One of the best things about living in Calgary is the close proximity to Banff. The stunning town is located just 128.6 km to its west. The drive to Banff took us only 1.5 hours by car, making it the perfect destination for a quick getaway. The journey from Calgary to Banff was an adventure in itself. The quickest and easiest route was taking the Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W. However, we were tempted to take the more scenic 1A route. And this added about 20 minutes to our journey.
Irrespective of the chosen route, we needed a Parks Canada pass to visit Banff. The day passes are reasonably priced at $10.50 for adults. Further, they are $9.00 for seniors, and free for youths up to 17 years old. Alternatively, families or groups of up to 7 people could get a pass for $21.00, which was quite a deal.
Here are the best things to do while you are in Banff!!
We arrived in Banff, greeted by the vibrant atmosphere of downtown. The bustling Banff Ave offered a plethora of restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, and quirky souvenir stores that catered to every taste and preference. One gem we discovered was the Cascade of Time Garden, located behind Parks Canada’s building at the end of Banff Ave. It was a serene spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while strolling through the beautiful garden, all while taking in the breathtaking views of Mt. Rundle and Cascade.
As we ventured into the heart of Banff, we discovered a plethora of delightful dining spots, each offering a unique culinary journey. The Bison’s scenic terrace provided a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, showcasing farm-to-table dishes that celebrated the best of the region’s flavors. Añejo delighted us with its authentic Mexican cuisine, tantalizing tacos, and a vast selection of tequila-based cocktails. We enjoyed gastronomic delights at Zaika, an excellent Indian restaurant located on Banff Avenue. The flavors were impeccable, and we relished dishes like Lamb Vindaloo and Kadai Chicken. The garlic naan and chilled Pilsner perfectly complemented the meal, leaving us with fond memories of this culinary gem.
Banff Gondola & Bow River Trail
For those who prefer a bird’s-eye view of the stunning mountain ranges without the effort of a hike, the Banff Gondola is the perfect choice. Indeed, it was a bit pricey at over $60 for a round trip. However, it was worth it. Another exciting activity we indulged in was walking along the Bow River Trail. The trail offered spectacular views of the Bow River and the surrounding mountains.
Banff Park Museum
The Banff Park Museum, with its collection of over 5,000 vintage botanical and zoological specimens. Undoubtedly, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the natural history of the area. As the oldest natural history museum in Western Canada, it provided a unique experience, and the entrance fees were quite affordable.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Locals and visitors alike spoke of the healing properties of the mineral-rich waters. And we were eager to experience the magic. We stepped into the outdoor pool and the warm waters cocooned us in comfort. The snow began to fall around us, creating a picturesque winter wonderland as we soaked in the geothermally heated waters.
Sunset Point Vermilion Lake
This hidden gem offers an all-season escape, bursting with the joyous essence of lake life. As we arrived at this charming haven, we were immediately captivated by the picturesque scenery that unfolded before our eyes. We felt the gentle embrace of the cool breeze as we watched the sun bid its farewell for the day. During the day, the lake invited us to embrace its waters, and we couldn’t resist. We swam and splashed, feeling the weight of the world melt away with each stroke.
As we stood on the shores of this ancient lake, we couldn’t help but be humbled by its rich history that spanned well over 10,000 years. Eager to explore this remarkable place further, we decided to embark on a cruise across the deep waters of Lake Minnewanka. As we enjoyed the breathtaking views, we already started planning our next visit to experience the lake from a kayak or canoe, discovering every corner of this enchanting paradise.
Two Jack Lake
As our day unfolded, we stumbled upon Jack Lake, a hidden gem nestled 15 miles north of Antigo, Wisconsin. The lake is a pristine wonder, crystal-clear, and surrounded by acres of county-owned forest teeming with wildlife and recreation opportunities. The park welcomed us with open arms, providing a tranquil setting amidst mature maple, birch, oak, and pine trees. Indeed, we knew this place would be perfect for a relaxing and peaceful escape. We made a mental note to return during the camping season to immerse ourselves in the serenity of Jack Lake.
And so, our time in Banff came to an end. But the memories and the yearning to return remained strong. This fuelled our desire to explore more of Canada’s natural wonders in the future.
Also, read our article on magical journey to Peyto lake.