For the Fourth of July this year, we traveled up north for a quick trip to Banff National Park. Visiting Banff has been on my list for quite a while so I’d really been looking forward to this trip. Plus, Banff with kids is an awesome family vacation! But, in an unfortunate turn of events, I got really sick the day before we left! I considered canceling the whole trip, but we decided that it was worth just making the best of it.
Although the flight was pretty awful for me, Jimmy did great — he’s getting better with flying every time. A word of advice: if you’re sick before a flight, take the appropriate medicine right before you travel!
Anyway, after a long travel day, we finally found ourselves driving into Banff National Park during the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen. And of course, I forgot to take a picture! Sometimes it’s nice to just have the memory though.
Where to stay in Banff with kids:
Banff has a number of options when deciding where to stay, ranging from very affordable to very expensive.
- Camping: Camping in Banff is a great way to really experience the Rocky Mountains, but be sure to make reservations early. Originally, we wanted to camp, but I planned this trip about a month in advance and EVERYTHING was sold out! There are even campsites close to Lake Louise so you’ll be nearby some of the best attractions and can visit them outside of peak tourism hours.
- Hotels: There are tons of hotel options in Banff as well — from your basic motel to some very incredible hotels. Make sure you take the location into consideration since some attractions can be quite far away and some of the most popular areas can close to visitors during the busiest days. We really went for it on this trip and stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for two nights. To be honest, we probably shouldn’t have splurged that much, but what can I say, it’s so beautiful!
What to do at Lake Louise:
Lake Louise all by itself is enough to keep you busy for quite a while and Lake Louise with kids is even better. You can hike, rent a canoe, and then choose from a number of great restaurants. If you’re staying at the Fairmont Chateau, you’ll have even more options.
- Go for a hike: There are tons of hikes surrounding Lake Louise. One of the best hikes for kids is to the Lake Agnes Tea House. The hike is just over two miles and passes by Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes so it’s short with plenty to see. At the end, you’ll reach the tea house where you can rest with a snack and something to drink.
- Rent a canoe: The boathouse at the Fairmont rents canoes on Lake Louise by the hour. That gives you more than enough time to get out on the lake, take a ton of pictures, and then take it all in. I think this is a must-do if you’re going to visit Lake Louise.
- Enjoy the view: You can walk around almost half of Lake Louise for a ton of views and great places to take pictures. Jimmy loved running around the lake, climbing on rocks, and engaging with the throngs of other tourists.
- Grab some food: The Fairmont also has multiple restaurants where you can grab a quick lunch. Lunch, as expected, will come with some serene lakeside views.
If you’re a hotel guest at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise:
We really enjoyed the hotel guest benefits during our stay. It was a very welcome perk considering how sick I was. One night, we got a babysitter to get away for a quick date night. The hotel also lends out board games for a fun family night in the hotel room or the hotel library. They’ve also got an awesome kids check-in desk with a new toy for young travelers — that was so fun for Jimmy! Overall, it’s such a kid-friendly hotel, and we felt truly lucky to be able to experience it!
What to do in Banff with kids:
Outside of Lake Louise, there is still plenty to do, including enough hikes to fill your entire vacation.
- Hike: Johnston Canyon is the most widely visited hike in the Banff area. I wasn’t well enough to do a full hike yet, but we drove in and checked it out anyway. It’s incredibly busy during the summer months so go as early as you can to avoid the most busy hours. There are tons more options too so check out as many lakes, hikes, and mountains as you can fit in!
- Ride the gondola: In the summer months, you can still ride the Banff gondola for some incredible views. This is a great option for your less mobile kids or even just a tired family who wants to mix up the hiking a bit.
- Visit the hot springs: Take a trip to one of Banff’s hot springs to sooth your sore muscles and get some relaxing in with the kids.
- Go white water rafting: I’m still waiting for Jimmy to be old enough for some rafting, but this is a great activity if you have older kids!
Where to go if you’ve got more time:
After our two days in Banff, we headed south to visit Canmore and Kananaskis Country for some relaxation and hiking away from the larger crowds of Banff. Next time we visit the area (which we most definitely will be doing), we’ll head north. Just north of Banff you’ll find Jasper National Park which has its own set of gorgeous lakes and scenery.