Banff & Canmore

View At Fairmont HotelHello, friends! I thought now would be a great time to share my adventures in Banff & Canmore.  How many people can say they live within a few hours of a mountain backdrop? I can!! Living in Calgary, AB (that’s in Canada — Home of Tim Hortons) within 1 & 1/2 hours I can find myself surrounded by nature & the breathtaking beauty of mountains.  It’s a great place for rest & relaxation — a change of pace from the hustle & bustle of city life.  Living so close, I’ve taken several trips to the mountains both day trips and overnight trips.  Now if you are looking for tips on winter sports like skiing or snowboarding — I’m sorry to disappoint you but this is not the blog post for you… I don’t do either.  I’ve gone snowboarding once and let’s just say that was an adventure on it’s on … perhaps a future blog post… hmm.

Fairmont HotelNow, Banff and Canmore are popular tourist destinations so there is an abundance of accommodations from hotels to motels to Bed & Breakfasts.  If you are a looking for something very fancy the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is absolutely stunning (the image to the left was taken from the hotel website) — I’ve never stayed there but it is considered a “must see” in Banff.  The views alone are AMAZING.  The Fairmont hotel itself is a castle built about 125 years ago and has beautiful ballrooms & secret passageways — it even comes equipped with its own ghost bride story — I’d tell you but that would ruin your fun when you visit! BOO — Did I scare you — oops sorry. Anyway…apart from my poor scaring techniques, you can visit http://www.fairmont.com/banff-springs/ for more information.

If you are travelling with a larger group of people Copperstone Resort may be a more realistic place to stay — located in Dead Man’s Flat.  They are a townhouse style with a kitchenette, a sitting area, in-house laundry, a balcony, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Ideal for a couples get-a-way or a girls weekend.  The bedrooms have queen sized beds — large enough for two people to sleep comfortably and you can even select a suite that has a set of bunk beds — which is great for children.  The facility has a pool for guests and a BBQ on the balcony — PERFECT for summer fun!  Unfortunately, I’ve only stayed there in winter so I cannot comment on how the pool was, but it looked like it would be a nice place to lounge.  The view from the room was one of mountains and nature — you can’t help but smile while you are there (Disneyland may not be the only happy place on earth).  You can visit http://www.copperstoneresorthotel.com/

Hiking is a very popular activity in either Banff or Canmore, however, it would do you well to prepare in advance unlike me and my group of friends.  We decided spontaneously to take a short hike along one of the many trails in Banff… In the winter.  Now, you have to understand that we aren’t the most “outdoorsy type” to start with… so here we are in our fashion boots and jackets.  Our main goal was to not fall — jeez we are a very ambitious group I know (Before you get the wrong idea — I have successfully completed long hikes in more appropriate attire — we just didn’t plan this particular hike in advance).  I am proud to report though that we did achieve this lofty goal even thought the hike didn’t last longer than maybe 20 min… so not exactly a long workout.  If you want maps or more information on hiking trails in Banff please visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/randonee-hiking/banff.aspx (for my Canadian friends — because this year is Canada’s 150th birthday entry into all parks is free!)

TapasThe food in both Banff & Canmore is fabulous!  I don’t know what it is about nature but food always tastes better out there.  One of my favourite places is a called Tapas which is located in Canmore.  A small restaurant with the most amazing food you will ever eat.  Each dish is served as a sharing plate so you can order several different items.  TostadasThe tostadas are a great starter — with the poached pear & cheese as my personal favourite.  Another must eat is the diablo potatoes — wow… I think potatoes need their own food group and this dish would be the star of that group; in addition, the dipping sauce adds a bit of tart to the dish.  Another must eat are the mussels — now I’m not a big fan of seafood in general but these mussels were incredible — drenched in a cheese sauce served with freshly baked bread — I’m starting to drool as I write this.  Ox TailNow for the main dishes — I’ve tried both the oxtail & the lamb shoulder — out of those I preferred the lamb shoulder because I found the oxtail to be very salty and the portions small.  The lamb shoulder was tender (fall off the bone and just scrumptious — there is no other word I can use to describe it); the seasoning and sauce were 100% on point.  Finally dessert — if you’ve read the “about me” page you know I’m a dessert-aholic… I might have a problem but at this place by the time you’ve finished all of the above, there is no more room for dessert! GASP! I’ve only had the truffles which are home made chocolates doused with cocoa and a hint of sea salt so you have both sweet and savoury in each bite.  They also have a white chocolate crème brulee and a peanut butter mousse served with cappuccino ice cream — all sound delicious.  If you’ve ever been to this restaurant please comment below with your favourite dishes! For everyone else visit http://www.tapascanmore.ca/ to see more great pictures and reservation information.

Sightseeing — if you visit Banff or Canmore frequently then you know that the towns themselves are very touristy — made of either wood or stone each building is a work of art.  Each town has quaint shops selling the everyday essentials to great souvenirs to even — get this — chocolate/fudge! — YUM.  Besides the town sites themselves you can take a boat ride, go to the top of a mountain (by cheating and) using a gondola, take a sleigh ride, go dog sledding or visit their natural hot springs (a personal favourite)!  The natural hot springs are used year-round by visitors or residents, heated to a balmy 39ºC.  The only issue is that it can be busy and seating around the edge of the hot springs is limited.  I’ve been when 100+ band students were visiting — relaxing was not the word I would have used… BUT I have been when it is calmer and then it really is lovely.  It’s outdoors so you have a spectacular view of the stars on clear nights.  But digressing a little (which I do often)  I will mention that I do prefer the radium hot springs over the Banff ones but the Banff ones are closer to me (small tidbit for your dinner time conversation).  My friends and I use this site to book activities on our various trips http://www.banffadventures.com/

Grizzly Paw SodaAnother great spot to visit is the Grizzly Paw brewery — even if you are not a drinker don’t worry they make soft drinks as well.  During the tour, you are provided with tastes of either the beer or the soda (your choice) which takes away from the dry factual information that you are also given.  The tour guides, however, are full of humour which definitely helps and since I don’t know much about brewing beer I learned a great deal.  You can book tours or order their product at https://www.thegrizzlypaw.com/

Overall I would recommend visiting Banff & Canmore at least once in your life — one time is all it would take to fall in love.  I give this destination ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5 hearts. Hope this helps you plan any future nature trips!

XOXO,

Trotting Traveller ♥

Mountain View Take 2