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Winter Weekend Getaway to Banff, Alberta

A winter weekend in Banff, Alberta, means there's something for everyone.

visitor takes in panoramic, view of snow-capped Canadian Rockies from Sulphur Mountain at Banff in Alberta, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Banff Gondola
Photo caption
Unparalleled views from atop Sulphur Mountain.

Sights and Events

  • The eight-minute ascent of Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola carries you 2,900 feet above the town. At the summit terminal, soak up 360-degree views of Banff National Park and six snow-clad ranges. You can also grab a bite at one of two restaurants or join a stargazing party. 100 Mountain Ave.

  • Mounted elk and trout, jelly bean–size speckled bird eggs, petrified wood, and 5,000 other Victorian-era botanical and zoological curiosities fill the Banff Park Museum. The 1903 multilevel masterpiece—a wonder of log construction, with a honey-toned Douglas fir interior—is the oldest surviving federal building in a Canadian national park. 91 Banff Ave.

Shops

  • Hand-thrown ceramic vases, intricate sterling silver rings, linocut prints of birch trees in winter: Virtually all the unique household decor and gift items at Branches Marketplace were designed or crafted in Canada. 317 Banff Ave.

  • Looking to cozy up when the thermometer dips? A jacket lined with faux Sherpa fur or a set of plaid sheets should do the trick. At the Rocky Mountain Flannel Company, the cotton apparel and bedding is all designed in-house. 225-B Bear St.

     

cheese and charcuterie board with glass of red wine and cozy background fire at Juniper Bistro in Banff, Alberta
Photo credit
Photo: The Juniper Hotel & Bistro
Photo caption
Graze on a cheese and charcuterie board at the Juniper Bistro.

Eats

  • Start the day with a ginger-peach-blueberry muffin at Wild Flour, a popular bakery-café that also cranks out some of the best espresso drinks in town. The lunch menu might include panini of grilled cheese, spinach, and green apple, or a rich Thai coconut soup. 101–211 Bear St.

  • Comfort food gets an update at the Juniper Bistro, serving three meals daily—as well as après-ski snacks and drinks—in a chic space overlooking the mountains. The kitchen shines in the evening, when dishes such as roasted duck breast with lentils, mushrooms, and pickled Okanagan cherries spotlight seasonal Canadian bounty. 1 Juniper Way.

couple enjoying the warm mineral waters of open-air pool in Banff, Alberta, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Travel Alberta
Photo caption
Soak in Banff's warm mineral waters.

Outdoors

  • Whether you've spent the day on the slopes or in the shops, a soak in the open-air pool at Banff Upper Hot Springs is sure to induce a state of bliss. Bathers gaze at forested peaks while submerged in 100-degree water. 1 Mountain Ave.

  • In winter, Johnston Canyon, a narrow cleft carved deep into limestone, transforms into a fairyland of glistening white trees and frozen waterfalls. Go on your own or hire a guide for the easy three-quarter-mile hike to Lower Falls, or continue on a steep climb to Upper Falls. Bring plenty of warm layers and be prepared for icy conditions—traction devices can be rented in Banff.

  • Strap on ice skates (rentals are available in town) to glide around Waldhaus Rink, behind the Fairmont Banff Springs resort. A warming hut, open fire, and German pub make the pond one of Canada's most civilized spots for free outdoor skating. 405 Spray Ave.

Up Next: Calgary, Alberta: Prairie Town Goes Urban

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This article was first published in Fall 2018. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.