Best things to do in Banff in winter
Let’s face it, not everyone loves to ski. Even if your crew is pretty hard core, there’s going to be some days during your ski vacation you want off. Luckily, there’s a lot more to Sunshine Village than skiing. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Banff in winter or spring, look no further. Here are 10 fun activities to do on mountain that don’t require you to strap on skis or a snowboard.
Banff winter activities
Get a spa treatment in Banff
You’ve gotta love a ski resort that has a spa on-site. Verde Day Spa is actually my favourite spa in Canmore, and they have a location on mountain, too. Pop in for a facial or massage (several different types on tap) to get that lactic acid worked out, so you can slay the mountain again tomorrow.
Outdoor hot tub Banff
Philosophical question: If you don’t hit a hot tub after a day on the slopes, can it count as a ski day? The hot tub at Sunshine Mountain Lodge is massive. It’s super hot too, not one of those lukewarm tubs you get cold in after 10-minutes. Despite it being licensed (yes, they’ll serve you margaritas in here!) it’s also family friendly – especially on Wednesdays and Sundays when hot tub bingo is going down.
There’s more than one way to ride the mountain. If you think skiing and snowboarding is a rush, wait till you try sledding down Sunshine. Not just anyone can do this, though. You have to be staying overnight at Sunshine Mountain Lodge. The lodge has loads of guest activities that range from hot tub bingo(!) to movie nights to my favourite – tobogganing. Don’t forget your helmet and your ski goggles! Tobogganing takes place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Live music in Banff
You don’t need to go to a dingy, dark bar to hear live music.Sunshine’s spring concert series kicks off this upcoming weekend (March 24-25) and goes every weekend afternoon until May long. Situate yourself inside the Coors Light beer garden at Mad Trappers for the best ambiance.
Saddle up to a saloon
Mad Trappers is a legit rustic mountain cabin circa 1928. It’s kitted out like an original saloon with classic ski paraphernalia dotting the rough hewn walls. Head here for a game of pool and some mighty fine smoked meat. Around spring break, they start grilling burgers on the patio. Nothing beats sitting in the sun with a cold beer and burger after you’ve finished an epic run. Open till almost midnight, this is the place to party after all the day trippers have left.
Go to church on top of a mountain
Skier’s church takes place on Sundays from January 28th to March 25th, 2018. (There is an Easter service April 1, followed by an egg hunt.) The non-denominational church service begins at 10 a.m., at the top of Strawberry Chair.
Take a snowshoe tour at Sunshine Village
Snowshoe adventures at Sunshine are a hoot. You start at the Village, cross the Continental Divide, head into British Columbia’s Assiniboine Provincial Park, weave your way around some ethereal frozen lakes, before finally crossing back into ski territory. It takes about two hours to complete the circuit, and you’ll finish off with a decadent cheese fondue. For more deets, check out my experience snowshoeing Sunshine Village.
Straddle the Continental Divide
There’s not many places in Canada where you can ski in two provinces in one hour, let alone one day. A Continental Divide is a ridge that essentially separates which water basin flows into what ocean. On the B.C. side, the water drains into the Pacific Ocean, etc.. It’s a significant geological feature, easily accessible from Angel, Great Divide and Standish chairlifts. You’ll feel on top of the world riding or hiking over it.
Cozy up inside a cafe
As a writer, I know all too well how some days the muse just isn’t with you. The easiest way to tap into creativity is to get inspired by something. Something like, say, the Rockies. Java Lift Coffee Bar is located inside Sunshine Mountain Lodge and serves Starbucks coffee, plus baked goods. The coffee shop is filled with light and all views are framed by the mountains. Writer’s block banished!
Sunshine Meadows hike
When Lonely Planet gives a shout out to a hike AND says it’s the best in Canada, you know it’s going to be great. There are several different routes around Sunshine Meadows, and non are too intense. It’s the perfect hike for families with young children. You’ll be rewarded with wildflowers, sweeping views of the Rockies and in fall, the intense yellow and lime green hues of the larch trees are on full display. Check out my post on hiking Sunshine Meadows here.