Banff In The Winter – A Ski Town For Everyone

Main street in Banff in the winter

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Many, many moons ago we headed north to Canada. Here’s a look back at our time in Banff. Waking up refreshed and excited for the new day, I immediately checked out the snow report to see how Lake Louise was doing. No new snow and none in the forecast. Since there was no powder to be had, it was time to pamper ourselves. We had to see what there’s to do in Banff in the winter. Up first, one of the most famous hot springs in the region.

A Great Place To Rest And Relax

Banff Upper Hot Springs Entrance during winter
Entrance to the Banff Upper Hot Springs – Photo By: Local Freshies

We threw our swim trunks into the truck and headed to the famous Upper Hot Springs in Banff.  Words can’t begin to describe how extremely beautiful the drive from Lake Louise to Banff is. The Canadian Rockies line the route on both sides. Each peak had a unique profile and different size. I’ve never seen anything like it. The view was a treat in and of itself. Exiting Canadian Route 1. We ascended a small road hitting a few switch backs finally arriving at the Upper Hot Springs.

Beautiful Scenery, Soothing Minerals… Nothing Else Matters

Banff Upper Hot Springs overlooking the Canadian Rockies in the winter
The Banff Hot Springs overlooking the Canadian Rockies

Carved into the side of the mountain the hot springs overlook Banff and the Canadian Rockies. The beautiful scenery and soothing minerals in the water take away all your stress and worries. Nothing matters except the here and now. As I was chillin’ in the pool, I sparked up a convo with the pool crew and got the scoop about the hot springs. Every night they remove the water and clean them top to bottom. Since I like things clean it was impressive to know that these hot springs are so fresh and so clean! If this is what Banff in the winter is like. For only $7.30 Canadian it’s definitely something to check out. After a long relaxing day in the healing waters of the Canadian Rockies, I had worked up an appetite. It was time to grab a bite to eat.

Late Lunch at Bear Street Tavern

Exterior of Bear Street Tavern in Banff Alberta
The Bear Street Tavern and Grill a great place for pizza and Mac n Cheese

Just down the road from the hot springs is the town of Banff. It’s a cool ski-town to stay in if you’re skiing or riding Lake Louise, Mt Norquay, or Sunshine Village. There are a TON of places to eat, drink, and get your groove on. So, we were hungry, but where to go? The best way to figure out is by talking to the locals. After getting input from some folks in town, our minds were made up. Lunch at Bear Street Tavern. This place has been on “You Gotta Eat Here” which is the Canadian version of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. From the outside it seems unassuming with a small sign inviting you to step inside. Upon entering, the restaurant is narrow and cozy making you feel at home. 

Typical Sounding, But Not Typical Tasting

Saddling up to the bar we ordered a pizza and mac n cheese. I know what you are thinking…it sounds like typical bar food. Oh boy are you in for a surprise! The pizza comes out and it’s topped with homemade bison donair as well as the rest of the ingredients found in a donair. What’s a donair? It’s like the Canadian version of a gyro.

When In Canada… Eat It Like A Canadian

 

How to eat a pizza Canadian style. Honey and Chilli-infused oil.
How to eat a pizza Canadian style. Honey and Chilli-infused oil.

Next the server asks, “You want to eat it like a Canadian?” Like they always say when in Rome… He whips out some honey and makes a circle on the dish. Then the honey circle is filled with chili infused oil! Lastly and most importantly he gives on final instruction…”Dip your pizza!” It’s nothing like you’ve ever tasted! The oil adds an extra spiciness and the honey finishes the bite with a hint of sweet. Fantastic!

Not Your Normal Mac n’ Cheese

Next, the mac n cheese is waiting. It’s a cheesy adventure filled with roasted cauliflower, smoked pork belly, and topped with breadcrumbs. The cauliflower adds a whole new crunchy element that is unexpected. The scrumptious piece of smoked pork belly provides the salty element and makes the dish. Bread crumbs coat the cheese giving it a slightly gritty texture that is shockingly enjoyable. Along with the meal, we had a couple local beers and even met a new friend.

Rude Boys (and Rude Girls)

Rude Boyz skate and snowboard shop in Banff.
Rude Boys skate and snowboard shop in Banff.

To help digest such an amazing meal, it’s time to take a walk around Banff in the winter. Just off the main street is a shop called Rude Boys Snowboard and Skateboard Shop. They have it all!!! Every inch of the shop is filled with boards, boots, clothes, and anything else that a shredder needs to get the goods whether at resort or in the backcountry. Then, there they were. In one corner was something that is extremely rare in the states, the DVS – Mark Frank Montoyas! Okay, I’ll have to admit. I have a little bit of a shoe fetish. Over 10 years chasing this ‘white whale’ and I finally found them…here in Banff, Alberta. WOW! Now you know Local Freshies only buys local, so I bought them on the spot. If you need gear when in town swing by or go check them out online. They rawk!

After a nice long day of relaxation it was go time. It was time to step on the “Bolts” also known as riding cleanly, and ride Lake Louise.

Next, we take on Lake Louise Ski Resort! The Powder Highway Adventures continue…

Entrance to Lake Louise in a winter's day

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