Chill and Chilly Trip to Banff

Long weekend trips with friends are some of my favorite! This past weekend my husband and I joined our friends in Banff for a little ski, snowshoe and relaxation.

Each day had a rhythm: get caffeinated, get active, aprés ski and end with a big group dinner. This format worked so well for a big group, where there were different interest areas and schedules. Our group loved skiing at Sunshine and Lake Louise (don’t miss Boomerang!), snowshoeing (my favorite!) and seeing all the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon. Below you’ll also find our favorite bites and sips of the trip.

Grab your mitts! // Banff, Canada, February 2017

All in all I was so thoroughly in love with the trip, and can’t wait to come back in the summer or fall! Check out my recommendations and insider tips below, and add your favorite spots in the comments section below.

ADVENTUREAPPEAL’S
BANFF WINTER GETWAY GUIDE:

♦ Know Before you go
♦ Savor
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Shopping
♦ Other Hot Spots
♦ Lodging
♦ How to Get There

 

 

 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Explore 3 day ski packages to save money and time buying lift tickets.
  • Activities where there aren’t a lot of operators (like dog sledding) fill up quickly, so be sure to book in advance.
  • Temperatures in Banff are no joke. Bring lots of layers and glove liners so that you can operate your phone and camera without exposing your digits to negative digit temps.
  • If you have a big group, consider booking reservations 3-6 weeks in advance. The restaurants tend to be smaller and if you hate waiting in line this advice will be key.
  • Standing room in bars doesn’t really exist, as establishments are required to have a seat for every person.
  • Don’t forget your swim suit! Most hotels have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities and there are a few fancy spas you may want to check out too.
  • In the winter, renting a car isn’t necessary or smart if you aren’t used to icy conditions. Opt for using the Airporter, Banff bus routes, shuttles to the ski lifts and private taxis / cars. If your hotel is in town, there are plenty of walkable options for shopping, dinner and drinks.
  • Weekends (especially Saturdays) are busiest, so try to tack on a couple of weekdays to your stay if you can.

GET ACTIVE

There are tons of options to stay active while on your winter vacation to Banff, the most obvious choices being skiing and snowboarding. Other favorites from our group were snowshoeing, taking hikes and signing up for group workout classes at the Fairmont (drop in fees are available for classes if you’re staying elsewhere in town).

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk 

We loved strapping on spikes / crampons and traversing along the Johnston Canyon with Discovery Banff’s guided half-day adventure.

Ready for all of the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon // Banff National Park, Canada, February 2017

Through this Ice Walk Hike we got up close an personal with multiple frozen waterfalls, noshed on hot cocoa and cookies and watched the adventurous ice climbers (an activity for next time!).

Our group had the best tour guide, Saul, and we clocked in 3.6 miles along a railed pathway leading to the Upper and Lower Falls. These massive structures look like moments frozen in time. Pun intended!

Frozen Waterfalls at Johnston Canyon // Banff National Park, February 2017
Hot Cocoa Cheers! // Banff, Canada February 2017

Snowshoeing at the Continental Divide

About 45 minutes from Banff, we spent the morning snowshoeing through the trees at Kootenay Park.

Let’s do this! // Snowshoeing with the gals in Canada, February 2017

Snowshoeing is the BEST way to stay warm! It was -10 C, and we all shed layers as we shuffled through the powder along the Continental Divide. A couple of tips for new snowshoers: take small steps and try to stay on top of the snow; don’t worry if you fall, it’s fun making snow angels; and lastly stretch afterwards as you’ll be using stability muscles you might not normally workout.

All smiles amongst the snow covered trees // Snowshoeing in Canada, February 2017
Pacific vs Atlantic // The Continental Divide, Canada, February 2017

SAVOR

  • The Bison Restaurant and Terrace // Upscale feel without being pretentious. Our group rated this the best Bison burger in town and we paired it with Caymus’ sister wine the Conundrum Red. My husband loved the escargot bone marrow appetizer too.
  • Rundle Lounge at the Fairmont Banff Springs // Seats are first come first serve, so be sure to snag a spot by the windows. Luckily, there are a few rooms and you can either stay for drinks (coffee, tea, cocktails, etc) or a meal.
  • Park Distillery // This establishment is just 2 years old, and makes all of their spirits using glacier water. Try a custom cocktail (they also have mocktails), a spirit sampler tray or just go for the food and distillery tour.
  • Whitebark Cafe // My favorite spot for morning almond milk lattes, cheddar chive bacon scones and homemade granola bars.
  • Wild Flour Bakery // Indulge on super sized breakfast sandwiches with homemade focaccia bread and add peanut butter to the yogurt parfait for a little extra protein and the most PBJ-tastic experience.
Lattes and lovely starts to the day // Whitebark Cafe, Banff, February 2017

VIEW FROM ABOVE

Everywhere you turn in Banff is another gorgeous mountain view. Besides at the top of the slopes, some of the best places to take in the views are via the Banff Gondola and the view from the Fairmont Banff Springs, specifically outside the Rundle Lounge.

