50 Things to Do in Banff This Summer

From canoeing to visiting local art galleries, here are some of the best things to do in Banff during the summer months.

Photograph by Brandon Farrell @brandonf92

From hiking the mountains, to swimming, to craft beer, Banff offers something for everyone. Here in Calgary, we’re lucky to be a short drive away from a place that people travel from all over the world to see. Here are just some of the things you can do there during the summer.

 

Visit Banff’s farmers’ market

Every Wednesday from May 25 to October 5, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., more than 70 vendors are in Banff Park Museum’s parking lot with local produce, fresh food, and handmade jewelry. There’s also live music by local talent.

 

Visit Cascade of Time Garden

Hide from the sun on hot days under the gazebos and sitting shelters at this garden just steps away from the main roads in Banff, on the grounds of the Parks Canada Administration Building. To make it even better, admission to the garden is free.

 

Learn about wildlife on a canoe 

Banff Canoe Club offers tours on the Bow River where you just might spot an elk, a muskrat or a beaver while learning about best practices for wildlife interactions.

 

Check out an art exhibition all about canoes

Running from June 17 to October 2022, this exhibition at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is a celebration of the iconic water vessel, with works spanning more than 200 years of history in the Rockies.

 

Go bowling at High Rollers

 

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You can also get New York-style pizza and 48 kinds of craft beer at this bowling hot spot.

 

Take a dip in some rooftop pools

Moose Hotel has not one, but two hot rooftop pools with spectacular mountain views and an outdoor fire pit to warm you up.

 

Try stand up paddleboarding 

With clear blue waters and never-ending views of the Rockies, stand up paddleboarding on one of the many lakes in Banff National Park may just be the most relaxing thing you can do this summer.

 

Visit an art gallery

The Carter-Ryan Gallery features the works of Indigenous visual artist Jason Carter. With a location in Canmore already, the gallery opened its second location in Banff in 2017.

 

Drink locally brewed beer 

From Banff Ave. Brewing to Three Bears Brewery, Banff is home to a range of craft beers to try and to take home.

 

Go fishing in Lake Minnewanka 

Lake Minnewanka is open seasonally and those with a fishing license can take advantage of the largest lake in Banff, which is home to Rocky Mountain whitefish. Banff Adventures offers charted fishing tours on the lake for those looking for a guided experience.

 

Drop in for an art class

Art & Soul with Mindy offers paint classes around Banff, with different subjects like wildflowers, architecture  or the mountain landscape.

 

Visit the Banff Public Library for storytime

Banff Public Library has programming for all ages, including the “Super Reading Club” with games and crafts that runs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

 

Eat authentic Italian pasta with a mountain view

Lupo Ristorante Italian brings the experience of the Northern Italian Alps to Banff. Try one of the handcrafted pastas, like rigatoni alla vodka, made with Banff’s own Park Distillery vodka.

 

Go stargazing at Two Jack Lake 

Photograph by Brandon Farrell @brandonf92

It may not be Hawaii, but Banff is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. Drive to Two Jack Lake, grab a blanket and a warm beverage, and spend the dark hours of the night looking at the clear sky.

 

Visit The Banff Centre

The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity has a fully packed calendar all summer, so make sure to check out its exhibitions and talks, including The Shape of an Echo, with works centered around the land and its representation in the art world.

 

Host a picnic at Tunnel Mountain

Tunnel Mountain is Banff’s smallest summit, meaning that while it may still get your heart rate up, it won’t be too difficult to haul your picnic supplies up the mountain. Up top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Banff.

 

Swim in the cold lakes around Banff

Banff is surrounded by perfectly swimmable lakes, if you can handle the cold. Try your hand at Lake Minnewanka or Two Jack Lake, both of which have excellent entry points for beginners.

 

Try farm-to-table vegetarian cuisine 

Head to Nourish Bistro to try some tasty vegetarian and vegan cuisine in the heart of Banff. Nourish Bistro also offers cocktails made with fresh, organic ingredients.

 

Buy hand-crafted accessories at Branches Market Place

You can find jewellery, ceramics and home decor, among other things, made by local artisans.

 

Have a picnic at the Central Park

Central Park is the perfect spot for a family picnic with a playground nearby. A view of the mountains along the Bow River is just the cherry on top.

 

Jog the Fenland Trail

This scenic run can also take you to Vermillion Lakes Road if you’re looking for a tougher workout. You can also take your favourite running friend, your dog, on this trail.

 

Do some karaoke at Hello Sunshine

If you plan on staying the night in Banff, stop by Hello Sunshine and book a private karaoke room for a night of tasty Japanese snacks and singing with friends.

 

Go canoeing

Photograph by Brandon Farrell @brandonf92

Canoeing in Banff will never be out of style. And it’s always more fun than you think it will be. You can rent equipment from the Banff Canoe Club.

 

Get fondue at The Grizzly House

The Grizzly House is considered a classic to many, and rightfully so — the fondue is among the best you’ll find with chocolate, cheese or oil varieties.

 

Take the gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain

Taking the Banff Gondola up Sulfur Mountain is another classic activity. The ride is almost as pretty as the views up top. The summit features a one-km interpretive walk to give you even more panoramic views.

