Located on the outskirts of Calgary and positioned right at the doorstep of the picturesque Canadian Rocky Mountains, Cochrane's scenic and convenient location offers great recreational opportunities to families. With access to classic, great outdoor Albertan adventures, like hiking to the top of a mountain or horse back riding, the town offers a wonderful balance of scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and small-town charm without the price tag that neighbouring mountain towns demand.

Due to the Cochrane's beautiful natural setting along the Bow River and proximity to the Rocky Mountains, many young families are choosing to move to the area making it important to find family-friendly activities within the town.

Cochrane, Alberta

Top Family-friendly things to do in Cochrane

Visit the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site

Hike, bike or snowshoe around the grounds of the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site.

This historic site offers a glimpse into the town's ranching past and hosts some beautiful, natural trails. You can bike or hike to the top of the hill and converse with the cowboy, or venture on the small trail system in the park and take a grandfather tree selfie!

This is not a trail that I would take a stroller on. I would choose my MEC Shuttlecraft Kid Carrier and explore the trails this way or bike with him in his Thule Yepp Next Mini seat for a faster, free feeling option. This trail does link up with the paved trails in Cochrane making it a great option for a decent day of biking!

This is easily a viable family-friendly summer and winter option. And a great postpartum recovery activity before embarking on bigger family-friendly hikes!

This park also has a museum which a great source for getting to know the historic significance of the town of Cochrane. There is a nice size parking lot available if you choose to start here.

Nature Walks on One of the Many, Beautiful Cochrane Trail systems

Walking is my most frequent outdoor activity. When I move to a new area, exploring the local trails is some of my first major efforts.

There are 70 total kilometres of asphalt pathway in Cochrane, winding along riverbanks, twisting through parks and running through neighbourhoods. The trail system officially ‘begins’ in Glenbow Park, behind GlenEagles View, and runs through town up to Highway 22 and James Walker Trail.

If you're looking for additional great walking trails in Cochrane, here are a few other options to check out:

  1. Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park: This beautiful park just outside of Cochrane offers a variety of hiking trails that will take you through forests, along the Bow River, and up to stunning viewpoints. They also offer educational programming and interpretive tours guides.
  2. The Riverfront Park is one of the only trail systems that you can access right from the town of Cochrane. With trails that are perfect for biking, walking, or rollerblading, they are stroller friendly and make for a great way to explore the town without having to drive to a trailhead. You do have the option to continue on the dirt trails at Cochrane Ranche. Enjoy roasting marshmallows or have a barbeque in one numerous firepits available for use.
  3. Take a hike in the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park: This beautiful park offers a network of hiking trails, with stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and opportunities to spot wildlife.
  4. Big Hills Spring Provincial Park is located north of Cochrane and preserves a large spring and associated small waterfalls.

Explore Cochrane's Historic Downtown - Love to support Local!

Take the time to explore Cochrane's historic main street and check out some of these unique local shops. This not only supports the local economy, but it also reduces the amount of driving that is needed to access goods and services.

  1. Heavenly Outhouse. Unique and local options.
  2. Pure Anada Cosmetics. I have been a huge fan of their Canadian handcrafted, natural ingredients for years now. We when first strolled the downtown street and I stumbled across the store, I was ecstatic! I had been purchasing their products online for years and could now smell, touch and try them before purchasing.
  3. Mackay's Ice Cream. This is the classic ice cream shop that has long line up's during the summer months.
  4. Sunny Side Up for breakfast or brunch. This is a family-friendly breakfast restaurant on Cochrane's main street that has the best eggs benedict.
  5. Found Bookstore. This is a neat bookstore where you can sit, read and drink coffee.

Visit Spray Lakes Sports Centre

Explore the Spray Lakes Sports Centre. This sports centre offers a variety of activities for everyone of all ages. The family-friendly options include skating, playing activities on the turf field, swimming, rock climbing and gymnastics.

There is daycare centre that you can include onto your family membership. The schedule does change but is typically Monday-Saturday 8:30am-1pm and closed on statutory holidays. Contact them for availability and questions: PlayCare@slsfsc.com Tel: 587-551-0039.

The gymnastics facility is operated by University of Calgary and are more focused on children programming.

The turf field is a wonderful option for smaller kids and the facility schedule can be found online.

