When you think of Canada, beaches in Calgary may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Canada is known for its extreme winters, but Calgary challenges this perception. Calgary is the sunniest city in the country, averaging 333 days of sunshine annually!
Summertime in Calgary is pure bliss and after hibernating through the winter, it is time for some fun in the sun. Locals take advantage of the short season by playing outdoors, barbequing, and hitting up some of the best Calgary beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to soak up the rays or a place for the kids to play, these top beaches in and around Calgary are worth checking out.
Most Popular Calgary Beach
Sikome Lake is a man-made beach located within city limits and one of the best beaches in Calgary. Passes range from $2 – $10 but it is worth it to lounge around at the only sandy beach in Calgary.
You will want to get here early to lay down your beach mat and secure a spot in the sand. It is one of the busiest beaches in the city and gets packed quickly on sunny days.
This popular Calgary beach also has volleyball courts, playgrounds, changerooms, showers, concessions, and picnic sites. The waters are warm, treated regularly, and also refreshed every eight days by the water treatment plant!
Since Sikome Lake is a family-friendly beach, only small inflatables are allowed on the water, and no paddleboards are permitted. There is a list of items prohibited for use at the beach and a supervisor on patrol enforcing the rules.
Out-of-towners can stay at the pet-friendly Wingate by Wyndham Calgary South, which is just a 15-minute drive away and has a variety of amenities.
Best Beaches In Calgary For Families
Contrary to its name, Sandy Beach doesn’t actually have any sand; but it’s one of the best places to play in the Elbow River. The shallow waters make it safe for kids however, use caution in the spring and early summer as the snowmelt causes faster currents.
Sandy Beach is a favorite spot for locals with little ones as there are bbq pits, picnic spots, paths, and great scenery. Being only 17 minutes from downtown, this Calgary beach is easily accessible to get to from anywhere in the city.
If you’re looking for a room after playing in the sun all day, Grey Eagle Resort & Casino is a beautiful hotel just minutes away.
Located on St. Patrick’s Island, Trout Beach is a great place to get a taste of island life without having to leave the city. Although the beach is small, the shallow inlet is one of the best Calgary beaches for kids to splash around.
In the summer, there are usually activities happening on or around the island, making for a nice easy staycation.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Calgary Downtown is the place to stay if you want to explore Trout Beach. It is also close to many other central Calgary tourist attractions including the Calgary Tower, Fort Calgary, and Prince’s Island Park.
Big Hill Spring
This fun outdoor playground is just 35 minutes from downtown Calgary. Big Hill Spring is one of the best beaches near Calgary to swim, hike, play, and enjoy the scenery. It can get fairly busy here but the waterfalls and trails are a great way to escape if it gets too crowded. This paradise offers both nature and beach experiences.
After exploring and enjoying the Big Hill Spring beach, you can wind down in the town of Cochrane. The Days Inn and Suites by Wyndham Cochran is close by and you can enjoy the stunning mountain views from your suite.
In the neighboring town of Chestermere, just a short drive from Calgary, you will find Chestermere Lake. This is a large beautiful man-made lake offering sandy beaches, boat launches, and a beautiful promenade.
The short drive is worth it as it is truly one of the best beaches near Calgary. Kids can bring their sandcastle kits and unleash their creativity on the sandy shores.
Staying in Calgary is your best bet since it is so close and will offer more options for things to do at night. The highly rated Best Western Premier Calgary Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre is only 13 km away from Chestermere Lake.
Bowness Park was built before WW1 and has one of the best beaches in Calgary to spend a day with the family. The shallow lagoon is the perfect place to rent a boat, learn to paddle board, or just sit around watching the ducks. There is also a wading pool, a children’s train ride, and easy trails to head down and explore around the river.
This Calgary beach is only 8 minutes from Canada Olympic Park, home to the 1988 Olympics. There are a ton of activities to explore and usually some sort of event going on. It is no wonder that this nature space is one of the famous landmarks in Calgary.
If you want to stay and check out the area, the Best Western Plus Village Park Inn offers everything you need for a home away from home for a night or two.
Best Calgary Beaches For Sports
Shouldice Park is the place to go if you are looking for the Calgary beach that has something for everyone. The expansive Park features tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, trails, picnic areas, and spots to float down the river.
The river flow can be fast but for experienced paddleboarders and kayakers, it’s a great way to spend a day on the water. You can put on some water shoes to take advantage of both water and land sports.
The Acclaim Hotel by CLIQUE is the perfect place to stay after playing at Shouldice Park all day. The spa-like showers will have you feeling refreshed and ready to do it all again the next day.
