Its' brilliantly aquamarine glacial lakes and the majestic Canadian Rockies are plenty enough reason, but add in wildlife (elk, deer and bears, oh my!), mouthwatering food (hello, Alberta beef!), top-notch pampering, and more, and Banff should top everyone's wanderlust list. -- Karen Kwan
Stay: Closer to Lake Louise than the town of Banff, Baker Creek Mountain Resort is an ideal remote retreat where you can disconnect if you wish and enjoy some quiet time, as it is TV- and phone-less (but the property does offer Wi-Fi, so there's no need to hit the panic button if the idea of a social media detox makes you queasy). Keep your chalet's balcony door open for the fresh mountain air and to hear the comforting sound of the water rushing by, and, obviously the view of the Rockies and creek itself. Inside the charming red-roofed cabins, you'll find Pendleton blankets and a fireplace to keep you cozy in the spacious rooms. Baker Creek Charles P.O. Box 66, Lake Louise, AB, www.bakercreek.com
Savour: If eating local is on your travel agenda, you can't leave without eating some Alberta beef. The espresso salt rib eye at Baker Creek Bistro is your carnivorous dream come true (cooked perfectly to medium-rare as we requested and served with grilled veggies), and the soup of the day (cream of asparagus the night we dined) is a comforting, delectable warm-up on a chilly evening. Vegetarians, don't fret: your needs will be beyond satisfied at Nourish Bistro. This quaint resto, a favourite amongst all of the locals we spoke to, is right in the town of Banff and serves some of the best smoothies we've ever sipped (go for the Kombucha Colada), and their very popular 420 burger is a flavourful, hefty, juicy patty that had even the meatarians amongst us drooling. 110 211 Bear Street Box 1525 Banff, AB, www.nourishbistro.com
Spa: While there is the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs, for a modern spa oasis right in town, escape to Cedar & Sage. After a chat about what you're seeking out of your treatment and about your personal history (even about your physical pursuits throughout your life), your therapist, should you wish, will perform the ancient art of smudging, a ritual that will help clear your energy field and promote healing. And with "Serenity now!" as your mantra, you'll want to schedule some time to kick back in the spa's stunning lounge after your treatment. 220 Bear St., Banff, AB, www.banffsholisticlounge.com
Sweat: The views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, lush forests and glacial lakes so vivid they'll look photoshopped in your pictures, make going for hikes a must. At Lake Louise, pop by the concierge at Fairmont Lake Louise for a map of the trails, which range from a couple of hours to four or more. Drive about 13 kilometres from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, which you may recognize from an old ten-dollar bill. With the ten peaks serving as a backdrop to the lake, it's a scene right out of a fairytale and a spot that many consider more beautiful than the more heavily visited Lake Louise. Book a stay at the Lake Moraine Lodge where they offer daily morning hikes with a naturalist, during which you'll learn about the flora, fauna and glaciers. Tip: Bears do live in these forests; make noise while hiking so as to not startle them.
Sip: What better reward after hiking steadily uphill from Lake Louise to an elevation gain of 1,300 feet for 90 minutes than the darling tea house at Lake Agnes? Bring cash as the cheerful staff who live nearby in the woods don't have electricity at the tea house to run debit or credit machines. A spot of tea and some of their fresh-baked goods such as chocolate chip cookies or apple crumble will help replenish your spirits for the hike back down. Historical romance types, stop into The Station for an Old Fashioned and you'll feel as though you've been transported back in time at this restaurant that was built in 1910, complete with leaded glass windows and original hardwood floors. 200 Sentinel Road, Lake Louise, AB, www.lakelouisestation.com
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