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20 Fun Things to do in Banff When it Rains

20 Fun Things to do in Banff When it Rains

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As anyone who’s been to Banff before will tell you, the pictures and videos you see online just don’t do it justice! It really is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada. From rock climbing to horseback riding, many of the best things to do in Banff involve adventuring outside and enjoying the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains while you’re at it!

That being said, chances are you will encounter a rainy day or two during your visit to Banff. The city gets around 160 days of rain per year, with June being the rainiest month.

So what are you supposed to do when the weather decides to rain on your parade?

Well, you’re in luck, as there are still plenty of fun things to do in Banff when it rains! From checking out museums to hitting the breweries, rainy days help to open up a whole new world of indoor exploration.

We’ve had our fair share of rainy days while staying in Banff, so we’ve put together this list of the 20 best things to do when heading outdoors doesn’t seem quite so appealing!

Things to do in Banff when it’s Raining

1. Take a dip in the Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs
Perfect on a cloudy day in banff!

If you’ve ever been outdoors in a swimming pool when it’s raining, chances are you didn’t mind it all that much! Now, turn that swimming pool into a beautiful hot spring that’s keeping you toasty and warm, and I’m sure you’ll mind that rain even less.

Alberta actually has quite a few hot springs, and one of our favorites has to be the Banff Upper Hot Springs. You’ll find the springs about a 10-minute drive south of town, just past the Rimrock Resort Hotel.

The upside to visiting the Banff Hot Springs in the rain is that they will be a lot less busy. As one of the top attractions in Banff, the hot springs are almost always packed when it’s sunny out. But in the rain, most people prefer to stay home or stick to town, so you’ll likely have hardly any people around – a way better experience if you ask me!

Relaxing in the mineral-rich water is one of our favorite ways to spend an hour or two. But any longer than that, and you’ll come out looking like a bit of a prune, even if you are a happy prune!

Entrance to the hot pools is $16.50 CAD and includes your locker – so not a bad price for such a memorable experience. We do suggest bringing your own towel, or you can rent one there for $2 CAD.

Closures: The Banff Upper Hot Springs closes annually in mid to late October for cleaning for one week. Be sure to check their website for the exact dates each year especially if you’re visiting Banff in the Fall.

2. Visit the Sally Borden Recreation Centre

indoor rock climbing in Banff
Indoor rock climbing is the perfect rainy-day activity in Banff! Photo Credit: Sally Borden Recreation Centre

Fancy relaxing indoors instead? Well, we’ve got the answer for you! At the Sally Borden Recreation Centre in Banff, you can swim indoors in their 25 m (82 ft) pool, relax in the hot tub, or unwind in the steam room.

If you’re missing your fitness routine from back home, then you can also work out at their fitness studio, which is fully equipped with free weights, cardio and weight machines, and there’s even an indoor running track.

Besides swimming and working up a sweat in the fitness studio, you’ll also find a super fun climbing gym here, which, if you’ve never tried indoor climbing before, is actually such a cool way to challenge yourself. This is also Banff’s only indoor climbing gym, so this is a great opportunity to give it a try.

You’ll find locals and tourists of all experience levels testing their skills climbing the rock walls here. They also have auto-belays here, which helps to keep your rope tight as you climb the wall, meaning you can climb solo without any worries.

A day pass here costs $20 CAD per person, and there are also discounted rates for kids (4-15) and seniors (60+) at $16 CAD.

If you’re feeling peckish after all that climbing (or time in the hot tub!), there are also two restaurants currently open at the center, the Maclab Bistro and the Vistas Dining Room. With so much to do packed into one building, we could honestly be here all day!

3. Go bowling

Bailey bowls at High Rollers in Banff
This is such a fun bowling alley!
bailey with a beer at High Rollers in Banff
What’s bowling without beer?

Did you know there’s bowling in Banff? Well, there is! And it is actually better than even your “normal” bowling alley since there’s also a bar and pizza restaurant on-site too. It’s no wonder it’s one of the best things to do in downtown Banff!

High Rollers Banff is located right on Banff Ave and their motto is “Pins. Pints. Pizza.” I mean, what more could you really ask for? They have six bowling lanes, a huge bar offering 48 different craft beers on tap, 3 pool tables, and serve the biggest pizza slices you’ll find in Banff.

It should come as no surprise that this place gets busy – especially when it’s raining in Banff. In fact, the bowling lanes are almost always booked in advance, so be sure to book yours too.

