Ski the Big 3
Banff National Park consists of three ski areas: Mt Norquay, Sunshine Valley and Lake Louise. All ski areas are accessible under the Ski Big 3 lift ticket and free transportation is provided between Banff, Lake Louise and the ski facilities. Our personal favorite was Sunshine Valley. You must take a gondola to Sunshine Village. This was the only mountain requiring a gondola ride. At Norquay and Lake Louise, you could simply park and walk right up to the slopes. However, the gondola ride was worth it! The ski slopes at the top were wide open trails and bowls above the tree line.
Stay at the “Castle in the Rockies”
Styled after a Scottish baronial castle, reserve your hotel accommodations at the Fairmont Banff Springs to enjoy a memorable castle stay. Just a short drive from downtown Banff, the hotel is a destination all of its own. Many of Banff’s best restaurants are located on site as well as upscale shopping, art galleries, a heated outdoor swimming pool, spa and golf course. We enjoyed evening cocktails at the Rundle Lounge, a delicious dinner at the Waldhaus Restaurant and breakfast each morning at STOCK.
Take the Banff Gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain
The rooftop observation deck offers sweeping views of Bow Valley, Banff town and six stunning mountain ranges. Stay for dinner at Sky Bistro to gaze at the summit views and sample a tasty Canadian menu. If you are visiting during the winter months, it is important to note the gondola is not heated. Dress accordingly.
Explore Downtown Banff
Walk the quaint streets of downtown Banff and explore the many souvenir shops, boutiques and cafes. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Block Kitchen and Bar, and I highly recommend the smoked bison flatbread. Block is small and does not take reservations. Best for couples or small groups.
Sample house made liquors and cocktails at Park Distillery
Park Distillery set the bar goals high. Not only was the home brew tasty, the style and décor game was strong. Sticking with a rustic campfire theme, the bar backdrop looked like an outdoor scene. Tree trunks lined the back wall and red lanterns hung from the ceiling for lighting. The focal point and feature of the bar centered on an oversized 1920s photograph of Banff with a local explorer greeting a black bear. If you enjoy spicy cocktails, try their chili vodka in their specialty cocktail, The Sawback.
We spent majority of our trip enjoying the ski slopes not leaving enough time to explore the famous hot springs or enjoy a dog sledding tour. But these are highly recommended winter activities in Banff if you are looking for more activities during your stay!