travel

Where To Stay, Go and Eat in Banff National Park

July 8, 2015

I always struggle with writing my travel recap posts. Partially because writing them brings back memories that make me want to turn back time, and partially because trying to narrow down pictures and words into a coherent and helpful post is a serious challenge.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!I go back and forth on whether I should just photo dump or provide a more cohesive outline for future travellers and today the latter won over. I’ve also heard from lots of you guys that my guides to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks were helpful for you so today you’re getting the Canadian version aka Where To Stay, Go and Eat in Banff National Park.

It still kind of feels like a dream that I was even afforded the opportunity to go on this trip. I was invited by Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Food Bloggers of Canada to explore the beautiful Canadian Rockies for 4 glorious days. We were asked to share our experiences on social media, but the trip was so spectacular that I knew I had to post about it on the blog. There were 5 other bloggers there, but I swear the trip felt like it was tailored to me. It was full of adventure, relaxation and naturally, incredible (and healthy!) food. The list of places where I might potentially want to live in life has officially expanded to Alberta.

But first, allow me to introduce you to the crew:

Group-PicEthan from Food Bloggers of Canada and Feeding Ethan
Louisa from Living Lou
Annie from Chu on This
Yuli from Fat Girl Food Squad
Julie from Sober Julie
+ my true soulmate and tour guide extraordinaire, Travels with Jonny (go follow him!).

The great company made the adventures that much better. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and explore Banff National Park together!

Where-To-Go-In-BanffHike Hoodoos Trail

We kicked off our trip with what we thought would be a nice easy stroll in the woods. The trail is in fact easy to navigate but after a slight run-in with a BEAR we ended up scaling a mountain to avoid getting mauled. The scenery was spectacular and despite our minor incident it isn’t all that challenging. Perfect for families and beginner hikers.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Kayak/Canoe at the Banff Canoe Club

Hands down the most beautiful place I have ever kayaked. Clear, turquoise water beneath you with cascading mountains surrounding you. We were short on time but I could have spent the entire day out there. So calm and peaceful.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Walk around Downtown Banff 

If you aren’t the adventurous type, there’s still plenty for you to do in Downtown Banff. Shop till you drop, enjoy insanely delicious food (more on that below) or sit in the gardens to take in the view.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Foodies like us couldn’t resist a stop at the Banff Farmer’s Market. I swear I’m not taking the Farmer’s Market tour of the world…k maybe.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Townie Bike Adventure

Stop by Banff Adventures and rent yourself a cruiser townie bike. Banff and its surrounding areas are covered in bike trails (and not so townie-friendly bike trails – ahem Jonny) and explore the beautiful Canadian Rockies on a two-wheeler. We biked along the Bow River, stopped by Bow River Falls, before making our way over to Vermillion Lakes. Loved this whole adventure!

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Climb the Via Ferrata

By faaaaaar my absolute favourite activity of the trip. This activity is not for the faint of heart. This is like a gateway drug to mountain climbing. *Moderately* safer but you’re still pretty much hanging off a mountain by a carabiner. The adrenaline junkie in me loved every second of it. And for those of you who watched me snapchatting from the top of Mt. Norquay…You’re welcome. 

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Now that we’re sufficiently famished, here’s where to eat…

Where-To-Eat-In-BanffSleeping Buffalo Restaurant

This was actually the main dining lounge at our hotel but besides its convenience, the food was also amazing. The breakfast there had plenty of options from locally sourced bacon and sausage to healthier alternatives like fruit and yogurt.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Our first dinner in Banff was at Sleeping Buffalo and they completely blew my socks off. Let’s start with the perfect wine pairings (they knew the way to my heart…) to the elk tenderloin and the QUINOA CHOCOLATE CAKE!!! Be still my heart. 

quinoa-cakeAnd because we were completely spoiled, we actually had the chance to meet Chef Kelly (executive chef of Sleeping Buffalo) who also did a cooking class with us. I especially loved the focus on local meats and learning about where they source their ingredients from. They try to keep everything as local as possible. I may or may not have asked for a tour of the farm…no shame.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Park Distillery

This place is brand new and the first distillery of its kind to open in Banff. The food is all campfire inspired (think rustic-comfort), which actually turned out to have a lot of healthy options. I opted for the Hikers Bowl (Kale, arugula, pears, blueberries, trail mix, yogurt vinaigrette) and then quickly unhealthified it with a midday caesar and cornbread. YOLO.

park-distilleryJuniper Hotel

It was love at first sight at Juniper. The decor made me feel like a scene out of mad men but the view from the patio straight up blew me away. They could have fed me dirt and I’d have been happy but instead they matched the scenery by serving one of the best meals I ate in Banff. I had the Sablefish and the chocolate tart for dessert. I wish I could have eaten the whole menu.