The price for hiring a lane out does depend on the day you go, either $55 CAD per hour on Saturdays or $49 CAD on all other days (for a group of up to 8 people). Bowling shoes are required and if you don’t have your own, you can rent them for $6 CAD per person. Sometimes, especially during the week, they also have discounted prices on bowling, food, and drinks.

4. Ride the Banff Gondola

Banff gondola building and boardwalk on a early spring day with lots of snow
The top of the Banff Gondola
the gondola at banff gondola
You’ll be protected from the rain in the gondola.

Who said that the rain has to stop you from getting some of the best views in Banff?

Riding to the top of Sulphur Mountain on the famous Banff Gondola, you get an undeniably awesome view of Banff town and the surrounding mountains. Seriously, it’s a 360-degree view that gets better every time we go!

Taking the gondola is by far the easiest way to get to the top, and the 10-minute ride up the side of the mountain will give your legs a well-needed rest! The best part is that each gondola cart is enclosed, so you will be completely sheltered from the rain.

Once you get to the top, you can enjoy the views inside from the various viewing areas. If you do dare to brave the weather, then you can head outside and explore our favorite area at the summit, Sanson’s Peak boardwalk. You get some seriously amazing views from the boardwalk, which stretches about 600 m (1,969 ft) across the summit.

There’s also a huge indoor complex at the top of the gondola, with its very own restaurant, the Sky Bistro! For some amazing coffee, check out Castle Mountain Coffee, which has some awesome views of its own too.

Inside the complex, you’ll also find the Banff Interpretive Centre, with tons of fun adventures for the whole family, as well as the Above Banff Theatre, which you have free entry to with your gondola ticket! All of these activities are indoors, so they’re the perfect things to do in Banff when it’s raining.

Keep in mind, that sometimes when it’s raining the view may be interrupted by clouds. But other times, you might even be above the clouds and experience little to no rain at all.

We recommend purchasing your Banff Gondola ticket online – we personally like to book through Viator as the price includes all taxes and fees. Plus if the weather isn’t good and the gondola can’t operate you will be provided with a refund or rebooked.

Tickets for the gondola change depending on demand. So to get the best price we recommend booking as far in advance as possible and aiming to go on a weekday. The cost is $59-$72 CAD for adults (16+) and $37-$45 CAD for kids (6-15).

The Banff Gondola hours of operation change seasonally, so it’s a good idea to check their updated hours here before you go.

Related read: One of my favorite times to head up Sulphur Mountain is during fall in Banff!

5. Wander Banff Ave and shop til’ you drop

Walking around Banff in december
Banff Ave!

Banff Ave is full of so many amazing stores that you’ll barely feel the rain as you bounce from shop to shop! I love walking down this street, come rain or shine – it’s one of my favorite places to eat, drink, and shop in Banff.

Sometimes the rain can get us down, but you know what never fails to lift us up? Ice cream! One of my favorite stops for ice cream in Banff is COWS, whose sweet treats are to die for. I mean, how can you not smile when you see sprinkles on your ice cream cone?

If you love souvenir shops, then you’ll be in heaven on Banff Ave. There are so many that it’s hard to count. You’ll most likely find me in one searching for cute little knickknacks – I love my “bear paw” shorts! I wear them everywhere. You can also buy cool mugs, shirts, and jewelry.

For the soap lovers out there (raise your hands!), you’ll want to head over to Rocky Mountain Soap Company for the best soaps in the Rockies. Seriously, the smells in here will blow you away.

These are just a few places, but there really are tons more. Just walk Banff Ave and enjoy the atmosphere with a little retail therapy in the rain!

Related Read: Along Banff Ave you’ll find a few of the best cafes in Banff – stop in for a coffee!

5. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway

Bailey at Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway
Morant’s Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway
A car drives along the Bow Valley Parkway
Views from the road on the Bow Valley Parkway

Don’t let a rainy day in Banff get you down. Jump in your car and go on a little road trip to Lake Louise! The lake is about an hour’s drive from Banff, so it is totally possible that it might not even be raining there when you arrive. And if it is, well, no worries, there are lots of things to do in Lake Louise in the rain too.

There are actually two different ways you can get to Lake Louise from Banff. You can either take the Trans Canada Highway straight there or, (and our personal favorite) drive the Bow Valley Parkway!

This incredibly scenic route runs pretty much parallel to the highway, but the sights you see on this route are like nothing else. The 50 km (31 mi) parkway takes around 1 hour to drive without stopping, but to see some of the best sights, we’d allow half a day. 

