Banff is both an international bucket list destination and a backyard escape for us Calgarians. We’ll all be sticking closer to home this summer, so it makes sense to explore all that you have around you. Which is how I came upon finding great rates at Elk and Avenue hotel.
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Elk and Avenue hotel
Banff is tricky. For those of us who live nearby, it can easily be done as a day trip. And because of Banff’s international cred, many of its hotels are priced too high for locals. But not, as I discovered, Elk and Avenue hotel. They’ve got rates starting from $139 until the end of June. Never been? Here’s what to expect.
Elk and Avenue is a boutique hotel set smack dab on Banff Avenue. Its location means it’s close to all the action, plus it’s across the street from the massive outdoor ice skating rink the town puts up in winter. It’s also quite likely the hippest hotel in Banff you’ve never heard of.
Guest rooms are cool, comfortable and oh-so Instagram-able. We had a basic room that sported a super wide marble counter on top of the dresser that could fit two suitcases. This is key since anyone who’s caught bed bugs knows you don’t want to place your bag on the floor. (Note: No bed bugs at Elk + Avenue, I’m just dishing out friendly travel advice here.)
I don’t really know much about design, but I know what I like. I like a comfy bed: check. I like kitchy Canadiana: check. The red kerosene lantern, the wood panel wall, the fur pillows: it’s simple, but evocative.
There’s a mini fridge (not filled) just waiting for your leftovers, plus a real kettle in addition to a coffee bar, so we tea drinkers don’t have to drink that garbage water that comes out of coffee machines.
I especially appreciated the magnifying-mirror in the bathroom and the super deep tub. I wrote down the manufacturer’s name because now I want the same tub instilled in our home. And there were complimentary make-up remover wipes for once. We ladies like!
Farm + Fire Banff
One of the best parts about staying at this hotel is not having to venture far for dining. Newly opened inside Elk and Avenue is Farm & Fire under the helm of Chef Scott Hergott, a prominent local chef recognized for his award-winning culinary innovation at the Banff Gondola’s Sky Bistro (more on that below).
Farm & Fire was right up our alley as it features slow-roasted, wood-fired fare centred around sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. In addition to one of those amazing hella high heat Forno ovens, it sports a unique rotisserie imported from France and an urban cultivator – just a few of the signature items displayed in full view.
Our family goes gaga over rotisserie chicken and this thyme and lemon brined bird did not disappoint. But you ought to know that you’ll be getting an entire chicken. Like one that easily feeds a family of 4-6. (Thank goodness for the mini-fridge in our room!)
And we were thrilled with our fungi (wild mushroom) flatbread. I’m on a cleanse (again) and yet I could stop myself at
two OK three pieces. The next morning, I polished off the rest of the flatbread before breakfast. Sigh. #worthit.
Rounding out our meal were roasted baby potatoes that my daughter loved and a fantastic salmon tartare. Looking around at everyone else’s plates, I realized that next time I need to order both a cocktail and the whole corn on the cob with kimchi aioli – it’s just so adorable and would play well on Instagram if you’re into food porn. Also of note are the children’s meals (pasta, pizza or 1/4 rotisserie chicken with potatoes) that come with either salad or veg and an ice cream sandwich.
Fun things to do in Banff
Banff Avenue looks a lot different this year. The 100-200 block has turned into a pedestrian zone. There’s plenty of space for you to explore and browse – both from the sidewalk and the street. Good thing you’ve got underground parking at Elk & Avenue!
Hiking is what many people come to Banff for, and Sulphur Mountain is one of the closest peaks you can summit. If you’re not up for hiking Sulphur Mountain, you ought to take the Banff Gondola. It’s pretty much a rite of passage for visiting Banff, and I’m always surprised at how many locals haven’t made the trek since they were kids. The exhibits at the top went through a major renovation a few years back, so you’ll be secretly glad you sussed it out.
Going up on the gondola is touristy, yes, but also pretty fun and worth doing every few years. The interactive exhibits at Above Banff Interpretive Centre are so well done, my daughter Eve actually wanted to go through them.