 

Go on a lantern tour at Cave and Basin National Historic Site

Cave and Basin is the reason Banff became Canada’s first National Park. On Saturday nights, walk through the tunnels to the cave with only a lantern as your light while learning about the history of Cave and Basin.

 

Watch a movie at Lux Cinema

You’ve probably walked by Lux Cinema on Wolf Street many times. Next time, pop into this classic movie theatre for an afternoon movie and snacks.

 

Eat Beavertails on Banff Avenue

If you’ve spent any time in Banff, you’ve probably smelt the smell of Beavertails wafting through the air. These deep-fried, doughnut-like treats come with topping flavours like apple pie, Oreo or Skor cheescake.

 

Try indoor climbing at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Rock climbing outdoors is tough, so try it indoors first. Both experienced and new climbers can take advantage of Banff’s only indoor climbing facility. Afterwards, you can cool off in the pool, which has clear views of Sulfur Mountain.

 

Try local spirits at Park Distillery

 

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Park distills its spirits onsite in its two-floor restaurant on Banff Avenue The “Fifi’s Mule,” Park’s take on the Moscow Mule, is one to try with the campfire-inspired food.

 

Fuel up on caffeine at Little Wild Cafe

This cafe is one of Banff’s favourite spots to grab a coffee in the mornings. While you’re here, grab some bread or pastries brought in from Wild Flour Bakery.

 

Ride a horse to Sundance Lodge

This log cabin was built in 1991 and the only way to get to it is through a 16-kilometre hike, horseback ride or bike ride.

 

Solve an escape room

Underneath Lux Theatre, Euraka Escape Room Adventures offers two escape room challenges, each of varying themes and difficulties.

 

Visit a rooftop patio

Rose & Crown’s renovated rooftop patio offers a great option for those really looking to take advantage of patio season, with some of the best views in Banff’s downtown.

 

Take a beer cruise on Lake Minnewanka 

This interpretive sunset boat tour on Lake Minnewanka offers some of Bow Valley’s best craft brews, accompanied by snacks and surrounded by the mountains around the lake.

 

Walk Banff’s new pedestrian zone

Located at the south end of Banff Avenue, the new pedestrian zone offers vacationers a space to spread out, and enjoy the many shops and restaurants in this area of town without having to worry about traffic.

 

Try mountain biking on Banff’s world-class trails

The Bow River Loop or Spray River Loop are good beginner trails, as long as you’re prepared to share the road with horses. Try to lock down bike rentals early, at either Banff Cycle, Banff Adventures or some of the other rental shops in town.

 

Watch the sunrise or sunset

You can catch the sunrise or sunset by one of the many lakes in Banff. If you’re an experienced hiker, gear up with extra safety equipment and flashlight for a (very) early morning hike up one of the easier trails to catch the sunrise.

 

Have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Banff Springs

The afternoon tea at Fairmont Banff Springs is an experience not to be missed, with Lot 35 tea made specifically for the hotel, along with scones, specialty sandwiches and other snacks traditionally served with afternoon tea. There is also a Royal Tea experience ($400 each) with caviar, foie gras and wagyu beef for those who like to keep it fancy.

 

Try an ATV tour

Banff Adventures ATV tours are fully guided to suit various levels of experience and you can pick between full-day and half-day offerings. Prices start at $219 for the two-hour waterfall tour.

 

Visit Cows for ice cream

This Canadian company makes delicious ice cream flavours like “caramoo apple” or “cowconut cream pie,” and adorable cow-themed clothing and accessories. The Banff store is the company’s only one in Alberta.

 

Have lunch at Cascade Ponds

Photograph by Chris Landry.

This idyllic location on the outskirts of Banff is a great spot to have lunch at a picnic table and enjoy your time next to the serene ponds.

 

Try pastries at Wild Flour

Grab organic, artisan treats at this local favourite that makes fresh bread and pastries each day.

 

Treat yourself to a spa day

If you’re looking to pamper yourself, Banff is home to many world-class spas. Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Banff Springs is one of the tried-and-true ones.

 

Stay at a backcountry lodge

If you’re looking to tune out the outside world and spend a few days unplugged, consider staying at a backcountry lodge like Shadow Lake, which is a day-hike away from “any conveniences.”

 

Try horseback riding

Choose between one of the hourly or full-day rides, explore scenic trails and learn about life in the west.

 

Visit the Walter Phillips Gallery

The Walter Phillips Gallery in the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a space committed to contemporary art and displays paintings, drawings, sculptures, textiles, photography and more.

 

Go camping at Tunnel Mountain Village

Located only eight kilometres from downtown Banff, this campsite means you can experience solitude but still hop into town for coffee if needed.

 

Try assisted climbing at Mt. Norquay

It’s called Via Ferrata and it takes you through an exhilarating experience along Mount Norquay, hiking along ridges and up cliffs.

 

Take a driven tour in an open-top ride

The experience in these glass-roofed vehicles will take you on a tour of the Rockies, including Vermillion Lakes, Tunnel Mountain and Mount Norquay Viewpoint.

 

[This story was updated on June 23, 2022.]

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