Most people are not heading to Banff in Canada to be lazy. It’s an epic place with the chance to have outstanding adventures.
But sometimes, you want to chill the f*ck out.
This does not mean that you want to do nothing.
It just means when you’ve been on the move during your travels, sometimes you just want a day where you can have fun, without too much effort.
Save climbing the mountain for 6 hours to see alpine lakes for another day.
I think my natural setting is like a sloth. No hurry, no real agenda. I’d happily sit at a café for hours just people watching. And maybe slowly crawl across the street for a snack.
But I also LOVE adventures. I just have to remind myself sometimes…
Banff is a beautiful place in Alberta, Canada. The town is charming, with the Rocky Mountains winking at you down every street.
It’s also a great place to drink beer and eat food. So if you’re hungover you might want to be lazy. Or maybe your idea of a fun day is ONLY drinking beer. Also options.
For me, I still wanted to see some of the picturesque scenery and get to know the surrounding area of Banff a little better. Just you know… lazily.
So if you’re feeling tired or slothful, here are suggestions on how to have fun and not feel like you wasted a day in Banff. You can explore the national park tomorrow…
Visit Lake Minnewanka
This is only about a 10-15 minute drive outside of Banff, and is a beautiful lake with a stunning view of the Rockies. You don’t have to travel far to get that amazing photo you were hoping for.
There is a trail that takes you to Stewart Canyon. There is no elevation gain and you spend your time walking along the lake. Perfect for being lazy. It’s about a 40 minute walk round trip.
Or you could just sit on a bench and over look the lake. Bring a snack. Breath it all in.
If you’re feeling motivated:
There are plenty of other hikes in the area. You could continue past Stewart Canyon on the same trail to Alymer Lookout, but keep in mind this is about 7/8 hours round trip. Definitely not for sloths.
If you have a car (which you really should if you’re visiting Banff) then you can drive the Lake Minnewanka loop road. It’s lovely and scenic. No walking required. You’ll get to see Two Jake Lake on this drive. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a bear or some elk!
Head to Surprise Corner
You’ve probably seen those grand photos on a hotel nestled into the hills surrounded by trees. This is Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, not a Canadian castle. It’s still a functioning hotel, if you have a spare 800 dollars for the night. Yikes.
But it is absolutely beautiful. In addition, you are right by the Bow River that you can hear roaring below you. Surprise Corner is a on a blind corner with lots of traffic so make sure to take precaution crossing the road.
If you’re in downtown Banff, you can walk there easily. Take a few pictures and tell everyone you stayed at the hotel. I won’t tell.
If you’re feeling motivated:
There is a trail that leads you down to the river from the parking lot on Surprise Corner. You can walk along the trail by the river and cross the bridge to the other side for some better views of Bow Falls.
You can actual go inside the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, up to the first three floors. I went in there to pee just so I could say that I did. You can also head down from the hotel to Bow Falls to get up close and personal.
Ride the Banff Gondola
So this is not the cheapest activity, but definitely counts as a lazy activity. The gondola takes you to the top of Sulphur Mountain with a ridiculous 360 view of the Rockies.
You can see the town of Banff as well as Lake Minnewanka in the distance. It’s easy to see that a glacier has definitely carved one of the canyons out. One of the best vistas in the valley, without a doubt.
The walk to the viewpoint at the Cosmic Ray Station isn’t has bad as it looks, it’s only about 15 minutes or so once you’re at the top. Just a lot of stairs. Or just take the elevator to the top floor of the building, depending on how sloth-like you feel.
If you buy your tickets in advance, you can save 10%. There is also a free shuttle that runs from town in from May to September so you don’t have to worry about parking up there.
If you’re feeling motivated:
You can hike Sulphur Mountain to the complex at the top. It’s about a 3-hour hike to the top, over a series of switchbacks. BUT after 6pm, you can ride the gondola down for free! So you could hike up, and be lazy down. Split the difference.
There are two restaurants at the complex on top of Sulphur Mountain. If you combine your gondola ride with a meal, you get a pretty decent discount. I ate at the Northern Lights Café, and had a lovely prime rib dinner. If you’re feeling fancy there is also the Sky Bistro.
Additional Fun, Lazy Activities in Banff:
If that didn’t fill up a day for you, there are some other things you can do to pass the time peacefully.
- Wander the streets of Banff: There are lots of cool shops to peak into and plenty of places to stop for a cold beer.
- Visit Vermilion Lakes: This is also close to the city and has plenty of easy hikes in the area.
- Drive up Tunnel Mountain: Located in the center of Banff, you can get a great view from up here. It’s also possible to hike up it in about an hour and a half. There’s also a free bus that takes you down, which runs about every 30 minutes if you’re done with walking.
I was tired by the time I arrived, so this was a perfect way for me to visit the area and take some photos of beautiful things without a 3 hour car ride. Or hike.
That feeling like you a wasted a day sucks, so try to schedule a version of a lazy day into most of your trips. It helps keeps a nice pace to your trips.
And while Banff has incredible explorations awaiting you, it does not have to be an exception to that idea! Have fun AND be lazy 🙂
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