Juniper-foodBanff Ave Brewing Co.

Awesome craft brewery for all you beer lovers. Seeing as I don’t drink beer (winos for life!) this place wasn’t necessarily my thing but the staff and vibe were awesome so if beer IS your thing then I’d recommend…Otherwise go drink incredible wine at Sleeping Buffalo (see above).

Cliffhouse Bistro

We had some munchies after our Via Ferrata excursion at the restaurant at the top of Mt. Norquay. Pretty cool set-up and the charcuterie board was delicious. Admittedly I was ravenous after scaling a mountain so there wasn’t quite enough food but I ate my weight in chips to make up for it. Not sorry.

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!Block Kitchen

We stopped in here for a tour de bouche (I think I made that up?) during our townie bike experience. To be honest, I was way too stuffed from Park Distillery to eat anything but my bite of the lettuce wrap was tasty. Cute vibe, solid food (I think) and right in the middle of the action.

Fairmont Banff Springs

It’s a castle in the middle of the Rockies so SHOCKER it was kind of amazing. The hotel has 16 restaurants and we ate at their Indian Summer inspired location. The food was outrageously good, the scenery was breathtaking and the service was kind of subpar. I’m not one to give bad reviews but it was the longest dinner ever. The people kind of took away from the food but I drank enough later that night to forget all my worries. 

banff-springs …and that view!

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!

Where-To-Stay-In-BanffBuffalo Mountain Lodge

Banff Lake Louise Tourism put us up at The Buffalo Mountain Lodge for 4 days and from the second we stepped in there they were so accommodating. From the claw foot tub, to the bear spray on loan (so key!) to the endless directions, I was blow away by the staff and accommodations. We stayed in the Premier Rooms and they were so cozy, each with their own fireplaces and balconies but the bathroom was the ultimate. I soaked in the tub every single night and nearly cried when my man James set aside bath salts for us next to each of our tubs. 

Buffalo-Mountain-Lodge-1 bathroomEach room felt like its own cabin and was just a short walk from the main lodge where we ate our meals. From there you could walk to Hoodoos trail or a 15 minute walk into Downtown Banff. Nothing felt too far away. I would highly highly recommend!

Now we all know I can’t resist myself and since this is already the longest post ever so I may as well go full-force and photobomb you like mad. Hide yo’ sisters, hide yo’ wives…here we go:

A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!For more Banff adventures make sure you follow Banff Lake Louise and Travels with Jonny!

Travels-with-JonnyA travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!A travel guide to the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada. Tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat!via-ferrataThis picture just about sums up the trip! Thanks for capturing it Ethan 🙂

Davida-shooting---highresAs I’m sure you can tell, this was a trip of a lifetime! Thank you to everyone who made this trip so special; you know who you are.

If you are looking for a spectacular trip that is full of adventure and activity, amazing food and some of the most beautiful sights you will ever see, do yourself a favour and visit Banff National Park.

FYI*** All pictures were shot on my Canon 6D and 50mm lens. It’s my go-to for travel photography! Make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Snapchat (username: thehealthymaven) so you never miss a moment.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Banff Lake Louise Tourism and my transportation, accommodation, excursions and all meals were covered. I am not being further compensated for writing about my experiences and all opinions are 100% my own. 

