Goodies to Start The Day
It’s going to be a busy weekend, so you’d better get yourself set-up with the best goodies in town. Wildflour Bakery offers a delicious selection of baked goods, pastries, soups and sandwiches to help you fuel up for the slopes. For lunch, it’s safe to say that their focaccia breads rival the best pizza shops in town. We won’t judge you for grabbing a few “road” snacks for the next few days.
The striking slopes of Mt Norquay are visible from nearly any street in Banff. It was here in 1926 that skiing truly began in The Canadian Rockies. (For a complete timeline of ski history in Banff National Park see here.) A quick drive up the beautiful Norquay access road will deliver you to the home of 74 marked runs and some of the steepest resort terrain in North America. Locals love Norquay for its beautifully groomed rollers that are just waiting to be carved.
Bistro with a View
Now that you’ve made some turns, it’s time for a little break. Head over to the North American Chair (known locally as “The Big Chair”) where your lift ticket will give you access Norquay’s Cliffhouse Bistro. Built as a teahouse in the 1950’s, The Cliffhouse Bistro now offers full-service dining with the best views of Banff. Once you’ve polished off your drink, (Try the new Norquay 90 – brewed exclusively by the Banff Ave Brew Co. for Norquay’s 90th Anniversary.) go for a stroll on the boardwalk before you make your way back to the base. (Don’t forget your camera for this stop!)
Another offering that makes Mt Norquay unique is their Friday and Saturday evening night skiing and tubing. (Night skiing lifts run from 5-10pm, night tubing lifts from 5-9pm, Dec – Feb only) It’s hard to imagine that the views of Banff from Norquay could be even more striking, but just wait until sunset. If you’re all skied out for the day, grab a friend and hop in a tube (included in your lift ticket)!
Bear or Bison
It’s been a solid day on the slopes and we need to get you some food. Head back down to Banff and check out The Bear Street Tavern or The Bison. Although under the same ownership, both restaurants offer a very different vibe, while still maintaining their commitment to quality, well-sourced ingredients. The Tavern offers an amazing selection of signature pizzas ($15-19) with 8 local beers on tap. The Bison is a wee bit more snazzy, so be sure to check out the Braised Bison Short-Ribs ($39) or Venison striploin with cocoa chili rub ($46).
Photo taken by Orange Girl Photography. Read full article here.
Strike out on the town
Still looking to tackle the town? Head on over to THE DANCING SASQUATCH and show your Big3 lift ticket to skip the line and cover before 10:30pm (Only on Friday). If dancing isn’t your scene, checkout HIGH ROLLERS, the newest joint in town. This full-service bowling alley also offers a wide selection of pints and pizza. Okay, now call it a night. We’ve got an early morning.
Start your day at Whitebark Cafe where you’ll spend as much time taking a photo of your coffee as you will drinking it! Be sure to grab yourself a few munchies from their delicious assortment of house-made muffins, cookies and yogurt parfaits.
Grab Some Sunshine
Climb aboard the colourful Sunshine Village gondola and in 15 minutes you’ll be transported into a winter wonderland. Sitting in the high alpine, Sunshine Village boasts 115 marked runs and 3358 acres of terrain across three stunning mountains. Zip up the Continental Divide Express for your chance to ski in Alberta and British Columba at the same time! Feeling chilly? Hop on the TeePee Town LX – Canada’s first heated chairlift – which will deliver you to some amazing double black runs in the TeePee Chutes.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll need a snack. Sunshine offers a variety of slope side dining but it’s hard to beat the giant windows and fireside ambiance offered at The Chimney Corner. You can’t go wrong with the prime rib burger ($18) with truffle parmesan fries and a crisp cocktail. Plenty of Spring sun means you can enjoy your beverage of choice on the patio with panoramic mountain views.
Walk In The Park
With unwavering commitment to sourcing local ingredients, Park Distillery offers a number of Vodkas brewed in-house using glacial water and grains from the Alberta foothills. Tours of the distillery depart daily at 3:30pm and include some tastings. That being said, you’ll probably want to stick around for a few extra cocktails once the tour wraps up!
Welcome to Canada
The Canadian-inspired dining experience inside The Maple Leaf Grill will not disappoint. Get rolling with the regional game platter charcuterie board ($30) to enjoy a spread of rocky mountain game meats and artisan Canadian cheeses. Graduate to The Maple Leaf signature dish – Wild Maple B.C. salmon ($38) or keep it local with a central alberta bison tenderloin ($56). Make sure you have a peek at the beverage list to sample some fine Canadian wines sourced from The Okanagan Valley in B.C. or The Niagara Peninsula in Ontario.
Arts + Culture Fix
Since its creation in 1933, The Banff Centre has grown from humble roots into a cultural institution for the people of the Bow Valley. The Banff Centre is also home to The Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival – a yearly, international celebration of mountain culture and the crown-jewel of TBC’s programming. On any given evening you can expect a number inspiring performances including: dance, music and theatre. Be sure to check here for the latest listings ahead of your trip.
