At the end of October I enjoyed a blissful 4 days in Banff, Alberta exploring, eating, resting, and relaxing along with the lovely Davida (from The Healthy Maven), her partner, and my husband. Banff is such a beautiful town nestled in the Rocky Mountains and seriously has a powerful rejuvenating ability.
Everywhere you go in the town there are literally 360 degree views of spectacular mountains, deep green forests, and bright blue skies (or mystical fog, which we did get a couple of the days!). During our stay, Banff was also home to the world-renowned Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival which runs every year and hosts some amazing writers and film makers, and the Taste For Adventure event which offers amazing (and totally affordable) tasting menus at restaurants throughout the town.
I actually can’t believe the fabulous culinary scene in Banff, especially for the quaint size of the town. There’s steakhouses, Asian-fusion, Italian, pizzerias, pubs and breweries, local Canadian fare, bakeries, and even a delicious vegan/vegetarian joint. Whatever your taste preferences, there’s definitely something for you.
So, as I usually do with my travel posts, I’ve curated a wonderful Healthy Banff Town Guide to show you exactly where to stay, and what to eat, see, and do to enjoy Banff with health and wellness in mind! Also, just a note… this guide is specific to the shoulder-season in Banff (Fall/Early Winter months) as this is the time of year when the film festival, and Taste for Adventure happens, and also when the crowds are less (which is really nice!). In the Summer season there are other outdoor activities available like canoeing, hiking, white-water rafting, etc. but I really do love Banff this time of year the best!
Rest and relax at The Moose Hotel & Suites – During our stay in Banff we made ourselves at home in this brand new hotel that offers a tasteful and welcoming modern lodge-style interior with beautiful beams and natural elements. The hotel has plenty of lodging options from quaint rooms to full multi-bedroom suites and the rooftop hot pools and fire pit are to be enjoyed all year round (this was a major treat for me that I took full advantage of during our stay). The hotel is a short walk to the centre of Banff offering a prime location to explore and relax. Also available by the same owners is the Fox Hotel & Suites and the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa which I’ve stayed at as well in the past and would definitely recommend!
Feel like royalty at The Fairmont Banff Springs – It was at this hotel that my hubby proposed to me and it will always have a place in my heart. Not only because it’s where I got engaged, but also because of the history and magnificence it offers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the Banff Springs is literally a castle nestled into the rocky mountains. It’s breathtaking, definitely to be explored, and well worth the visit even if you aren’t staying there.
Get into nature at Storm Mountain Lodge & Cabins – We happened upon this wonderful spot during our trip and I plan to be back here again in the future. The lodge provides cabin accommodations among the majestic rockies away from the hustle and bustle of Banff town (located about 25 minutes out of Banff). If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing getaway in the ideal setting, Storm Mountain Lodge is definitely worth checking out.
Stay a hop, skip, and jump out of town at the Juniper Hotel – Offering a panoramic view of the mountains, just a short drive out of Banff town, the Juniper hotel is a great place for a relaxing rockies retreat. While we didn’t stay here, we did dine in the restaurant, and I only wished I could extend my trip a few days to enjoy this hotel!
This is a large category because there are so many amazing places to snack and dine, so get ready to eat, and eat well, if you head to Banff!
Enjoy a light lunch with a view at Sky Bistro – Located atop Sulphur Mountain, reached by a short ride up the Banff Gondola, this restaurant is not to be missed. Not only is the food delicious, with the menu offering great healthy options, the view is unparalleled. I mean, what’s better than enjoying a wonderful meal while gazing at the snowy mountain peaks just outside the floor to ceiling windows. Like I said, not to be missed! NITK tip: Try the P.E.I Steamed Mussels or the Roasted Beet & Chèvre Salad.