Located in the mountains just outside of Canmore, the warmth of Quarry Lake will surprise you. This is another one of the best beaches near Calgary, and the perfect place to spend the day paddleboarding, kayaking, exploring the trails, or having a picnic.
With so many amenities and great scenery, it is a popular summertime hangout so get there early! There is plenty to do under the Canadian sun, but be sure to put on some sunscreen amidst the fun to avoid sunburn.
Tamarack Lodge is the perfect mountain retreat to stay at to ensure you can hit up Quarry Lake early. It also provides a great home base to explore all that Canmore and Banff have to offer.
Best Beaches In Calgary For Lounging By The Water
On the south side of Edworth Park, just under the bridge, you will find a gem of a spot to lounge by the water. Edworthy Park is a tranquil spot to spend some time at and is known as being one of the best beaches in Calgary along the river. Be careful in the spring and early summer as the current can be cold and fast from the spring thaw.
After having a picnic dinner and enjoying a fire under the starlit sky, you will probably be ready for bed. Luckily, you can head over to the Best Western Plus Village Park Inn, just 5 minutes away to catch some zzz’s.
Ghost Lake has the signature turquoise color found in many of the mountain lakes, making it one of the best beaches near Calgary. The water is freezing, so it is better suited for boating, but there are designated swimming areas for those really hot days.
Ghost Lake is popular for camping, picnicking and just laying around in the sun enjoying the picture-perfect scenery.
If you’re not into camping, the Days Inn & Suites just over in Cochrane is a great place to stay. The crisp mountain air will have you passed out in no time, in the comfort of a real bed.
Best Beaches Near Calgary For A Getaway
If freezing, refreshing mountain beaches are your thing then Johnson Lake is the place for you. Johnson Lake is one of the most stunning beaches near Calgary where you can go to boat, float or just lay around taking in the view.
While you’re around Banff, you might as well stay the night at the Tunnel Mountain Resort. There is nothing like a night in the mountains after a long day at the beach, recharging from the busy city life.
With jet skiing, boating, fishing, golfing, shopping, and much more, Sylvan Lake is one of the most popular beaches in Alberta. It is 1 hour and 40 minutes from Calgary but the drive is nice and the beach is worth it.
The nightlife and restaurants at Sylvan Lake are amazing so you may want to stay the night to get the full experience!
The Best Western Plus Chateau Inn is a great hotel to head to after a long day and night out on the town.
Discovery Canyon is not only one of the best beaches near Calgary but it also has a pretty cool lazy river, and entry is FREE!
Just under a two-hour drive from Calgary, Discovery Canyon offers a day of family adventures from picnic spots, a beach area, and a huge nature-themed playground. You can tube down the lazy river, which runs along a sloped canyon, through bubbling pools, and eventually into the beach area.
You will probably be too beat to drive, so you can head over to the Radisson Hotel & Suites in Red Deer to relax for the night.
Kinbrook Island Provincial Park
This park is one of the most gorgeous beaches near Calgary with plenty of sandy spots, two boat launches, concessions, and wildlife.
It is a great place for all water activities including swimming, windsurfing, and canoeing. The park is located on an island accessible by a bridge 2 ½ hours away from Calgary, just 15 minutes south of Brooks, Alberta.
The Canalta Brooks hotel is a great place to stay since it is a bit of a drive from Calgary. You may also want to stay to check out the badlands at the nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park.
Little Bow Provincial Park
Just under two hours from Calgary, this provincial park is 20 minutes south of Vulcan, Alberta. (For all you Star Trek nerds, there is a Star-Trek-themed tourist center and a giant replica of the Starship Enterprise!)
Little Bow sits on the Travers Reservoir which is quite windy, making it one of the best beaches near Calgary to windsurf and sail. You will also see many people boating, fishing, water skiing, and tubing out on the water. There are a ton of amenities including camping, day-use areas, showers, as well as swimming areas just off the beach.
If the campground is full or you would just rather not sleep outdoors, you can check out the Wheatland Motel. It is a charming, small-town hotel with excellent ratings and you’ll enjoy a relaxing night away from the city.
Visiting The Best Beaches In Calgary
If you’re looking for a beach in Calgary, Alberta, you have many great options to choose from within city limits. For a more adventurous day out, you can crank the tunes and road trip to one of the many great beaches near Calgary! Whether you’re looking for water sports, spectacular mountain scenery, fun in the sun, or even a lazy river, you will be able to find it all close by.