Some of the best places to check out on the Bow Valley Parkway include:

Castle Mountain Viewpoint

There’s no shortage of beautiful stop-off points along the Bow Valley Parkway, and the Castle Mountain Viewpoint is among the best of the best! You can stop off by the roadside viewpoint for beautiful unobstructed views of Castle Mountain – in fact, you don’t even need to really get out of your car once you’ve pulled over here. A win-win when it’s raining!

Morant’s Curve

Morant’s Curve is another stunning viewpoint in Bow Valley where the train occasionally passes through the valley. It’s captured the hearts of many photographers and travelers – you may have even seen pictures from here online! There’s no schedule for how often the trains pass through, but one tends to pass through every hour or so.

Moose Meadows 

Despite its name, there aren’t many moose that call Moose Meadows home nowadays. Even so, it’s a great place to stop and enjoy some time in nature, and it’s also super scenic in the summer when the wildflowers are blooming!

Note: To drive down the Bow Valley Parkway, you’ll need a one-day park pass (the same pass required in Banff), which costs $10.50 CAD per adult or $21 CAD per family. You can also grab a Discovery Pass, which lasts the entire year and gives you access to over 80 destinations across Canada!

There will also be some closures to vehicle traffic on sections of the Bow Valley Parkway this year (2023). From May 1-June 30 and then again from Sept 1st – Sept 30th, vehicles will NOT be able to drive the 17 km (11 mi) stretch of road from the TransCanada-Highway junction to Johnston Canyon, it will be restricted to cyclists’ use only.

This is the eastern part of the road that is affected if you’re traveling to Johnston Canyon from Banff. You will still be able to access Johnston Canyon and the Bow Valley Parkway via the intersection near Castle Mountain Chalets.

6. Eat at the Train Station Restaurant in Lake Louise

Bailey and I about to eat at the Station Restaurant Lake Louise
The food is amazing!

We’re huge foodies. So, when a restaurant catches our eye (and our stomachs), you can be sure we’ll be raving about it for weeks to come.

So when Dan and I visited the historic Station Restaurant in Lake Louise Village, we can’t lie, we really were blown away! In short, it’s got to be one of the best restaurants in Lake Louise.

On a cold rainy day, it’s the perfect time to try their seasonal daily soup – so delicious! There are a bunch of other dishes on offer though, so check out their menu and pick your favorites. There are plenty of hearty options that will warm you up in the rain.

Not only was the food delicious, but the location was also just perfect. The restaurant is actually set in an old heritage train station, which is beautifully decorated and there are tons of pictures to look at and information to read.

Outside of the restaurant, there are some old trains to look at as well as a river right next door with a bridge you can cross with beautiful views.

To me, it was a fun place to eat because it was about so much more than just the food!

7. Visit Moraine Lake

A lady sits on a rock wall at the Rockpile at Moraine Lake in Banff
Me, sitting at the Rockpile at Moraine Lake.

Moraine Lake has to be one of the most famous and picturesque landmarks in all of Canada, where the turquoise water contrasts beautifully against the towering ten peaks and lush green forests. Honestly, it’s hard not to feel a little bit poetic once you’ve been here in person!

This stunning lake is only a short 10-minute drive from Lake Louise Village, and even in the rain the views are gorgeous – 100% Instagram-worthy. What’s even better is that the rain will keep the crowds at bay, meaning fewer people crowding up your photos and making the whole experience even more enjoyable.

There are quite a few things to do at Moraine Lake, although your options may be a little more limited if it’s raining hard. When it’s not raining so much, Dan and I like to either go kayaking or walk the Shoreline trail which is about 5.1 km (3.2 mi) and has some seriously awesome alternative views of the lake. Of course, if you choose the trail you don’t have to walk the entire way, even going for a kilometer or so will get you away from most of the crowds.

I do have to warn you though that getting to Moraine Lake can be a bit of a head-scratcher. They’ve now closed the road leading to the lake and the parking lot to personal vehicles, so you’ll need to look into some parking alternatives, unless you have a disability parking permit.

One popular option is to take a Parks Canada shuttle, which runs from May to October and leaves from the Park and Ride near Lake Louise Village. Tickets for a return trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are $8 CAD per adult, $4 CAD for seniors (65+), and are free for youths (17 and under), but you’ll need to book this is advance.

If you don’t fancy waiting around for a shuttle, especially when the weather conditions aren’t looking so nice, then booking this hop-on-hop-off bus tour from Banff town is a great idea. There’s pickup directly from Banff, and the bus runs between Banff, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Lake Louise gondola. Plus, if it’s raining pretty hard, you can keep riding and enjoy the views until the rain lets up a bit!

