette Hot Springs.

What We Did in Jasper

Jasper Planetarium

boy at planetarium show Jasper Planetarium

Did you know that Jasper is in a dark sky preserve and is one of the country’s best places to see the night sky?? The Jasper Planetarium is a great spot to check out when you’re in town. They host their events at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and offer nightly planetarium shows and stargazing – assuming it’s not cloudy and raining like when we were there! If the night sky isn’t visible due to clouds/weather, they also have a cloudy sky program in place.

Maligne Lake

frozen Maligne Lake Boathouse

Perhaps my favorite, Maligne Lake, is another beautiful lake in the Rockies. This one is famous for Spirit Island, one of the most photographed places in Jasper National Park. The easiest way to get there is on the Maligne Lake Cruise. Unfortunately, when we were there, the lake was still frozen, so the boat tours were not running yet. But the lake was beautiful, all covered in ice and snow.


standing black bear in Jasper National Park

I think everybody traveling to the Canadian Rockies is hoping to catch a glimpse of a bear! We had much better luck seeing bears in Jasper National Park than in Banff National Park, partly because there are fewer people there and also because there are more bears around.

This one was spotted on the road out to Maligne Lake. ALWAYS be bear aware while you’re driving – we saw several hanging out on the side of the road. And ALWAYS stay in your vehicle if you come across one!

Where We Ate in Jasper

Earl’s Restaurant

Hunan Kung Pao Chicken from Earl's Restaurant

Oh, Earls, how I love you! Yes, I know it’s another Canadian chain with several US locations, but it just might be my favorite restaurant on the planet. They have everything from Chicken Hunan Kung Pao (absolute BEST thing on the menu!!!) to chicken street tacos to cajun salmon to steaks, and everything in between!

June 8-10, 2022: Lake Louise, Alberta

Where We Stayed – Lake Louise Inn

view outside Lake Louise Inn

Lake Louise is another place with availability issues during the summer – so always book well in advance – but we lucked out with Lake Louise Inn. We booked a fabulous one-bedroom condo with a loft and had plenty of room to spread out. The grounds are beautiful, and you can’t beat the location unless you’re able to actually stay at the lake!

What We Did Near Lake Louise

Peyto Lake

kids at snowy Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is one of the most popular lakes in the Canadian Rockies, and for a good reason! From the observation point, the lake looks like a wolf’s head, and it’s the most gorgeous shade of blue. Later in the season, when all the ice has melted, it turns more of a turquoise color.

From the parking lot, it’s about a half km hike to the main viewpoint, but it is UP most of the way. We visited in early June, and the trail was still covered under several feet of snow, making it quite an interesting endeavor.

Moraine Lake

kids on a frozen Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is an absolute must-do when you’re in the Lake Louise area. The parking lot is small, and the lake is SUPER popular, so if you’re not there well before sunrise, you will most likely need to take the shuttle – make reservations ahead of time!

If it’s not peak season, you may luck out and find that the parking lot is open on and off throughout the day, but do not count on that!! The road to Moraine Lake is only open from mid-May to mid-October; the exact dates are dependent on the weather. Make sure to check if the road is open ahead of time if you’re visiting in shoulder season. When we visited, the lake was still covered in snow and ice, so it wasn’t the usual brilliant turquoise color of later in the summer.

Lake Louise

girl sitting on a rock at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is the lake that most people think of if you say you’re going to the Canadian Rockies. And it’s quite understandable that it is so popular! The famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise sits on the shores and it’s an exceptional place to stay – if you can afford the exceptional price tag.

Like at Moraine Lake, parking can be an issue, but there is a shuttle that will take you from the Park & Ride to Lake Louise and/or Moraine Lake. Reservations are required so make sure to check out all the details of the Lake Louise Summer Shuttle.

Where We Ate In Lake Louise

Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta

pizza at Lake Louise Inn

Our days were jampacked with adventuring and exploring, so we opted for late dinners. However, the town of Lake Louise does not have many restaurants that stay open late. Luckily, Timberwolf at the Lake Louise Inn was open late and had delicious pizzas! The Rocky Mountain with Alberta beef, bacon, spicy chorizo, red onion, sun-dried tomato, and grilled asparagus was one of our faves!

Lakeview Lounge

kids at table with view of Lake Louise Lakeview Lounge

For my birthday, we had lunch at the Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. You can’t make a reservation if you’re not staying at the resort, so we put our name in for a table as soon as we arrived at the lake, and about two hours later, it was our turn. We had a table out on the patio with a phenomenal view and enjoyed a delicious lunch!

Things to Remember for your Canadian Rockies Road Trip

  • From Lake Louise, it’s about a two-hour drive east to get back to Calgary if you’re making this a round trip out of Calgary. We headed west to British Columbia to continue our road trip, which you can follow in Part Two of our Western Canada Road Trip!
  • Like Calgary and Denver, the Canadian Rockies are on Mountain Time.
  • If you’re coming from the US, remember that speed limit signs are in kilometers in Canada. No,  you cannot drive 100mph!!
  • Always check the weather before setting out. While less common in the summer, it can snow every month of the year in the Canadian Rockies.
  • If you’re driving through the Rockies in the winter, be prepared with chains and/or snow tires.

Have you visited Alberta, Canada before? The Canadian Rockies are one of those places that should be on EVERYONE’S bucket list – they’re really that amazing!

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