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Banff with Kids – Everything You Need to Know for an Amazing Vacation

Banff National Park is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Canada. From amazing mountain scenery, stunning mountain lakes and so many outdoor activities, it’s a nature lovers paradise. If your family loves to get outside and explore in nature, you’ll love visiting Banff with kids.

Trust me when I say that you’ll never be wondering how to fill your time when visiting Banff. There are so many fun activities in Banff National Park with kids, you’ll probably have a hard time fitting it all into your Banff family itinerary.

Tunnel Mountain is a popular kid friendly hike in Banff

We’ve been visiting Banff National Park and the surrounding areas of Canmore and Kananaskis for years (decades even, though saying that makes us feel old). Our kids are also experts on biking and hiking in Banff, Canmore and Kananaskis. They spent the first few years of their lives visiting the mountains every weekend from Calgary, and have since then become full time residents of the Bow Valley.

hiking with kids near Banff National Park

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Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and Kananaskis Explained

If you are just starting to research your trip to Alberta, you might have heard about Canmore and Kananaskis but don’t know how they fit in with Banff National Park.

You’ll often see activities in Canmore and Kananaskis bundled in with things to do in Banff National Park, but they aren’t actually in Banff.

Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country, or K-Country as you’ll also see it referred to as, is made up of several provincial parks to the west and south-west of Calgary. Kananaskis borders Canmore and Banff National Park. Kananaskis is also home to even more incredible outdoor recreation in the area.

hiking with kids in Kananaskis - enjoying views of Barrier Lake from Yates Mountain Trail

Canmore

Canmore is a mountain town that resides just 5 minutes outside of the Banff National Park gates and 20 minutes from downtown Banff. You’ll pass through Canmore when traveling on the Trans-Canada Highway driving from Calgary International Airport to Banff.

view of Canmore from the top of Ha Ling Peak hike

Banff Townsite

The Banff townsite resides in Banff National Park and is 15 minutes from the Banff National Park gates.

Banff in summer

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a hamlet also located in Banff National Park. Lake Louise is home to the iconic mountain lakes: Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Lake Louise is 60 km from the town of Banff.

The Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail - best easy hikes in Banff National Park with kids

What is the Best Time to Visit Banff with Kids?

To get the most out of your time in Banff, mid-June though mid-September is the best time to visit.

The mountain lakes will be starting to show their stunning turquoise blue color in June, wild flowers will begin to appear and the hiking trails will be dry. The days will be getting warmer and the water activities will be starting to pick up.

Cycling Bow Valley Parkway in Banff to Johnston Canyon with kids

Mid-June is when high season starts and will continue throughout July and August. Though it will be busier and prices will be higher in these two months, it’s really the best time to visit. The days are long and warm, everything is open and the mountain meadows will be teeming with wildflowers.

Unless you are planning to visit for the ski season, which then makes late November through March the best time to visit Banff in winter with kids.

How Many Days to Visit Banff with Kids?

How many days you visit Banff National Park with kids will be dependent on how much you want to see and how much energy your kids will have to be on the move every day.

At a minimum, 5 days in Banff is a good amount to see the highlights and even do a hike or two. With more time in the area you can either slow your pace or add in even more activities in Banff for kids.

easy hike at Moraine Lake with kids in Banff

Is Banff Kid Friendly?

Yes, Banff is kid friendly. With so many outdoor activities, kids will love to be out exploring in nature. From wildlife spotting to canoeing on a pristine mountain lake, even kids will be able to appreciate the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

How to Get to Banff with Kids

The closest airport to Banff is the Calgary International Airport, located a 90-minute drive away in Calgary. For visiting Banff with kids, the best way to get to Banff is by renting a car in Calgary.

While there are other ways to get to Banff without a car, having a car will enable you to see more at your own pace.  If renting a car isn’t an option, it’s still possible to get around Banff without a car and we recommend staying in one of these best hotels for visiting Banff without a car.

Where to Stay in Banff with Kids

There are plenty of fun places to stay in Banff with kids, whether your family is outdoorsy and loves camping or prefers more space.

Camping in Banff with Kids

Make sure to get your camping reservation for Banff well in advance.

Two Jack Main Campground is a great option with kids. There is plenty to do around the area with Lake Minnewanka and Johnson Lake nearby, plus it’s still close enough to the town of Banff to go into town for dinner or supplies.

Tunnel Mountain Village Campground is even closer to the town of Banff.

You can also find oTENTiks at Tunnel Mountain Village Campground or Two Jack Lakeside Campground. These A-frame cabins offer families comfort camping in Banff National Park.

Camping in Banff with kids at Two Jack Main Campground

Stay in one of Banff’s Iconic Hotels

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the most well known luxury hotel in Banff, but that doesn’t need to preclude families from staying there. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has a Kids at the Castle program with exciting Banff activities for kids aged 3 to 12, including outdoor wilderness adventures, tennis lessons, float tours and scavenger hunts.

The best places to stay in Banff - 5 star hotels like the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the Rimrock Resort Hotel

The Banff Springs Hotel also has an indoor pool, an outdoor heated pool and even a bowling alley on-site. Plus, there’s plenty of fun activities near the Banff Springs Hotel too!

