Banff national park, bow river, alberta, canada
Are you visiting Banff Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Banff National Park.

When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is the Banff Springs Hotel, but I also take them to Bow Falls (below the hotel) and Vermilion Lakes – for a more local, authentic experience. When I want to escape the crowds and tourists, my favorite place to visit is Vermilion Lakes and Fendlands Trail. This particular trail was closed on the day I visited the park due to wildlife control, as wolves were feeding on a carcass on the trail. Don’t forget that you are in a large national park – there are bears, elk, mountain goats and other wildlife living in the park. Please remember to be respectful of the animals and stay a safe distance away.

banff springs hotel, banff, alberta, canada

Banff Springs Hotel. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Norquay Road Lookout or Surprise Corner for kissing with a view.

If you are traveling with your pet, the best place to walk the dog is the off leash dog park in the industrial area or the Bow River trail.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Cave & Basin National Historic Site, Banff Park Museum (for the taxidermy), or the Banff Canoe Docks (open seasonally).

bear, alberta, canada

Bear Paws, The Fudgery. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Canadian regional cuisine

If you are looking for typical Alberta, Canada cuisine, I recommend The Bison, Park Distillery, Maple Leaf Lounge or Saltlik.

Melissas missteak, alberta, canada

Best breakfast in Alberta. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Melissa’s Missteak, Toooloulous or Coyotes Grill.

Looking for cheap food in Banff Lake Louise? Go to Tommy’s Bar or The Elk & Oarsman. While not necessarily inexpensive, the Farmers’ Market on Bear Street is a great place to pick up regional produce, listen to live music and bring back a souvenir hand-crafted in Alberta, Canada.

Park Distillery and Banff Ave Brewing Company are the spots for late night dining in Banff.

Grizzly house, alberta, canada

Canadian cuisine. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Grizzly House for the best fondue in Alberta, Canada. Order the wild game platter and the fruit with chocolate fondue!

Seeing a lot of hot springs in Banff? The area is known for natural hot springs with Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel being a fine example of a place to “take the waters.”

When you come to Banff and Lake Louise, get your picture taken at Surprise Corner, Bow Falls, Norquay Lookout, or Moraine Lake. The water color at Moraine Lake is an unbelievable shade of blue.

banff gondola, alberta, canada

Take the Banff Gondola. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Take the Banff Gondola. You can also hike Via Ferrata or ride the Norquay siteseeing lift 8,040 feet above Banff to the boardwalk and dine at the Cliffhouse Bistro at the top of the mountain.

In Banff and Lake Louise outdoor lovers will want to hike, bike and horseback ride throughout Alberta.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the Bow River Trail.

After a day of adventure, the best place to go for a spa treatment is Fairmont Banff Springs Willowstream Spa or Banff Hot Springs.

If you are a museum lover, you’ll want to visit Whyte Museum and Banff Park Museum.

hoo doo lounge, alberta, canada

Night life in Alberta, Canada. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing at Wild Bills, Dancing Sasquach or HooDoo’s Lounge for live music.

The Craig and Canyon will keep you posted on what’s happening in Banff and Lake Louise, as will the Banff Lake Louise tourism website.

In the spring you should attend SpringStart Festival and in the summer you should check out Canada Day Parade.

Did you know that Banff and Lake Louise are a nature lovers paradise? Plan a visit in the fall for the Wonderfall Festival, Larch Trees, and the fall colors.

If you are a skier or love crisp, cold weather, come to Banff and Lake Louise in the winter for the WinterStart Festival.

alanis morissett, wild bills, alberta, canada

Alanis Morissette performed at Wild Bills. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tips: Check out the often over-looked Cave & Basin National Historic site – the birthplace of Banff National Park, the first National Park in Canada and third in the world.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that Alanis Morissestte first performed Jagged Little Pill for a Warner sales convention crowd of about 50 people at Wild Bill’s on Banff Avenue. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and @Banff_Squirrel.

Thanks to Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Rocky Mountaineer for assistance during my travels to this area. Be sure to get the Trip Planning Map when you visit the world’s finest National Park!