Sunday, February 19, 2017

Explore Calgary's Spark Science Center and Calgary Tower


Last weekend, my husband and I had a fun weekend exploring Jasper National Park, away from home AND the kids. It was a bit of a break from the whirlwind of potty training, shape sorting, macaroni making, and everything that comes with two busy toddlers. However, even though I know they had fun with their beloved grandparents, I felt bad leaving them while we went out and had all of the adventures. (I know, you can't wait to take a break from your children, and then when you leave them, you miss them. There's just no pleasing mothers sometimes!)

This weekend, I decided it was the kids' turn to have some adventure. It also helped that I enjoyed myself immensely the whole time too. And their auntie got to tag along, so it was an exciting weekend for everyone!

My kids were due for an adventure, so off we went to Calgary for the night!

Last year, my husband won a gift basket from Big Brothers Big Sisters that featured a free night's stay at the Delta Bow Valley hotel in downtown Calgary. Our coupon for the hotel stay was set to expire at the end of February this year, and still we hadn't used it. So it seemed like a fantastic idea to take the kids into Calgary for our weekend trip, and stay for free at a nice hotel that was in a great central location to some of the things we wanted to see.

We began our exploits at the Telus Spark Science Centre, located just off of Deerfoot and Memorial in Calgary. This is a great place to take kids if you are in Calgary, simply because there is just SO MUCH to do and you can spend hours keeping the kids entertained and happy in one location. It isn't a cheap date ($19.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids 3 to 12, and $15.95 for teens 13 to 17), so I do recommend you plan to spend as long as humanly possible inside the science centre to make the most of your money.

Excited to be exploring the Spark Science Centre in Calgary.

However, it is entirely possible to spend the whole day at the Spark Centre if you so desire. My kids could even stay in just the one room the whole day, no problem. They love the Creative Kids Museum section, which features a giant jungle gym climbing area, a water play area, a bubble pipe organ, a reading nook, a glow-in-the-dark theatre, and tons of other little play spaces that dabble in air pressure, gravity, magnetism, light, and other science themed activities targeted for younger children.

Getting soaking wet in the water table play area.

We spent three hours in the Creative Kids Museum section this time around, and last time we visited it may have been longer. I was glad their auntie was with us, or I am certain I would have lost someone, as they were flitting about from activity to activity at a breakneck pace.

The beautiful bubble organ at the Creative Kids Museum.

There are other exhibits throughout the science centre. We danced up a storm in the electricity exhibit, where the kids' energy on the dance floor was 'converted' into battery power. The faster the kids danced and jumped, the faster they 'charged the battery' on the TV screen. It was a great workout for them, and I was like, "Yes! They'll be all tired now." But I was wrong. They have unflagging energy and it just isn't fair.

My son marvelling at the multitude of colors.

In the earth sciences room, we learned about light with beautiful jars of coloured water filtering the bright sunshine into a kaleidoscope of color. We learned about sound by experimenting with bird songs. And my daughter LOVED the hands-on erosion display they had set up, which allowed her to play with the sand and water and just get filthy. Good times.

So many pretty colors!

In addition to those rooms, there is a feature exhibit section (we didn't go into it this time around, but last time I had the pleasure of seeing the frightfully delightful "Bodies" exhibit). There is also a viewing dome, where you can watch planetarium videos, or movies about bugs to name a few examples. We also didn't do that this time around - I knew my kids would be too full of energy to sit and watch a movie, no matter how cool it might look on the ceiling of a giant dome.

After about four hours at the Telus Spark Science Centre, it was time to go check in to our hotel and move on to the next activity. We found the Delta Bow Valley hotel very easily, as it was only a four minute car ride down Memorial Drive into the downtown area. The kids LOVED the view from the 20th floor, and my daughter was very excited to stay in "The big city!" as she kept proclaiming.

The Calgary Tower from below.

We didn't loiter in the hotel room for very long, as daylight was burning and we didn't have too much time to waste. The plan was to take the kids up the Calgary Tower next - if they enjoyed the view from the 20th floor of the Delta, then they would go crazy over the view from the top of the tower.

Looking down, way down, from the Calgary Tower.

We arrived at the Calgary Tower base by 5:30 p.m., which was plenty of time since the Tower is open from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. However, there was no one else waiting in line so we sailed right on up and purchased tickets to ride the elevator to the top.

Going up the elevator to the top of the Calgary Tower.

Tickets range from $18.00 for general admission (13-64 years of age) to $9.00 for kids 4 to 12. My babes were free, which was nice because beyond the viewing platform, there really isn't too much to see up top for kids. (There is the Sky 360 restaurant, which spins slowly around the circumference of the Calgary Tower and offers a 360 degree view of the city skyline, hence the name.)

Some cool old photos of the tower under construction.

Even though it was basically dinner time when we arrived at the Calgary Tower, we opted not to dine at Sky 360, mainly because it is quite pricy, and probably not the best place to take two hungry and very tired toddlers after a busy day of exploring.

My son and I sitting on the clear glass observation deck.

We did, however, enjoy about 30 minutes of fun play atop the Tower. My kids adored the viewing platform and were fearless, walking on the clear glass platform, laying on their stomachs, and even pretending to fall through the sky. I was able to walk on the platform myself, but I always get a touch of vertigo and am pretty happy to step back onto the opaque floor again.

A floating child on the Calgary Tower.

The kids had a good time wandering the perimeter of the tower, but there isn't much there beyond a small gift shop and a penny machine. With one more venture out onto the clear glass platform and some cuddles for their auntie while suspended in the sky, we headed out, in search of cheap and kid-friendly food.

My daughter had zero fear on that observation deck!

It was a wonderful day with my children and their aunt. I hope to do more little weekend trips with my kids now that they are old enough to appreciate a hotel adventure and some light sight-seeing. It is fun to see some classic local tourist sites through their eyes, so stay tuned for more!

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