We did the 10 minute walk up to Samson’s Peak and Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station – a National Historic Site of Canada. Who knew? Then the best part – feasting on the epic views and Canadiana cuisine served up at Sky Bistro.
The setting at Sky Bistro is awesome – all floor to ceiling panoramic windows looking onto the Bow Valley and Lake Louise parkway. I can heartily give a thumbs up to the kale salad served with warm lardons and a lemony vinaigrette. The truffle parm fries and steak sandwich were also winners. Expect menu changes depending on the season, but not to be disappointed.
Before heading back to Calgary, we made a pit stop at Lake Minnewanka. Every year I say I’m going to canoe and kayak in the mountains and it doesn’t happen. Not this year! Eve and I easily snagged a canoe rental and enjoyed a peaceful paddle along the lake. Weirdly, I felt suspended in time. Here I was doing something I see others doing all the time, but now it was my turn.
Returning home, I felt more refreshed than you can imagine. And I wasn’t even a bit miffed that for the foreseeable future, travel is out the window. Who cares if I can’t get to an ocean this summer when I have the beauty of the Canadian Rockies at my disposal.
When you live so close to a world class destination, you’ve got to take advantage of it. Sure the gondola and canoeing on one of Banff’s gem-hued lakes is touristy, but there’s a reason they’re famous. Too often we forget to experience what makes this area so special. And this summer, we have it all to ourselves! As a bonus, both the boat cruise and Banff Gondola are 30% off until the end of June.
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We plan on doing loads of camping with the kids!
We are sticking close to home this summer, due to a new baby and home renovations but would love to add a visit to the mountains!
I just got back from Canmore and would love to visit the mountains again this summer. The hikes are beautiful!
My family will be sticking closer to home though as I am a single mom and was laid off at the end of April. We will make the best of it and look for low cost alternative ways to have fun!
We would love to take our kids to Lake Ouise. Specially my oldest daughter who just arrived in Canada from Brazil! Its gonna be a special.Summer with all family together!
Followed farm and fire (@vancouverite111)
We plan on exploring our own “backyard” a little more and up the camping trips.
My plans are to do camping…if we can find any available camp sites!
We plan on doing a whole bunch of day trips with our kids. My kids have never seen the mountains before, so it will be exciting!
Taking our son on a cool adventure would be so nice. A great way to end off the summer!
What an amazing giveaway! Our plans include making the most of the downtime as a family – more hiking, biking, camping, exploring, and memory-making right here in our beautiful backyard.
Subscribed and followed on Facebook. 🙂
We are staying in Alberta this summer, exploring our beautiful province!
All our plans for summer are wipes off by COVID. Nothing planned for now. Would love a night away in beautiful banff just to recharge.
I plan on eing as much as Alberta as I can.
Wow, sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing! Summer plans: hanging around Alberta and celebrating my daughter’s 7th birthday. Will likely have lots of playground play dates this summer. Probably in August I’ll get busy trying to plan for the new school year and my new classes. Thanks for the chance to win- this would be amazing!
I’m looking forward to a week I have off in August…headed out camping with my husband and kids! We’re all very excited for it! 🙂
Summer plans are to camp, kayak and explore as much of this beautiful province as i can given the pause in life we’re enduring right now!
I plan on doing as much hiking and paddle boarding as possible
Hanging around…hopefully some day trips and hiking with the kids, but not in the budget this year to do much else!
Summer plans: camping and lakeside bbqs
Will hopefully be spending a lot of time exploring Alberta if time permits. Good luck everyone. Liked on Facebook and Instagram
I am not surprised that you said in your post that a lot of people haven’t gone up the Gondola since they were kids. I have but I really haven’t been to Banff much in the past few years because it ‘s ust so busy. I’m looking forward to reintroducing myself this year.
We are camping a lot with our four kiddos… getting outside as much as possible! ☺️
My plans are to experience as many places in Alberta as possible! Mostly camping and other outdoor adventures!