Try the filling vegan fare at Nourish Bistro – Tucked into the many shops and restaurants lining Bear Street, this quaint little bistro has a delectable menu filled with vegan and vegetarian fare that does not skimp on the portion sizes! The menu also lists wheat, gluten, and nut free options. The presentation of each dish is beautiful and the flavours are amazing. Even my hubby, who’s not a huge fan of vegan dishes, devoured his Beautiful Burrito! NITK tip: Try the Beautiful Burrito or the Thai Curry.
Enjoy a tasty and healthy breakfast at The Juniper Bistro – Located just a few minutes outside of Banff Town, the Juniper Hotel is home to the lovely Juniper Bistro which has a breakfast menu that checks all the boxes. The bistro offers gluten free, vegetarian, and dairy free options and my breakfast was top notch with perfectly cooked eggs, house smoked salmon, fresh baked sourdough, and the juiciest sliced tomatoes! NITK tip: Try the Eggs Your Way with smoked salmon instead of bacon or the Granola.
Cozy up for an amazing dinner at Storm Mountain Lodge – Located about 25 minutes outside of Banff, this cozy little lodge is well worth the drive. The lodge itself hosts a cute little store with mountain goodies, a great room with a crackling fire lit in the fireplace and welcoming couches to lounge in as you wait for your table. There’s also the small, inviting dining room where you can enjoy the most amazing dinner. The presentation of the meals was probably the most stunning I’ve ever seen, with each dish like an art work of it’s own. NITK tip: Try the Charcuterie to start and the Ocean Wise Pacific Sable Fish.
Gaze over Banff town while the sun sets for dinner at Three Ravens – This spectacular fine-dining restaurant is located at the Banff Centre just minutes from the town centre. It’s prime location on the top floor of the Sally Borden Building provides the best views of the mountains and the town of Banff. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a delicious dinner as the sun sets over the mountains. The menu offers dairy free, gluten free, and vegan friendly choices and the chefs are very accommodating which is a major bonus! NITK tip: Try the Beetroot Soup with Pickled Cabbage and Dill Slaw and the Alberta Bison Tenderloin.
Enjoy fresh baked breads and vegan delights at Wild Flour Bakery – Just up the road from Nourish Bistro on Bear Street in the centre of Banff, this bakery has an array of tasty offerings. For breakfast they whip up homemade granola and egg sandwiches, and they also provide tons of baked and raw goodies like vegan macaroons, healthy cookies, gluten free muffins, and vegan chocolate tortes. NITK tip: Try Breakfast Sandwich on fresh baked sourdough and grab a vegan Blueberry Peach Ginger muffin or Fig & Anise cookie for the road (so good!).
Stock up on some healthy snacks at Banff Provisions General Store – Located on Banff Ave, the main street in Banff, this general store is a great little stop to stock up on healthy snacks to bring for a picnic or hike. While browsing this store I spotted great trail mix blends, organic snacks, and even a freezer with dairy free pizzas and other allergen friendly goods to prepare if you are staying in a vacation rental or hotel with a kitchenette.
Try some amazing locally produced Alberta beef at Chuck’s Steakhouse – If you are a steak lover, this is the place for you. Mouthwatering cuts of locally produced beef are served family style with a great selection of sides to share. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and the aging of the beef is definitely an art here. The decor is warm, welcoming, and inviting, creating a perfect atmosphere for a romantic dinner or a larger gathering of friends and family. NITK tip: Try the beef tenderloin with sides “Garden” and “Chef’s Mushrooms”.
Enjoy a scrumptious brunch at The Waldhaus Pub – As if there wasn’t enough reasons to go check out the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel already, the Waldhaus Pub is definitely another. Located in the Waldhaus Restaurant, a separate bavarian-style building on the Fairmont grounds, the pub offers a great menu with a mix of indulgent and lighter options. Unpretentious and relaxing, this little pub is a cozy place to enjoy a lazy Sunday brunch and play a round of pool. NITK Tip: Try the Farmer’s Omelette or the Granola Parfait.
