I was just itching to get back to the mountains when a trip to Banff landed (very luckily) in my lap! My sister-in-law, Lauren, was coming to visit all the way from South Africa with her newest squeeze, Jay, and they were heading out to ski for a few days in Banff. Obviously, we had to join them! So we packed up for a spontaneous-ish road-trip and spent the weekend showing them around our favourites in the magical winter wonderland!
Roadtrippin’ to Banff:
The drive from Edmonton to Banff is ±4 hours, but in winter, prepare for some delays. If it’s winter and us driving, expect delays with our luck! (See our Missed NYC Flight Story). This past weekend there was an icy wind so the roads were quite bad — we ended up passing 3 accidents! To plan ahead, google the live traffic report to keep on track of the traffic. And have that road-trip playlist ready!
Dinner at Bear Street Tavern:
The Bear Street Tavern is always incredibly busy, and sadly, you cannot book in advance. We arrived at 7pm to a packed restaurant and had to wait 45 minutes for a sitting but they do take your number and you can head off for a pre-drink somewhere else before they seat you. I love that they offer gluten-free pizza bases and unique pizza toppings! Check out the rave reviews on Tripadvisor here.
Coffee and Breakfast at Wild Flour:
My favourite spot for breakfast and coffee in Banff is Wild Flour and we have literally been every single time we have visited the town. I always order the Breakfast Berry Crumble — Yes, it is basically dessert for breakfast. Stop judging. It is gluten-free and SO good. They also make a mean cup of coffee #CoffeeSnobApproved!
Hiking Up Tunnel Mountain:
On our first visit to Banff we did this hike on Christmas day in JEANS! Super unprepared, we pushed on and loved the view from the top, so of course, we had to take our visitors up there to see it for themselves! This time, armed with the proper winter clothes, we took to the mountains and remained VERY warm all the way up and down. One small problem though, I hadn’t realised how little tread my boots had and so I dodged a few slippery spots going up, but had to surrender to sliding down to the bottom on my bottom! Yes, go ahead, you can have a good laugh! It was actually so much fun, but I do have some interesting placed bruises as a result of my tobogganing, minus the sled. By the way, I’d still advise proper shoes! Check here for trail conditions.
Exploring Lake Louise:
If you visit the Town of Banff, you cannot miss Lake Louise! Although it is a 40 minute drive, it is totally worth it. Stop in at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise along with the droves of tourists and lose yourself in a winter wonderland! Check out the winter activity guide here. There were people ice-skating, playing ice-hockey, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing! I was dying to go on a sleigh-ride but we ran out of time while waiting on our lunch table. My favourite is the ice castle sculpture and ice bar! Just look at the photos!If you visit the Town of Banff, you cannot miss Lake Louise! Click To Tweet
Lunch with a view of Lake Louise:
Yet another thing you cannot miss! Food with a view is probably my favourite thing in the world (after coffee, my cats and Craig). And this view is gorgeous in winter, but also in summer! We popped into the Fairmont for a bite to eat in their Lake View Lounge. You will most likely have to wait (±45 minutes) for a seating here too but they will take your number to let you know when your table is ready. We all grabbed burgers and soup, and clearly loved it (check out the action shot I got below of the boys digging in!). Do yourself a favour and order the sweet potato fries. You can thank me later!
Dinner at Grapes:
Grapes is a tiny little wine bar located inside the castle of a hotel, the Fairmont Banff Springs and is must-book-in-advance-kinda-spot! We’ve been a few times before, and because we’re cheese, meats and wine kinda people, we love going back! Order the Medley board and dig in!
Winter in Banff — We Want More!
If you’re looking for other winter activities in Banff or Lake Louise, check out the tourism website here. Next time we visit we’re planning on heading to the Banff Hot Springs and going a dogsledding adventure! If you visit and do any of these, tag us on Instagram!
Packing for our next getaway,
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