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Banff, The Town That Looks Like a Postcard
Experience the trip of a lifetime in Banff, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the top getaways in Canada. This all-season destination has something for everyone, including over 1,600 km of hiking trails, world class skiing, and nature around every corner, all under the majestic backdrop of the Canadian Rockies. Whether you stay at one of the hotels right on the slopes, or choose one of the many cosy cottages tucked away in the woods, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable vacation that will be hard to beat.
Brrr, You Say? No Way!
Dust off your skates, grab your skis, and pack your favourite hot cocoa mug- when the snow falls, so do accommodation prices. Even though the temperature might be dropping faster than a speeding toboggan, winter is one of the best times to visit Banff, and visitors can take advantage of cheap off-season hotel rates. One of the family-friendly condos that you have been eyeing could suddenly be more affordable. You might discover a mountaintop gem, or perhaps treat yourself to one of the cabins in Banff with an outdoor hot tub. Whether it’s rustic or luxury that you’re looking for, you can be sure that snow will glisten, stars will twinkle, and the scent of pine needles will fill the fresh mountain air. Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the variety of activities to take part in, and skiing, snowshoeing and dog-sledding are just the tip of the iceberg. When it’s time to warm up, stop in at the Banff Upper Hot Springs for a rejuvenating outdoor soak overlooking Mount Rundle, or check out the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies to learn more about the local area.
Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer
It’s not unusual to spot a herd of mountain goats, elk or even the endangered woodland caribou. While you might be bumping more elbows to take a photo during the peak season of July and August, the warmer weather allows you to discover a whole other side of Banff. Consider coming out of hibernation at Spring Alive, a festival in April and May that offers everything from arts and culture exhibits, ski hill parties, and even group outdoor yoga. Lake Minnewanka is also a popular destination, just six minutes from the Banff town site, where visitors can hop on a lake cruise, try their hand at fishing, or hike around the peaceful lakeside trails. When the ski lifts shut down, a different kind of outdoor activity takes over, and many look forward to mountain biking at Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Mountain Resort, all located within Banff National Park. For an adrenaline rush like no other, adventure seekers might want to book early if they plan on whitewater rafting down the famous Kicking Horse River.
Activities That Will Take Your Breath Away
If the incredible scenery and endless variety of outdoor pursuits aren’t enough to impress, there are several standout excursions that just might make your top ten travel memories list. A visit to Canada’s longest cave system is worth the two-hour drive. Castle Guard Cave could have your jaw dropping, with 23 km of caves that pass underneath the Columbia Icefield. When you get to the surface, a stop at the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier is a must. From mid-April to mid-October, visitors will encounter some truly unique geology, and can ride on a gigantic ice explorer or visit the Glacier Discovery Centre. Another destination not to be missed is the annual Banff SnowDays. One of the coldest months of the year comes alive with ice sculptures, outdoor concerts and plenty of one-of-a-kind activities at the Cave and Basin Historic Site. Just down the road, beautiful Lake Louise hosts the Ice Magic Festival, complete with sleigh rides, ice skating, and an ice palace.
Something Out of The Ordinary
If you’re looking for something different than a typical ski chalet or hotel in downtown Banff, why not do as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did and plan a night at romantic backcountry Skoki Lodge? Or better yet, you might win the prize for the most unique overnight stay if you are lucky enough to book the Abbot Pass Hut. It’s the second highest permanent structure in Canada that is accessible by a four-hour hike. If you are more of an armchair traveler, a visit in October or November could coincide with the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. When the show is over, a trip to Banff wouldn’t be complete without dinner at The Grizzly House, a Banff institution that opened its doors in 1967. Ooey, gooey cheese fondue is just the thing to warm you up, and for something you probably haven’t done before, menu items like alligator and rattlesnake are waiting to be tasted. Wash it all down with a nightcap at the historic Fairmont Banff Springs, and get ready to face another day of adventure.