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Assiniboine Park offers more than a zoo

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Growing up just across from Assiniboine Park, I have watched it transform in the past five years into something almost unrecognizable from my childhood.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Assiniboine Park is in the progress of undergoing a $200 million redevelopment that’s turning the familiar grounds into something new and exciting for the whole city to enjoy.

Not surprisingly, these pricey improvements have made some of the park attractions more expensive.

So what activities at Assiniboine Park require opening up your wallet for a family outing and what are the options for those looking for a cost-free day of fun?

I have listed almost everything there is to do at Assiniboine Park from the highest cost, to the lowest:

• Fire-pit/picnic area permit: Want to have an authentic family barbecue but don’t have a fire-pit on your property, or don’t have room for all the people you want at your gathering? For $40, you can reserve an outdoor site for four hours. Make sure to reserve in advance and have your permit with you when you go.
• Bee-2-gether Bike Rentals: depending on how many people are going on your bike excursion — and how long you go for — prices range from $20 to $85. A full price list is available at: bee2getherbikes.com/assiniboine/rentals.html
• Assiniboine Park Zoo: The animals are all now staying in five-star accommodations, including the new polar bears. General admission starts at $18.50 for adults, $14.81 for seniors (61+) and youth (13 to 17), $10 for children (three to 12), and is free for children under 3.
• Miniature Steam Train: This classic Assiniboine Park attraction takes the scenic route around the park for only $2.75 per person. It runs daily from noon to 6 p.m. from the Victoria Day weekend though  the Labour Day long weekend.
• For no cost, you can visit the Pavilion Gallery Museum, the Conservatory, the nature playground (bring the kids), and ride the Domo double decker bus. Not to mention ballet, movies, and jazz at the Lyric Theatre (lawn chair not included).

Always check assiniboinepark.ca for full event listings.

Raegan Hedley is a community correspondent for St. James.

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