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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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You can also get New York-style pizza and 48 kinds of craft beer at this bowling hot spot.
Moose Hotel has not one, but two hot rooftop pools with spectacular mountain views and an outdoor fire pit to warm you up.
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.
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.
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.
Art & Soul with Mindy offers paint classes around Banff, with different subjects like wildflowers, architecture or the mountain landscape.
Banff Public Library has programming for all ages, including the “Super Reading Club” with games and crafts that runs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can find jewellery, ceramics and home decor, among other things, made by local artisans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Underneath Lux Theatre, Euraka Escape Room Adventures offers two escape room challenges, each of varying themes and difficulties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grab organic, artisan treats at this local favourite that makes fresh bread and pastries each 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.
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.”
Choose between one of the hourly or full-day rides, explore scenic trails and learn about life in the west.
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.
Located only eight kilometres from downtown Banff, this campsite means you can experience solitude but still hop into town for coffee if needed.
It’s called Via Ferrata and it takes you through an exhilarating experience along Mount Norquay, hiking along ridges and up cliffs.
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.]