Checking Banff off the Bucket List

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Curated By

Carlie Lee

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  • Canada

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Honeymoons

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Mountains

  • Bucket List-Worthy

  • National Park

lake in the mountains
Curator’s statement

Banff National Park had been on my bucket list for years, ever since I saw its majestic beauty splayed across the top of a puzzle box. Mountains, lakes, and wildlife are abundant. It's a thrilling yet peaceful destination all wrapped into one.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Banff, Alberta, Canada

Fairmont Banff Springs

The Fairmont Banff Springs, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offers an unparalleled luxury retreat amidst breathtaking natural beauty. With its iconic castle-like architecture and world-class amenities, it stands as a premier destination for discerning travelers seeking adventure and relaxation in Banff National Park.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fairmont Château Lake Louise

A luxury resort hotel located on the shores of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Lake Louise Inn

A resort for all seasons, offering stunning views of the Canadian Rockies.

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Things to do in Banff, Alberta, Canada

lake with wild flowers in the mountains
  • Catch the shuttle (reserved ahead of time) from downtown Banff to stunning Lake Louise. You can walk around the lake at leisure, or make the hike up to Lake Agnes tea house to enjoy a variety of teas and light bites.

  • The Lake Connector shuttle will take you to Moraine Lake next. Again, walk and hike at leisure or rent a kayak to paddle through some of the most beautiful water you'll ever see. There's also a nice gift shop on site.

  • Two Jack Lake is just 15 minutes from Banff and is a great spot for hiking, a picnic, or simply taking in the view. The emerald-green water is magnificent with views of Mount Rundle in the background. Less crowded than Lake Minnewanka, there are two parking lots, so make it a point to spend some time here.

  • Located at the base of Sulphur Mountain, you'll definitely want to take a ride to the top on the Banff Gondola. Once up there, the views are expansive from any of the many observational docks. I recommend purchasing tickets in advance on their website.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you drive along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway. With nearly 30 miles of paved road, there are several pull-offs along the way. It'll likely be one of the best leisurely drives you'll ever take!

Places to eat & drink in Banff, Alberta, Canada

shrimp taco with herbs on a white plate
  • Banff Ave Brewing: Conveniently located along Banff Ave, this two-storey brewpub is sure to quench your thirst. The taproom also serves cocktails, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Rocky Mountain Bagel Company: Amazingly flavorful bagels with the perfect texture. With two locations in Canmore, there's no excuse to not visit.

  • Rocket Pie: Fantastic pizza at this casual Italian restaurant. Can't decide on your toppings? They'll do half and half!

  • Le Fournil Bakery: A French-inspired bakery that often has a line out the door. The line moves quickly and the wait is well worth it for their pastries. Take a loaf of bread home with you!

  • BeaverTails: World-famous Canadian pastries. The toppings are endless!

  • Three Bears Brewery and Restaurant: A savory donut? Yes, please, when it's in the form of a perfectly soft, pillowy, shrimp & crab donut. Visit this spot for the beer, like the IPA infused with blueberries & rooibos tea, AND the food.

  • Alberta Wing Shack: An unassuming wing spot with nearly 70 flavor options including honey dill, tandoori, spicy peanut, and many more.

  • Canmore Brewing: Another great spot for craft beer. The tasting room is family-friendly and the outdoor patio is dog-friendly.

Need to Know

Looking for more active travel tips? Check out my guide, Best Maui Honeymoon Hotels & Activities: 7-Day Itinerary.

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Travel Advisor

Carlie Lee

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Canada.