Banff is one of the dreamiest places I have ever visited. There is literal 360 degree views everywhere you go. The mountains have an indescribable beauty, my husband, the kids and I all walked around in awe of all the sites. After visiting for three days and exploring as much as possible we’ve put together some fun activities and things to do in Banff with kids.
Travelling with kids isn’t always what it looks like in photos. It has it’s ups and downs and you sort out each child’s daily needs and emotions, but literally nothing is better then the look on their faces when you arrive at your destination and saw them explore and learn a new place in Canada.
We cannot wait to go back! As we were leaving we were talking about how we could have easily spend a week exploring Banff, there are so many great trails and Banff Family Tours that we would have loved to explore with a few more days.
Use the list of fun things to do in Banff with kids as a guide to lead your holiday. I hope your family trip is filled with as much joy as ours. Also make sure you have lots of space on your devices to take photos, because everywhere you go is beyond picturesque.
Note: During COVID-19 the city of Banff requires mask wearing within everyone business store-front, Banff hotels, during tours and while not able to social distance.
15 Things to do in Banff with kids / Quick Links & Locations
- Open Top Tours: view website
- Banff Gondola: view website
- Bow Falls Trail: Trail begins at the corner of Banff Ave. and Buffalo St.
- Banff Candy Store: 126 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
- Lake Minnewanka Cruise: view website
- Two Jack Lake Trail & Johnson Lake: Take the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Route Loop to explore
- Magpie and Stump: 203 Caribou St, Banff, AB
- High Rollers: Downtown Banff Ave
- Evelyn’s Coffee Word: 215 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
- Cascade of Time Gardens: Cave Ave, Banff, AB
- Mount Royal Hotel Rooftop Pool: view website
- Banff Upper Hot Springs: view website
- Horse Carriage Ride: Downtown Banff Ave.
- Banff Pedestrian Bridge: South of downtown Banff just off the Bow River Trail leading to Glen Ave.
- Beaver Tails or Cows Icecream: Downtown Banff Ave.
Travel Photo Tip: Want to master taking your own Family Photos while travelling?
The majority of these images were taken from a small handheld tripod and a bluetooth clicker. It was game changing this trip, I would highly reccomend if you also love capturing your travels like I do. You can find them on Amazon here.
Use this list for quick resource links and locations. See below for our experience, personal highlights and/or tips from each of the Banff family tours, outdoor activities or local business feature.
Things to do in Banff with Kids
Open Top Tours: This is Banff’s newest attraction, one that will be sure to keep the kids smiling and everyone on board engaged for the ride. Learn about the history of Banff while driving around the city and mountains with the top down and wind in your hair. My kids keep saying “raise the roof” which was an interactive communication on the tour that meant the bus was stopped and everyone can stand up to see the views. Easily one of the best Banff family tours out there.
Learn more about our experience in this blog post.
Banff Gondola: You know when you know something is going to be amazing and then you go and it blows your already high expectation out of the water?! That was the Banff Gondola, 10/10 would recommend while in Banff. It was such a perfect day of exploring and taking in the gorgeous 360 degree views of Banff and it’s surrounding mountains.
Our Banff Gondola experience blog post coming soon.
Bow River Falls Trail: We stayed right downtown Banff at Mount Royal Hotel and loved how central it was to many of Banff’s attractions. The trail head starts just a few blocks from the hotel, at the south base pedestrian bridge, you can follow a 2.5 km easy walking trail that leads to bow river falls and a calm meander in the river that was great for skipping rocks at the bottom.
Downtown Candy Store: When I shared that we were travelling Banff on my Instagram stories I had a few people message me and say that we had to visit one of the town’s Candy Stores.
Right by Mount Royal Hotel is ‘Banff Candy Store’ and I let the kids pick out a few items. They have literally everything in there, my husband and I made a comment that we should bought more of their salted caramel chocolates for the drive home. Drool worthy.