Note: Moraine Lake Road closes every year from mid-October to the end of May due to avalanche risk, it’s definitely one of those activities you can only do in Banff in the summer months.

Want to visit Moraine Lake for sunrise?

The only way to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise this year (since the road is closed to personal vehicles) is to either go on this organized tour or book this privately-operated shuttle (the Parks Canada shuttles don’t leave early enough to make it for sunrise.)

The tour begins at 4 am in Banff, and because they are a licensed tour operator, they can access Moraine Lake for sunrise. The tour costs $287 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before.

The new Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle includes transport only from Lake Louise Village but comes at an affordable price of $59-69 CAD per person. They offer a few pick-up times depending on what you have planned at Moraine Lake, with the first shuttle leaving at 4 am and the second at 5 am. You must book your spot online in advance here to avoid missing out.

8. Go caving

group of people staring down a cavern in a narrow cave in Canmore, Alberta
This is one of the best adventure tours near Banff! Photo Credit: Canmore Cave Tours

Just on the outskirts of Canmore are a couple of caves that are really incredible to explore if you’re up for an underground adventure! 

Now I have to be honest, I haven’t actually done the Canmore Cave tour before, but I have been to these caves. When I was about 15 years old, my Dad took me to explore Rats Nest Cave on our own. This was well before tours were popular here, and let me tell you, it was really cool! 

With an expert local guide on a tour, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or having all of the right safety equipment, as they’ll provide all this for you. Plus, you’ll hear some amazing stories and legends about the caves that you’d only hear from a local! And for all those reasons, I recommend joining a guided tour these days for the best experience.

Canmore Cave Tours offers a couple of different tours with different lengths of time and prices depending on what you’re looking for. This half-day cave tour lasts for about 4 and a half hours, including a full safety brief as well as plenty of time down in the caves! It’s also super beginner-friendly, so even if you’ve never been caving before the guides are really helpful with making you feel comfortable and confident.

If you’re looking for an even more immersive experience, then this longer adventure cave tour lasts for about 6 hours and even includes rappelling down 59 feet (18 meters) into the cave! The adventure begins with a 30 to 40-minute hike up the trail, followed by plenty of squeezing and wiggles once you’re down in the cave.

Both tours start and finish at their office on the southeast side of Canmore and are tons of fun! Tickets for the half-day tour cost $138 CAD per person, and tickets for the full-day tour are $179 CAD per person.

Once you’re finished up with caving, we’d suggest hanging about in town for a little while, there really are a ton of amazing things to do in Canmore.

9. Enjoy a meal at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Views out the window of the restaurant at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise
Views out the window of the restaurant at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is like something straight out of a fairy tale, it’s seriously one of the most beautiful hotels in Banff National Park! It’s also in such a wonderful location, right on the shore of Lake Louise, so you can expect incredible views whether you’re staying here or are just visiting.

Of course, staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise isn’t in everyone’s budget, but you can still enjoy a nice meal at the hotel restaurant on the lake! There are actually a few restaurants here, however the only that is open to non-hotel guests is Alpine Social, which serves beautiful seasonal dishes using local ingredients from the best local farmers, ranchers, and foragers.

One of our favorite dishes here (and it’s so hard to choose!) has to be their Putine Supreme (it doesn’t get more “Canadian” than this!.) It’s simply mouth-watering luxury that is worth every cent – but you can check out their menu here to see all their dishes.

As the Fairmont is a pretty popular hotel with a lot of guests, we’d recommend phoning up or emailing the restaurant to secure yourself a reservation ahead of time. Trust me, it’s so worth taking the time to do so – the last thing you want is to be stuck out in the rain! You can find the restaurant’s contact information on the same page as the menu.

10. Get tipsy at Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar

Bailey drinks a cocktail Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar
The cocktails are delicious!

Park Distillery is Banff’s very own craft distillery that’s right in the center of town. Home to some of the best pub food and cocktails in Banff, it’s a crowd favorite and I love enjoying a meal and drinks here. When it’s raining in Banff, a visit here is a must, so you can lift your spirits by, well, lifting a glass of your favorite spirit!

The distillery is located on Banff Ave, and you’ll find a small sales counter here as well as a restaurant. I really enjoyed the chicken sandwich and seared BC salmon. For cocktails be sure to try a few, but my favorites are the ‘Sawback’ and the ‘Summit’.