Just staying close to home exploring our beautiful country 🇨🇦
Lots of hiking – thanks for the generous contest & chance to win!!
My plans include hanging with my family! We are making the most of this unexpected but welcome time together! My husband and I are planning adventures and shenanigans for our 4 kids and ourselves in the mountains and closer to home ❤
My plan is to visit Banff with my hubby. I really want to go explore and go hiking! Thanks for the chance!
I followed on IG (@jollygirl555, liked your FB page and signed up for emails. Thanks
Camping, gardening, hiking and biking!
More road trips! First one planned this week.
I have no forseeable plans for the summer other then turning the big 40!! Thats a scary number but hoping to do something fun to celebrate.
Our plan is to be outside and try as kany new adventures as possible that are close to.home.
I’ll be exploring close to home! I booked our first ever visit to Waterton. (I also follow on Facebook and subscribe to the newsletter)
We’ll be camping and hiking in our backyard, we are so lucky to have the Rockies close by 😉
My Instagram account is Mathilde_yyc
We have a short local getaway planned! Liked and following both on Facebook and am subscribed to your newsletter.
I see myself staying close to home as we will not be able to travel and see family this year. Would be amazing to get out to Banff this summer as it is a amazing place to fine peace.
Summer fun starts next weekend! Family staycation at kananaskis booked. Pony rides, swimming, biking are among the activities my children are looking forward to. Camping booked for July and family photo shoot to update family photo wall. Yes, summer is not cancelled!
Plan on having lots of pool
And beach time with my sweet Granddaughters! Glamma time in the summer sunshine with my sweet girlies!! Would LOVE a night in Banff with my family!! 🥰💖🙏☀️🎉🥳👍👌✅🌟💙🥾🐻🐏🍀⛰🗻
Plans are to stay close to home, play outside, fix the yard… wash our hands.
I plan on doing lots of camping with my family!
This prize would be amazing. Our summer plans are quite different due to COVID, we were due to fly home to Ireland to get married but now those plans obviously have to change! This break away would be the perfect pick-me-up treat.
Plan on a little camping with the kids!
We plan on going to Stafford Lake as much as we can, since it’s only about 10 minutes from our place. Also, my wife and I have a tradition of doing a hike on our wedding anniversary every year (without kids!). This year it’s our 12th anniversary and it falls on a Saturday (Aug 15). It would be awesome to win this for a weekend getaway and do some hiking around Banff! Last year we stayed at the Northland Lodge in Waterton, which was amazing!
Definitely doing some One Tank Travel around Alberta this summer! Can’t wait to explore!
We’re probably staying at home, though we have family in Nelson, so we might pay them a visit.
Our summer plan is to travel around Alberta and BC.
We are camping around Alberta. We are hoping to try some new places and discover some new things to see. This would be fantastic to win!
Summer will be spent locally, taking care not to share C-19. Short daily road trips looking over the beauty of this province.
I would love to go with my family and visit banff. It would definitely be a relaxing family vacation. Especially my eldest son just graduated be a nice gift for him. The last time we visited Banff was 10 years a ago
We had plans…but the camps the children were gong to seem to not be an option for them. I would like to stay in Alberta – visiting family in Edmonton and a refreshing trip to the Rockies (from Waterton to Jasper). I follow on Fb and IG.
Our summer plans were cancelled so not we plan on just relaxing and hanging out at local places! A night in Banff would be great! Thank you!
This summer is my very first work term for my communications degree! With that, I’m hoping to go on more Southern Alberta weekend getaways – camping, the mountains, day trips around the back roads. Now is going to be the perfect time to explore our big backyard <3
Fishing and camping…we haven’t been making it as much in the years so the plan this year was to go out a minimum of 7 times
I followed on Instagram (@dremccrea), liked your Facebook page, and signed up for emails.
Packing up the RV heading to the mountains!
This summer I am hoping to fly home to Newfoundland – otherwise we will be camping 🙂
Camping all over, making the most out of this whole covid situation.