Swimming Locations around Cochrane

The Spray Lakes Sports Centre offers a variety of swimming options, including a leisure pool and a lap pool. The leisure pool includes a lazy river, a water slide, and a hot tub, making it the perfect spot for families.

The Bow River is a beautiful river that runs through Cochrane and offers a variety of swimming options. There are several spots along the river where you can swim, and it's a great spot for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and SUP'ing.

Cochrane also has several local swim clubs for your littles to help out with navigating the cold lakes in Alberta!

Frisbee Golfing in Riverside Park

Along the beautiful bow river, Riverview Parks offers paved, accessible trails for walking and biking. In the centre of the park is an easy, 9 hole frisbee golf course. This is a wonderful course to do with the littles! It pretty open so they can have some freedom (if it's not busy with frisbee throwers) without getting too far our of site. It is also fairly accessible and able to easily navigate with a stroller.

If you are looking for more challenging and less windy frisbee golf courses, you will have to leave the area.  

Farmer's Market & Special Events

Held every Saturday from May to October in the Spray Lakes Sports Centre parking lot, the Farmer's Market offers a chance to purchase fresh produce, crafts, and other local products.

Music & Art Entertainment

Cochrane House Concerts are intimate and great way to interact with musicians and neighbours.

Movie Theatre

Educational Activities & Programming

  1. Visit the Cochrane Public Library. Not only is there a great kids book selection, they have various items that you can loan like small tools, games, and sporting equipment. Great kid-friendly programming in place that currently operates on a drop-in basis.
  2. Cochrane Family Resource Network.
  3. Laura Lab offers new to Cochrane children sensory discovery and art play.

Grab a Coffee and Read a Book at Found Bookstore

Cochrane's Found Bookstore located downtown.

As a new resident of Cochrane, and someone who works remotely, I was thrilled to discover this quaint, little bookstore!

I have been looking for a relaxed, vibey location to sip coffee and work on my laptop and hadn't quite found my jam yet. When I walked into this bookshop, I almost missed the back seating area. Not only is the location conveniently located downtown and inviting, it also features a charming children's reading nook, perfect for future cozy book dates with my son, Sylas. It's a perfect blend of work and leisure that I'm so excited to make a part of my routine here.

Check out an Local Event at one of Cochrane's Event Hubs

  1. The Cochrane Legion branch No. 15 offers a variety of events including a Family Bingo at the Legion nights. Children ages 10-17 are now allowed to play general games when accompanied by a playing adult.
  2. Cochrane RancheHouse is a beautiful events facility that can accommodate up to 300 guests. It offers a variety of event spaces, including a ballroom, a conference room, and a garden terrace.
  3. The Event Centre at the Cochrane Lions Club is a beautiful event space that can accommodate up to 570 guests. This is one of the largest event space offerings in Cochrane.
  4. The Chamber of Commerce hosts events.
  5. Spray Lakes Sports Centre will host many exhibits including the largest annual event in town, The Cochrane Chamber Trade Show.
  6. The Rockyview Hotel offers a variety of local events such as learning how to line dance (Tuesday nights) and karaoke nights.
  7. The TapHouse.
  8. Rocky View Brewing.

Unique Experiences in Cochrane

Cochrane offers lots of unique experiences. These aren't necessarily for the entire family. But I know how important it is for parents to have some fun experiences on their own!

  1. Vibe High offers a sound therapy sessions.
  2. Found Bookstore hosts a variety of events in town from poet reading nights to friend speeddating. Some of the events here are hosted by quirk social so ensure to check in occasionally for their ongoing opportunities for socializing and networking.
  3. Curling date nights at the Sports Centre. Limited availability so contact directly to learn more.
  4. Take a 7hr day tour with Brewz 'n Booze tours.
  5. SUP tour on the Bow River offered by Kelsey's Caravan. The tours starts at Riverfront Park and goes to the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge by the Sports Centre.
  6. Take a paint class at Final Touch Art Studio.
  7. Enjoy a pint at locally owned and operated, Half Hitch Brewing Co. or check the Rocky View Taproom, a recently established business in the downtown core opened in December 2021.
  8. Visit the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. Note that the minimum age requirement to visit the Sanctuary is 6 years old.

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