Your Canadian Rockies guide is here, from hikes to where to stay

The Canadian Rockies are known for beautiful majestic mountains, the last public hot springs, stunning emerald-colored lakes, and Banff National Park. With 387 named mountains extending southeastward for 1000 miles and forming nearly half the border between British Columbia and Alberta, it’s a huge distance to cover in a week. We’ve gathered up our favorite things to do with kids in the Canadian Rockies including river float tours, gorgeous hikes, heli-hiking, and an epic gondola ride. 

Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies
Denys Zlobin

If you want adventure, you’ll have more than enough to choose from in Alberta, with an itinerary that includes Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise activities as a complete experience, or you can spend more time in one place. 

Things to Do with Kids in Canmore

Canmore is approximately 50 miles west of Calgary at Banff National Park’s southeast boundary. In the past, Canmore was seen as the place to stay if you couldn’t get a place in Banff. But there are many reasons to stay in Canmore, including reasonable prices, awesome restaurants with stunning views, 360 degrees of mountains, and relaxing hikes at the base of the Three Sisters peak. 

Soft Adventure Activities in Canmore

Bow River Float Tours in the Canadian Rockies
Denys Zlobin

Bow River Float Tours:  This is exactly how it sounds; it’s a calm and leisurely float down the river and your kids can even paddle for a bit if they want. This tour with Canmore River Adventures is about 45 minutes on the water, just the right amount of time to hear a bit about the area and take in the beauty without the kids getting bored.

Claire Zlobin

Helicopter Tour: If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get so close to the glacier you feel like you are almost walking on it, the Mount Assiniboine Glacier with Alpine Helicopter is a great option.  The Mount Assiniboine Glacier Tour rises to 11,870 feet along the great divide and is a must-do if you visit Banff, Canmore, or the surrounding areas. This tour of the Canadian Rockies is great for couples and families alike. 

Canmore Activities for Adventurous Families

Rock climbing in the Canadian Rockies
Claire Zlobin

Does grabbing a carabiner, rappelling, or climbing and exploring in caves excite you? Rat’s Nest Cave is the experience for you. At almost 2.5 miles long, there’s nowhere else like Rat’s Nest Cave in Canada. The highlight is the Grotto room, where you’ll descend 180 feet underground. The tour takes approximately 4.5 hours, with 2 of that underground. This activity is for families with kids 10 and older who are interested in exploring caves together. 

Wellness activities in Canmore

Wellness is much more than spas, especially in the Canadian Rockies, and Canmore has much to offer. These are some of our favorites: 

  • Elevation Place is Canmore’s community recreation center with an indoor climbing gym, pool, water slide, hot tubs, a library, an art gallery, and many community spaces that are open to visitors. This is a great fit for families with kids of all ages.
  • Forest Fix: Support your health and wellness through guided immersion in forests and other environments. It is inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin yoku or “Forest Bathing.”

Where to eat in Canmore

  • Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co: Canmore is the birthplace of Rocky Mountain Flatbread, an award-winning family restaurant serving the best pizza, pasta, salad, and desserts. 
  • Iron Goat Pub & Grill: A three-level timber-framed restaurant with great views, beer, and food.
  • Stirling Grill and Lounge: A fine dining restaurant at the Malcolm Hotel.

Where to Stay in Canmore

  • The Malcolm Hotel:  Located in beautiful Spring Creek and in the heart of downtown Canmore with views of the Three Sisters mountain peaks. 
  • Solara ResortsIf you are looking for something with a full kitchen, this condo-style accommodation is a great fit for families.

Things to Do with Kids in Banff

Denys Zlobin

Banff Gondola & 360 Restaurant

This excursion is a great way to get to the top of Sulphur Mountain without a 3-hour uphill hike. Here you can see six stunning mountain ranges. The Gondola is a modern, fully enclosed four-passenger cabin. Once at the top, you can take the easy ridgetop boardwalk to explore more.

For a relaxing take on this activity, stop in for lunch or dinner at Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen. This award-winning market-style restaurant serves alpine cuisine, prepared with fresh, local ingredients. 

