* This past trip to Banff we stayed in Lake Louise, which was closer to the lakes, but further from downtown Banff, where most shops and restaurants are located. While we’d recommend Lake Louise for convenience purposes, their dining selection is expensive (and not great). If you choose to stay there, we highly suggest packing snacks - even their local grocery store is pricey!
Whitebark Cafe: Located in Banff Aspen Lounge, this Aussie-run coffee shop is a Banff fan favorite - and for good reason! Their coffee is great, and so are their baked goods. Don’t pass on the banana bread if they have it! (@whitebarkcafe)
Good Earth Coffee House: This coffee house has it all - a solid coffee selection, baked goods, light bites, even wine! If the weather is nice, we suggest grabbing a seat by their fire pit outside! (@goodearthhq)
Evelyn’s Coffee Bar: Whether you’re in the mood for a flat white or a hot chocolate, look no further than Evelyn’s. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and their cookies are not to be missed! (@evelynscoffeebar)
Wild Flour Bakery: We came for the croissants, but we left with a couple of cappuccinos too! This bakery has just about everything your carb-loving self could want, and their coffee is just as good as their cookies! (@wildflourbanff)
Trailhead Cafe (Lake Louise): This cafe isn’t anything fancy, and the wait can be long, but their lattes and breakfast wraps are worth it! If you’re wanting to try something different, try their London Fog - it’s delicious! (Trailhead Cafe on Instagram)
Tooloulou’s: A massive breakfast menu, and portions to match! This is a must when you’re in Banff! Everything is good - but the real winners here are their waffles and eggs benedicts! (Tooloulou’s on Instagram)
Bobby’s pick: Chicken & Waffle
Alli’s pick: Carolyn’s Confection
Juniper Bistro: Juniper Hotel’s brunch (available 7:00 AM - 2:00 PM) is one of the best in the area - and worth getting up for! If the weather is nice, we suggest sitting outside for panoramic mountain views! Their menu changes seasonally, so our “picks” are from their Summer-Fall 2018 menu. (@juniperbanff)
Bobby’s pick: Huevos Rancheros
Alli’s pick: Shakshuka
Melissa’s Missteak: We love this place, not only for its cozy, cabin vibe, but their food is delicious (and hearty) too. It’s the perfect place to fuel up before a big day of sightseeing! (@melissas.missteak)
Bobby’s pick: Big Breakfast
Alli’s pick: BLT
Laggan’s Mountain Bakery & Delicatessen (Lake Louise): Like we said, the dining options in Lake Louise are few - but Laggan’s is a great spot to grab something quick! At only $5.75, their “Breakfast on a Bun” is a steal! (@laggansbakery)
Bear Street Tavern: If you’re looking for (arguably) the best pizza in Banff, go here. They have an extensive selection of craft beer, cocktails, and wine, and their salads are awesome too! (@bearstreettavern)
Bobby’s pick: The Primo Italiano pizza
Alli’s pick: The Godfather pizza
Nourish Bistro: This vegetarian restaurant is so good, even the most devoted meat eaters (like Bobby) will love it! Their “Beautiful Burrito” is exactly that - it’s beautiful and packed with flavor, and don’t even get us started on their “Crispy Farmhouse Burger”! (@nourishbistro)
El Toro: Canadian food with a Mexican and Spanish influence - El Toro is definitely unique, and definitely worth a stop! Where else can one person order Butternut Squash Ravioli, and another order the Fajitas? Or if you’re feeling like some tapas instead, they have that too! Not to mention, everything is delicious! (@eltorobanff5365)
Bobby’s pick: Signature Burger
Alli’s pick: Chicken Enchiladas
Balkan Restaurant: We geek out over good Greek food - and this place is definitely geek-worthy! (Hehe) It’s modern, it’s inviting, and the service is top-notch. Tuesdays are Greek night, so come for the dinner, and stay for a show! We suggest ordering the “Ultimate Greek Feast”, in which you can try a sampling of everything! Make a reservation in advance. (@banffbalkan)
Sky Bistro: Jaw-dropping views paired with mouth-watering cuisine… Sky Bistro is a treat in just about every sense, and well worth the splurge! Located at the top of Sulphur Mountain, you have to take a gondola ride to get there, so we recommend doing their “Sky Experience package” (which includes gondola admission, an appetizer, and an entree). (@pursuitbanffjasper)
Bobby’s pick: Stout Braised Alberta Beef Short Rib
Alli’s pick: Sky Bistro Gnocci
