Banff, extremely popular tourist destination of western Canada is located in the valley surrounded by Banff National Park and the Rocky Mountains. Banff is situated in southwest Alberta about an hour and a half drive from Calgary Airport making it easy for tourists to travel. The drive from Calgary to Banff is fantastic with lots of beautiful scenic spots where you can take coffee breaks and stretch while enjoying the gorgeousness of nature. As the mountains get bigger and closer to you, the excitement of exploring Banff reaches its different level. This is coming from someone who has traveled this route many times and experienced this feeling.
Banff is a wonderful town filled with natural beauty, scenic views, and perfectly charming town vibes for cozy and fun adventures for everyone. As I was walking through Banff avenue which is the main street in downtown I felt as if an artist was painting a poster of this place. It is so clean with the most excellent view of the mountains partially covered in snow giving this town the best backdrop. Mother nature has contributed so much to the beauty of this town.
Banff has so much history and heritage in its existence, I was surprised while learning about this stunning and historic town. Fun fact about Banff, this is the highest town in Canada because of its elevation, which is at 4,537 feet, wow isn't that amazing! It was established as the first national park in Canada and was third in the world. Achieving that position is certainly phenomenal and that is one of the reasons for its popularity amongst travelers from all over the world.
Something that is so unknown about Banff is that it is dwelling to seven national historic sites, which are Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel, Banff Park Museum, Cosmic Ray Station on Sanson Peak, Cave and Basin, Howse Pass, Abbot Pass Hut, and Skoki Lodge. There is lot of gem hidden within this town and national park that it never disappoints the visitors. With a rich heritage and strong history behind it, amid the changing time this town has also changed with the growing admiration that it offers a good array of activities. The visual of a typical downtown (Banff Avenue) is usually curious visitors strolling down the streets, looking at the cute little stores, scenes and exploring the beautiful heart of this town.
Banff is busy all year round, however it starts getting busier as the weather gets warm. During Spring and Summertime, you can shop at the farmers market which is close to downtown and offers you to enjoy the harvest of fresh produce grown by locals, they also have some really yummy meat shops that sell traditional sausages, beef jerky. I absolutely enjoy local sausage and handmade pies prepared by local bakers.
Other than farmer's market you can also enjoy some famous chocolate and candy stores if you have a sweet tooth just like me. In my recent visit, I got a chance to try the beaver tails and I was in love with this delicacy, this is one of the popular spots to stop and enjoy some sweet treats as you continue your Banff excursion. Just like Canmore Banff also has beautiful gift boutiques, some of these stores sell products made by locals from Alberta.
As a tourist, you have many options to choose from to bring souvenirs for your friends and family. Something that I like to always bring for my near and dear ones is fridge magnets, they keep memories fresh, every time you reach your fridge memories pop-up. Other than little souvenir stores, there are art stores that sell gorgeous paintings. For creative minds, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity hosts some world-class events like the Banff Mountain Film and Book festival every October and November.
On my recent visit to Banff, I got a chance to explore one of the national historic sites, the Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel. I was completely surprised by the architecture of the building. It is very easy to drive up to the hotel from Banff downtown, they have ample car parking, although its paid parking but its totally worth.
This hotel opened in 1888, it is at an elevation of 4,639 ft. , the location of the hotel is just perfect, it is surrounded by beautiful mountains filled with lush green trees which give this hotel a perfect encircle during summer.
During winter it looks like it's a magnificent place in the winter wonderland, almost like the palaces we see in Disney movies so pretty! No wonder it was declared a National Historic site. This hotel has 764 rooms and 12 restaurants that entertain guests from all around the world. In 1926 the hotel was destroyed because of fire and was restructured in 1928. Even after so many years, this property stands strong and warmly welcomes tourists all year round. I remember while walking through the hotel, I got a glimpse of one of their rooms and oh my god they are luxurious and comforting.
This hotel also has an alluring golf course that overlooks the Bow Falls which is flowing from the back of this property. As you walk towards the golf course lookout for signs that say, Bow Falls, a small walk from the back of the property leads you to the Bow Falls viewpoint, just take a few stairs down towards Waldhaus Restaurant and it will take you to the parking lot from where you can start your walk to view this amazing falls. Once you reach the actual viewpoint, look out for the stairs that will take you to the start point of the 2.7 km walking trail that lays parallel to the falls. The view of the falls from the trail is just perfect. Enjoy the serene view of the calm Bow River flowing while you stop to take pictures on the trail, trust me you want to make many stops for pictures.
Banff also has a hidden point that not many tourists explore, I was lucky to have done some research beforehand and came across the Surprise Corner. This spot is really good to take pictures of the Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel along with the Bow Falls. Surprise corner is also very popular amongst newlyweds, as it gives the best background to take wedding photos. It is important to create memories so that you can cherish them forever, so next time you are in Banff make sure to visit the surprise corner. It is very easy to drive to Surprise Corner, you can navigate through Google map, navigation is very easy, once you reach the top of the hill you will find a small parking lot at the end of Buffalo Street. It is usually busy on weekends as the parking space is small so make sure to either go on a weekday or in the morning on weekends.
Park your vehicle in the parking lot, look for the sign Surprise Corner View, and head towards the Surprise Corner, and trust me you will be surprised by the view of this point. It is just fabulous!! You can also enjoy a small hike to Hoodoos viewpoint, this is also easily accessible from the parking lot and everything is directed very well so just look for signs, it is a 4.8 km trail, you also get a really good view of Bow Valley and Mount Rundle along the trail that leads to the view of the Hoodoos. I enjoyed every bit of my trip to Banff and I highly recommend you guys to plan a trip to this beautiful town of western Canada and give your love.
There is so much more that I can keep writing about Banff however I would like to create a separate blog on Banff and Banff National Park excursions. In my next blog, I will cover activities to do in and around Banff, keep your eyes peeled for my next blog.
Videos taken while driving from Banff to Canmore, video credit to my friend Gurkirat and Varinder
Make sure to make a quick stop at:
-The Fudgery, enjoy watching the workers making a fresh batch of Fudge for you, it's yummy trust me!!
-COWS- best ice-cream, very creamy with lots of flavors to offer.
-About Canada - An awesome gift store, check out their paintings you will for sure fall in love !!
-Spirit of Christmas - OH my god! I don't know what to say about this store, it is a three-story store that sells amazing products, cute collectibles, extraordinary ornaments, make sure to visit this store, you will love it.
-The Quest Gallery - if you are a jewelry lover like me make sure visit this store, have some absolutely beautiful pieces of jewelry.