Wellness Activities in Banff

  • Banff Upper Hot Springs is an outdoor public hot spring located in Banff National Park, offering beautiful views of Mount Rundle. The Banff Upper Hot Springs is the last of the remaining springs open to the public and a great place to spend a few hours. The water is warm, and they have a nice shallow area for kids. They offer full rental services including towels, swimsuits, and lockers. 
  • Fairmont Spa Banff Springs is an award-winning 40,000-square-foot day spa. The spa offers water therapy, pools, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a steam room, and a eucalyptus-scented sauna. Take a break with breathtaking mountain views, and a bit of quiet away from the busyness of the public hot springs. The spa is for adults only, but the pool and hot springs in the aquatic center are open to the whole family. Take advantage of the Kids at the Castle childcare program if you want to experience the spa.
  • Mahikan Trails is an Indigenous Company that proudly shares traditional culture and knowledge. The medicine walk allows the participants the opportunity to walk with an Indigenous guide, who will share the knowledge and traditions of the Boreal Forest. Your guide imparts the medicines found in the forest and touches on different aspects of their culture. 

Hiking, Biking, and Paddling in the Alberta Rockies

Claire Zlobin

Due to high demand, visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake requires planning. Personal cars are only permitted into the Moraine Lake and Lake Louise areas if you are staying at a property in the area. Taking transit or booking a Parks Canada shuttle in advance is easy, stress-free, and the only way to ensure you see these iconic lakes. 

Hiking in Banff National Park

Moraine Lake: If you go to Moraine Lake and want to see the beautiful color the lake is known for, the secret is you must look down on it. You can climb the rocks at the front or, if you are feeling less adventurous and/or traveling with little kids, take the scenic trail path towards the Consolation Lakes Trail. From the lower parking lot, cross the bridge over the outlet stream and continue to Consolation Lakes. Follow the Rockpile that passes through a quartzite boulder field it’s a very beautiful and easy way to get to the top. If you must choose between Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, we highly recommend the first one. It is a hidden gem. 

Bow River Trail to the falls is a treat, and it’s easy to access from Downtown Banff and steps from Fairmont Banff Springs. You can take this trail to the other side to get some awesome Instagram-worthy snaps of the Fairmont Banff Springs at Surprise Corner.

Denys Zlobin

Lake Louise Area: Known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake, and impressive Victoria Glacier, there is something for everyone in this part of the Canadian Rockies. From canoeing across the stunning emerald-colored lake to various hiking trails to the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, it’s easy to see why so many people flock to Lake Louise throughout the year. A word of caution, if you expect to be out in nature taking in the beautiful view and enjoying a bit of solitude in this area, you will be sorely disappointed. This is a very, very busy destination. It will be difficult to get a parking spot; it might be difficult even to get to the destination. 

One of the easiest ways to actually get in on the day and time that you want is to hop on one of the shuttle busses 

With kids, the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail is a very easy and fun hike, and you get the iconic view of Lake Louise. For avid hikers, the Big Beehive is a great trail to get stunning views from the top, it’s a moderate trail but steep.  

Johnston Canyon: Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park, recognized as a Canadian Signature Experience. It’s a very family-friendly hike and you are rewarded with gorgeous waterfall views.  

Heli-hiking: Heli-Hiking might be the way to go if you want to see the views without the work and trek. 

Biking: For families looking for biking fun, Bikescape offers both group tours and private excursions in Banff & Canmore. They even have mountain biking camps and lessons.

Denys Zlobin

Paddling: There are many lakes in Banff National Park where you can experience the lake by canoe or kayak. You can head out for a few hours or a full day. Non-motorized boats, including canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are welcome on all water bodies in Banff National Park.

Where to Eat in Banff

  • Rundle BarOriginally designed and utilized as the front lobby in the historic Banff Springs Hotel from 1928 to the late 1990s, this bar has the most magnificent views looking out at Cascade Mountain.
  • Lupo: Lupo (Italian for wolf) brings an authentic taste of Italy to downtown Banff with an open-concept kitchen. 
  • Brazen: Opened in June 2022 and located inside the historic Mount Royal Hotel in the heart of Banff Avenue.

Where to Stay in Banff

  • Mount Royal Hotel: The Mount Royal Hotel is one of Banff’s most centrally located properties. 
  • Fairmont Banff Springs: If you are looking for a luxury getaway where everything is available at the hotel, the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Castle in the Rockies, will provide the ultimate escape. Take it up a notch with the Gold Floor experience, which is a hotel with a hotel. Separate entrance, accommodation on specific floors.
  • Sundance Lodge: Let go of it all and completely escape into the wild of Banff National Park. The 10-room log cabin was built in 1991 with locally harvested timber. With views of the Sundance Mountain Range and miles of forests in the Canadian Rockies, Sundance Lodge feels remote and secluded but it’s only actually (10 miles) from the Town of Banff. The only challenge is you have to get there by horseback in the summer, as motorized vehicles are not permitted in Banff National Park.
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