Your summer is precious. It seems the really nice days can be few and far between, and when you live in a city like Calgary and there’s a million things to do, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time. But finding something to do with friends with kids that everyone enjoys can be tricky.

The Calgary Zoo really does provide something for everyone, meaning no matter how active the kid, or how curious the adult, it’s a great place to spend the day exploring. I’ve always loved the fact that the Calgary Zoo is pretty much located downtown. If you’ve ever been to another zoo, you know what a rarity it is to have an urban zoo. This makes it ideal to meet up with your friends and family, no matter where they’re coming from.

I bet every family has a zoo strategy; that is, they come up with a way to make sure they get the most out of their zoo experience. The last couple of times, I’ve gone with my friends who have kids, so sometimes the kids dictate the route, as kids often do. But given the choice, I always take them to the Dinos Alive exhibit first.




Now, since this isn’t Jurassic Park, a dinosaur exhibit at a zoo might seem a bit out of place. But it’s actually a great place to start your zoo adventure.

One of the reasons I love the Dinos Alive exhibit is that while the animatronic dinosaurs are cool, Alberta actually has a fascinating history with dinosaurs. So, the exhibit gives everyone an opportunity to learn about the dinosaurs that may have once walked on the very land you’re standing on. And I’ll tell you, when you say that to a kid, watching their eyes almost explode out of their heads is worth it.

Now back to those animatronic dinosaurs, which look more and more real each time I visit. This is actually the zoo’s last year with the animatronic dinos, so if you’ve never been, now’s your chance. The dinos move every 90 seconds or so, and they’ll make you jump (in a fun way) each and every time. The details of them are really quite remarkable — sometimes it even looks like they’re breathing. I love how some of their tails gently sway back and forth as well.

As you make your way through the Dinos Alive exhibit, you’ll find lots to keep the kids amused, because as I’ve learned, not even 65 million-year-old creatures can hold a kid’s interest for too long.

My friend’s kids had a blast playing on the T.Rex slide, looking for fossils on a dig site and yes, even learning about dinosaur poop.




And if you need a break while you’re exploring, my tip is to check out the theatrical performances by Wagonstage Theatre in the Prehistoric Park Amphitheatre. The shows are funny and cute, and the shade will come in handy too.

When you’re done exploring Dinos Alive, you’re ready to start seeing the rest of the zoo, which could easily take the rest of the day if not longer. I love walking around with my friends’ kids, because they simply see things with a different lens, and I get to teach them a few things along the way. It’s the advantage of being able to read the animal descriptions to kids who are still learning how to read, too.




With the final weeks of summer vacation quickly disappearing, the Calgary Zoo offers up a fantastic experience for families — and their friends who don’t have kids. Seeing it again for the first time in a while, you could easily spend the day exploring every nook of the zoo. From learning about a dinosaur that lived 65 million years ago, to watching a newborn animal take its first steps, it’s something that the kids (and grownups) won’t soon forget!

Mike Morrison