Open from 11 am to 10 pm, this is the place to stop by in town for drinks when it’s raining outside. There’s also dog-friendly seating on their downstairs heated patio, so you can bring your pooch in out of the rain too.

11. Learn history and culture at Buffalo Nations Museum

A lady poses for a photo with a display at the Buffalo Nations Museum, Banff
You’ll learn so much at the Buffalo Nations Museum!

Although I’m not much of a museum lover, I decided to check out the Buffalo Nations Museum because I really wanted to learn more about indigenous Canadians, and boy am I glad that I did!

With roots all the way back to the 1950s, the museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the First Nations people who were the first to call the Banff area home. Inside, there are a ton of incredible exhibits to see, and the displays are very visual, which I loved. The museum does such a wonderful job of telling you all about the life, history, and culture of the First Nations people in a fresh and engaging way.

Entrance to the museum costs $12 CAD per adult, $6 CAD for youths (7-17), and is free for kids under 7. All in all, I spent about an hour there, which I felt was a good amount of time to explore everything on offer. When it’s raining outside in Banff, you can wait out the storm here while discovering a whole new side to Banff’s history!

12. Drive the Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway in winter
The magnificent views on the Icefields Parkway!

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most breathtaking highways to drive on a clear day, stretching over 230 km (143 miles) from Lake Louise to Jasper. There are many amazing stop-off points to check out on the way, like the Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint and Peyto Lake Upper Viewpoint – you could easily spend days touring the Icefields Parkway!

However, in just one day you can visit many of the best attractions along the Icefields Parkway and enjoy some pretty amazing views while you’re at it.

But what is it like to drive the Icefields Parkway in the rain?

Well, if you’re traveling in the summer, the road conditions are probably going to be pretty good, and you’ll also be sheltered from the wet weather in the comfort of your own car. A lot of the viewpoints along the way can be enjoyed from inside your car, and when the rain lets up you’ll be free to stretch your legs outside!

With that said, some of the most beautiful parts of the Icefields Parkway aren’t actually official stops at all. As you can see from the picture above, it’s the views from the road that make this drive so spectacular, so take a moment to enjoy the drive.

Another awesome stop-off point to check out on the parkway is the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, which as the name suggests, just so happens to be right next to the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier. Unless it’s absolutely pouring it down with rain, this is a great time to go on a tour out to the glacier which also includes admission to the glass-bottomed Skywalk!

Tickets for this experience start at $85 CAD per adult and $55 CAD per child, and can be booked online here to secure your spot .

If the weather outside isn’t so great, or if you’re feeling hungry after the drive, then you can also relax and enjoy an indulgent meal at Altitude, which is right inside the Discovery Centre, or grab some light bites at their second restaurant, Chalet.

Related Read: If you’re driving the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, be sure to check out our blog about 30 amazing things to do in Jasper!

13. Vermilion Lakes Scenic Drive

Vermilion Lakes, Banff
If you drive to the end of Vermilion Lakes the reflections are incredible!

Only a 5-minute drive from Banff town is the Vermilion Lakes scenic drive, another brilliant road trip for a rainy day in Banff! This 4.3 km-long (2.7-mile) stretch of road winds its way along the edges of a couple of very gorgeous and calm lakes. When they aren’t frozen, the lakes reflect the mountains behind them almost perfectly. Honestly, I think this would still be a sight to see even if it is raining!

The best part is that the road runs right along the edge of the lakes, so you have beautiful unobstructed views of the mountain vistas in the distance. If you’re looking to see the most beautiful reflections, head right to the end of the road and go for a little wander around. This area is protected from the wind and the mountains here reflect off the water like a mirror!

Hot tip: Head over at sunset and enjoy the show as the sky lights up in hues of pink and orange.

14. Hike through a canyon

Bailey looks down at the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
The Upper Falls is amazing!
Johnston Canyon Lower waterfall in winter
Johnston Canyon Lower waterfall in winter

The rain can sometimes put a damper on those magnificent mountain views that brought you to Banff. I know, it sucks when the clouds are so dense that you can’t even see the mountains all around you. That’s why a canyon hike is such a great alternative.

From inside a canyon, there is no need to squint at mountains covered by clouds, as nature really is right in front of you! In Banff, there are two extraordinary canyons that you explore (yes, even on a rainy day!).

The Grotto Canyon hike is 4.4 kilometers long (2.7 miles) and you’ll actually walk right through a beautiful canyon. If you visit Grotto Canyon in the winter, you can even walk on the frozen river!

