Banff is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit. The National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies with over five million visitors coming to this magical place every year. What makes it even better is that it is a very kid-friendly place to visit. You can visit in the winter for snow skiing and child-friendly winter sports, or in the summer for biking, horseback riding, hiking, and canoeing and kayaking.
Getting to and Around Banff
Since Banff is only about 80 miles west of Calgary, so it’s easier to fly to Calgary and either rent a car or take a bus to Banff. The municipal Roam (public transit system) bus offers service to Banff’s main attractions. This service is in operation from May through September and is best to use to avoid the crowded streets. The shuttle service is free, so for most activities, you can just leave your rental car at your hotel. There is also bus service between Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper.
The park was established in 1885 and has many glaciers, icefields, alpine panoramas, and mountainous topography. It was established as Banff Hot Springs Reserve. The main center of the park is the town of Banff located in the Bow River Valley. The forests are mostly made up of Lodgepole pine trees in the lower areas and Engelmann spruce in the higher elevations. The area is full of wild animals, including grizzly bears, elk, cougars, wolverines, moose, and bighorn sheep, but you have no need to worry as they will not hurt you as long as you don’t bother them and stay in public areas.
Things to do in Banff
- Ski, Snowshoe or Snowboard. The season begins in mid-November and lasts until the end of April. Many of the easier trails will be easy enough for children and beginners. An easy or beginner course is Tunnel Mountain. An easy walking or snowshoe trail is Stewart Canyon. Cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowboarding are all located near most of the resorts. Just make sure you check avalanche reports and keep your eye out for wildlife.
- Gondola Ride. This is an absolute must!! Take the gondola ride up to Sulphur Mountain where you’ll be able to see six mountain ranges. The alpine transport has seating for four guests, along with large windows for viewing the majestic mountains and alpine scenery. This is an incredible experience for children and adults alike.
- Athabasca Glacier. Enjoy the exquisite scenery along Icefields Parkway as you visit Athabasca Glacier. Other attractions in the area include: Columbia Icefields, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake.
- Upper Hot Springs. With an amazing setting with views of the Canadian Rockies, tourists come from all over to enjoy the therapeutic spa and bath house. The spring-fed, outdoor hot pool is soothing and relaxing, and totally kid-friendly.
- Mountain biking or horseback riding (depending on the age of your children). Enjoy biking on some of the more popular trails near Banff. One of the easiest rides is Bow River Loop in the Lake Louise area. Spray River and Goat Creek are moderate trails found near Fairmont Banff Springs.
- Hiking. There are many hiking trails in the Banff area, but some of the more favorite trails are Johnston Canyon, Tunnel Mountain, and Tea House hikes. Guided hikes are also available, and many of the hikes are family friendly.
- Canoeing and kayaking. Some of the best canoeing and kayaking opportunities are found in the Banff area. The Banff Canoe Club is in walking distance from downtown Banff. One of my personal favorites is Bow River as it has stunning views of mountain vistas. Other places to canoe or kayak are Echo Creek, Johnson Lake, Lake Louise, and Two Jack Lake.
Everywhere you turn, there are magnificent views in Banff. Most of the must-sees and must-dos are child friendly too, so take a family trip to Banff and enjoy seeing the sights while exploring with your kids.