Just minutes east of downtown Calgary on the banks of the Bow River, there’s a place where kids and families can connect with Alberta’s wild side. Through a series of hands-on exhibits, interactive galleries and outdoor activities at the Bow Habitat Station’s Discovery Centre, visitors can explore and discover the province’s fish, wildlife and marine ecosystems.
Operated by Alberta Environment and Parks, the centre’s permanent attractions include an overview of the province’s aquatic flora and fauna, from the Rockies to the boreal forest to the peatlands. Along with a nature theatre, also on offer are up-close lessons on trout anatomy, a beaver dam display that kids can crawl into, and a 15,000-litre aquarium.
On the grounds outside, meanwhile, youngsters can wet a line in the trout pond, and visit the neighbouring fish hatchery once it reopens this fall after undergoing extensive upgrades. Visitors can also tour the surrounding wetlands and interpretive displays. Located within the city of Calgary’s Pearce Estate Park, the wetlands boast 15 hectares of nature trails, where hikers can spot a wide variety of wildlife.
The Bow Habitat Station is also a great place for urban families and youngsters to learn some basic outdoor skills, including snowshoeing in the winter, and fishing in the summer. There are also group programs (and even birthday party packages), with hands-on, staff-led activities for kids aged five to 17. Open year-round, the facility is also completely wheelchair accessible, and there’s limited free parking.