Where We Stayed: Fairmont Banff
It’s no surprise that I have a love for vintage. So when I first saw the peak of this 125 year old “Castle in the Rockies”, I fell in love. Nestled between picturesque mountains and pines sits a castle that’s the closest thing to Hogwarts that I’ve ever seen (please excuse the Harry Potter reference) I think I could’ve seen Harry himself and not have been surprised. I digress…
The inside of the castle stays true to the outward history. Vintage style lighting, antique artwork, original penny tiles in bathrooms, and stained glass windows all reminiscent of a time past. The dining spaces and ballrooms were majestic and could have doubled for a Downton Abbey set. Whether I was having coffee in the morning, or enjoying dinner and dancing in the ballroom, I constantly got lost in scenery surrounding me. It truly is a place that pictures alone don’t do justice. Click here to explore more of the Castle.
What We Did: Walk, Hike, Ski, Dogsled, & Afternoon Tea
Before we set out on our adventure in the Rockies we knew we wanted to be outside as much as possible (assuming this Fl. gal didn’t turn into ice). Our first day we walked around the premises and into town. A short walk that’s easily doable in sensible shoes (I found that out the hard way. Darn those pretty, pointy boots).
Town offers plenty of shopping and food options. If you realize you need more warm clothes, another souvenir, or just want a cup of coffee and some Wi-Fi, this quaint town has you covered. On your way to town you can stop by a small, but beautiful waterfall near the hotel.
Now onto adventure. Our first adventure was going on an ice hike in Johnston Canyon where you can see frozen waterfalls
Johnston Canyon Ice Walk
. We booked through Discover Banff Tours and loved our guide! They made it easy with pick and drop off from our hotel door, supplied cleats and poles, and even gave us hot chocolate and cookies during a much needed mid-hike break. Even for a girl coming from the flat land of Florida, it wasn’t too tough of a hike. Although I wouldn’t recommend trying it in tennis shoes…we witnessed this and the slips looked painful. The views were breathtaking and the blue ice is really spectacular to see in person.
Now onto Skiing. I’ve been skiing before, but I’ve never tried my skills against the slopes in Canada. So when we asked guest services about which ski slope to try out, they suggested Sunshine Village for first timers in the Canadian Rockies.Sadly our day wasn’t the clearest with constant snowfall, but it was still fun and we just stuck to the greens and accidently one blue. Because of the poor visibility, we took full advantage of the coffee and burger stops on the slopes.
Our last adventure was probably my favorite. I even booked it weeks before we left (I’m typically not that proactive person). We went dogsledding! It. Was. Amazing! I’m going to be honest, when the guide at Snowy Owl Tours started giving us the do’s and dont’s along with commands for the dogs, I started getting nervous. I could just picture these strong dogs running away with me, while I’m yelling the wrong command. Thankfully, as soon as you start “driving” you realize that these dogs are extremely smart and know their path. You just guide a little here and there. So much respect for these beautiful animals. Snowy Owl also makes it easy on out of towners and offers pick up and drop off so you don’t get lost in the mountains.
Amidst our episodes of outdoor adventure, we decided to spend an afternoon inside and enjoy what Fairmont Banff had to offer. My husband and I share a love for tea and tiny sandwiches, so sipping tea while enojoying a mountain view sounded like a perfect way to spend our day. Tip: Plan on skipping lunch that day. You will fill up on the many 3 course options. After a wonderful description of all the loose teas, we each had our own warm teapot to enjoy while sampling the other sweet and scrumptious treats.
After teatime we had a few hours to spare before our next adventure and I knew I needed to fit in at least one visit to the award winning Willow Springs Spa. For tips on making the most out of the spa with a limited budget and time, read my previous post here.
Where To Eat: Pub, Hotel, Brewery, Saloon
If I’m being honest, food excites me almost as much as adventure, almost. For our first night we wanted somewhere close (still getting over jetlag and not wanting to dress up). We were given a recommendation from someone who works at the hotel (always a good idea to ask a local) for the Waldhaus Pub and so we wandered down just a few steps away from the hotel-
I thought of Lord Of The Rings when I saw this pub. The atmosphere was very laid back and casual. And if you’re wanting something a bit more fancy and quiet, right above the pub is the Waldhaus Restaurant. I highly recommend the Cider Beer and the Pot Pie- comfort food at its best.
Another scrumptious option for Hotel Dining is the Castello Ristorante . Beautiful views, great wine and Italian fare, and an intimate setting. Perfect for a night you feel like dressing up a bit and enjoying a slower pace.
Another winning option that was suggested by our guide for the ice hike was Banff Ave. Brewing Co. .
We stopped by after our hike so we were chomping at the bits for…carbs (if I’m being honest). The fish and chips were delcisious, and their in house brewed beer did not disappoint.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for a place to shake the dust off your boots, Wild Bill’s has you covered. They have all the bells and whistles expected of a popular saloon. Bull riding, Karaoke, dancing, and of course, a full bar, and of course people watching is always fun too. A popular place in town to just let loose.
So there you have it. Historical Banff Springs Canada is a place filled with spectacular views, scrumptious food, and plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors and welcome some adventure into your life. I sincerely hope you get a chance to visit one day and make your own memories.