Getting Busy in Banff – A Locals List of the Top 10 Things to Do in Town
Banff is home to not only some of the most iconic and astounding mountain vistas on the planet, but to me, a Canadian-Brit with big hair, for the last year and a half. World famous because of its beauty, Banff was created as a tourist trap. But that doesn’t mean you should to stick to the beaten path when visiting. There is a huge difference between visiting a place and experiencing it.
Here I give you the ultimate locals list of the top 10 things to do in Banff.
1- Best Adrenaline-Pumping, Heart Stopping, Bone Rattling (have I made my point yet) Activities
Think of Banff and many picture serene views, babbling brooks and gentle hikes. What many don’t conceive are the adrenaline-fueled, face melting, high octane activities on offer!
While Banff boasts some of the finest skiing in North America at any one of its three ski hills, sometimes in-resort skiing just doesn’t quite scratch that adrenaline itch. Which is probably why heli-skiing was invented! Hit your own private slope to really shred through Banff’s famous powder in a personally guided tour down untracked, virgin slopes with a heli-skiing tour. Choose from one to five action packed days from CMH Heli Skiing full of champagne powder and heart pounding runs!
Strap yourself on to 660cc worth of roaring engine and hit the open back country as you’re let loose as the driver of your own snowmobile. Visit a 1900’s deserted mining town atop 8,000 ft. peak or hit the high alpine bowls for some free-riding.
Whitewater Rafting through the Rockies
The ultimate summer adrenaline experience. Kick it up a few notches on the full throttle, Maximum Horse Power trip through Wild Water Adventure tours!
2- Best Banff Bragging Rights
Travelling in a national park opens doors to new experiences. This also means new opportunities to hurt yourself trying to impress your friends. As Spiderman once said, with great power comes great responsibility…to brag for the rest of eternity!
Ride the world famous Delirium Dive at Sunshine Village. An extreme run only for the bravest and most badass boarders and skiiers.
Faceplant your way into the record books at the end of season, Sunshine Village Slush Cup. Hurtle down the hill and skim across a 20ft ice pool to make it to the other side. Fancy dress is compulsory.
Mythical Rope Swing
find the illusive rope swing at Johnson’s Lake and catch some serious air as you embrace everything that is awesome about Canadian summers by the lake.
3- Best Canadian Experience
Any avid traveller will tell you that to get the most out of any country you need to fully immerse yourself in the culture. What better way to feel Canadian than hiring a canoe and paddling and portaging across the beautiful lakes of Banff. Close to home and the Blue Canoe docks alongside the Bow River is just a stone’s throw from downtown Banff. Or head an hour down the road to Lake Louise for the ultimate scenic canoeing experience. Serious Canadian bonus points if you can work in a Mountie, maple syrup and a moose.
4- Best Canadian Lodging
Make a week of your Banff vacation by stepping out of the woods and into some of the most rustic and Canadian accommodation you’ll find. Storm Mt. Lodge is a firm favourite of mine where TV’s and telephones are not included with your room, but log fireplaces and beautiful views are! Grab some beers and some buddies and it’s all you need to keep you company for an evening. If you really want the Rocky mountain experience, you can pitch your tent at some of the most beautiful campsites in the world. Locals Tip – show up at check-out time around 10am to secure the prime lakeside spots!
5- Best Facebook Profile Picture
Moraine Lake is one of the most iconic photos you’ll find in the national park. Google ‘Banff’ and Moraine Lake is what you’ll see. Head a little further afield to Peyto Lake for a stunning aerial view of this striking aqua-blue lake. No Photoshop required. Tip – as tempting as it is, stay away from the wildlife, the Banff elk won’t hesitate to impale you.
6- Best Road Trip Route
Icefields Parkway, Banff to Jasper. Named by countless travel guides, including National Geographic and Lonely Planet, as ‘one of the best drives in the world’. This road trip is unsurpassed for its spectacular mountain scenery and wildlife watching. Tip: While the drive is supposed to take 4hrs, plan for twice the journey time as you’ll be stopping so often to take in the jaw-dropping views.
7- Best Après Ski
Banff boasts some of the longest ski seasons in North America. Not only that, but local hill Sunshine Village has just smashed its seasonal snowfall record of 30ft (909cm) and its only March! With two more months of Spring champagne powder to faceplant into, you are going to need a beer to ease your muscle pains. Top spots include the Eddie Burger bar (try ‘The Edward’ if you’re feeling especially hungry) or stop by the Banff Ave. Brewpub for its amazing locally brewed beer.
8- Best Summer Patio
As much of a snowbunny that I am, I certainly have my sights set on summer. Heck, I’m practically getting my beach towel out to reserve my spot on the patios! See if you can squeeze yourself onto the rooftop patio at the Elk and Oarsman or breathe in the mountain vistas atop the Rose and Crown patio.
9- Best Hiking
Did someone say more trails than you can shake a hiking stick at? One of the top hiking trails in Banff is Sunshine Meadows. A truly astonishing hike through the mountains, past glacier blue lakes and through wildflower meadows. An amazing day hike with minimal effort. Book through White Mountain Adventures for the ultimate guided experience. Tip –pack bear spray and take note of the group hiking rules, because let’s face it; bears know people are tasty.
10- Best Biking
One of the best ways to see Banff is via bike. Explore the exhilarating terrain through the Hoodoos near Tunnel Mt as you descend towards the Bow River and the majestic Banff Springs hotel. Or if road biking is more your cup of tea, rent a vintage bike from the Blue Canoe docks or Backtrax and head out to Lake Minnewanka to see if you can spot the famous Banff Squirrel! Bribe him with macadamias and he’ll pose for photos!
So, there you have it. I cannot urge you enough to visit Banff. Described by many of the locals as Never-Never-Land; not only does it feel like the fountain of youth, but many travellers who come to visit, never leave. Me included.
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ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
Call me Jonesy. I’m from rainy England and I’ve been living in the small and amazingly beautiful town of Banff for the last year and a half. I work in marketing, I’m a freelance copywriter and an avid travel blogger. I’ve travelled to parts of Europe, the Middle East, Canada. Travel plans for this year include, but are definitely not limited to: More of Canada, Vancouver, Seattle and West Coast USA. Super ambitious, wannabe hippie and disgustingly friendly.