To begin the trail, drive out to the parking lot at Grotto Mountain Pond just past Canmore. From here, it takes around 1.5 hours to walk each way if you allow time to explore the canyon and take some photos. About 30 minutes of this is walking from the parking lot until you reach the canyon and from here on out you’ll follow the river up the canyon to a waterfall and an Inukshuk Garden.

Along the way, there are also indigenous pictographs (but you’ll need a keen eye to spot them!).

The other more popular canyon near Banff is Johnston Canyon, home to two waterfalls that are beautiful in both summer and winter. Entrance here, like the Grotto Canyon hike, is completely free, and you’ll walk along the edge of the canyon on a series of scenic boardwalks.

It’s about 1.7 km (1 mi) from the parking lot to the scenic Lower Falls, but if you want to see everything Johnston Canyon has to offer, it’s just a short 1 km (0.6 mi) walk further up to the Upper Falls. My personal favorite of the two has to be the Upper Falls, and you can even squeeze in a small gap and get right up to the waterfall!

The downside to Johnston Canyon is that it can get very busy in the summer months. So busy, in fact, that the massive parking lot often fills up early in the day. In this case, we’d suggest grabbing the number 9 Roam public bus, or getting a seat on the hop-on, hop-off bus that stops here as well as other scenic places like Lake Louise, Lake Moraine, and the Lake Louise Gondola.

If you want to get there on your own, be sure to get there super early or book an organized tour, which will save you the hassle of parking and you’ll also get to talk to your own personal guide and learn all about the canyon on your walk! 

If you’re driving from Banff to Johnston Canyon, it’s about a 30-minute trip. Parking here is also completely free, making a trip here one of the best free things to do in Banff!

Hot Tip: If you’re visiting Banff in winter, be sure to check out these canyons too, they freeze and taking an icewalk in them is incredible! We especially loved this icewalk tour of Johnston Canyon. At just $101 CAD per person, you’ll be transported from Banff to Johnston Canyon and experience a truly magical winter wonderland, full of frozen waterfalls and rivers.

15. Drink local craft beer

Drinking beer at Three Bears Brewery
Drinking beer with a friend at Three Bears Brewery!

Now, I may not be such a huge fan of visiting museums, but I sure know my way around a brewery! So, when I say that Banff has one of the best craft beer scenes in BC, I really mean it.

There are two breweries in Banff town and three which are 20 minutes away in Canmore. The best part is that they all have indoor areas where you can sit down and relax with a beer while sheltered from the rain.

Enjoy the craft beer scene in Banff:

The crowd favorite is Banff Ave Brewing which is located on Banff Ave. They have a great range of tasty beers on tap and the food at their on-site pub is really good too! If you love a good dry beer, then you’ll probably love their ‘Ride or Dry’, and if you’re into something a bit more fruity, you can’t go wrong with their First Call Blood Orange IPA.

What we also love about Banff Ave Brewing is that their beers are often themed after charities they support, with a portion of their proceeds going directly to them. Like the Blood Orange IPA, which has a $1 CAD from every 16oz beer going to support the Banff Firefighters Association. Opening times for the Banff Ave Brewing pub do vary a bit depending on the day, either closing at 12 am or 1 am. You can check out their website for the full breakdown.

The newest brewery in Banff is Three Bears Brewery, which is owned by Park Distillery (which we mentioned earlier). After visiting Banff Ave Brewing, the bar was set pretty high, so we were pleasantly surprised when we saw their large selection of draft beers, canned beers, and gluten-free beers!

Three Bears Brewery runs an on-site restaurant which also serves delicious food into the evening, so if the weather is looking pretty grim then head over to Bear Street and tuck in. It’s a good idea to book a table before you arrive though, as this is also a pretty popular spot!

Three Bears is open from 11:00 am to 10 pm Monday to Sunday, however the final orders for the kitchen are at 9 pm, so make sure to get there before if you’re feeling hungry.

Keep up the craft beer tour in Canmore!

You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere with excellent craft beer in Canmore. There’s Canmore Brewing Co. on Railway Ave, as well as The Grizzly Paw Brewery on Main Street, and Blakes Brewhouse on Bow Valley Trail.

While we have a huge place in our hearts for Grizzly Paw and Canmore Brewing Co., Blakes Brewhouse would be our top choice of the three when it’s raining, as there are a bunch of indoor seating and a relaxing and chic atmosphere to boot! The food here is also the bomb, with creative international fusion dishes that definitely dazzled our tastebuds.

