Banff is a picturesque resort village that sits at the foot of the breathtaking Banff National Forest, a designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The peaks of majestic Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade can be seen from the town center. It’s the main hub for tourists coming to the Canadian Rockies and the starting point for every sort of adventure tour.
During the high season, (May – September) crowds of tourists file into bistros, coffeehouses, and Alpine-style boutiques. To avoid the crowds and take advantage of cheaper rates, you may want to consider visiting during the shoulder season that runs mid-September – mid-October.
My daughter and I stayed at the Canalta Lodge, a hipster-style chalet with wood beams. Amenities include a complimentary Deluxe breakfast, outdoor hot tubs, sauna, coffee shop, community firepits, and even a Glacier Plunge tub. You can also rent bikes, store your skis, and bring your pet along.
A stroll and dinner in town
The evening we arrived, we had dinner at the Bison Restaurant and Terrace, an upstairs farm to table eatery with a view of the breathtaking alpine peaks that rise above the town. We shared a plate of Bison Ribeye along with their Rocket Salad. After all the hiking we did on our visit to the Canadian Rockies, we were hungry and the bison was cooked to perfection! Can we say YUM?
We also stopped at Kate King Jewellery, a gem and crystal shop that features vibrational rocks that are said to help you harmonize and empower your spirit. Our saleslady was quite intuitive and helped us pick out just the right ones to add to my collection at home.
A quick exploration of Banff
The next morning, we took a long walk to see as much as we could of Banff before we had to leave for the airport.
I was itching to visit the historic Banff Springs Hotel, which was 2 miles from our hotel, so we set off in that direction.
Cascades of Time Gardens
At the end of Mountain Ave is the Parks Canada Administration Building and it has a small magical garden behind it called The Cascades of Time.
We were lucky to see it during the peak blooming period and it was bursting with color. You can’t help but feel tranquil and at peace walking through it.
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
After taking a few photos in the garden we headed up the boulevard toward the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Unlike the Chateau at Lake Louise, it wasn’t overrun with tourists and we could walk around freely.
The hotel is known as Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies” and has been serving guests since 1888. Its original Scottish Baronial architectural style was replaced in 1911 with the present Canadian Chateau style and was designed by American architect Walter S. Painter.
You may see a ghost or two at the hotel
There have been several ghostly sightings at the hotel. One apparition is a bride who died in the 1930s when she tripped on her wedding gown and fell down a marble staircase. We walked by the alleged staircase but I didn’t feel a chilly presence. I guess she was haunting someone else that day.
Another ghost is an elderly Scotsman named Sam who worked at the hotel as head bellman during the 1960s and ’70s. He was helpful in life and is apparently helpful in the afterlife. People have reported that an elderly bellman unlocked their room door when their key didn’t work.
There are also some rooms that may be haunted. Pillows have been pulled from under sleeping guests and bloody handprints have been seen in mirrors. We were spared a scare while we were there but it’s always fun to hear about ghosts who haunt historic hotels. A mischievous spirit always seems to turn up.
Next time . . .
Sadly, we didn’t have time to see more of Banff before we had to head back to Calgary Airport. Even if you spend weeks in the Canadian Rockies you’ll never see it all, because there are so many amazing things to do. But it gives me a great excuse to come back and I hope it’s very soon.
Read my other posts about the Canadian Rockies here:
Have you been to the Canadian Rockies? Or are you planning to visit in the future? Please leave a comment below.