Lake Minnewanka Cruise: Plan a day to take the Lake Minnewanka Scenic drive and make a long stop at Lake Minnewanka, they have canoes and kayaks on board or you can schedule a boat cruise along the lake and learn about the town underwater and the Minnewanka Lake creature. The kids were captivated by the stories and we all loved hopping in the back of the boat to capture photos of the surreal views.
There’s also a bridge not far from where we hopped on our boat cruise that you can walk to, this bridge has become popular as Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum had a kissing scene here in the 1954 movie, ‘River Of No Return’.
Learn more about Lake Minnewanka here.
Two Jack Lake Trail & Johnson Lake: Another great walking/hiking trail for beginners is around Two Jack Lake. Don’t want to hike? Take the Lake Minnewanka scenic route loop and you will stumble upon Two Jack Lake. It’s a quiet little late between the mountains, great for camping, a lunch spot or catching the sunset.
We didn’t get to explore Johnson Lake but I wish we would have driven up to see while we did the Lake Minnewanka scenic route. It’s a few minutes from Two Jack lake and Lake Minnewanka. Would be a fun way to spend the day by lake hopping along the scenic route.
Magpie and Stump: This Mexican restaurant was beyond good. Our guide from Open Top Tours recommended it to us as a great place to go and we were so happy we checked it out. They have both seating downstairs inside as well as a rooftop patio above.
High Rollers: Also a very popular spot that was recommended to us by other people that have travelled to Banff and locals. This bowling alley / pizza joint is a popular one. We called in the afternoon on the evening that we were hoping to go and unfortunately couldn’t get a reservation. Note to self: book early!
Evelyn’s Coffee World: We enjoyed a hot coffee from a different Banff coffee shop each day and my husband voted Evelyn’s Coffee World as the best coffee of the weekend.
He woke up early one morning and took our daughter, Evelyn, out for some baked goods and a coffee while the rest of us caught some more z’s — when they came back the smell of baked goods filled our room and had us craving more. Evelyn continued to call this spot “her coffee place” for the rest of our time in Banff.
Cascade of Time Garden: On the south side of Banff Ave, just over the Banff Ave bridge you will be lead to the Cascade of Time Gardens. These were absolutely breathtaking. It’s a short walk from downtown Banff and didn’t cost anything to enter and explore.
We took in the beautiful architecture as well as the beautiful garden views with the flowers in full bloom and brings so much colour and beauty.
Great for families as they provided colouring and had kids menus for the kids to choose from. All of us left with our bellies so full and even had some leftovers to enjoy the next day.
Mount Royal Hotel Rooftop Hottub: Unfortunately these were closed while we visited but if you look at the images online from the hotel website it looks absolutely stunning and the perfect way to finish off a day. You must be a hotel guest to use, and we would highly recommend as a great place to stay while visiting.
Upper Banff Hot Springs: This was one of the most recommended things to do when I ask my followers on Instagram what they loved doing in Banff. Unfortunately also closed during our visit due to COVID, but we hope that the next time we visit we will be able to explore the Banff Hot Springs and it was so highly suggested to us.
Horse Carriage Ride: Every time we walked downtown Banff we saw a horse in carriage ride in progress. There was a sign along the side of the road where you can schedule a ride. Our kids were begging us to go, though we never managed to squeeze it in the schedule I am sure it would have been a ride to remember.
Banff Pedestrian Bridge: We crossed this pedestrian bridge on our way to Bow River Falls, following the Bow Falls Trail. I loved the rainbow walkway leading to the pedestrian bridge. A great spot to take some photos as well as explore beneath the bridge at the waters edge.
Beaver Tails or Cows Icecream: Late night snack? Beaver Tails is what we hit up for our late night cravings, though Cows was also very tempting (and a little more afforable if you are just getting icecream).
I’m not a big sweets person but my husband got the Chocolate Brownie beaver tail and it was hard to only have a few bites, sooo good!
More Suggestions: Share your favourite family things to do in Banff below
I love hearing from you, comment below some of your top family things to do in Banff to share with others who are about to adventure there.
We were blown away by Banff’s beauty, the numerous trails and lakes to explore as well as the adorable town and everything it has to offer. Happy travelling.