5 Awesome Things To Do With Kids In Banff
Banff is the perfect place for a family vacation with children

Banff is a magical wonderland when seen through young eyes.

This unspoiled mountain retreat offers your little ones the chance to wander through wild forests, dip their toes in cold glacial lakes, watch the sunsets turn the mountains gold, and see deer and elk casually strolling down the street. No matter what age they are, visiting Banff with your children will awaken their sense of wonder and show them how amazing the natural world can be.

To make the most of your trip to the Rockies here are five fantastic things to do with kids in Banff.

1. Tackle a kid-friendly hiking trail

Family Hiking at Johnston Canyon

Not all hiking trails in Banff are gruelling treks up steep mountain faces – there are plenty of great trails that are doable for those with tiny legs and short attention spans.

Check out the easy switchbacks of Tunnel Mountain, the stroller-friendly paved walkways of Johnston Canyon, or the peaceful quiet of Sunshine Meadows. The Fenland Loop is a great walk for even the youngest kids – it’s flat, offers views of the river and can be completed in less than an hour.

In an email interview, Rebecca from Simple As That told me about why she loves hiking in Banff with her kids. “I love that there are a variety of easy trails that the whole family can enjoy.”

“My kids are ages 6-14 and we are all able to enjoy many of the trails together – our favorite being Peyto Lake. There are trails that even our youngest hiker can tackle in Banff,” says Rebecca.

Rebecca goes on to explain that hiking isn’t just about physical exercise for her family, it’s an incredibly valuable learning experience. “From spotting wildlife to taking in the view to the thrill of reaching our destination, our family loves spending time together on the trail.”

“Over the years we’ve watched our kids learn about ecosystems and plant life, seasons and weather. But the real learning goes so much further than those things. What we really want them to take away are the life lessons that they wouldn’t absorb from a textbook or in a classroom or even by listening to our finest speeches as parents.”

What will you and your kids learn while exploring the trails?

2. Horse around on a guided family-friendly ride

Children and families love meeting the horses on a carriage ride or wagon ride

Sometimes little legs get tired and it’s nice to be able to see the sights without having to walk around all day long. Taking a sleigh ride (in the winter) or a carriage ride or wagon ride to a steak cookout (in the summer) is a wonderfully magical way for you and your little ones to see Banff.

During the winter sleigh rides you will snuggle up under warm blankets to go exploring through the Bow River Valley, enjoying views of Sulphur Mountain and the Canadian Pacific Railway. In the summer you will ride in an elegant horse-drawn carriage with your choice between a Bow River Tour, a Downtown Tour or a Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Tour.

During Banff’s long summer days, riding in a fairy-tale-like carriage or a sleigh “just like Santa Claus” will be a truly enchanting experience for your young kids. Make sure that you not only capture photos of the beautiful surroundings, but also of the priceless looks on their faces. For something truly unique, the whole family can even take a wagon ride to a western style BBQ cookout!

3. Soar to the summit of Sulphur Mountain

See views over Banff from the gondola cabin at the Banff Gondola
Photo Credit: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

“My kids absolutely loved the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain and then exploring the Sulphur Mountain Skywalk,” says Corrine of Have Baby Will Travel. “You can enjoy the breathtaking views of the Rockies without completely exhausting yourself or tiring out little legs.”

Make sure that your little ones are dressed warmly – it will be much cooler at the summit of the mountain two thousand metres above sea level. The awe-inspiring views from the top will give you a sense of the sheer scale of this gargantuan mountain range.

Nicole from The Passport Kids also recommends the Banff Gondola. “Kids love taking these rides above the tree line and getting a bird’s eye view of the mountains,” she says. “Anytime of the year the Rocky Mountains are a miraculous natural wonder to see.”

Want to make a full day of it? Discover Banff Tours offers a Banff Tour and Gondola Package which includes a three hour tour to some of Banff’s most iconic landmarks and viewpoints in the morning and then a transfer to the Banff Gondola.