Lakeview Lounge (Lake Louise): Located inside the Fairmont Lake Louise, the Lakeview Lounge has the most incredible view of, you guessed it, Lake Louise! While the prices are a little high, and during peak season they often don’t let non-hotel residents dine with them, it’s worth it if you can swing it! (If you can’t get a table, try snagging a seat at the bar!) (@fairmontcll)
Bobby’s pick: French Onion Soup
Alli’s pick: Vegan Wrap
Block Kitchen + Bar: This cozy and intimate restaurant is popular, so come early or expect a wait. Their cocktails are some of the best in town, as is their food (so might as well come hungry, too)! (@banffblock)
Bobby’s pick: Re-Fashioned
Alli’s pick: Juniper Flower
Park Distillery: Grab a seat at the bar and try some of their famous housemade spirits (like the Chili Vodka and Maple Rye), and you’ll know instantly why Park Distillery is on our list! Their drinks are solid, and their cocktail list is extensive. You can even take a tour of their distillery too, if time permits! (@parkdistillery)
Bobby’s pick: Bow Hut
Alli’s pick: The Bankhead
Alpine Social (Lake Louise): Strong drinks, fun, and lively, this bar & cafe (located inside the Fairmont) is on the pricier end - but worth it for the views! If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some amazing live music from Alanna J Brown, too! (@alpinesocial)
Fairmont Banff Springs: If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle, and have the extra wiggle-room to splurge a little, stay here. The views, the amenities, the service… it’ll all have you feeling like royalty. For a truly exceptional experience, upgrade to their “Gold Experience” that comes with a private lounge, breakfast, and more! (@fairmontbanff)
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: You can’t get a better location (or view of the iconic Lake Louise), than this. Again, it can be a splurge, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Go in the off-season, and room prices will be significantly less! (@fairmontcll)
Post Hotel & Spa: There’s a reason why this hotel has been voted #1 in Canada, and one of the world’s most beautiful ski lodges - it’s breathtaking! Located in the heart of Lake Louise Village, it’s minutes from shopping and dining, and Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Make sure you dine in their super-cozy fondue restaurant! (@post.hotel.lake.louise)
Cathedral Mountain Lodge: Every once and awhile we find ourselves driving past a hotel or property that takes our breath away, and we immediately take note for future trips. That’s exactly what happened with Cathedral Mountain Lodge! While we have yet to stay here, we’ve seen (and researched) it, and what we’ve learned is especially intriguing. It’s nestled away from the crowds in Yoho National Park, so if a quiet escape to the Canadian Rockies is what you’re looking for - this is it! We’ll definitely be back to stay! (@cathedralmountainlodge)
Catch the sunrise at Moraine Lake: In our opinion, sunrise is by far the best way to see and experience Moraine Lake - especially in the summertime/peak season! Parking fills up quick (it was almost full when we arrived at 5am), so plan accordingly and get there early. The views, the serenity, the crisp mountain air… sunrise at Moraine Lake was the highlight of our time in Banff!
Hike, hike, hike! There’s almost 1,000 miles of trails in Banff National Park - and whether you’re in the mood for something strenuous or leisurely, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a list of nine bucket list hikes - we dare you to try them all!
Takakkaw Falls: Canada’s second-largest waterfall is bout 20 kilometers from Lake Louise, and well worth the drive! It’s an easy 1.3k hike to the falls, and the views of this giant, majestic waterfall are incredible.
Ride the Gondola: Speaking of views - there’s no better way to see Banff’s six scenic mountain ranges than from a glass enclosed gondola! There’s plenty of hiking, food options, and even a Starbucks at the top!
YES! Pets are welcome in Banff National Park, as long as they’re kept on a leash. We took Sally everywhere, and she loved it. (Not kidding - she had the time of her life here.) Especially Peyto Lake - which is shaped like a pup! Many restaurants have pet friendly patios or courtyards, but call ahead just to be sure.
Banff has become a major tourist attraction - especially in the summer months - the lakes, restaurants and hotels fill up quick! Try to avoid the lakes at their prime/busiest times, which is typically mid-day-afternoon. Our best memories (and photos) were taken at the beginning or end of the day, once things have calmed down. Avoiding the crowds is a perfect excuse to take a midday nap or explore something a little more off-the-beaten-path!