I had their braised beef cheeks with a Double Decker Red Ale and I’ve got to say, what a winning combo! Their cocktails were a massive hit too.

Related read: Visiting Calgary? One of the best winter activities in Calgary is to drink craft beer at one of the many breweries – there are more than 40 in the city!

16. Party the night away on Banff Ave

A lady drinks a beer at Tommy’s Neighborhood Pub
Tommy’s Neighborhood Pub!

Do those craft beers have you in the mood for getting out and partying the night away? Well, so what if it’s raining!

Banff is without a doubt a super lively place and has an amazing nightlife scene. With the majority of visitors on holiday, it’s no wonder so many want to let their hair down after a day of sightseeing.

When it comes to partying the night away, some crowd favorites to start your night at are Tommy’s Neighborhood Pub and Banff Ave Brewing. Both have a social and welcoming atmosphere that’s perfect for pre-drinks, so it makes sense that this is likely where you’ll find most of the party crowd!

Afterward, everyone heads to the Dancing Sasquatch, Banff’s top nightclub, to dance the night away.

17. Cave and Basin National Historic Site

The underground pool at the Cave and Basin historic site in Banff
The underground pool at the Cave and Basin Historic Site in Banff

Another great place to visit in Banff when it’s raining outside is the Cave and Basin Historic Site, which is a special place for the Indigenous Peoples of the area. Here you can see some historic hot springs that are also home to a rare species of snail!

Only a 5-minute drive from downtown Banff, the Cave and Basin Historic Site was once a popular place to swim and soak up minerals from the water, but has since closed to swimmers and now remains a place purely for conservation. Even so, it’s really interesting to learn about the minerals produced in these natural springs as well as plenty more stories about local Banff history.

The museum is the main attraction in my eyes and it is very interactive and fun, especially for kids. You’ll find lots of information about Banff and the surrounding area. Lots of the museum is indoors too, so it’s the perfect activity in Banff when it rains.

Entry to the Cave and Basin Historic Site is only $8.50 CAD for adults and is free for youths up to 17 years old. We spent a couple of hours exploring the Cave and Basin, the museum, as well as the boardwalks, so it’s a great short activity to fit into your schedule if a downpour suddenly messes up your plans.

18. Visit more museums

Aside from the Buffalo Nations Museum and Cave and Basin National Historic Site, there are plenty more museums to explore in Banff National Park – the place is practically bursting with amazing history!

The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is right in town, just a little north of the Bow River. It showcases an amazing array of taxidermy specimens of plants and animals that you’ll find in Banff National Park, so it’s a great introduction to Banff’s wild side.

The building itself is the oldest park facility in the national park system and was built all the way back in 1903. Dan and I had a pretty cool time here and I could totally see families with young kids having a blast here too. The entry fee is also really reasonable, at only $4.25 CAD per adult and it’s free for youths under 17.

For art lovers, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is the place to visit! Although it’s a rather small museum, the quality of the exhibits really shines through, showcasing a mix of local art, First Nations artifacts, and information about the arrival of European settlers and their development of the area.

Honestly, we were surprised by just how many stories and interesting facts we came away with from this little museum, so if you’re on the fence about visiting, we say go for it! You’ll most likely be just as surprised as we were – you really can get a good feel for Banff’s history here. The Whyte Museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and costs $10 CAD for adults with children under 12 getting in for free.

19. Have an Adventure Whitewater Rafting 

Whiste water rafting in Canmore, Alberta
Hard to wipe the smile off your face after that adventure!

Whitewater rafting has to be one of my favorite experiences in Banff, and you can totally do it while it’s raining! I mean, you were only going to get wet anyways, right?

If you’ve never tried whitewater rafting before, it’s such a scenic way to get to know the local area while also getting the adrenaline pumping with all of the excitement! In Banff, you can join a whitewater rafting tour during the summer months and see for yourself what exactly I mean.

Kananaskis River Rafting Adventure

This whitewater rafting experience is an amazing introduction to rafting and takes you right along the Kanaskasis River. The rapids are exciting but not too dangerous, I mean our guides did say that they’re suitable for anyone over the age of 5, so it’s time to bring together the family for this one!

While the whole experience takes about 4 hours, you’ll spend around 2 hours cruising along the river and really getting to know the local area from your guide. Although I was pretty focused on the river, I did see a couple of bald eagles flying overhead too, so keep an eye out for any wildlife above and along the river bank!

You’ll get completely geared up before you start and finish the excitement with some much-deserved snacks and plenty of high-fives all around.

