Traveling to Banff with kids is no easy feat. Traveling to Banff with kids during a pandemic? Well, we did it and can confidently say that we had an incredible time!
Since we self-quarantined for months at home and then our trip to Hawaii was canceled, we decided that a staycation would be the best option. My husband and I figured that we would head over to Banff just 90 minutes away from our home town, Calgary, Alberta.
This time, however, instead of making it a day trip and then scurrying home for dinner. We decided to stay on Banff Avenue for two nights! It totally changed how we viewed Banff.
Where to Stay | Elk + Avenue Hotel
Of course, with our family of 5, staying in town for two nights doesn’t happen often. But, we figured that a couple of nights wouldn’t hurt.
Elk + Avenue Hotel is located near the entrance of Banff Avenue and steps away from all the great boutiques and souvenir shops.
We stayed in the Loft Suite which includes a large sitting room, upper loft sleeping area with two queen beds. It also had a pull-out couch for extra sleeping space. Plus, free Wifi, free parking, a workspace, etc. It’s a great option for families looking to stay overnight in Banff but doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg.
I was also extremely impressed with all the precautions they had in place for us to enjoy our visit. They had plexiglass at check-in, optional daily housekeeping, markers on the ground for social distancing purposes, hand sanitizers, and more!
Where to Eat | Farm and Fire
At the main lobby of Elk + Avenue Hotel, is Banff’s newest eatery, Farm and Fire! A wood-fired Kitchen with great menu options for both adults and kids! You have the option to eat in or order out.
Having such a delicious eatery downstairs from our hotel room was so nice and easy. After a busy day of sightseeing, Farm and Fire was such an incredible way to wind down with the kids before bedtime.
Again, we appreciated the extra precautions taking to accommodate social distancing measures and sanitation protocols.
Check out their tasty menu here Farm and Fire.
Family Friendly Activities
Our children are three, five, and thirteen years old. This means, that when we travel, we want to make sure that we are finding activities that all of them can enjoy.
First, we checked out the Banff Gondola, which gives you incredible views of six mountain ranges. The eight-minute gondola ride brings you up 7,486 feet onto Summit Mountain. It offers incredible views and plenty of opportunities for photos! Also, if you visit before 11:00 a.m. kids can ride free with every paying adult. Note, each gondola car holds up to 4 maybe 5 people at most.
Banff Gondola is also wheelchair and stroller accessible. However, the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk is not.
Picnic at Two Jack Lake
One of my favourite things to do during the summer in Alberta is to drive to all the beautiful lakes that Alberta has to offer. One of our personal favourites is Two Jack Lake.
It is perfect for a family looking to hang out and burn some energy. Bring your portable BBQ, beach mat, swimming gear, paddleboard, or Kayak! Two Jack Lake is only a 15-minute drive from Elk + Avenue and a great family-friendly spot.
PRO TIP: Get there early as parking is limited.
Notably, Banff is a well-known tourist spot. So why not be a tourist in your own back yard? We spent a full day visiting all the beautiful places that Banff has to offer. For example, Banff Avenue, Bow Falls, Fairmont Banff Springs, Tunnel Moutain, and more.
We even woke up at five in the morning to watch the beautiful sunrise and see the town completely empty from cars and people!
Lake Minnewanka Cruise
We ended our family adventure in Banff with a very fun boat tour of Lake Minnewanka. The Lake Minnewanka experience is like no other. Clear blue waters surrounded by beautiful mountains make for a beautiful landscape.
We learned all about the rich history of the lake and how it came to be! If you choose to visit on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday at 12:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. kids under fifteen go free with each paying adult.
Don’t forget to show up 15 minutes before departure to check-in. I highly recommend that you book your tickets in advance.
Traveling to Banff with kids
Overall, our trip to Banff was incredible! Being able to rest in between sightseeing in a comfortable hotel in the middle of the day was a huge turning point for us. Out of our three children, two of them still need naps or need to rest. It was actually quite nice having that option to avoid full meltdown mode.
Also, being able to stay in Banff for two nights and three days allowed us to take in the whole experience. One day trips are great and we will still probably do them, but this was a great change and the boys had an amazing time.
Currently, Banff Avenue is closed to vehicles and has opened a “pedestrian walk” to accommodate social distancing measures. In my opinion, this is an improvement and hope they keep it that way.
Also, as of August 1, 2020, Banff announced that visitors will be required to wear masks on Banff Avenue as well as indoor places until further notice.
With all that being said, we can’t wait to do it again!