Banff's Best Deals

See Lake Louise in Fall with Discover Banff Tours

Lake Louise Spring & Fall Tour

See iconic Lake Louise, famous for its jewel-like water nestled between rugged peaks. This stunning lake looks too beautiful to
1:00pm
4.25 Hours

Icefields Helicopter Flights

See the Canadian Rockies on spectacular Icefields heli sightseeing flights with glaciers, icefalls, waterfalls, alpine lakes and 11,200 foot peaks.
Throughout the day
20 Mins, 30 Mins, 55 Mins

Raft + Chairlift

Combo Package; raft along the family-friendly Kananaskis River, then ride an open-air chairlift to 7,000 feet overlooking Banff. Included: Kananaskis
5+
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Horseback + Gondola + Hot Springs

Combo Package; saddle up for a riverside ride, soar up to a mountain summit and soak in mineral hot springs. 
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Private Banff Heli Sightseeing

Located on the south west border of Banff National Park, Marvel Pass has long been a favourite spot for that
Throughout the day
55 Mins
Take in the evening beauty of Lake Louise on the Deluxe Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour
Limited Space

Deluxe Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

This evening tour gives you more time to wander and soak up the beauty of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
3:30pm
6 Hours

Banff Gondola + Lake Cruise

Combo Package; soar up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for 360 degree views over Banff, and then cruise on
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Horseback Ride + Gondola + Lake Cruise

Combo Package; saddle up for a riverside ride, soar up to a mountain summit and cruise on Banff's largest lake. 
8+
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Big hit on the Kananaskis River in the Canadian Rockies
Limited Space

Raft 2 Rivers

Combo Package; experience whitewater thrills and a cliff jump on the Bow River, then raft the family-friendly Kananaskis River. Included:
12+
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Kananaskis River Raft + Horseback Ride

Combo Package; raft along the family-friendly Kananaskis River, then take a horseback ride along the scenic Bow River. Included: Kananaskis
8+
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See animals such as grizzly bears on a wildlife tour
Family Fun

Wildlife Tour + Chairlift + Lake Cruise

Combo Package; look for wildlife on a twilight tour, ride a chairlift to 7,000' and cruise Banff's largest lake. Included:
2+
Jun-Oct
See Lake Louise with Discover Banff Tours
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Banff + Lake Louise Tours

Combo Package; experience the picture perfect viewpoints of Banff and the world-famous Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.  Included: Discover Banff
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Sightsee over Banff from the Mount Norquay Banff Sightseeing Chairlift in the Canadian Rockies
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Horseback + Chairlift + Hot Springs

Combo Package; saddle up for a riverside ride, soar to 7,000' on an open-air chairlift and soak in hot springs.
8+
Jun-Oct

Float + Chairlift

Combo Package; take a scenic float along the Bow River, then ride a chairlift up to 7,000' overlooking Banff. Included:
3+
Jun-Oct

Via Ferrata Skyline - 4.5-5 Hours

The Skyline Route includes an exciting high traverse on a sheer rock wall, a scenic ridgecrest trail walk and an “airy”
9:00am, 10:30am, 11:00am
4.5-5 Hours
Take a scenic river tour and float along the Bow River in the Canadian Rockies
Family Fun

Float Trips

A gentle one hour float trip through stunning glacial blue waters, towering mountain peaks and diverse wildlife along the Bow
9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm
1 Hour

Private Banff Heli & Hike

The ultimate private hiking experience! Take a scenic helicopter flight to a secluded area high above the Bow River Valley
9:30am, 1:00pm
3 Hours
Horseback ride through the Spray River

Horseback Ride - Spray River 1 Hr

Our guides will lead you past roaring Bow Falls where you will cross the tranquil Spray River, followed by a
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1 Hour
Hiking Lake Louise
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Guided Signature Hikes

With hundreds of hiking trails how do you know which one to choose? Come with us! Our guides have picked
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7 Hours
Via Ferrata Ridgewalker Route at Banff Mt Norquay
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Via Ferrata Ridgewalker - 3.5-4 Hours

