KIMONO Free People
After so many requests, I put together a Banff Travel Guide from our trip! If I did not cover something, please let me know and I am happy to help. Banff truly is a magical place to visit and you will not be disappointed.
When deciding what time of the year to Travel to Banff, you need to first ask yourself what activities you would like to do! Hiking, Skiing, or general site seeing. There are times for each and I have recapped them below.
December-Mid April– Best Time for Skiing and Winter Activities. Keep in mind that leading up to Christmas until New Years, is a busy time of year and hotel prices go up. We will be making a trip back for sure when it snows!
Mid April-June– This time of year the summer activities have not started yet and the lakes are still frozen. If you are looking to go for general sightseeing, you can get a fantastic deal on flights/lodging. Just be sure to keep in mind that activities can be slim to none.
June-Mid October– PEEK season! This is when the summer activities are in full swing. Hiking, Camping, canoeing etc. June is known to be the wettest month of the year in Banff. We experienced rain one time while we were visiting, but the week prior it was constant rain. The warmest months are July and August.
October-November– The winter activities have not started yet and the summer ones are coming to an end. Like Apirl-June, you can get some great deals on flights/lodging, but activities may be slim. A reader commented that the trees are gorgeous this time of year!
We went back and fourth on wether to stay in Canmore or Banff so we decided to do both!
Canmore Stoneridge Mountain Resort– We had an absolutely amazing time at this resort. Our suite had three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room w/ a fireplace, a full kitchen and a balcony. Needless to say, it was more than enough room for us. The location was right on the main street and close to many restaurants and activities. After our trip ended, we both agreed that we would stay in Canmore on our next trip.
Fairmont Banff Springs– This hotel is world renowned and is called the Castle of the Canadian Rockies! The grounds are absolutely breathtaking, major fairytale vibes, and the staff was extremely helpful. Our room however was very small. We booked our stay here kinda late so we did not have that many options to choose from. They do have a gold floor where you have your own staff to help you with your needs. The hotel is located just 2 min from downtown Banff and I did like that it was kinda separated from all the hustle and bustle of the town. We absolutely enjoyed our stay here, but for the price we will definitely stay somewhere else on our next visit.
When visiting Banff, Lake Louise and Lake Moraine were at the top of our “must do” list. I have seen countless pictures, but nothing compares to seeing both of these beautiful places in person. Banff and Canmore have so many amazing hikes and we wish we would have had more time to do experience more of them.
Our very first stop of our trip was Lake Louise. I have always wanted to canoe down this lake and boy did it not disappoint. The water is a stunning turquoise blue and the majestic snow topped mountains framed the gorgeous lake. I was in complete awe. If you stay at the Fairmont Lake Louise, the canoe is free of charge, if not, its $95 for 30 min and and $120 for an hour. Well worth it to be on the water and experience the beauty.
We were told by SO many people that Lake Moraine was prettier than Lake Louise and I just could not see how that was possible. We got up bright and early the next morning to head down and see for ourselves. If you are visiting, be sure to go before 10am so that you can beat the crowds. They do shut down the road midday because parking is limited. When we arrived, we were once again in awe of how gorgeous the lake was. It really wasn’t until we took the small 5 min walk up the rock bed formation that we understood what everyone was telling us. You guys… it is absolutely magical. I teared up because of how stunning it was. Pictures capture the beauty, but nothing is like seeing it in person. This is a MUST if you are visiting Banff.
Lake Louise/Tea House– This hike was one of the most recommended hikes and we were SO sad to not do it. The hike is about 2.2 miles and can take 1-2 hours depending up on pace/fitness levels. The elevation gain on this hike is quite high and can be difficult for some. I really wish we would have done this hike because I can only imagine how gorgeous the views are of Lake Louise and I hear the Tea House is fantastic for lunch.
Johnston Canyon– This is one of the most popular day hikes in Banff. The trail to the lower falls takes about 30 min. There are a lot of bridges making this a great hike for families. The trail to the upper falls takes about 1 hour. There are some steeper grades on this portion of the hike, but not difficult. You can take the hike even further to the ink pots, but its a moderate hike that takes about an additional 1.5 hours.
