As a seasoned traveler and someone who has been in the travel industry for over 30 years, I have my favorite things to do during the winter months in different destinations. The Banff and Lake Louise areas of Alberta, Canada are a hotbed of great adult and family activities.
Here are my Top 5 winter activities in Banff / Lake Louise:
1. Ice skating on Lake Louise
One of my fondest memories is from ice skating on Lake Louise. During the day, the view of the Canadian Rockies and the Victoria Glacier while skating around the ice are breathtaking. There is a gigantic ice castle that is built on the lake that you can skate in, on and around – from ice “imported” from British Columbia. Skate rental, hot chocolate and warming stations make this a fun family adventure.
2. SKIING! Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Norquay
Having skied all three of these incredible areas I am a bit partial to Lake Louise as my all time favorite of places to ski, anywhere! As with most ski facilities, you can rent all of your equipment instead of bringing it with you. Most hotels have transportation to and from the local ski areas. There are a great variety of trails and plenty of terrain to never be bored skiing the same run again and again. Whether you are an experienced skier or just trying it for the first time, these are great locations to enjoy this great winter sport.
3. Wildlife sightings
Winter brings a whole different set of animals out. As some hibernate, others thrive. Having seen wolves, elk, and deer this time of year is not unusual. Keep your eyes open and you’ll never know what you will see!
4. Dog sledding outside of Banff
Dogs with jobs! What a hoot it is to be pulled around the beauty of the Canadian Rockies by dog sled. Enjoy a 90-minute ride through the woods and around lakes where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, which includes a stop for snacks and beverages. I was lucky enough to be a musher – which is the driver of sled. No worries – the dogs know where they are going! When we stopped, the dogs looked at us as if to say, “Let’s keep going!”
5. Hockey and Canadian Beer
OK, this should really be my #1. Winter, hockey, and Canadian beer? That equals heaven to me! While I could get all of these things by sitting in my living room at home, there is something completely different about walking in an establishment that every television has a hockey game on it and it’s THE primary focus, not just the background noise. Hockey is a religion in Canada, and residents are engaged in the games like there is a life or death stake on every game. OF course, why not enjoy an ice-cold Canadian beer while you are watching?!
Getting in to the Banff / Lake Louise is very easy since Calgary is a major airport – and a beautiful and scenic two-hour ride away. There are lots of transportation options available to get you there, or you can rent a car and drive yourself.
The accommodations in the area are top-notch. My favorite place to stay in Banff is certainly The Fairmont Banff Springs! It has everything you need: incredible service, restaurants, shopping, indoor pool, fitness club, spa, and entertainment. If you are looking for something smaller, there are many other lovely lodges in town or just on the outskirts.
What sounds like it would be on YOUR list of things to do this winter??