I have been going to Banff for little Weekend Trips for years since I moved to Alberta. For many who are not sure where Banff is, it’s approximately an hour and smidge if you take Highway 1 West from Calgary. The town itself is an Aspen like oasis that sits smack in the middle of Banff National Park and has numerous mountains within close driving range.
In summer Banff and its surrounding area is fit for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, you get the picture. It’s a non stop adventure park for the weekend warriors we all aspire to be. Winter time boasts some amazing Ski/Snowboarding, snow shoeing, sleigh rides, dog sledding and snow mobiling (which us locals also call Sledding but can be confusing if you think of it in the traditional sense).
Many of my trips to Banff were weekend girl’s trips. Just like “Saturdays are for the boys,” well weekends are for the girls! Banff can get pricey but if you can get a gang together its best to stay somewhere you can fit 4-6 comfortably. I’ve stayed at Hidden Ridge Resort on almost a dozen occasion. It’s not swanky, but you get the real “lodgey” kind of feel, and their lofts have a variety of room/bed options. They have fire places and old DVD players where you can go borrow movies as well as games from the front desk. All have a well equipped kitchen where you have everything you need. The best part of this place is their hot pools and sauna, and has a beautiful fire Hearth at the center of the pool deck. In addition to the hearth, you have a spectacular view of the valley and surrounding mountains which in all seasons is breath-taking. The average amount to stay at Hidden Ridge can go from anywhere between $175.00 to $300.00 CAD which is a steal for Banff pricing.
Now let me say this now, a romantic Banff experience is a completely different set of instructions boys and girls. Boys, please do not bring your girlfriend with 6 of your Bros… Go for the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel minus the Bro-skies.
Because it has a kitchen, we typically bring a big Lasagna, Charcuterie, snacks and booze up there. I suggest shopping in Calgary first as their grocery stores are pretty overpriced and close early. While there is plenty of restaurants to eat at, there are no late night spots open, so drunk you will love you at 3am when you mow down on that left over lasagna.
If you want to opt out of being a thrifty Sisty…I encourage you to check out The Grizzly House. Its super Kitschy and straight out of the 70’s. Each table has a phone as well if you are interested in calling another table and saying hello, as this used to be a swingers restaurant. Nothing says lets get naked with some total strangers than the meat sweats after dining on Meat and Cheese Fondue. I feel like the 70’s was definitely a different time entirely as now I’d have to diet, shave, powder my crotch, and roofie my own drink before I’d consider lifting a ringing phone. And what would one say….”Hey baby, if you like meat I got a whole Bison sausage waiting for you?”
I give an honorable mention as well to The Balkan, where they have some very tasty Greek cuisine and its just above the Dancing Sasquatch, The waiters will bring you to the front of the line as well and hook it up for you nicely; if you don ‘t like waiting in a line full of Seasonal Aussie workers. But if you like them young, cute and poor then waiting in line may be right up your alley.
If you want to just sip and enjoy delicious Craft Cocktails with the gals, Park Distillery is where you want to go. They are right on Banff Ave and within walking distance to everything. There you can sip on 100% hand made, in house cocktails, such as my favorite the “OBSERVATION PEAK”-Park Glacier Rye, Appleton Rum, Amaro Montenegro, cherry liqueur, Park orange bitters, smoked cedar square. They also offer a wide variety of food which they call their campfire favorites. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that was hot dogs and marshmallows. Clearly I’ve been doing this campfire thing all wrong, Which could be also why I hate camping.
The nightlife in Banff is super refreshing for us Calgarians who get a bit tired of the local clubs and hipster watering holes. Let’s face it, I’ll drink and go out anywhere as long as I have a solid crew with me. I love hitting up the Dancing Sasquatch when I’m in Banff for a night. The music and vibe is always cool there and you’ll be sure to dance all night long. The Sasquatch look is also inevitable if you are as big of a hot mess as I am by the end of good night.
There are lots of cab and shuttle options so there is no need to drink and drive there…not like that should ever be an option? I typically like to pre-book for the way home so that if its winter you are not freezing your Kahuna’s off. The locals can pick out the Calgary girls simply by the clothes they go out in there, and that’s just fine with me. However be smart ladies, opened toed heels with frost bite are never cute. I can’t even lie I have definitely checked my coat and winter boots, swapping into my stylish dancing shoes.
If your not too hung the next day, heading to the hot springs or Kananskis Nordic Lodge for the day to enjoy the hot pools is always and epic way to end your weekend and detox the liver.