Banff, Alberta

Whether it’s hiking or whitewater rafting, caving or skiing, outdoor enthusiasts should add Banff to their bucket lists. If you only make it to one Canadian destination in your life, it should be Banff. Summer, fall, winter, spring—it doesn’t matter, just get there.

The pocket-sized town of Banff sits within the borders of world-famous Banff National Park, and has been welcoming winter tourists for almost 100 years. The roughly eight blocks of Banff Avenue that makeup downtown sit in the shadow of imposing Mount Rundle and have everything you might need.

Getting to Banff is pretty easy from Calgary International Airport, and the views on the way are to die for. Hop on the regularly scheduled shuttle that runs between the Calgary airport and Banff, or rent a car and make the easy 90-minute drive on your own. The mountains in Banff are stunning, and if you’ve ever seen breathtaking photos of Canada there’s a good chance they were taken there. You will be mesmerized around every corner!

But the most important reason you are visiting is to ski. Mt. Norquay is an easy five-minute bus ride from downtown Banff. After a long day on the slopes, you’ll surely want to stay somewhere cool. Built in 1888, the Banff Springs Hotel is the closest most of us will get to staying in a castle. Chock full of history, and all the modern amenities you’d expect from a world-class hotel, there is enough to keep you busy at the Banff Springs. Be sure to spend time in the healing mineral pools at the award-winning Willow Stream Spa.

The area also hosts cultural and musical performances throughout the year. Plus, the après-ski scene here is top-notch: Skiers and snowboarders can wind down with drinks by the fire and meet new friends after a day on the slopes.

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