This experience takes place at Chinook Rafting on the Bow Valley Trail, about a 40-minute drive from Banff. Tickets are $129 CAD per adult (16+), $81 CAD for kids (5-15) and you can book them online here. Getting a bit wet on an exciting experience like this is even better when the weather’s warm – it’s definitely on our list of the top things to do in Banff in the summer!

20. Eat at Juniper Bistro

view from the Juniper Bistro in Banff. Photo Credit: The Juniper Bistro
Just look at that view! Photo Credit: Juniper Bistro

Honestly, one of the best things to do in Banff (rain or shine) is to grab a bite to eat! Banff is just full of delicious local restaurants just waiting to impress first-time visitors – one of the first-ever restaurants we tried here together was the Juniper Bistro, which just so happened to turn into one of my personal favorites.

Located at the Juniper Hotel, which is just on the outskirts of Banff town at the beginning of Mt Norquay Road, the Juniper serves incredible food with a menu that changes seasonally, alongside some classic Canadian favorites like their amazing pork ribs. Are you starting to see why we keep coming back yet?

It’s also won awards for the best view from any restaurant in Banff! For anybody on a honeymoon in Banff or a romantic couple’s trip, this really is worth considering.

The Juniper Bistro is open for breakfast and lunch daily, with dinner service from Wednesdays to Sundays. During peak seasons and on the weekends, you should book a table in advance to avoid disappointment.

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Where to Stay in Banff, Canada

The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff
The gorgeous Rimrock Resort Hotel! Photo credit: The Rimrock Resort

Of course, no matter the weather, you’ll need a place to get your head down at the end of the day, and honestly, the selection in Banff can be a little overwhelming! There are plenty of great hotels in Banff town to consider, as well as some in the local area. Here are a few of our favorites:

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

We’ve stayed at hostels all over Canada and definitely know a bad one from a good one! Believe us then when we say that the friendly folks over at Samesun Banff Hostel go above and beyond to make your stay amazing. Finding great budget accommodation can be difficult in Banff, and after plenty of searching we put this hostel at the #1 spot when it comes to a bed on a budget!

Samesun has their very own on-site restaurant and bar, and you even get breakfast included in your rate too! While there are no private rooms available, there are plenty of dorms to choose from, either mixed or single-gender.

You can expect a bed in a comfortable dorm here to start at $62 CAD per night, which can be booked on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Banff Inn – $$

If you’re traveling on a budget, but still want your own private room, then the Banff Inn would be one of the best options for you. It’s still cheap, but comes with lots of the luxuries that you can expect from a modern hotel, including a hot tub, sauna, steam room, as well as an on-site restaurant.

Situated right in town, rooms here start at $229 CAD per night, and it’s a good idea to book your room at the Banff Inn well in advance, as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – $$

Located just a 5-minute drive from downtown Banff, the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort combines the best of both worlds, a relaxing stay out in nature while being so close to all the action in town. As a mid-range hotel on our list, it’s also got plenty of fantastic amenities, such as its very own hot tub, a fully equipped gym, and an outdoor swimming pool that’s fun to use even when it’s raining!

Rooms here start at $188 CAD and come with their own kitchenettes or full kitchens – perfect for preparing a nice dinner in or a tasty picnic lunch for the next day when the weather is better. You can check your dates and book your room online here.

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

When it comes to experiencing the best of the best in Banff, the Fairmont Banff Springs stands above the rest – it’s easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff! Rooms here aren’t cheap, which is to be expected when your hotel has 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more!

Whether you’re staying here on your honeymoon, or are looking to treat yourself to something truly special, then this hotel ticks all the boxes.

Rooms at the Fairmont start from $666 CAD, but can rise further when availability is low. You can check prices and room availability for Fairmont online here.

Important info: Accommodation in Banff can be tricky. For starters, you need to book well in advance if you want to have a large selection. In the peaks of winter and summer, Banff often books out months in advance.

For this reason, I highly suggest booking a place ASAP! Using Booking.com is great because lots of hotels offer free cancellation, so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for Reading!

A couple take a selfie with beers at the Banff Brewery in Banff
Thank you for reading!

Regardless of the weather in Banff, there really are plenty of amazing things to do. I mean who would have thought you’d have so many great activities to do when it’s raining?!

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this blog has helped plan your upcoming trip to Banff! If it has, then be sure to check out more of our blogs such as:

1, 2, and 3 Day Banff itinerary

9 BEST Banff Tours from Calgary

Things to do in Whistler

Guide to Visiting Banff in December