The centre of Banff is nestled between the beautiful Bow River and the Trans-Canada Highway.
On the east the town begins its climb up the gentle slopes of Tunnel Mountain, and on the west it encroaches on the wetlands of the Vermillion Lakes. Banff Avenue, the town’s main street has most of the town’s shops, services, restaurants and accommodation. There is much activity one block either side of Banff Avenue, as well as along Lynx, which connects to Mount Norquay Rd, also connect to the town’s bus depot, railway station and recreation centre.
Visitors to Banff enjoy exploring and shopping on Banff Avenue. It has shops, boutiques, sporting goods stores, and restaurants to cater to every taste. Banff also many affordable motels and hotels, mostly along Banff Avenue, plus the internationally renowned Banff Springs Hotel overlooking the Bow River.
Two other Banff facilities of interest to visitors and residents are the post office, on Buffalo St just north of Banff Ave, and the public library just across Lynx from the Post office. There are two grocery stores: Keller Foods (Bear & Lynx), and Safeway (on Elk, where Banff Avenue bends toward the motels)
Here are some of the attractions in and around Banff (* denotes admission charge may apply). From the downtown, moving southwest from Banff Avenue:
Banff Park Museum*
- This museum, where Banff Ave. meets the Bow River, is Western Canada’s oldest natural history museum. It has many stuffed animal specimens, including a buffalo and moose. Some of the animals date back to the 1860s.
Whyte Museum of the Rocky Mountains*
- This museum, on Bear Street (at Lynx), has numerous displays and photographs of the early exploration and development of the Rockies.
Natural History Museum*
- In the Clock Tower Mall, this museum portrays the evolution of the Rockies, along with information about plants, animals, dinosaurs and a video about the Mt. St Helens volcano.
Banff Town Hall
- On Lynx Avenue, this new Town hall was built following Banff becoming the first incorporated town in a one of Canada’s National Parks. It was designed by renowned Calgary architect Jeremy Sturgess.
The docks, on Bow Ave just north of Wolf, are both a popular end point for Lake Louise to Banff rafting trips, and also a starting point for those wishing to canoe on the Vermillion Lakes.
Banff Recreation Centre
The town’s recreation centre (on Mt Norquay Road) has a pool, an ice rink, and a skateboard park is popular with all of the town’s residents and visitors.
Just west of Mt Norquay Road, these trails take you to the shores of Vermillion Lakes, a unique wetlands in the Canadian Rockies. A short 1 km hike will take you to a point where you will see a variety of wild animals and plant life in their natural settings.
Vermillion Lakes Rd
This road, the last left before the Trans-Canada Highway, winds below the highway and just above the Vermillion Lake shoreline. This a popular picture taking location, not only for the view of wildlife, but for the shots of Mt Rundle and Sulphur Mountain seen on Banff postcards.