Have you ever been to Banff? Are you an activity or lay on the beach traveller? Guess which one I am…

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  • Reply
    Pip {Cherries & Chisme}
    July 8, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Oh gosh now I want to come to Canada even MORE, don’t do this to me!! This looks completely amazing. I’m definitely an active holiday person, I’m good with the beach for a day maybe and then I want to move and see things.
    Pip {Cherries & Chisme} recently posted…WIAW – The Birthday Edition

  • Reply
    Cassie
    July 8, 2015 at 9:31 am

    All of these places look great! And that quinoa CHOCOLATE CAKE DOH. <3
    Cassie recently posted…My Strange (or Not-So-Strange) Addiction

  • Reply
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub
    July 8, 2015 at 9:54 am

    What a great review of Banff. I live only an hour away so I visit Banff frequently but I haven’t been to a lot of those restaraunts so I will have to check them out. I’m glad you fell in love with the beauty of Alberta, we definitely have something special here.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Running Survey

  • Reply
    Stella @ Stellicious Life
    July 8, 2015 at 11:17 am

    OMG Davida, these photos are stunning! Thank you SO much for this post! I’ve never been to Canada, but I’ve always heard what a beautiful country it is so it’s on my bucket list 🙂 But reading through your adventures and looking at your photos was a little as if I were there. I never kayaked, but with that scenery I would love to give it a go! Thanks, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your trip, and Banff is truly stunning.
    Stella @ Stellicious Life recently posted…Red White and Blue Berry Yoghurt

  • Reply
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
    July 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    This post definitely makes me want to go to Banff, omg!
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run recently posted…A Beach Day, Camera Clueless + Training Update

  • Reply
    Alison H.
    July 8, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for the tips. We will be in Banff in about 3 weeks. We are staying at the Fairmont Banff. Can’t wait 🙂

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
    July 8, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    How amazing is this?! Like, wow. Your pictures look incredible… I can only imagine what it was like in real life! I’ve never been somewhere so mountainous as that. That little mountain town pic is so cute! And the kayaking *sigh* looked so so cool. Congratulations on such a wonderful trip!
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen recently posted…Maple Balsamic Quinoa Lentil Salad

  • Reply
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
    July 8, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve been in love with Banff from afar ever since I started reading Jo’s blog, but this makes me want to go EVEN MORE. It’s such a breathtaking place it seems!!
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted…99.9% Recovery

  • Reply
    Cassie @ Almost Getting it Together
    July 9, 2015 at 12:32 am

    AHHHH I WANT TO GO TO BANFF. And you can’t move to Alberta because you have to move to SF, duh. I promise we will go on just as many amazing California adventures. Love you and so proud of you. PS we need to talk cameras… the list of things to discuss is like a mile long xoxo
    Cassie @ Almost Getting it Together recently posted…How to Run Farther: Tackling a New Distance

  • Reply
    SoberJulie
    July 9, 2015 at 9:16 am

    What a treat to explore this gorgeous spot with you! I know you’re doing well now that you’re back to routine…because now I can SnapChat!
    SoberJulie recently posted…Let’s GO! Retreat in New Brunswick – #LetsGONB Twitter Party

  • Reply
    Dani @ DaniCaliforniaCooks
    July 9, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Indian food and hiking…sounds like my kind of trip!
    Dani @ DaniCaliforniaCooks recently posted…Foil Packet Ginger Teriyaki Salmon

  • Reply
    Crissy Dean
    July 9, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Great post! I am an activity traveler ALL THE WAY! Check out my newest post “Beauty Secrets of the Bible” at http://www.RealLifeNaturalWife.com

  • Reply
    Julie
    July 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    I pinned this for the next time I can get there!

  • Reply
    Liz Dawson
    September 27, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for the tips, I’ve printed this out and added it to my ‘holiday organizing folder’ (I do like a folder) for next year as we are coming to Banff. The Via Ferrata is on our ‘to do’ list and if I don’t fall off and die, so is whitewater rafting 🙂 Lots of hiking too though husband is convinced he’ll get eaten by a bear!

    Can’t wait to try all those restaurants!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 27, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      hahahahah so awesome. When I got back I’m definitely going to try some whitewater rafting! Have the best trip!

