Early in the spring of 2023, we decided to take a quick getaway and cross Banff off our destination bucket list. And let us tell you, it did not disappoint. As traveling herbivores, finding plant-based options can sometimes be a challenge, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Banff made it easy for us. In this article, we'll take you through our three-day itinerary, sharing the places we ate and visited, along with some helpful notes.
BTW, if you're a visual person like we are, check out Dos Punk's YouTube video posted below 👇
We flew from Portland to Calgary, which took around two and a half hours. After arriving, we rented a car and quickly headed to Calgary to grab some food before driving to Banff. Since Ryan feels a bit nervous driving rental cars at night or in unfamiliar countries, we wanted to reach Banff before sundown. Our first stop was at Whole Life Go, one of Calgary's top-rated vegan sushi spots. And let us tell you, they exceeded our expectations. It was the perfect first stop as they had a wide range of options, including a cafe and desserts. We savored a few delicious sushi rolls, a highly recommended matcha latte, and even grabbed some snacks to go for our road trip to Banff.
Before embarking on the hour and a half journey to Banff, we made another pit stop at Odd Burger. If you're like us and love vegan junk food, this is the spot for you. Burgers, fries, poutine, shakes... they have it all. It's definitely worth a visit for a gluttonous bite before hitting the road. We grabbed a few extra items to-go in case we didn't find any food options in Banff late at night, which turned out to be a wise move.
We stayed at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, which was a comfortable place to rest our heads at night. Since we spent most of our days walking around and exploring Banff, we were usually exhausted by the end of the day and didn't need much else. Our only issue was that the hot tub outside was out of service on our second night there, but thankfully the larger tub in our room made up for it. If you're looking for a luxury experience, this might not be the place for you, but we found it to be charming and cozy. :-)
On our second day in Banff, we took it easy and spent our time exploring the downtown area, checking out the Buffalo Nations Museum and Cave and Basin, and of course, indulging in some delicious vegan and plant-based food. Here are a few of our top recommendations for spots to try in Downtown Banff:
If you're interested in learning about the indigenous tribes of the area, we highly recommend visiting the Buffalo Nations Museum. It's a great way to get some cultural enrichment during your trip to Banff. Another must-see attraction is the Cave and Basin, which we found to be really cool. You can definitely drive there, but we decided to walk from Downtown (which took us about 25 minutes) since we had a good parking spot.
On our third and final day before heading back home, we decided to embrace our inner tourists and make the most of our time in Banff. We woke up early, grabbed a late and a pastry from Whitebark Cafe, and hit the road to Lake Louise for some ice-skating on the lake. We were glad we arrived early, as the parking lots and ice rink filled up quickly! The experience was definitely the highlight of our trip. The stunning mountains and the thrill of skating on a frozen lake made for an unforgettable memory, even if we were a bit terrified (let's just say we're not the best skaters out there!). You could easily spend an entire day here, as we did by grabbing a nice lunch in the hotel and taking in the incredible views.
Afterwards, we wanted to fit in a short hike before heading back to downtown, so we stopped at Johnston Canyon. It's a snow-covered trail that leads to a frozen waterfall and while it was a bit busy this time of year, it was still a great experience. We managed to tackle the trail with our boots, but we would have appreciated spikes for our shoes. Be sure to check out our video above for more visuals!