Soak In The Springs
Feeling the aches of a day on the slopes? Make your way up to the world famous Banff Hot Springs (Pools stay open until 11pm on Fri/Sat.) for a rejuvenating soak. If you forgot your bathing suit at home, be sure to rent a heritage swimsuit on-location. The reasonably priced pass ($7.30 Adult/$6.30 Child) will grant you access to the historic waters, so don’t forget miss out on an essential Banff experience.
Buffalo Sized Breakfast
You’ll want to get an early start today as you have a little bit of travel to get to the legendary slopes of The Lake Louise Ski Resort. Head over to The Buffalo Mountain Lodge’s Sleeping Buffalo Dining room for delicious start to your day. Don’t miss the Eggs Benedict ($15) on cheddar biscuits with elk ham. If you’re looking for something more meaty, try the Mixed Grill ($15.50) and sample some elk cranberry sausage and Canadian back bacon. Yum!
Grab a coffee to go and hit the road to The Lake Louise Ski Resort. After a breathtaking 45 minute drive, you’ll be ready to explore 4200 acres of skiable terrain on 177 marked runs. If you’re in search of fresh powder, then the back bowls of The Lake are a must-ski area. If you’re looking to crush some groomers, rip down the Ladies World Cup Downhill in the tracks of celebrity ski racer Lindsay Vonn.
If you’re on the hunt for sushi, Kuma Yama (Japanese for “Bear on the Mountain”) needs to make your list. Located slope-side in The Lodge of the Ten Peaks, Kuma Yama has all of your favourite sushi offerings with the addition of stunning mountain views. Their incredible rolls will run you between $8-$15, Ramen from $13-$14. Kuma Yama also offers a wide selection of domestic and Asian beers, alongside signature cocktails like the Sake Caesar, so drink up.
Skate The Lake
The only thing more Canadian than canoeing on Lake Louise is going for a skate on the iconic lake. Grab a pair of rentals at The Chateau Lake Louise and go for a spin on the most scenic ice-rink in the world. After your skate, it’s time for the famous afternoon high tea inside The Chateau. Try “The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Organic Signature Blend” while snacking on a variety of mouth watering pastries and sweets. Service is daily from 12pm-3pm. (Feel free to sip about until 4:30 when the lounge closes for dinner service.)
I Love You, Deer
Just rolling into the cozy Caribou Lounge at The Deer Lodge will get you excited for the amazing meal that awaits. Order yourself a glass of wine and have a peek at the Victoria Glacier while you decide between the locally raised elk tenderloin ($44) and wild caribou medallions ($40). After you’ve finished up, enjoy an evening cognac in the original log teahouse. (Be sure to have a closer look at the curious antlers on the elk above the bar!)
Snuggle under the Stars
Head back up the road to The Chateau with your main squeeze and cozy up under a blanket (and the stars) during an evening sleigh ride around the lake. Check out the full schedule of departure times below. Tickets run $30 for adults, $27 for children 3-8 and children 2 and under ride for free. Romantics can also secure a half-bottle of champagne for $50.00. Cheers!
It’s best to go into Laggan’s Bakery with a plan of attack or you’ll end up with a trunk full of goodies! Offering a wide selection of morning beverages, Laggan’s will make sure that you leave the store well-caffeinated and with a healthy supply of baked goods or breakfast treats. Laggan’s offers a wide-range of vegetarian and gluten-free options, so your whole entourage is sure to be pleased. Try their BOB – Breakfast on a Bun ($4.75) or grab a gluten-free hazelnut bar ($3) for the road.
Bow Valley Bliss
From Lake Louise townsite you have two options to make your way back to Banff. Return via Highway #1 (Faster) or take the Bow-Valley Parkway for a more scenic experience. Well known for animal sightings, the BVP offers visitors the “scenic way” back to Banff. Stop along the way for some photos of the iconic Castle Mountain and some of the other incredible peaks that dot the landscape.
Cruise The Canyon
About 40 minutes down the Bow Valley Parkway, (not including photo stops…and there will be photo stops!) you’ll arrive at Johnston Canyon. Make your way through the stunning limestone canyon (Easy walking, but you may want to bring winter shoe spikes.) to the base of the beautiful, frozen chandelier of Johnston Canyon’s Upper Falls. Get that camera out and make sure to grab a photo with some ice climbers for scale!
Last Second Shop
Hop back onto the BVP for a quick little jaunt back to Banff. You’ve got a few minutes before you need to head back to Calgary, so make sure you hit up the Banff Tea Co. They’ve got your usual spread of tea with the added bonus of some exclusive blends. Try Black Bear for an amazing fruit-filled black tea or Sweet Dreams of Banff for a nice pre-snooze blend.