Perspective is a beautiful thing // Fairmont Banff Springs, February 2017

LOGDING

We loved taking over the suites at the new Moose Hotel! Everything at the hotel was new and clean, and the heated pools, hot tubs and fire pit all had great views of the mountains. Insider Tip: the pictures on the Moose Hotel’s website don’t do this property justice!

Waking up in winter wonderland //Moose Hotel, Banff, Canada February 2017

Looking for a family friendly hotel? Opt for the Fairmont Banff Springs, where there are lots of options for kids and adults alike, several restaurants on property, and a collegiate / historic feel. Plus, the views are pretty phenomenal!

Classy, classic and all about the viewpoints // Fairmont Banff Springs, February 2017

SHOPPING

  • Don’t live in Canada? Hit up Roots for soft sweats, sweaters, scarfs and  Canada branded merch. I loved their current collaboration with Pendelton.
  • Like any good ski town, Banff has endless options of ski stores if you forget anything.
  • Park Distillery has the best gift shop! Plus everything looks better after a spirit sampler.
Let’s get one of everything! // Park Distillery in Banff, Canada, February 2017

HOW TO GET THERE (& BACK!)

Banff is located in Alberta, Canada, and easily accessed via a 90 minute shuttle from the Calgary airport. Reserve your spot on the Airporter because of its new buses, friendly staff and complementary water.

Our group landed in shifts so we all met at the Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar (Marriott’s downstairs lounge restaurant) for bites and craft cocktails while we waited for the shuttle van.  It sounds odd, but this airport terminal gem is not to be missed.

OTHER HOT SPOTS

Banff really has endless activities: dog sledding, sleigh rides, hot springs, ice skating on Lake Louise, cross country skiing and more!

I hope you enjoy every second of your trip and be sure to comment below with your favorite not to miss wintertime adventures in Banff!

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Off the Mountain: 7 Non-Ski Activities in Breckenridge

 

I love skiing and snowshoeing but there’s something so great about spending a day in town during a ski vacation. Whether it’s bad weather or sore muscles that keep you in town, here are my top 7 non-ski activities in Breckenridge, Colorado:

Stretch and get zen at 9600ft

What a view during class, right? Pinch me. 

After our road trip to Breckenridge from San Diego, my muscles were craving yoga. I tried in incorporate it every other day and went solo, brought girlfriends and even my husband joined.  Meta Yoga had a great selection of classes and teachers and I was lucky to bounce between advanced and more meditative classes.  118 S Ridge St #5, Breckenridge, CO 80424

Caffeinate with a handcrafted latte

Insider Tip: order the dirty chai, my favorite!

Each morning before hopping on the gondola or en route to our next adventure, we stopped by Kavabreck for delicious lattes and breakfast wraps.  The syrups are all made in house and if you want to splurge, their bag of donuts is to die for.

The staff are also complete sweethearts, making it such an inviting stop.  Kavabreck, 209 N. Main St. Breckenridge, CO 80424 

 Go shopping!

Breckenridge’s Main Street by Night

Main Street has a slew of boutiques and souvenir shops.

Narrow down the best of the best by checking out my top 5 list here for our favorite gear store, cute clothing boutiques, a great photography studio and more.

Order off the secret menu… Shhhh!

Thanks to some inside information from the staff at Carvers, we became addicted to the $ Dollar Burger $ at The Canteen Taphouse and Tavern.  This off the menu burger was my husband’s favorite and honestly, who doesn’t love feeling like an insider? They also have great plates to share and bowls for gluten free options if anyone in your party isn’t craving the beef.  The Canteen Taphouse and Tavern, 208 N Main St, Breckenridge, CO 80424

Take a Hike (or Walk)  

With the dog in tow, my girlfriends and I loved catching up while trotting down the Blue River Bikeway. Another friend braved the snowy steps of the Carter Park path to catch some beautiful view of the mountain. Both options are accessible from downtown, so no worries about using the car! More info and trail leads can be found on Best of Breck’s These Winter Boots were made for Hiking.

Beat your Friends at Jenga (and  Mancala and Apples to Apples)

We loved the craft cocktails and plentiful games at Après Handcrafted Libations. They have a lengthly list of cocktails, hot toddies and 30+ beers on tap.  Our favorites were the walnut old fashion and the teddy grahams toddy.  Après’ long high top tables let us take over small sections and have marathon games of Apples to Apples and Jenga.  Lastly, they also have fun events, so check their website to see if one of them overlaps with your trip to Breck.  Après Handcrafted Libations, 130 S Main St, Breckenridge, CO, 80424

Indulge in a Spa Day

Long ski days and cramping from high altitude make a spa day a must do in Breckenridge.  There are several options to choose from located downtown, and the Spa at Breckenridge also has a lovely facility with day pass access to their pool and outdoor hot tub.  I loved my deep tissue massage and can’t wait to try more treatments next visit.

Hope these top 7 non-ski activities fill your time with relaxation and everyday adventures.  Comment below with your favorite non-ski activities at Breck.

 

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