Fall is the ultimate time to visit Banff and Lake Louise, located in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. It’s a magical time of year when the larch trees in the area turn golden yellow and the days are still bright and sunny. Not only does the shoulder season offer stunning scenery, fewer crowds and discounted rates, but also tons to see and do, with a culinary festival and a film and book festival taking place in late October-early November.
Start your visit in the spirited Town of Banff, located in Banff National Park and surrounded by the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Grab a deluxe hot chocolate and maple pastry from BeaverTails, located on Banff Avenue, the main thoroughfare. Spend some time exploring the unique, mountain-inspired boutiques and shops and pick up some souvenirs. Then, head over to the Banff Gondola where you can soar to the top of Sulphur Mountain and take in a bird's-eye view of six mountain ranges. When you reach the peak, you can stroll along the Sulphur Mountain boardwalk and see a Cosmic Ray Station, a National Historic Site of Canada, constructed in 1956 to study cosmic rays. See if you can spot local wildlife like bighorn sheep, ground squirrels, marmots and the Canada grey jay.
After a busy day of exploring, stop to refuel at the annual Taste for Adventure festival. This 16-day culinary celebration of food and drink runs from October 25 to November 9 and offers special culinary experiences and appetizing events with locally-inspired food. There are dine and stay packages catered for guests who want to enjoy a few days sampling the signature menus prepared by some of Canada’s premier chefs. Offerings include unique menu items such as roasted whiskey bone marrow, Brant Lake Wagyu and elk tartare. Once in Banff or Lake Louise, grab a copy of the brochure for Taste for Adventure and check off the lunch and dinner spots as you go.
Coinciding with Taste for Adventure is the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, another favorite fall event, taking place from October 28 to November 5 in Banff. The event features authors, adventurers, photographers and filmmakers from around the world talking about their latest projects in film and literature. There will also be film premieres and arts and crafts sales. This festival has a rich history which stretches back to 1976, and is hosted at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, a world-class destination that caters to mountain culture.
Once filled with the sights and tastes of Banff, head 40 minutes west to Lake Louise, a charming hamlet in Banff National Park, known for its namesake turquoise, glacier-fed lake and the iconic Chateau Lake Louise. This luxury hotel and UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in 1911, is nestled just beside the lake. Rent a canoe and paddle on the still blue-green waters towards the peaks of the Victoria Glacier. Tie on your hiking boots and crunch through foliage as you climb a well-maintained trail to Lake Agnes. At the top, you’ll be greeted by a quaint European-style tea house where you can sip specialty tea and nibble banana bread as you take in the yellow trees dotting the shore of the lake. After a busy day of mountain adventures, head to the Spa at Chateau Lake Louise where you can enjoy more than 20 treatments, including a foot massage, body scrub or facial.
Book your event tickets and hotel packages at: https://www.banfflakelouise.com/TasteForAdventure
Calgary, Alberta is the closest major city to Banff and Lake Louise. A flight from Seattle to Calgary is about an hour and 45 minutes. Once you arrive at the Calgary airport, you can rent a car or take a shuttle west to Banff on the TransCanada Highway, which takes about an hour and a half. From the Town of Banff, Lake Louise is an additional 40 minutes west.
A number of dine and stay packages are offered in conjunction with Taste for Adventure. The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is also offering special rates from $139/night if you mention you are attending the festival.