11.15.2019 Banff, AB, Canada

Okay, Let's Go To Banff!

“There is so much in the world to see, to admire, if only you take the opportunity to look.”


Day 1: Flew to Toronto, then took a second plane to Calgary, picked up the rental car and drove to Banff. After

checking in to Douglas Fir Resort and Chalets, we had lunch at Melissa’s Missteak and grabbed groceries. We ventured out to see the Bow Falls Viewpoint before turning in for the night.

Day 2: Up before the sun to make the drive to Lake Louise. Hiked up the Lake Agnes Trail, and stopped by Mirror Lake along the way. Stopped for a brief repast at the Lake Agnes Teahouse before hiking back down. Grabbed lunch at Lake Louise Station Restaurant. Visited the Peyto Lake Viewpoint and Bow Summit, as well as stopping by Bow Lake. Stood in line for ice cream at COWS Banff and grabbed beaver tails from the aptly named Beaver Tails. Watched the sun set at Vermillion Lakes.

Day 3: Melissa and Alexa drove to Nakoda Lakeside Lodge in order to join their group for the Horseshoe Canyon rafting experience, while Rachel went thrift shopping and coffee shop hopping in Banff. Met up for lunch at Park Distillery and did some souvenir shopping in town. Drove to Emerald Lake and went canoeing, then went to see the sunset again at Vermillion Lakes.

Day 4: Up before the sun again to check out before making the drive up to Moraine Lake. Picked our way up the rock pile in order to get a gorgeous sunrise view, and then discovered the path that led to the top after. Stopped by Johnston Canyon and did a short hike to see the falls, before driving to the airport for our flight home.


We flew out early on Saturday morning, and our flight route involved two parts: a flight from Newark to Toronto, and a second flight from Toronto to Calgary. Once we arrived in Calgary, we picked up a rental car and drove to Banff. The duration of the trip is basically about 3/5 of a day if you get a very early start like we did.

Our primary mode of transportation in Banff was the rental car, as there are so many lakes and viewpoints and trails to see and they are spread so far apart. There are shuttles at many hotels that will take you a variety of places, and there are similar shuttles that will take you from parking areas to where the proper sights are.

It is worth mentioning that walking was a big part of our trip as well. We did more than one hike, and we also walked a lot in the ‘downtown’ area of Banff. You’ll definitely want some comfortable shoes to accommodate the use of your feet pretty much all day every day if you’re planning on tackling a similar itinerary.


Douglas Fir Resort and Chalets - 525 Tunnel Mountain Road, Banff, AB T1L1B2 Canada


1. Location is easily accessible from town and offers shuttle access

2. Parking slot right in front of your room (included in the rental)

3. Full kitchen, which allows you to save on meals if you occasionally make breakfast and dinner


1. Sparse amenities included (very basic)

2. Lighting was a little dim for our tastes

3. Smells easily infiltrated from outdoors (location-wise, we were next to a barbecue)

We were a little taken aback by the old-fashioned d├ęcor when we first walked in, as well as how dimly lit it was. But

it felt cozy overall, and if we’d known how to manage it, we’d likely have set up a fire in the fireplace. We took full

advantage of the kitchen for some of our meals (and our hot chocolates before bed), and the number of beds and towels were exactly to our needs. It was a pleasant place to stay, even though we were only in there for mere hours

at a time and just to get some sleep.


** Each activity was special in its own way, but we’re leaving a heart on the ones we enjoyed most.

* Bow Falls Viewpoint – Bow Falls Ave, Banff, AB T0L 0C0, Canada

This was our first taste of the views in Banff and it was a good place to start. Our visit was during a misty, rainy day, but the weather was not a deterrent for us to enjoy this smaller scale waterfall that spilled into a steadily flowing river. Surrounded by trees and pebbly ground and offering a glimpse of a mountain in the distance, we felt transported.

* Lake Louise Banff National Park, Alberta T0L 1E0, Canada ♥️

We arrived lakeside before the sun rose and it was very dark, but also starting to get crowded with videographers and photographers who wanted to capture the view as the sun rose. If the weather had been less foggy and rainy, it would have been an incredible view; however, it still was spectacular to see the sky lighten and the lake come into view. Luckily, on our way back down, the sky was brighter, and sun peeked out, so we got to see the gorgeous, colorful view of this lake.

* Lake Agnes Trail (including Mirror Lake) ♥️

This trail is a clear-cut path in the mountainside around Lake Louise, marked with signs every so often and usually occupied with other hikers, so it was easy to follow and find our way. Surrounded by trees on both sides, with glimpses of the lake here and there, it felt like you were truly transported into another world. The path can be muddy and slippery, so hiking boots would likely be your best option (though some of us wore sneakers and were just fine). There are a couple of points where you can take a break, including Mirror Lake, and a couple of areas where you’ll have to walk up an incline or a series of steps. It’s a path that can generally be walked by anyone, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or not.