The stunning peaks from Sulphur Mountain – After taking a short ride up the Banff Gondola you’ll reach the Banff Gondola Summit on top of Sulphur Mountain. There’s no better place to have your breath taken away by the most amazing views of the peaks. It’s truly a rejuvenating experience and one you’ll never forget.
The sprawling grounds and castle at Fairmont Banff Springs – Stroll around the halls Canada’s “Caste in the Rockies” and the perfectly manicured grounds that lead down to the Bow Falls.
The sights and sounds of Bow Falls – After taking in the sights at the Banff Springs hotel, walk down to the Bow river where you’ll see the rushing Bow Falls with it’s amazing mountain backdrop. Definitely picture perfect.
The history at the Banff Whyte Museum & Archives – If you are a history buff, stop by this museum in Banff’s town centre and catch up on some of Canada’s past. Here you can take in art, artifacts and even get a glimpse of old Heritage homes located on the grounds.
The natural sulphur hot pools at the Cave & Basin – This stop is a combination of See & Do as you can stroll through the original cave that hosts a natural sulphur hot pool which was discovered by railway workers in 1883. Throughout the grounds you can climb the walkways that run along the trickling sulphur waters emptying into several different pools. A little workout and history at the same time!
Ride the Banff Gondola or Hike up to the Banff Gondola Summit – While this ride up to the summit may not be for those with a fear of heights, it’s well worth the views! If you are up to it you can skip the gondola ride and hike up to the top for a great workout (1.5-2 hours, you can hike year round, just be sure you have the right gear in the winter as the trail can be icy), and don’t worry, if you tire out, you can ride the gondola back down!
Try a Sound Bath at Amaryllis Crystal Garden – For some relaxation and stress reduction, try out a Sound Bath in Banff. Alchemy crystal bowls are played in a special way creating sounds that literally bathe you as you relax on a yoga mat. This was my first sound bath experience on this trip and it was really relaxing and yet energizing at the same time!
Unwind at the Meadows Spa – Located in the Moose Hotel & Suites, this spa is top notch. I enjoyed a fantastic therapeutic massage by therapist Jess that eased my sore muscles and relaxed me to the core. The spa offers an array of services and access to a private hot pool with sprawling mountain views. My travel “Do” category doesn’t always mean physically working out, it can be just as beneficial to “un-do” all the hard work our bodies endure and simply take time to rest, relax, and restore.
Stroll the streets in Banff Town – If you want to stay active and keep your body moving during your trip, there are many paths just outside your hotel door. Banff is full of bustling streets lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants to walk, walk, and walk some more. Just bring along a good pair of comfortable shoes!
Check out one of the many Yoga Classes – I popped into Lululemon during my stay in Banff and took a peak at the community board which lists tons of local yoga classes. If you are a dedicated yogi, or just want to get your stretch on, check out the board to see what’s scheduled during your stay!
Hike along the Bow River – If you want to get away from the noise and not venture too far from town, you can hop on the Bow River Sidewalk trail that leads from the centre of Banff town along the Bow River. You’ll get a nice dose of nature and some good exercise too!
Get inspired at the Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival – Every Fall Banff hosts the world-renowned film and book festival sponsored by National Geographic. The festival features authors, photographers, and filmmakers from around the globe sharing their mountain stories including amazing adventures, expeditions and journeys. I took into two shows at the festival during my stay and was incredibly inspired. Such talent!
RELAX…. – Like I said earlier, my travel “Do” category doesn’t always have to mean physical activity. It is incredbly beneficial to “un-do” all the hard work our bodies endure throughout the year. Banff offers an unrivalled environment to really do this. So kick up your feet, breathe in that fresh, crisp air, gaze at the amazing views, and let the mountains do their magic.
Now for the surprise….
If you’ve made it to this point, congrats, you are 100% set for an amazing Fall Banff getaway! Now, I did promise a surprise…
I’m very excited to announce that there will be a new little set of helping hands in the Kitch coming May 2017! Stay tuned as I share more about our little bundle of joy on the way and my pregnancy experience so far!
Nutritionist in the Kitch