Sometimes the art of vacationing is about exploring popular destinations after the seasonal crowds disperse. For a traveller’s must-visit destination like Banff, falling temperatures bring a welcome respite in terms of visitor traffic. Slowing down during the winter months, the city nestled in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, and only a 90-minute drive from Calgary, is no less breathtaking with the extra breathing room, with snowy majestic backdrops and indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family.
At Mount Norquay, kids of every age can enjoy the exhilaration of tubing down the mountain. And nothing makes for better après-tube than stopping in for a cup of hot cocoa at Cliffhouse Bistro; the ambiance is upscale cabin chic with a fireplace (of course) making it super-cozy. The view from the Cliffhouse is less popular than some of the other lookout points in Banff, but locals say the vistas of this winter wonderland are just as phenomenal from there (if not better).
If you’re raring to try a new thrill in the chill, learn how to ice climb in Johnston Canyon with a beginner’s course from Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. The icy stillness of the canyon paired with the adrenaline rush of climbing is sure to convert any winter haters into fans. Cyclists, however, might prefer the familiarity of the sport of fat biking. Rent one of the chunky-tired two-wheelers from Soul Ski and Bike to pedal through the fluffy snow, and be sure to check with Parks Canada for their recommendations of the best trails.
All those calories you burn will need to be replenished. Beeline over to Wild Flour Banff’s Artisan Bakery Cafe for their filling organic vegetarian and vegan soups and sandwiches. Even though this gem of a bakery has a reputation for having the best bread in town, it’s often overlooked by tourists given its location on the less popular Bear Street. And it wouldn’t be a proper Banff getaway without sitting down to a meaty meal of bison or elk. In Banff, visit the Sleeping Buffalo Dining Room at Tunnel Mountain. All of their meat is raised on their own farm, keeping the quality, and the caring, high.
And what’s a winter vacation without enjoying a nightcap or two to warm you from the inside out? The new kid on the Banff block, Park Distillery, serves up spirits distilled on the premises and has a creative cocktail menu that features inventive beverages such as the refreshing Abbot Pass Hut, a cocktail made of bourbon, cynar, watermelon mixture, lemon juice and thyme sugar. Even though you’re busy making wonderful winter memories here in Banff, one sip of this juicy cocktail will surely bring back sweet thoughts of summer.And then there’s Banff’s famous resort, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Located in Banff National Park with amazing views of the Victoria Glacier, it’s the perfect place to stay (and earn Aeroplan miles!) if you want to enjoy all the comforts of home – and away – in style. Constructed more than 100 years ago as a base for mountaineers and other outdoor enthusiasts, this year round luxury resort offers guided tours of the surrounding mountains, unrivaled skiing in the winter, a luxurious spa and world class dining.
Which of these would you do in Banff? Share your ideas in the comments below!