* Peyto Lake Viewpoint and Bow Summit –Icefield Parkway, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada ♥️

It was full on raining when we made our visit to Peyto, but that didn’t diminish that incredible color of this lake when you see it from the viewpoint. As with the previous trail, be cautious of slippery and muddy ground when walking. But the view itself is worth looking at, as you’ll see the lake and the trees and the mountains in a postcard perfect way.

* Bow Lake – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

We pulled over to visit this spot, and it was fun to walk the path that passes lakeside. If you’re determined to see more mountains than trees, this might be a good spot for you to stop at! We had a mix of bright sunlight and overcast skies in the time we were there, but we still enjoyed the opportunity to stretch our legs after being in the car for some time.

* Vermillion Lakes – Vermilion Lakes Road, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T0L 0C0, Canada ♥️

This spot is off the beaten path a bit, but you’ll find yourself in plenty of company when the sun is about to set. We got to witness the sunset twice – once on an overcast day and once on a sunny day. Both were beautiful views, though the sunny day offered more color and distinctive skies.

* Horseshoe Canyon (along Bow River) 

Mel and Alexa went whitewater rafting one morning and had an incredible time! They booked the trip with Chinook Rafting, who were extremely professional and good at making everyone comfortable with the particulars of rafting. They were dressed in wetsuits, jacket, helmet and boots offered by the company, and all these items kept them warm even when they jumped off a cliff and got splashed as they rafted. It was interesting to learn more about the history and fun facts of the river through their guide’s narrative, and it was a fun physical experience.

* Emerald Lake – Emerald Lake Road, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada ♥️

We ended up driving up to this lake on a whim after Mel & Alexa heard about it from folks they rafted with, and it was so worth it. The lake and its surrounding mountains and forest are beautiful, particularly because we went on an afternoon with perfectly sunny weather. We ended up being
able to rent a canoe and row out into the lake together, and that was a lovely way to spend an hour.

*  Moraine Lake – Moraine Lake Rd | off Great Divide Hwy, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada ♥️

Before we get to the particulars of the lake and the hike, it is worth mentioning that you must leave very early if you want to get a parking spot right by this lake because the actual parking lot is small. You do have the option of parking farther away and riding a shuttle to the lake, but that means you’re at the mercy of the shuttle schedule. Anyway, this lake is beautiful. This is the view that many folks expect to see when visiting Banff, and it was so worth the early wake up call and long drive and freezing cold to catch the sunrise over the mountains and on this lake. It is nearly impossible to describe just how special this experience is! By the lake, there is a Rockpile that you can sit or climb (very carefully) on to get a better view, but please note that there is an actual trail you can follow to get to a viewing area at the top (which we discovered later on). We also took a canoe out on this lake, and it was equally worth it for the stunning views and the peaceful calm and quiet as we rowed through the lake.

* Johnston Canyon Hike – Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

We didn’t get to do the full hiking trail (specifically missing out on the caverns and a larger waterfall), but we did manage to walk all the way up to the smaller waterfall. This is a fun trail to walk on, as there are constructed walkways shaped around rock formations and along the lakeshore and you get interesting views of the river and waterfalls along the way.


From the place we stayed at, I took a free bus ride to Banff's little town which was luckily a complimentary service of our cabin. The bus came every hour so I decided to take the earliest one to town when my sisters went rafting. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to join them due to my back condition but I still had an amazing time exploring on my own (which was my first every solo experience in a new country)

* Last Temptation Vintage (THRIFT) - 229 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1C3, Canada ♥️

Definitely one of the best thrift stores I've ever gone to and I'm happy it's the first one I got to visit outside of the States. Prices of the items range from $10-$20+ which wasn't bad at all cause the store was well curated with a ton of amazing jackets, oversized graphic tees and scarves. The place was clean and the sales lady I met was super friendly. I totally recommend this place.

*Whitebark Cafe- 401 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A9, Canada  ♥️

This was where I decided to get my early caffeine fix considering the number of reviews people left about it online. Enjoyed a cup of latte with a first bite and view that was beautiful. It easily made my morning. 

* Evelyn's Coffee Bar - 215 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A4, Canada

Said to be, Banff's Favorite which did not disappoint at all. This was actually my second cup of latte in a span of four hours but I didn't complain. Local coffee was good and grabbed what was said to be the best cookie which honestly was so good too. Their Cranberry Oatmeal cookie was so delicious. Craving just thinking about it again.