I just booked a photo tour in Banff so this would be amazing!
I follow your site on facebook. I am hoping to be able to take a trip to visit family in Saskatchewan when it is safe enough to do so. If not it will be staycation time!
We plan to go to Kelowna and travel in Canada this year.
We will be doing all the day trips we said we would do ‘one day’. Also we will be staycamping in our backyard. It will be a different summer than we are used to. We love pretending we are tourists so we will also do a bit of that.
We’re planning lots of day trips into K-Country and Banff Nat’l Park hiking and biking!
Following you on FB and Farm and Fire on IG (@mtngirl65)
Our plan is to take in the city and take walks in different neighborhoods, walk around the river, canoe on the bow river and do some fishing. We also plan to try all the food trucks around the city!
We were going to go to California, and then BC, but then decided to stay and explore this great province all summer!
Travelling Alberta ❤️
We love hiking in Alberta there are some of the most beautiful trails. We will however be spendings a week at Koocanusa in August as a family
Looking forward to a road trip this summer to C.town and see some of our besties, hit some Good eateries, plus a stop in Banff and of course #thehitchinpost in High River ⭐️ Hope to see you
Following Farm & Fire in instagram as @edmontonjb
I follow and like on you on facebook as Jonnie JB Hartling
Subscribed to your emails
We are planning a motorcycle road trip this summer and a stop over in Banff would be fun. Many, many years ago I worked in the gift shop at the top of Sulphur Mountain and I rode the gondola up every day. Such great memories there. follow as @muckymoo2 on IG
We plan on doing some fishing and spending more time in the backyard.
Planning to do a lot of hikes this summer, exploring much of Alberta and appreciate what we have
Plan to explore the mountains this summer… finding as many water falls as we can as a family. Sounds like Farm and Fire will be on our menu for the day. Thanks for exploring these unique places for us Jody!
I’ll be spending time in our beautiful Rocky Mountains this summer. ❤️
Omg this would be an amazing mini honeymoon after we get married in September!
More road trips in Alberta!
I plan on spending as much time outside as possible.
After spending the last several years in early retirement I have recently returned to the work force full time and so sadly will have no vacation time this summer. Lots of day trips or weekend camping will be on our list this summer.
I love Banff! Grew up doing family trips there and would love to take my kids there now!
Followed on Facebook, Instagram and subscribed to blog! Thank you
Our family will be camping all over Alberta this summer!
Folllowed all 5 steps. Plans for summer – undecided. What we have found common ground on – a Road trip – open road – windows down – Just to Relax & Breathe. Banff sounds like it fits the bill. Thanks The Urbans
Love Banff but never had a chance to stay there. Currently taking a lot of community walks.
This would be awesome to win for a little vacay for myself and my husband! We had to cancel most of our travel plans due to travel restrictionsso we are planning to spent as much time with the grandparents in AB as possible and do some day trips around AB <3
We have a few fun summer plans! We are going camping in Penticton and then doing a road trip to Invermere! We are hoping to stop in Banff so this would be an amazing prize to win! Thank you 🙂
Liked your page on Facebook (Andy Duncan) ❤️🤞
Following on Instagram (@andydunks85)
We hope to do an Alberta road trip this year.
Some camping and a lot of lake time!
Following on Instagram (@daddysask)
Liked and follow on Facebook
I am subscribed to your website
And subscribed to your newsletter emails
This summer we plan to explore the outdoors more and spend time with family.
Our family plans this summer are to explore more of Alberta! We love our province and frequently do day hikes, rent canoes on beautiful lakes, and explore new family friendly activities. We are a family in the go and can’t wait to see and explore more of Alberta this summer!
Camping in Kananaskis & Banff with 2 little kids. Would LOVE the chance to stay a night in that hotel !
That food looks amazing T.T
Ill be spending my summer touring the local food places around where I live.
We are planning on camping this summer. Only have 2 trips booked so far. Would love to go to Banff for a nice little get away!
Hoping to visit family in the mountains this prize would be a nice stop on the way.