To get a greater feel of heights, exposure and the full Via Ferrata experience, become a Ridgewalker on this half-day
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4 Hours
Cross a wire bridge on Mount Norquay's Via Ferrata Skyline Route in Banff in the Canadian Rockies
Limited Space

Via Ferrata Summiteer - 6 Hours

The Summiteer tops out at the highest point of the via ferrata and traverses an alpine ridge crossing a 3-wire
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6 Hours
Snowshoeing to Marble Canyon
Limited Space

Snowshoeing Tour to Marble Canyon

Fresh powder and spectacular Marble Canyon snowshoeing as you hike past Marble Canyon's 40-metre deep gorge.   This half-day snowshoe
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4 Hours
Horseback Ride to a Cowboy Steak Cookout with Discover Banff Tours
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Horseback Ride + Cowboy BBQ Cookout

Ride along the base of Sulphur Mountain to a delicious cowboy BBQ cookout at 3 Mile Cabin. First you'll ride
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Class 4 rafting rapids fun on the Horseshoe Canyon in the Canadian Rockies
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Horseshoe Canyon Whitewater Rafting

Calling all adventure lovers - there’s no better way to get the adrenaline flowing than big waves! Jump into a
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Toby Creek Adventures ATV Tour
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Panorama ATV Tours

Feel the 4 wheel power at your fingertips as you ride up to 8,000 feet with spectacular mountain views on
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See elk and other animals on a Banff wildlife tour with Discover Banff Tours
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Evening Wildlife Safari

Where do you find the animals of Banff when the sun goes down? Your guide will know! So keep your
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2 Hours

Via Ferrata Explorer - 2-2.5 Hours

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Family Carriage Ride in Banff, Canadian Rockies
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Carriage Rides

See the highlights of Banff in style on a private horse-drawn carriage ride tour or arrange a custom carriage ride
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15 Mins, 30 Mins, 1 Hour
View from the Banff Sightseeing Chairlift at Mt Norquay

Banff Sightseeing Chairlift

Take an 8 minute chairlift ride over a natural bear habitat up to almost 7,000 feet at Mount Norquay with
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Open Ticket

Horseback Ride - Sundance Loop 2 Hrs

Ride along the Bow River, past the Cave & Basin hot springs and up to the Windy Knoll viewpoint. This
9:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm
2 Hours

Horseback Ride - Sulphur Mtn 4 Hrs

A half day ride that gives you a scenic introduction into the quiet backcountry of Banff National Park.   From
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Banff Covered Wagon
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Wagon Ride + Cowboy BBQ Cookout

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Horseback Ride - Bow Valley Loop 3 Hrs

This ride offers the greatest variety of scenery from the Cave & Basin area to a thick, lush forest. As
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3 Hours
Take a guided horseback ride along the Bow River with Discover Banff Tours in the Canadian Rockies
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Horseback Ride - Bow River 1 Hr

A 1 hour horseback ride along the Bow River and past the natural sulphur hot springs flowing from the Cave &
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1 Hour

Private Sleigh Package For Two

Experience the classical romance of Banff's winter wonderland on a magical sleigh ride package for two. Relax and take in
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40 Mins
Banff snowy sleigh ride
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Sleigh Rides

Join us on our sleigh ride through the Banff mountain meadows with your family, friends or loved ones for a
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40 Mins
Banff Snowshoeing Race with Discover Banff Tours
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Snowshoeing Tour to Paint Pots

First time snowshoeing? Try one of the best snowshoeing trails near Banff. This easy 3-kilometre trail is a Kootenay National
1:30pm
4 Hours
See frozen waterfalls on the Grotto Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Grotto Canyon Icewalk

Explore the icy beauty of Grotto Canyon, see ancient native pictographs using special hiking crampons to grip the smooth frozen
8:30am
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Banff Evening Icewalks at Night with Discover Banff Tours

Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk®

Watch the frozen waterfalls shimmer as you take a Johnston Canyon night walk in quiet darkness beneath the stars. The
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2.5 Hours
Johnston Canyon Icewalk in Banffwith Discover Banff Tours
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Johnston Canyon Icewalk®

The Johnston Canyon hike in winter is a spectacular show of natural ice sculptures when the thundering falls freeze solid.
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4 Hours

Canmore Caves Explorer Tour

An introduction to the amazing world of caves, spending two hours climbing, crawling and squeezing through the infamous Rat's Nest
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Canmore Caves Adventure Tour

Spend four hours underground as you climb, crawl, wiggle and slide through the water-worn passages of the infamous Rat's Nest
8:45am, 10:15am, 11:45am
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Banff Helicopter Flights

A once in a lifetime experience to fly over mountain peaks, alpine meadows, pristine lakes and to the "Matterhorn of
Throughout the day
25 Mins, 35 Mins, 45 Mins

Discover Grizzly Bears

Meet Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge! Seeing a bear in the flesh is a thrilling moment that will stay
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10 Hours
Family friendly rafting rapids on the Kananaskis River in the Rockies
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Kananaskis Whitewater Rafting

You'll get splashed by the frothy swells of the rushing river but it won’t wash the smile off your face
1:30pm
4 Hours
Interpretive tools at the Patch on Mount Norquay
Family Fun

Discover Banff & Its Wildlife

Uncover the secrets of a historic mountain haven with a local guide leading the way as you gaze at stunning
8:30am
3 Hours

Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour

Travel along the world famous Icefields Parkway Highway and see, touch and even taste an ancient glacier on this thrilling
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See turquoise Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks on the Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour with Discover Banff Tours
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Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

See two of the world's most beautiful lakes including iconic Lake Louise - famous for its jewel-like water nestled between
8:00am, 1:00pm
4.25 Hours

4. Ski at nearby Sunshine Village

Take some family or children ski lessons at Sunshine Village Ski Resort
Photo Credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson

Nicole also highly recommends taking your kids skiing at Sunshine Village. If yours is a skiing family, everyone will have a great time at this resort – from grandpa to the youngest toddler.

Sunshine is well laid out and you can always see the village below from any slope, which is helpful for letting your older kids go off skiing together without the adults. There is a top-notch skiing school there, so you can invest in some lessons for your young ones to perfect their technique.

There is a also daycare for kids aged 19 months to 6 years old, so you can leave your youngest there to play and hit the slopes with the adults and the older kids. Afterwards, you can treat everyone to a well-earned hot chocolate at one of the many great restaurants and cafes.

5. Bum Around in Banff

There's lots to do for families with children in Banff
Photo Credit: Damian Blunt / Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Make sure that you allow at least one day in your trip for just hanging out in the town of Banff itself. If you want to take a break from hiking and exploring, just leisurely explore the town and you will find a lot to enjoy. There are a lot of interesting shops along Banff Avenue where you can pick up some souvenirs, as well as friendly cafes where you can sit and people-watch while enjoying a snack.

“In Banff there is beauty all around you and the small town is easy to navigate on foot,” says Corrine. “Even if you don’t have an adventure planned for the day you still feel like a mountain explorer hanging out at one of the many local playgrounds with a coffee in your hand.”

Nicole raved to me about the sweet treats her family loves to indulge in along Banff Avenue. “Our favourites are Beavertails, the Banff Sweet Shoppe and the Banff Candy Store,” she says, “A tradition every time we go back!”

If you get hungry and are looking for a kid friendly restaurant, Lisa from Drink, Play, Love recommends Banff Ave. Brewing Company. “I love restaurants where there are TVs broadcasting hockey games, the waiter brings crayons and a kid menu as soon as you sit down, and you don’t have to worry if your kids are loud or spill their food. And even if it all goes south… at least you’ve got seven microbrews to choose from for sorrow-drowning,” she says.

What are your favourite things to do with kids in Banff? Let us know in the comments below.

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