Dubbed one of the most beautiful places on earth, Banff is the heart and soul of the Canadian Rockies. Banff is Canada’s first National Park; a nirvana of awe-inspiring mountain peaks, crystalline lakes, and a vibrant wildlife.
The breathtaking area attracts bucket-list visitors from around the world. In winter, embark on a dazzling wonderland... and in the brief summer season, experience a sunny, serene, and stunning adventure fit for the whole family.
Here’s where to stay and play while visiting the dreamy destination.
Where to stay
Fairmont Banff Springs
Known as Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies,” sits the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The grandiose castle is dressed in Scottish hues and vintage chandeliers, dating over 130 years. Its décor and ambiance reflect its rich history; in fact, ghosts are known to haunt the hotel. Tip: take the guided hotel history tour; it’s fascinating.
Banff Springs has an indoor/outdoor pool and awesome adventure center where families can opt for a wildlife tour via golf cart. During the tour, you’ll see Bow Falls, jaw-dropping views, and cruise the property’s esteemed golf course.
Break from the kiddos at the award-winning Fairmont Spa, and book brunch in the Private 360 Dining Dome packed with pastries and bottomless bubbly. Surrounded by extreme panorama, you’ll be swooned by the food and a not-too-shabby Banff backdrop. Finally, indulge in a delightful High Tea over bite-sized crumpets and cake.
The Rimrock Resort Hotel
The Rimrock Resort Hotel flaunts the ultimate luxe setup: a Grandview One Bedroom Suite (yes, book this exact accommodation). The suite boasts impressive balconies that will make you feel one with the mountains among the towering trees. Plus, it has a separate living space ideal for families.
With Rimrock’s unparalleled location, world-class amenities and impeccable service, this elegant retreat is the ultimate spot for Banff visitors. There’s a pool, basketball/racquetball court, and plenty of scenic spots to dine; however, the most notable is Eden, named North America’s Best Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant in 2022. The French-infused eatery is the ultimate dinner date night. The delectable Chef’s Tasting Menu pleases all palates deliciously paired with sommelier-chosen vino.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
About 30 minutes from Banff sits Lake Louise, the world’s most photographed lake. Why? Because it’s the most surreal hue of turquoise you’ll ever see. And, the only hotel sitting directly on the magnificent body of water is Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier, and the glistening emerald lake, stands the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Roomy and lovely Deluxe rooms have unobstructed views, and if you book the Gold Club, you’ll have access to a lounge offering food and drinks throughout the day.
On the property, head to the boathouse for canoeing atop the aquamarine water of Lake Louise. Then, take the scenic stroll around the lake and hike on-site trails to lookouts and to the esteemed Tea House.
Kids will love the “Adventure Passport” scavenger hunt, a self-guided mystery tour around the property. The two-hour “expedition” is a great way to see the hotel’s hidden hot spots.
Where to play
The Columbia Icefield Adventure is the only tour in the world that brings you to a glacier via buses, aka Ice Explorers. The road to the expedition- the Icefields Parkway- is the prettiest in the world, and once you arrive, you’ll embark on quite an adventure courtesy of the Pursuit Collection. The exciting experience lets you walk on the glistening glacier, and if you’re feeling frisky, give yourself a “glacier facial” in the water’s fountain of youth. It’s a must-do daytrip from Banff.
For a serene float, book a Bow River raft tour through Canmore River Adventures. The relaxing rapid-free float flaunts the Three Sisters Mountains as a backdrop. Canmore is also home to the Grassi Lakes hike, a family favorite. The rewarding trail leads you to picturesque play spots.
About an hour from Banff is the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, the only such rescue in Canada. (A wolfdog is part dog, part wild wolf.) The educational experience lets you safely observe the wolfdogs and maybe snag a meet-and-greet. Canada supports the largest grey wolf population in the world and such experiences instill in kids a respect, responsibility, and adoration towards nature and wildlife.
Located in Golden, British Columbia is the Golden Sky BridgeGolden Sky Bridge, an adventure park for thrill-seekers. There, you can brave skybridges nearly 500 feet above expansive canyons; there’s also a Mountain Coaster, ropes course, rock climbing, ziplining, and an A-list playground.
The Lake Louise ski mountain turns into a wonderland in winter, but in summer, it’s a hot spot for bear sightings. The scenic chairlift is an invigorating ride where you can safely scan for grizzlies. At the top, venture on a guided hike via the “Trail of the Great Bear” where you’ll learn about the area’s ultra-intriguing wildlife. The Banff Gondola lets you discover sweeping scenes of six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley, and the charming town of Banff from the Sulphur Mountain summit. At the top, stroll the boardwalk to the Cosmic Ray Station and Sanson's Peak. Finally, make sure to pit-stop at the park’s many lakes. Take a cruise on Lake Minnewanka, where your guide will share about the lake’s eerie history like homing a sea monster and underwater ghost town. Emerald Lake is also a must-do. There’s a family friendly trail around the entire lake that’s diverse in landscape and ideal for photo opps.