Things to do in Banff in winter – that don’t involve skiing

The very best things to do in Banff in winter and spring

Just taking the gondola up to Sunshine Village is an event in itself.

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

So many fireplaces, so little time… (Photo credit: Noel Hendrickson)

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.

outdoor hot tub Banff

Could this be the best outdoor hot tub in Banff? Quite possibly!

Go tobogganning

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.

ski resort hotel room

Loft style rooms are elegantly appointed and you get loads of perks when staying at Sunshine Mountain Lodge.

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.

ski resort beer gardens

Head outside Mad Trappers for the beer gardens and killer views of the stage.

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.

snowshoeing banff

Check out all that powder! You jump off (smallish) cliffs, too!

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.

larches lake louise

Nobody knows about the larches at Sunshine, but they’re just as spectacular as what you’ll find in Lake Louise.

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By |2019-01-17T18:57:06-06:00March 20th, 2018|Categories: Travel|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

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I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

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