1. Sikome BeachThis gorgeous beach is the only publicly accessible beach in Calgary—which means it's quite popular! Thankfully it's also quite large, so there is room for everyone to lounge in the sand (or dig!). Sikome is man-made and has a sandy floor, which means you won't step on any sharp rocks while trying to wade into the water. Life-jackets are available to rent. If you have a little one who is not a fan of the water, there are three nearby playgrounds—race you to the swings! Washrooms and change rooms are on-site, as well as a first aid service. When it's time for lunch, head over to the shaded picnic area, where you can bring your own grill to make hamburgers and hotdogs. Or check out the concession stand.
Go play: Southeast Calgary 1-866-427-3582 albertaparks.ca>
2. Ebeling Beach within Aspen Beach Provincial Park This wonderful beach is one of the largest in Alberta and has a shallow swim zone for those tiny fishies who aren't quite ready for the open water. There's also a playground in the sand right off the water, in case you have a kid who prefers to be a monkey! With a hot food concession stand on the beach, plus a concession store called 'Ripples' nearby, you will never go without a bottled water, burger or freezie when you need one. Washrooms and change rooms are available on the beach, as well as an outdoor shower to get all the sand off at the end of the day. You can bring your lounge chair and beach toys, but Spot has to stay home. The best part, entry is free. And so is parking! But here's the catch: Once it is full, it's full. So arrive early. The beach normally hits capacity around 11 a.m., so aim to leave home early and spend the entire day at the beach, or camp overnight at the nearby campground. The best place to camp is Brewers Campground, it's a quick walk from the beach. However it's a classic campground—no electricity or running water.
Go play: Bentley 403-748-4066 albertaparks.ca>
3. Sylvan Lake Provincial Park Beach About an hour-and-a-half outside Calgary, this beach offers so many fun activities. The huge sandy beach is a great spot for your little digger to play in the sand. This beach has many grassy, tree-covered spots, so your family can relax in the shade. Now comes the real fun—you and the kids can go power boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, water skiing, wind surfing or sailing. Oh, and there's beach volleyball, too! You'll definitely have a day of adventures at Sylvan Lake. The beach is located right off of Lakeshore Boulevard, where you'll find ice cream parlours, shops and restaurants. Hello, summer heaven! There's also a campground nearby at Jarvis Day Provincial Park, in case you want to spend the weekend. Washrooms are on-site and parking is free.
Go play: Lakeshore Drive and 44 St., Sylvan Lake 403-748-3939 albertaparks.ca>
4. Little Red Deer River at Red Lodge Provincial Park Just west of Boden, this is less of a beach and more of a wading river, but it's still a great place for the family to spend a day in the water. Bring inflatable tubes and life-jackets and take the kids on a lazy river ride. The water is slow moving and safe for little ones to wade in, as long as a parent is with them. There isn't any sand to build castles in, but they do have grass, trees and a coarser sand/gravel area. Make sure to bring your buckets and shovels, so kids can dig and make mud pies. If you're feeling adventurous, grab some life-jackets and take to the water on a canoe or kayak. Or take the kids fishing! Be sure to pick up a family discovery pack, so you can explore all the insects and birds in the park. Or if you're camping overnight at Red Lodge, pick up the cool astronomy pack!
Go play: 403-224-2547 Spruce View, AB T0M 1V0 albertaparks.ca>