Sometimes, it comes to a point where my mind and body are just about ready to give up and, no matter how much I want to, I can no longer function to the best of my abilities—that is until the idea of an adventurous vacation to a new place hits me.
Today’s destination: Banff, Alberta.
An incredible place to spend a hard-earned and long-awaited holiday, a vacation to Banff, Alberta is a great place to enjoy countless travel activities and things to do. Located within Banff National Park, it’s a resort town with 6,500 square kilometers of parkland that’s home to wildlife such as elks, and grizzly bears. Banff is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The tourist town is part of the oldest national park in Canada. It has numerous museums for me to explore, including the Banff Park Museum and the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum. On the other hand, sites such as the Banff Upper Hot Springs make way for natural relaxation.
The town also features Banff Avenue and Bear Street which have literally everything—from genuine Canadian goods to original artworks to random trinkets and knick-knacks. Of course, it’s also a reliable place to grab essentials and find adventuring gear.
But I’m not here to talk about shopping and museums and natural spas (no matter how tempting that sounds). I teamed up with Expedia.ca to share the multiple adventurous activities and things to do in Banff that the national park’s tourist town has to offer. Buckle up and check out the activities, which I’m sure other adventurous souls will also enjoy amid a beautiful skyline, against the striking slopes of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade.
Banff attractions and activities
1.) Spend Quality Time in a Canoe
Everyone wants a peaceful afternoon once in a while, right? The town lets tourists experience that by canoeing in Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, the Vermilion Lakes, or the Bow River.
If you’d rather enjoy the view, alternative activities include riding the Banff Gondola or fishing on Lake Minnewanka. Trust me, Lake Minnewanka is a stunningly breathtaking lake with quite the backstory.
2) Visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site
Get to know the natural and historical history of Canadian national parks while enjoying a guided tour in the mountains by visiting the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. In addition to having the most massive system of protected areas in the world, the site is also Canada’s first national park.
Explore the extraordinary architecture, the beguiling mineral waters, and the underground cave.
3) Go Whitewater Rafting
Banff is home to numerous rivers, making whitewater rafting easily accessible to water adventure seekers such as myself. The best part is that guests may choose between calm waves and roaring rapids but, either way, the activity is more enjoyable because of the beautiful river and mountain views. Not convinced yet? Take a look at how exciting my whitewater rafting adventure with Alpine Rafting was!
4.) Hike the Tunnel Mountain Trail
The Tunnel Mountain Trail is a renowned tourist spot in town, so I would say not to miss hiking the 4.3-kilometer trail. At the end of the hike is a breathtaking view of the town and the entire valley, a spectacular image that will remain in your mind for quite a long while.
5) Camp Out in Banff National Park
Of course, what’s an adventure trip without camping? It lets people escape from everyday responsibilities and ditch civilization so I’m up for that especially when “real life” starts to feel a bit toxic.
A camping trip within Banff National Park is a good way to recharge the mind and body as well as to experience what the Canadian Rocky Mountains have to offer. And let me tell you, the view that the Canadian Rockies has to offer is incredible.
6) Commune with Nature by Snowshoeing
The tourist town lets you explore the mountains and deep trails on snowshoe. Snowshoeing runs from December to April.
I don’t know about you, but the reward of a spectacular view across the trees and into the mountain clearing is enough encouragement for me to jump on board this activity.
7) Enjoy the View with Cross-Country Skiing
Canadian winters are chilly, to say the least. But you can still hit the outdoors and get adventurous. Skiing, snowboarding, and guided sleigh rides are a given in ski resorts; cross-country skiing is a great way to spice up the vacation. The national park features a variety of skiable terrain, so beginners and experts alike will enjoy exploring the slopes and soaking in the environment at their own pace.
8) Spend Time with the Dogs while Dog Sledding
Whether you love doting on your pet back home or enjoy interacting with dogs in the park, I recommend dog sledding in the slopes and forests of Banff. It showcases the beauty of nature all while spending time with a pack of Alaskan Huskies. You won’t lose, I tell you.
9) Participate in Ice Sports
In the same way, extreme water sports have tamer activities, such as canoeing and fishing, to balance them out, winter sports include more relaxed activities. Curling and ice skating are both Canadian favorites, so ice rinks are not hard to come by. Naturally, if you find yourself involved in a game of outdoor ice hockey with the locals, this is something you just can’t pass up!
10) Go on a Food Hunt
Finally, it may not be as adventurous as the extreme sports on this list, but I highly suggest a foodie adventure in Banff. The day’s activities will burn off energy, so the best way to end it is with a food trip. I recommend exploring the regionally-sourced Rocky Mountain food, the local pubs, and the energetic night spots on Banff Avenue with companions, new friends, or both!
A Tourist Town for a Worthwhile Vacation
Banff, Alberta is a tourist town through and through. Locals are warm and inviting; they will eagerly point out the best places to visit and explore.
Historic as the town is, it’s not a solitary or isolated place. It’s a spirited town steep in adventure and wonder, where tourists enjoy strolls along the vibrant streets, visits to impressive museums and art galleries, and exploration of breathtaking natural attractions.
The best part is that the town is small, so getting around is easy and transportation is accessible just like it is on a vacation in Aspen. I can simply walk, cycle, or use the public transit system Roam to get to the attractions and activities that the town has to offer.
Traveling to Banff is not complicated either. It’s an hour-and-a-half drive west of Calgary—where international travelers often arrive via Calgary International airport—or a four-hour drive south of Jasper.
If I were you, I’d start planning a worthwhile vacation in the historic Alberta town today. Which Banff attraction or adventure activity would you like to go on most while vacationing in Alberta?