Bow Glacier Falls– This hike is 5.5 miles long and takes about 3 hours. It is manageable for beginners but that hike is said to be moderate. While there are a series of wooden bridges along the hike, hiking boots are recommended.
A couple more activities that we did not get to do but were recommended were the Banff Hot Springs and the Gondola ride!
One of our favorite things to do while traveling is trying new foods and restaurants. We had a lot of recommendations going into this trip (thank you!) Below were our favorites.
Banff Grizzly House
The Grizzly house was opened in 1967 as a disco nightclub. They began serving fondue to comply with the liquor laws and now are known for their amazing fondue. We had this restaurant recommended to us SO many times, so we knew it was a must. The menu has other options besides their 14 choices of fondue, but we had to go for what the restaurant was known for. We chose the 2 person, 4 course meal, where we both got to chose two different types of protein or seafood for our main course. The first course you choose between a salad or soup. The second course was cheese fondue and it was heavenly. The third course was the main course and we chose the hot rock over the oil to cook our meat/seafood. The last course was chocolate fondue and hands down my favorite. I still dream about that delicious chocolate. We really enjoyed the meal and would recommend it to anyone visiting Banff. Reservations are recommended
The Eddie Burger
We decided to try this restaurant after reading lots of amazing reviews. Drew tried the Bison burger and myself the Veggie Burger. OMG, if you love veggie burgers as much as me, you would LOVE Eddies version. I was in heaven. Drew loved his burger as well and he had his first experience with Poutine here too. Visit Eddies for lunch or dinner for a great meal! The restaurant is small and stays pretty busy.
We met our friends Lynlee and Daniel for drinks and small bites here. They distill their own Vodka and Gin, which comes to no surprise, that their cocktails were fantastic. I loved the open atmosphere and it is a great place to people watch too.
Deer Lodge (Lake Louise)
We made a quick stop here for lunch after visiting Lake Louise. I had the Ahi Tuna Salad and Drew the pork tacos. Both meals were wonderful and we loved the patio atmosphere. We glanced over the dinner menu too and it looked amazing.
Rocky Mountain Bagel Company
We stopped in here one morning before a hike to grab a quick breakfast. They have tons of different bagel sandwich options and both of ours were delicious. They stay pretty busy, but service is quick.
Bow Valley Grill
This restaurant is located inside the Banff Fairmont. We had breakfast here on our last day in Banff. The view from this restaurant is gorgeous and the food is excellent. The restaurant is known for their breakfast buffet.
There are so many other restaurants that we wanted to visit, but we had two nights dedicated to the wedding festivities. The following ones are on our list for the next trip. The Bison, The Maple Leaf, Banff Brewing Company and The Juniper Bistro.
What to Wear- A lot of you asked what you should pack to wear for your trip to Banff! This also depends upon what time of year you are going. The weather late June was 70s during the day and got as low as 35 at night. I packed everything from sweaters to sandals and ended up wearing it all. As I mentioned above, June is a very wet month so be prepared for rain if visiting next June. July and August are the warmest months and late winter is bitter cold. I have all my favorites below and what I packed on our trip.
Hiking shoes– I was told before going that you can do a lot of the hikes with good tennis shoes. There are however, many hikes that you will need proper hiking shoes. Be sure to do your research before tackling a hike so that you are fully prepared.
Bug and Bear Spray- If you don’t know, you know now, but Canada is home to many bears. While we were visiting, we saw numerous warning signs of bear sitings. We were told to always hike in groups (never alone,) be sure to make plenty of noise during your hike, pay attention to signs of bears near by (tracks, dead prey etc) and always carry bear spray. If you do see a bear or bear signs while hiking in Canada be sure to report to a park ranger. Educate yourself before coming into the national park so that you can stay safe. Mosquitos can be pretty bad in Banff in the summer, especially at night. We sprayed bug spray on us everyday and did not have any issues with bites.
Airport– We flew into Calgary, which is the closest airport to Banff. It is an hour drive to Canmore and 1.5 hours to Banff. The drive is beautiful! Always make sure you allow time for customs when leaving Canada too.
I hope this Banff Travel Guide helps you if you are planning a trip to Banff! It was hands down one of the prettiest places I have ever been and we can’t wait to bring Olivia.
Have a great day xoxo Tara