  • Reply
    Kimberly Veliz
    May 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I just wanted to let you know that since you made this post last year I fell in love with Banff. I made it a goal of mine to take this trip and I finally booked it!! I’m going this August 2016 with the boyfriend. SO excited. I just wanted to thank you, without this post I would not have been inspired to take such an amazing trip! I’m even staying at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge. Can’t wait 🙂 I’m using your post as a reference for what to do and eat!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      May 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

      This post totally made my day! I still dream of that trip and cannot wait to go back and visit. So envious you’ll be there in August. Prepare yourself for the best trip and I know you’ll love every second of it! -Davida

  • Reply
    Alberta Girl
    May 16, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Banff/Banff National Park is my backyard. We are out there as often as possible. There is SOOOOOO much more for you to do next time you come. Come a little later in the year next time though, so all the roads/lakes are open. Usually by the end of June, all our winter closed roads are open. Some they close due to difficulty in maintaining them in the deep snows and some are closed to allow for animal migration routes without interference humans.

    Moraine Lake is my favorite. I like it even more than Lake Louise. Both areas have some excellent hikes in the area, which you can do after visiting the lakes. If you want a really cute and quaint place to base out of, look at Baker Creek Chalets on the Bow Valley Parkway, which is a beautiful drive and a good chance to see wildlife.

    If you want to do a quick jaunt into BC, check out Takkakaw Falls and Emerald Lake and the Natural Bridge, just over the border into BC – an hour, give or take, from the Lake Louise area. The tiny village of Field is located smack dab in between the entrance roads to Takkakaw Falls and Emerald Lake and there are a couple of great little bistros there to eat at.

    You could also base in Canmore, just 20 minutes outside of the BNP boundaries. There are several amazing hikes in the area, plus the Canmore Nordic Centre, where you can rent bikes and go mountain biking on their course. Just south of Canmore, you can drive out to the Spray Lakes area where The Revenant was filmed. Just a few miles down the road is Engandine Lodge, which is another beautiful place to stay and the meadow in front of the lodge is the filming location of scene from The Revenant, where Hugh Glass is chasing down the guy who tried to snuff him out.

    You could do a day driving trip from Canmore too, along that same road (the Smith-Dorrien Trail and/or the Spray Lakes Rd – one and the same), and connect to the Highwood Pass drive. It is closed over the winter and opens mid-June. The road leading up to the Highwood Pass is dirt/gravel but the Pass is paved. It comes out west of Longview and is considered one fo the best drives in the world. You can stop in Longview at the Longview Steakhouse for dinner – they are considered one of the top steakhouses in the world. You could also tour the Bar U National Historic ranch site, established in 1882 and privy to some visits from some famous and infamous characters (HRH, Edward Prince of Wales and the Sundance Kid are just a couple of examples). If you don’t want to drive on dirt/gravel roads to drive to through the Highwood Pass, you can leave Canmore and head east on the TransCanada Highway, to the Stoney Nakoda Casino/Resort turnoff, and head south there, through Kananaskis – this is all paved and becomes the Highwood Pass.

    If you want to see some other beautiful areas, consider the very southern reaches of the province – Waterton National Park, for example, and some of the small towns in the Crowsnest Pass – see the Frank Slide, visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Center, do some caving, etc.

    North and east of Calgary, is Drumheller. There is a world class museum there and the hoodoos are something to see. We’re a vast and varied province with so much to see and do. I never tire of talking about my beautiful province.

  • Reply
    Kenzie
    August 22, 2016 at 3:31 am

    This is such an amazing run down of some of the greatest things about Banff! I’m a local myself, and I found myself nodding my head along while you described some of the activities. So cool, and pretty scary, that you ran into a BEAR! Safe travels!
    Kenzie recently posted…Sunset at Lake Louise

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 23, 2016 at 11:11 am

      I’m so happy to hear that!! You are so lucky to be a local! I fell in love with Banff and cannot wait to come back and visit!

  • Reply
    Lynne
    November 6, 2016 at 4:37 am

    It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to
    this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed
    to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this
    site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!
    Lynne recently posted…Lynne

  • Reply
    http://www.gamehackscheats.us/
    February 14, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I really didn’t read the babbling long winged pot filled rabble.You hate people that believe in anything because you think it’s cool and hiipy free.You insist people believe exactly like you do because it’s cool and hippy free?

  • Reply
    Ivan
    May 17, 2017 at 6:31 am

    Thanks for this post!
    I really wish I had found it earlier as I had so little time to carry out decent research…
    As a result my visit to Banff was not that memorable…
    Hope to improve that in nearest future!
    Ivan recently posted…Top 8 Prague Things to Do With Kids

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