The heart of winter is a magical time in the Bow Valley. The pristine snow and pockets of powder on the mountains are a dream come true for skiers and snowboarders—but what if that’s not your thing? Fear not, there are still plenty of ways you can enjoy this spectacular season in Banff. So, lace up your boots and don your toques for a fun-filled winter getaway!
Here are 7 must-dos for non-skiers:
1. Head to a Mountaintop
Travelling with the family? The Banff Gondola has something for everyone. Take in the jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the ice-clad peaks around you from the top of Sulphur Mountain. Entertain and educate the little ones at the interpretive centre, take a walk to the famous Sanson’s Peak, or grab a bite to eat at Northern Lights or Sky Bistro. Warm up and relax with a soak in the Hot Springs before you head back into town.
2. Non-skiing Outdoor Adventures
The cold temperatures are no reason to stay inside. Stay active and explore the amazing backcountry scenery with a snowshoe tour or snowcat trip! Venture out to Canmore or Lake Louise for dogsledding in the snow, a great way to make some new furry friends! Sit back and enjoy the views of the stunning Canadian Rockies or take charge and learn to drive the sled.
3. Slopeside Thrills
Not a skier but looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping? Try tubing! This entertaining activity is a fantastic way to spend the afternoon with family or friends at Mount Norquay. Have a blast speeding down the slopes in an inflatable donut—no experience required. The thrills don’t stop when the sun sets, so if you haven’t got time during the day, Norquay lights up the chutes on Friday and Saturday nights.
4. A Skater's Dream
Strap on your skates and take in the natural beauty of the forest and mountains around you here in Banff on the ice—it's the stuff of a winter newbie's fantasy. You can ice-skate outdoors on frozen lakes at Vermillion Lakes, Two Jack lake, Johnson Lake, or in town at the high school rink. You can rent skates right next to the rink in town!
5. Get Cozy
After an afternoon of thrills, spend the evening relaxing on a horse-drawn wagon ride. Kick back under a cozy blanket and take in the stunning scenery as you glide through the snow and listen to your friendly guide tell stories about the area.
6. Keep Warm Indoors
Sometimes the weather is just too cold for some to be outside, but there’s still plenty of things to do indoors so you don’t have to risk frostbite! Take your family or friends bowling at High Rollers. Gather around the fireplace for some apres ski stories and drinks. Join winter events like gallery tours and live music shows at the Banff Centre. Or take in a film at the Lux Theatre.
7. Winter Shopping Spree
Coming before the holidays? Make the most of the festive season by wandering through the Banff Christmas Market at the Warner Stables for unique gifts and treats or visit one of the many charming cafes along Banff Avenue for a delicious locally brewed coffee or hot chocolate. Don’t forget: you can shop til you drop in any season! Browse your favourite mountain apparel stores, gift shops, unique jewellers and more along the quaint main street of Banff.