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Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park. Beginning in 1885 as a small hot spring reserve in the Rockies, it now has 6,641 square kilometers of gorgeous scenery and various indoor and outdoor events. If you’re planning a trip to Alberta and want to enjoy Banff, here are 11 awesome things to do.
1. Cave and Basin National Historic Site
Cave and Basin is a historic site that holds a special place for the Indigenous Peoples in the area. It is a landmark many cherish and have for thousands of years.
Railway workers stumbled upon the gorgeous thermal springs in 1883, which led to a chain of events that made Cave and Basin Canada’s first national park.
Go there to learn stories about the land’s rich history, enjoy breathtaking views and participate in seasonal activities.
2. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
The Whyte Museum celebrates the beauty and culture of the area. The artwork celebrates the history of the Canadian Rockies.
Peter Whyte and Catharine Robb Whyte were local artists who created the museum to teach others about the land. You can view paintings, pictures and historic mementos from the region. With rotating exhibits, there is always something to discover.
3. Banff Gondola
There is so much to see and do in Banff and it can be hard to experience it all. You can view the entire town and beyond with the Banff Gondola.
Your will can take you along six mountain ranges, Banff and Bow Valley. At the summit of Sulphur Mountain, you can adventure around the boardwalk to see, shop, eat and enjoy. The experience prides itself on customer service and offers entertainment experiences throughout the summer.
You can visit the mountaintop discovery center and Cosmic Ray Station before enjoying an award-winning dining experience at Sky Bistro and watching the incredible mountain sunset.
4. Sunshine Village
Open all year, Sunshine Village Ski Resort has something for everyone. Its three mountains have different terrain for skiers at all levels. When the snow melts in summer, they create excellent hiking trails.
The resort offers rooms and suites with luxurious touches for single travelers and families. If you’re not into skiing or want a change of pace, you can travel the gondola on a sightseeing tour leading to the summit of Mt. Standish–the highest elevation in the area.
5. Banff Avenue
Banff Avenue is at the heart of the area. It features numerous restaurants, shops, cafes and museums. It features historic architecture to explore and lovely views of the surrounding mountains.
There are activities along the main street throughout the year. One of the most popular times to visit is the Christmas season when lights and decorations fill the town.
6. Banff Upper Hot Springs
Enjoy a swim in the Banff Upper Hot Springs pools as you take a breather from your exploration. It’s one of the best places to view the Rundle Range and is accessible to all ages. Whether you want to warm up or cool off, you can enjoy the spring water.
There are private changing areas and lockers so you can fully enjoy your time at the springs. If you don’t want to swim, you can enjoy the pool deck where you can take breathtaking photographs or just relax on a pool chair. With the pools is a cafe and gift shop to enjoy.
7. Tunnel Mountain Trail
Though it is not technically on a mountain, the Tunnel Mountain Trail provides incredible views of the area. As you ascend the trail, you’ll travel through a combination of forests and clearings, helping you immerse in the culture and nature of the town.
You can enjoy views from both sides of the trail near the top, covering the Bow River, surrounding mountains and the Banff Springs Golf Course.
8. Vermilion Lakes
The Vermilion Lakes are the perfect way to begin or end a day in Banff with a gorgeous landscape to view the sunrise and sunset. The lakes reflect the light, creating breathtaking backdrops to photographs. You can paddle along the calm waters and enjoy the fresh air and scenery.
The lakes are a great space to see local wildlife. There are many hiking options around the lakes, with options for people who may not be able to handle the more difficult terrain in other parts of town. In winter, it becomes a great spot to spy the Northern Lights.
9. Banff Park Museum National Historic Site
Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is the oldest natural history museum in the area. It has more than 5,000 animal and plant species. The site chronicles natural history from the Victorian era. It is the oldest federal building in any Canadian national park.
Learn about the animals that make the Canadian Rockies what they are through its historical lens. From bears to bees, there are many creatures to explore.
10. Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum
The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum wants to show how the First Nations and their trading partners lived before Europeans arrived and how they adapted after. It aims to preserve the values, cultures and traditions of the Buffalo Nations while showing how they’re still present today.
Prominent Banff resident Norman Luxton began the museum with Eric Harvie in the 1950s. It expanded over the next decade and continued to grow after Luxton’s death in 1962.
11. Lake Minnewanka
People in Banff enjoy fishing and hunting along Lake Minnewanka today as they have for more than 1,000 years. Stoney Nakoda First Nations called the glacial lake Minn-waki (Lake of the Spirits) and is Banff National Park’s largest body of water.
There are 14,000 year-old artifacts along its archeological sites where you can learn about the human and natural history of the lake.
Enjoying Canada’s Original National Park
Banff is an amazing place to renew your body and soul through nature, history and spa experiences. Everyone can find something to enjoy with these activities.
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