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Banff conference- 2 days to sightsee

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Aug 13th, 2017, 04:24 AM
  #1
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Banff conference- 2 days to sightsee

I will be in Banff for a conference from 9/29-10/5/17 for a conference. I am arriving a few days early with my husband to explore a bit as this is likely to be the only time we will ever visit the Rockies. Can anyone suggest the "must sees" in the area? We are looking at the Banff Gondola on our arrival day, one day of full travel/ sightsee on Saturday ( drive to Lake Louise) and possibly some hiking on Sunday before the Monday conference start. After that, I am captive every day until 4:00pm, and would appreciate evening ideas and restaurant ideas! Appreciate the help! Fodorites have helped me plan some great trips!
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Aug 14th, 2017, 11:30 AM
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Have you booked your non-conference accommodation? If not, that needs to be your first priority.

The Banff gondola is nice, but pricey. It's general only worth the cost if the views are good - i.e. on a clear day. So either buy a ticket when you arrive or book online a day or two in advance once you have a better idea of the forecast.

For one full day, I would head to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. You may be lucky enough to hit peak time for the larches turning their spectacular yellow. Moraine Lake has very limited parking, so either arrive early or take the free shuttle. Then head to Lake Louise. There is a free bus from Banff to Lake Louise that connects to shuttles to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise (the lake itself).

For your other day/time, lot of options. Assuming you have a rental car, I would strongly suggest spending a day on the Icefields Parkway. One of the most scenic drives in the world. You can go as far as Peyto Lake for a shorter look see or up to the Columbia Icefields for a longer day. Great hiking there. Other options include Yoho NP (across the continental divide, so if weather is nasty in AB it can often be better there) - Takkakaw Falls, Emerald Lake etc. Also Johnston Canyon, which is between Banff and Lake Louise.

For evenings, lots of options. You could do an evening gondola - Banff, Sunshine Meadows or the gondola & dine at Lake Louise. Walk along the Bow River. Head to Canmore for dinner there and maybe a later afternoon walk/hike to Grassi Lakes. Cammore is less touristy than Banff with some great eats - Iron Goat, Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Georgetown Inn, CrazyWeed etc. Rent bikes and bike along the Bow River. Check out the Banff Springs Hotel and have a dinner at one of the restaurants there.

Not as familiar with dining options in Banff, but I like the St James Gate Pub. Park Distillery gets good reviews. The restaurant up at The Juniper Hotel has great views and is supposed to have good food. The Three Ravens at the Banff Centre gets excellent reviews - if your conference is there, the Three Ravens is in the same place as you'd be having lunch/breakfast.
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Aug 14th, 2017, 03:32 PM
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Thank you for the information. The conference is at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel....very pricey, so we are staying at the Moose Lodge in Banff for the whole week. Great ideas. If we drive to Lake Moraine early morning, can you recommend a breakfast/ lunch stop in Lake Louise?
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Aug 15th, 2017, 10:17 AM
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Breakfast options in Lake Louise would be Laggans or the Trailhead Cafe. Apparently the cafe has the better coffee, but I love the baked goods at Laggans.
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Aug 16th, 2017, 09:10 AM
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I really like kgsneds one day at Moraine Lake/Lake Louise the other up to Columbia Icefield. Laggans also has good breakfast sandwiches. Whichever you choose for breakfast don’t dawdle, take it to go and head straight for Moraine Lake. Last September we got there at 8:30 and were one of the last to be let in.

Moose is new and looks nice in a great location close to many restaurants. Our new favorite in Banff is the Bison, not cheap but worthy. Also like Ticino that is about a block from the Moose.
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Sep 9th, 2017, 03:58 PM
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Thank you for the advice/ ideas! Looking forward to our trip in three weeks!
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