The signs are beginning to appear: a brisk wind in the evening that makes you wish you had brought a sweater; the sun, setting ever so slightly earlier each night; and Labor Day, peeking around the corner...summer is coming to an end and we want one last getaway before the winter is upon us!!!! Where to go? Banff in Alberta, Canada of course!
Banff is best known for being a resort town, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and soothing natural hot springs. It is one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations and it's easy to see why. In the winter, ski resorts abound, in the spring, summer & fall hiking and biking trails are plentiful and all year round the downtown village is bursting with shops, restaurants and bars that will satisfy any hungry adventurer's palate.
Banff is also home to the well known Banff Television Festival, Banff Mountain Film Festival, Rocky Mountain Music Festival and Bike Fest. The national park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1985 and is only an hour and a half drive from Calgary.
I had the pleasure of visiting recently and Lake Louise was one of my favorite spots, with it's turquoise blue water and majestic mountain views. Even in August, you are able to see snow and ice at the top of some of the surrounding mountains. But don't worry, in the summer time the temperatures are balmy in the mornings and evenings and warm in the afternoon. Just bring a sweater if you're worried about an unexpected chill. In the winter, temperatures can drop as low as 8 degrees Fahrenheit, but no matter! Just bring your winter clothes and enjoy the views from your chalet after a day spent in the snow.
Lodging is abundant but if the prices in Banff are a little too high for your liking, try Canmore, a small town 15 minutes outside of Banff National Park, equipped with it's own charm and plentiful chalets. If you get tired of the grand outdoors (which I don't think you will) or just need a change of pace, you can head east to Calgary and check out the Olympic Park (home to the 1988 winter Olympics...you can ride the luge and bobsled!) or take the kids to Heritage Park Historical Village, a living history 'museum' where you can ride a steam train and learn about Western Canada's iconic past. It's great for adults as well, with an amazing antique car museum, a town square and enough exploring to last the whole day.
So if you're looking for a September escape from the city or just need a little nature to soothe your soul, you are sure to find it in Banff, no matter what time of year you go.