We are planning a staycation we would love a trip to Banff the best place in Canada.
We plan to do a little camping this summer as well as a lotta backyard fun and fires ❤️
We plan to see more of Alberta via camping. We usually head fo BC so we’re excited to see more of AB!
Hoping to do some camping and want to head to the mountains this summer.
Started summer off today with a day trip to Canmore to stand up paddleboard. Expect we’ll be there a lot! Would love a chance to stay in Banff!!
We are camping a ton and plans to spend our 19 year anniversary in the mountains.Hiking, massages, drinking wine and eating good food…oh and no kids 😜
We are planning to go for hiking at banff with my family.Do bbq and hunt fir a wildlife.
I had plans to attend a conference in July in San Francisco, which I was really looking forward to, but it has obviously been cancelled due to covid. Having said that, I’m going to spend the summer exploring my own backyard here on Alberta, visiting with friends and family and attending a close friends wedding on August long weekend (safely).
Money is super tight this year so we will be staying close to home and doing day trips that are cost effective. Visiting family and friends that we can and other things to keep our 10yr old off of screens as much as possible. My hubby is physically and mentally restricted these days on what he can do/handle… he loves the mountains so we will try and get there as much as possible.
I am planning to explore more of all the beauties Alberta has to offer,
Exploring the cycling paths in Calgary and some hiking
We are sticking pretty close to home as we have a 1 year old. Our plans mostly involve working on the yard, and visiting parks and family & friends in the city.
Sticking close to home, maybe heading down to Grasslands NP. It’s so weird not traveling for work this summer, I don’t know what to do with myself?!?
Me and my husband plan to go to banff. He is still 1 year in Canada and never been in Banff. Love ❤️
Liked and following!! This would be amazing.!! Summer plans will be hopefully working. Maybe a trip to the lake or two.
We plan to do some day trips as well as over night trips to places we’ve never been and to go back to one’s we’ve seen but would love more time exploring
We’re planning to head to Banff and Canmore this summer for a few days. Out camp site
Booking was cancelled in Banff so need a great place to stay. This looks fantastic!
My summer plans are a staycation at home and exploring more of Alberta
We plan on doing day trips around Alberta and some cool hikes to places we’ve never been before.
We plan on doing day trips around Alberta and some cool hikes to places we’ve never been before.
Alberta staycations! We may check out Waterton (never been), Sylvan Lake, and hopefully Banff!
Staying in AB this summer…
Sticking in our home province of Alberta with some socially distanced hiking and camping in the mountains and around some lakes.
We plan to go exploring- camping, hiking, backpacking and canoeing. Can’t wait to get out and see more of our beautiful province!
Banff is such a magical place! Planning a weekend getaway this summer, would love to stay here!
This sounds so amazing. Would love to win this for my husband and I. This summer the plans so far is camping with friends in a few places, But for me this evening away from my teenagers would be appreciated.
Well I head back to work today after being off for 3.5 months due to covid. Now I don’t get a lot of summer vacation unfortunately but would LOVE to win and take a girlfriend on a girls trip for her bday or even take my son to the mountains as it’s all he talks about and he turns three in a month! 🙂
We are planning to take the kids to the mountains mid July, after our sundance ceremony is over! I hope the weather improves!
We are planning on sticking close to home,
Maybe a few day trips and it’s nice having the mountains so close.
Planning on staying around Alberta visiting parks close by
I’m gonna be trying to have the best possible time with this covid thang. Maybe hike a little , have a few staycations, work as a health care aide with ltc patients , do home Reno’s, go on lil Alberta road trips and make the best out of every day I got on this lil tiny planet we live on 🥰peace
Our plans for the summer are pretty boring… Working full-time and then going to see hubby/daddy every weekend (as it’s his busy season and he works away).
We have a camping booked at Tunnel Mountain in 2 weeks, and we are planning to go to celebrate my daughter’s 7th bday again at the mountains! I hipe we get lucky!!
I hope you do, too!
Staying home and working lots. Eat good food and be with family.