Beavers, grizzly’s, caving, rafting, hiking, craft beer and did someone say ‘Maple flavoured popcorn’?
Arriving in Banff is really like walking into a children’s storybook of oversized gingerbread houses with snow capped mountains, beautifully arranged chateau style buildings and all set amongst the majestic and awe inspiring Rockies.
It’s the highest town in Canada (1383 metres elevated above sea level!) and a snow resort town within Banff National Park, with an enchanting and stunning array of alpine peaked shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants. The considered approach behind the architectural design of this township is mind-blowing. Everything just works. It’s not cheesy or touristy, it’s just pretty in every sense of the word.
But, the township aside, it’s all about the incredible wildlife, of which we can attest to, as we were fortunate enough to see grizzly brown bear, black bear, elk, deer, eagles, caribou and other crazy beautiful Canadian wildlife.
The kids will flip! It’s one of those places where you can leave behind all the gadgets and learn in the outside classroom. Everything from catching a gondola high up over the rockies, to caving at the Basin National Historic Site with the bubbling sulphur hot springs, which were disovered over 100 years ago…
There are various wildlife boat charters you can jump on, kayaking, hiking for every level (including stroller friendly hikes), canoeing, tubing, sakting, rafting, cycling, horseback riding through the Banff township itself or local storytelling sessions, outdoor concerts and even horse and carriage rides!
Its unique history is what adds to the beauty of Banff, not to mention the almighty Canadian Rockies, which dominate the skyline of Banff itself, including the all commanding peaks of Mt Rundle and Mt Cascade, which are great spots to take the kids to do some star gazing and spotting the milky way at night.
The stunning château-style buildings and the cold alpine air, along with the buzz of a place that thrives on the outdoors in all seasons…whether it be hiking, skiing, kayaking, wildlife watching or snowboarding, it caters for everyone and anyone who loves being immersed in nature.
After a day of hiking, it’s worth a visit to the Banff Ave. Brewing Company to taste the wide selection of craft beer on tap – and while the adults quench their thirsts, the kids can relax with the kids menu and sample the famous ‘Banff Mash’!
To cap off your alpine adventure, be sure to make a splash in the outdoor thermal hot springs, and soak up the epic views of the majestic snow capped mountains! A moment the ‘big kids’ and little kids will never forget. Oh, and be sure to stock up on that Maple flavoured popcorn from Mary’s Popcorn Shop – you won’t regret it!
If you get the chance be sure to do the self-drive. We flew into Calgary and hired a car and drove around Banff and Jasper and discovered scenery, wildlife and landscapes we never knew existed. Best time to visit is early May, due to the stunning climate. It is still cold and still snow on the mountains but the lakes have either partially or completely defrosted showing the brilliant aqua blue glacier-fed water of the surrounding lakes. (Our favourite lakes were Emerald Lake and Lake Louise).
We stayed at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge, which was a fantastic family friendly lodge perched on top of a montain with epic views, open log fires, cozy and spacious modern rooms and a classic Canadian tavern/restaurant and bar on site.