father and daughter snowball fight

Dan and Eve playing on Lake Louise a few years back.

Every winter I look forward to a magical weekend spent at Lake Louise. Coming here is as close as you’ll ever get to stepping inside a snow globe. It’s pretty enchanting. Even though we took Eve with us, it still felt weirdly romantic.

winter wonderland

Every year Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise builds a different ice castle.

There’s something about Lake Louise that makes it easy for us to connect: to nature, to each other. When Eve was a toddler and I was losing it from lack of sleep and my mom’s Cancer diagnosis, it was to Louise we retreated. Year after year, we come back for a winter weekend, and fall in love with the season all over again. Here’s a few good reasons why you should head here, too.

winter outdoors hot chocolate

Sometimes they have bonfires and serve hot chocolate on Lake Louise.

World’s Prettiest Skating Surface

Arguably,  Lake Louise has the world’s most beautiful natural ice skating surface. Anyone can take a twirl here, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to skate on the frozen lake. (Though it’s worth the splurge to bed down at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise) Even if you don’t skate, you’ll want to head out onto the ice to admire the ice castle and snap some pics. The scene is pure Canadiana, without the maple syrup.

skating on a lake

You rent skates inside at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Legit Canadian Ice Bar

Sure, you can enjoy après at any ski lounge, but there’s nothing like sipping mulled wine outdoors while inhaling the fragrant mountain air. The Fairmont crafts an ice bar each winter on their Lakefront Terrace. In true winter style, you’ll sit an an ice booth or belly up to the bar for a boozy warm cocktail, while gazing at the snow capped peaks. Kids are welcome (hot chocolate is on tap) and they’ve got patio heaters for the wimps who didn’t dress properly. Toques are cool, kids!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Ice Bar

This year’s ice bar looks nothing like this, but I didn’t get a good shot. Sorry. Please don’t hate me.

New Awesome Eats in Lake Louise

Ski hill food isn’t usually that enticing to me. Since dining at Kuma Yama, however, I’ve changed my tune. This restaurant opened up last year at Louise, but I didn’t get into it until this month. The ski resort hired this awesome chef from Vegas to overhaul their food and beverage offerings, and the results are notable.

salmon and tuna sashimi

OK, technically this sashimi can’t be considered sushi, but you get my drift….

Having lived in Japan for four-years, I’m super picky about my sushi, but Kuma Yama ticked all the right boxes. Sushi needs to be firm – it’s all about texture, and on this front they delivered. The rolls were inventive and filling. You can’t go wrong with their version of the rainbow roll and the beef tataki is a fine choice for raw fish haters. On a cold day, nothing warms you up better then pimped out ramen, and you’ll want an order of the edamame tossed in truffle oil, too.

Kuma Yama

There’s lots of options for sushi lovers at Kuma Yama

The latest new restaurant opening in Lake Louise is Alpine Social at the Fairmont. This replaced the saloon in the basement, and has quickly become the social hub of Louise. If you’re looking for hearty, gourmet comfort food – you’ll find it here. Portions are large and meant for sharing. The chicken strips are basically upscale chicken fingers that are lightly drizzled with hot sauce and blue cheese dip. A lot comes on the plate! The fish bites were my favourite, and if you’re a fan of cinnamon sugar dusted mini-donuts, order the apple fritters for desert. Worth. Every. Calorie.

Skiing and Snowshoeing at Lake Louise

If you’re staying at the Fairmont, they offer guests a complimentary shuttle service to the mountain. Once you’re at Lake Louise Ski Resort, you’re spoiled for choice. A lot of folks like the mountain’s back side, but as a snowboarder, I prefer the easy blue and green cruisers on the front. Whichever chair you take, you’ll find runs at all ability levels.

snowshoeing lake louise

If you ever get a chance to meet or go on an excursion with Bruce Bembridge, take it!

If you don’t downhill, try cross country. The Fairmont has this awesome Mountain Adventure Program with certified guides that take you out on half day excursions. The cross country skiing adventure I had a few years back still ranks as one of my favourite winter day’s out. My friend Leigh McAdam of Hike Bike Travel has hit pretty much every trail in Banff National Park. If you’re looking for a new challenge, you’ll find her favourites here.

Ice Magic Festival

The great thing about the Ice Magic Festival is you don’t have to attend to get the benefits. Of course it’s fun if you do, but you’ll still get to wander around the impressive ice sculptures for weeks afterwards. The festival takes place until January 29. Check out our family’s experience here.

ice carving

Watch the ice carvers work their magic around Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Have you ever been to Lake Louise in winter? What are your favourite activities to do here?