Conveniently located on the way from Calgary to Banff, Grassi Lakes is a fairly short hike to see some amazingly vibrant lakes resembling watercolors. Tons of wildlife on the way, and a stop for rock climbing too if that strikes your fancy. Don't forget your bear spray though--Meredith and I happened to spot a bear discretely ambling ~50 feet alongside us as we descended back to the trailhead!
Maybe the most picturesque spot in the world, take the drive over to Lake Louise and stroll along the shores. You can rent a kayak and take in the sights, or embark on (maybe) our favorite hike ever, to Lake Agnes Tea House. They hike up all their supplies each day, and the elevation makes it a much more arduous process to brew the tea. Take that time to rest and take in the view of the lake it sits upon.
Take a 2-hour drive, and depart on another one of our favorite hikes of all time at Parker Ridge. Chipmunks, marmots, birds, and other wildlife can be seen in droves on the way up, where you'll have an amazing view of a slow-moving glacier. Secure your hats, or you'll lose it over the edge (RIP Astros hat, pictured above).
Venture deep into Jasper National Park, and take the cruise tour to Spirit Island. There, you'll be rewarded with some amazing local history, a hike or two, and an amazing view of Spirit Island with a background of the jagged Canadian Rockies. Wake up early and don't rush, or risk getting a speeding ticket like we did!
A short walk from the Fairmont, this stroll gets you that famous view of the Banff Springs Castle.
This hike will meander through, above, and below several rapids & waterfalls. A stunning way to spend an afternoon.
Lake Moraine gets our vote for most beautiful lake in Banff. Renting a canoe and exploring the shores is a must--and know that if it gets windy and you get trapped amongst floating logs, they will give you a rain check for another day (we know from experience!). Be sure to get there early as they limit parking!
Hop on the Banff Gondola, and get off at the Sky Bistro. You will have a surreal panoramic 360-degree view of Banff as the backdrop to an indulgent meal.
Weather the long lines to get some of the best ice cream I've ever tasted at Cows. And recall, my medical school graduation was at a chocolate/ice cream shoppe, so I know my desserts.
An Asian-inspired tapas bar that's so good, we went twice! Probably our favorite restaurant in Banff, but it's a small street-side spot so get there in time to get on the waitlist.
Chinnook rafting would be a memorable, fun activity for your whole group. You can pick a rafting tour that fits your level of adventure - something a little more relaxing with a few splashes here and there, or a trek down the Kicking Horse River which lives up to its name!
Awesome brewery in town center, with great food and bartenders. Ambience is very casual and friendly--the locals go here!