Banff can be a fickle destination during shoulder season. Too warm for skiing; too cold to go canoeing; too wet for a family hike. I was there with Blake and the kids this past weekend for the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food festival and I wondered what we’d do to keep busy when I wasn’t sampling $295 cocktails at the Rimrock Resort. I needn’t have worried. We were fortunate to be staying at the Douglas Fir Resort — the place in town for families, thanks to an elaborate indoor playzone and two awesome water slides — but there was a ton to do off the compound down in town. Here’s a run-down of our top five:
1. Banff Hot Springs: Rain or shine, the iconic Banff hot springs is great for families. Shallow in parts, Avery and Bennett loved splashing around in the 40C waters. We loved the killer view.
2. Sulpher Mountain: The kids liked riding to the top of Sulpher Mountain (2,281 metres) on the goldola. At the top, the 0ne-kilometre-long Banff Skywalk takes you along the mountain’s spine to various viewpoints with interpretive signs. Avery and Bennett tolerated the walk, but were thrilled to pack in to the gondola again for the ride back down.
3. Douglas Fir Resort: You’re in Banff, so you feel kind of guilty if you stay put at your hotel the entire weekend. But truthfully, I know a family who checked in to the Douglas Fir and didn’t leave until it was time to drive back to Calgary. Our kids spent a good hour climbing through the indoor playzone, then Blake took them to the water slides for a couple hours one afternoon. We could’ve easily repeated the program, again and again. Another bonus: all the rooms have kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi.
4. Banff Ave. Brewing Co.: I love restaurants where there are TVs broadcasting hockey games, the waiter brings crayons and a kid menu as soon as you sit down, and you don’t have to worry if your kids are loud or spill their food. And even if it all goes south at the Banff Ave. Brewing Co., at least you’ve got seven microbrews to choose from for sorrow-drowning.
5. Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum: This is on my list only because the Whyte Museum was showcasing art, which Avery deemed “boring,” and the Banff Park Museum was closed. Lo and behold, across the river we saw what looked like a wood fort with smoke rising from a chimney: the Luxton Museum. With more taxidermied animals than I’ve ever seen in one exhibit (there was a taxidermied wolverine! And a bunch of horses!), plus a couple tepees, the kids loved it.
What about you? What are your favourite family activites in Banff during shoulder season?