Summer holidays should always involve a road trip! We recently headed down south to check out the Calgary Zoo and Red Deer’s Discovery Canyon to see what their new offerings were this year!

The Calgary Zoo

There’s lot of hype around this zoo right now thanks to the arrival of the Pandas! The bears arrived this spring and have been a huge draw for the zoo ever since. The Calgary Zoo made a huge investment in the Panda Passage area so it is definitely worth a trip down to see them.

There are lots of great animals to see that we don’t have in Edmonton including the giraffes, hippos, lions, penguins, grizzly bears and more. Our visit did not disappoint!

Tips: Plan a visit to the zoo on a weekday and order your tickets online before you go. You will save $5 per person this way which you can use towards the $10 parking fee when you arrive. While online, you can also book a time to visit the pandas to save yourself from lineups when you arrive. Pack some snacks and water to save a few dollars during your visit. Be prepared to purchase souvenirs, the Panda store is conveniently located at the end of the passage for you to walk through. We tried the West parking lot this time and found it to be a great option. It is less busy, and you enter right by the Panda exhibit!

Discovery Canyon Red Deer

Discovery Canyon is a great stop for us on the way home from Calgary but you can also do it as a day trip. After being closed for a year for renovations, we were excited to check out the new upgrades made to the area.

The lazy river is the draw to this area, it is where you will find most of the visitors. Be prepared for how BUSY it is. Because it is so busy little ones should ride with adults. You can expect to be bumped around on the tube ride down the river which it is why it’s best to be in the water with little kids. My children were good to go on their own at 6 and 10 years old.

We always pack a lunch or pick one up along the way. Not only does it save money, it’s a better option for us then stopping at the concession stand. They do have a concession available with quick and easy food items like hot dogs, Popsicle’s and more. Don’t forget the snacks, especially if you are planning to spend the day there!

Discovery Canyon offers a sandy beach as well as grass area to sit on. The grass area is all hill so if you have fold up chairs I would recommend bringing them for more comfort. The water is quite chilly so be prepared with lots of towels to keep those littles warm during their swim breaks.

The play park is the newest edition to the area and it offers a great separate play area for smaller children as well. The only downfall would be that it is far away from the river, I didn’t feel comfortable letting the kids go over to it on their own so we stopped on our way out.

Tips: Plan to go there in the morning, we showed up around 10:30 am before it got to hot and busy. Make sure you have a drivers licence and cash so you can rent the tubes. The tubes are available in 2 sizes and cost $5 to rent them for the day. A drivers licence is required for rentals, they keep it until you return the tubes. They have a large supply of tubes but arriving early also guarantees that you will get one! There are shaded areas in the trees but there is more sunny spots to sit. We saw lots of families who brought umbrellas and beach tents to protect from the hot sun. If you are driving from Edmonton or Calgary you can expect about a 1 hour 30 min drive.