48 Hours In Banff, Alberta

If you’ve ever had dreams about living in the mountains, you may want to make sure you’ve got your return flight booked home from Banff, unless you’re truly prepared to give up life as you know it because the Rocky Mountains in this gorgeous part of Alberta may prove just too tempting to tear yourself away from. If you only have a few days to spend here rather than the rest of your life, though, we’ve got a hit list of how to make the most of your time in this town in Banff National Park, which is just about a 90-minute drive from Calgary.

Where to stay
Say you’re more the type who loves the idea of a cabin but can’t live without your creature comforts, well then Elk + Avenue Hotel is where you need to crash while in Banff. This hotel incorporates rustic design touches such as cozy fireplaces, plaid and wildlife motifs into its modern decor. And with its prime location in town, you can easily walk to everything in town.

Where to eat and drink
Trying local spirits rank high on your travel essentials? Stop into Park Distillery + Restaurant where they use water sourced from Rocky Mountain glaciers and grain from Alberta foothills. There are free daily tours of the distillery at 3:30 (or you can book in advance a private one for a fee for your group) or you can do as we did and just grab a seat at the bar and try a few cocktails, including the Skoki Lodge, which is made with the Park Maple Rye, Wild Turkey Bourbon 81 Proof, Park Cacao Nib Tincture, bitters and orange zest. Fill up your belly first with farm-to-table fare, though, at The Bison. There is no shortage of meaty local fare on the menu, from elk poutine to bison short ribs, but there are plant-based options, too, if you’ve reached the point of your Alberta vacation when you can’t have another bite of meat.

What to do
You may balk at the $60 price of Banff Gondola (we did). After all, you have the Rocky Mountains surrounding you here in Banff already so do you need to see it from the summit of Sulphur Mountain? Yes.The view from the peak of Sulphur Mountain of six mountain ranges and the Bow Valley is truly spectacular and worth every penny for feeling  you are on top of the world. That said, if you’re looking for a workout while also saving some cash, you can hike the two hours to the peak and pay half the price of a ticket to take the gondola down.

What to hike
For a short easy hike right in town, perhaps as part of your pre-breakfast routine, book it up the 4.5-kilomter hike to the peak of Tunnel Mountain. The elevation gain is 30 metres, making it just challenging enough and you’ve got the reward of beautiful views of the town of Banff below you. For a hike that’s a bit more challenging, head to Lake Louise fo the Lake Agnes Teahouse hike (the concierge at Chateau Lake Louise can give you a map). This 7-kilometre hike takes about 90 minutes and surrounded by peaks and glaciers, you can reward your efforts with tea and a pastry at the historic teahouse, which dates back to 1905.

Where to work out
If going without your yoga every damn day makes you grumpy, make time for a drop-in class at Rocky Mountain Yoga. You’ll find yourself amongst locals who practice regularly (read: most everyone practices at an advanced level), but there’s no need for beginners to be intimidates as the knowledgeable instructors offer modifications so that everyone gets a great workout.

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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