** Each spot was special in its own way, but we’re leaving a heart on the ones we enjoyed most.

Tim Horton’s – 100 Gopher St, Banff, AB T1L 1J3, Canada

You can’t go to Canada without visiting Tim Horton’s, specifically for an iced capp.

* Melissa’s Missteak – 218 Lynx St, Banff, AB T1L 1A9, Canada ♥️

 We might have chosen this spot because of the name, but the cozy cabin ambience was equally appealing as a spot to get out of the rain. We each had a pot of tea to warm our insides, and we
shared the New York Strip and the Chorizo Benny. Both dishes were well-made and satisfied our hunger after the hours we’d spent traveling.

*  Lake Agnes Teahouse – Lake Agnes, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada ♥️

This spot offered one of our favorite meals of the entire trip, though it’s uncertain whether that’s because it was the kind of fare we enjoy or because it was so satisfying to make it to this spot after a long hike. We had a tuna salad sandwich on their homemade oatmeal brown bread, chowder, chocolate cake, tea biscuits with jam and two pots of tea. It’s important to note two things: space is limited, and this is a cash only spot. CHOCOLATE CAKE was divine.

Lake Louise Station Restaurant – 200 Sentinel Rd, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada ♥️

We picked out this lunch spot on a whim, intrigued by the idea that it was formerly a train station. The location is isolated, but it does have a view of the train tracks and seems to a spot that tourist buses opt for occasionally. The space itself is simply decorated with a cozy cabin vibe with a few more fancy touches, though the ambience is slightly diminished by the use of dark furniture (which
makes things seems dimmer indoors). We ended up ordering the Station Beef Stew (two thumbs up),
Station Mac and Cheese (very much comfort food but nothing too spectacular) and Rocky Mountain
poutine with duck.

COWS Banff – 138 Banff Ave Unit #111, Banff, AB T1L 1C3, Canada ♥️

We had to wait in a line for this treat, but it was worth it! Alexa had a scoop of PEI Strawberry and PEI Apple Crisp on a cone, and Rachel had Birthday Cake and Oreo Cookie on a cone.

Beaver Tails – 120 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1E7, Canada ♥️

It felt imperative to try a beaver tail at least once while we were in Canada together, so Mel snagged one with Nutella and banana. It was yummy, but we think it’s a dessert you can share with someone else and that it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be.

Park Distillery –  219 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A7, Canada ♥️

We ended up picking this spot for our last sit down lunch of the trip, and it was a winner! The interior has a cozy bar and restaurant vibe (and there is a distillery tour you can do, if you have the time) that is welcoming to patrons. We ordered the Park Burger, the Blu Dog and the Tagliatelle, which were all really, really delicious and we would vouch for them!


* Keep an eye on the weather. 
 The forecast changes constantly in Banff and its surrounding areas, so it’s always a great idea to check the forecast regularly throughout your day. It’ll help you figure out how to dress appropriately and which activities to pursue.

* Bring layers and comfortable shoes. 
This tip goes hand in hand with the first one. We would recommend having shoes that will properly cushion your feet even as they keep them warm and dry, as well as carrying layers that are easy to take off and put on so you can adjust to changes in the weather.

* Rent a car. 
There are so many different natural sights to visit in Banff and its surrounding areas, and the easiest mode of transportation is to drive your own rental car. It’ll offer you freedom when it comes to your
schedule and destinations, so we’d highly recommend it. The only difficulty you might have is searching for convenient parking spots, but it’s not an impossible task if you have enough patience.

*  Get a Banff National Park pass beforehand. 
This is a tip we didn’t know would be useful until we experienced it for ourselves! There is a separate line for folks who already have this pass (which we did as Mel ordered it online) and for folks who must get it, and you can guess which one is quicker.

* Have a flexible schedule. 
This ties in with majority of our tips as well. While there was one activity we actually had a specific schedule for, and while we had given ourselves a general idea of the way we wanted our itinerary to go, we were very flexible about moving things around. This all ties in to the weather tip, makes the car tip handy and in general, also allows you to factor in how tired you are as well.

* Go canoeing! 
We were incredibly lucky to have had good weather on our last two days. We took a canoe out both in Emerald and Moraine Lake and it was the best experience ever. The view, sense of peace and the calmness of being surrounded by nature was the best! We definitely recommend!


If you want to get an idea of our trip, subscribe to my channel or click on the image below.

This was our trip to Banff and it was absolutely fun and breathtaking! 
Mama Nature, you are truly wonderful and I hope we never stop taking care of you! 

--In collaboration with Alexa Yupangco (@alexalovesbooks) --
Photos from @therachyupangco

1 comment

  1. Honestly, our trip to Banff? It was the most magical thing! I'm glad we were able to go on a sisters only trip - and I think we should make it more of a regular thing.