Other Family Friendly Banff Hotels

If the Fairmont isn’t in your budget, no fear there are plenty of family friendly hotels in Banff.

The Tunnel Mountain Resort is still near the town of Banff but has a natural mountain setting. It’s also one of the few hotels near Banff with cabin rentals.

Hidden Ridge Resort is apartment-style accommodations, allowing families to easily cook some meals to save money. Other family friendly amenities include a beautiful outdoor pool and adjacent hot pool, the outdoor playground and bike rentals.

If you are traveling with a pet as well, there are plenty of pet friendly hotels in Banff.

How to Save Money in Banff with Kids

It’s no secret, Banff is expensive. Don’t let this stress you out, there are plenty of ways to visit Banff on a budget. The wonderful thing about Banff is that while some of the attractions are quite costly, there are so many things to do in Banff that are free.

Biking to Johnston Canyon along Bow Valley Parkway

Two simple ways to save money while in Banff with kids are:

  1. Pack a picnic for lunch.
    Having a self-catered breakfast and lunch help keep the costs down. Packing a lunch is the best way since you can find one of the most scenic spots for lunch.

  2. Choose free activities.
    If your family is outdoorsy, you’re likely to be doing this anyways. Banff has some of the most incredible hikes and they don’t cost a thing!
biking in Banff with Kids

Best Things to do in Banff with Kids

1. Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon is one of Banff’s most popular attractions and for good reason. Johnston Canyon gives visitors a chance to hike up a canyon and get up close and personal to a waterfall.

Hikers can enter a cave to get a better look at the Lower Falls while getting soaked by the spray. The Upper Falls are even more impressive. They can be seen from a lower viewing platform and from up above the falls for two different perspectives.

Johnston Canyon Upper Falls from view point below the falls

While Johnston Canyon attracts many visitors, it’s still well worth the time to add it to your Banff itinerary. This is one of the best Banff attractions with kids, as they’ll love the elevated platforms that don’t really feel like hiking.

A visit to Johnston Canyon in 2021 will look a little different with the Bow Valley Parkway closed to vehicle traffic. This is a wonderful opportunity add a cycling component to your Johnston Canyon visit by biking the Bow Valley Parkway from Castle Junction to Johnston Canyon (6 km each way).

If that’s not an option, Roam transit can also get you to Johnston Canyon.

If taking transit is part of your plan, please check the Roam Route #9 Bus to Johnston Canyon – Schedule and Route before heading out to make sure there haven’t been any changes.

Empty Raised walking platforms along Johnston Canyon Hike

2. Banff Gondola

Complete with a gondola ride, insane mountain views and a mountain boardwalk, the Banff Gondola is one of the best things to do in Banff in summer. The mountain scenery from the top is simply jaw-dropping. The Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk is an easy walk in Banff that will feel like you’re on top of the world with the Bow Valley and six mountain ranges as your backdrop.

View from Sulphur Mountain in Banff

There are two restaurants at the top, which offer a dining experience with views that can’t be beat. With interactive exhibits inside and a stroll along the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk, this is a Banff experience for the entire family.

Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk - things to do in Banff for kids

If your family is up for it, you can hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain and take the gondola down for half the regular price (5 & under are free).

Strollers are not recommended for the Banff Gondola experience.

3. Visit Lake Louise

No trip to Banff National Park is complete without a visit to Lake Louise. Even kids will be impressed looking out at the turquoise blue water surrounded by the jagged mountain peaks.

The Victoria Glacier overlooks Lake Louise.

One of the best easy hikes in Lake Louise is a very enjoyable walk along the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail. The trail is as flat as you can get in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with virtually no noticeable elevation gain to contend with.

Best things to do at Lake Louise with kids:

  1. Rent a canoe and see the lake from a different perspective.
  2. Walk the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail.
  3. Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House (7.6 km out & back / 433 m elevation gain).
  4. For the extra adventurous, hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers with a stop at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House (14.6 km out & back / 588 m elevation gain).
Banff Hiking - heading towards massive Banff glaciers

*Note parking at Lake Louise will be paid parking for the 2021 summer season. Get more tips on finding free parking in Banff here.

4. Visit Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is easily one of the most beautiful lakes you’ll visit. This glacially fed lake in Banff will have you in awe with its turquoise blue color.

Canoe Rental Moraine Lake Banff NP

Just 14 km outside the village of Lake Louise, visitors come early to see this lake at sunrise. You can expect to have to arrive early to get a parking spot.

Here are the best things to do with kids at Moraine Lake:

  1. Rent a canoe to head out on the lake.
  2. Hike the 2.6 km Moraine Lake shoreline trail.
  3. Climb up the short Moraine Lake Rockpile to the viewpoint for a different perspective.
  4. Hike to Consolation Lakes (5.8 km out & back / 255 m elevation gain).
easy hikes at Moraine Lake with kids

5. Hike to Consolation Lakes

While visiting Moraine Lake, take the opportunity to escape the crowds for a bit with this kid-friendly Banff hike.

hike to Consolation Lakes in Banff NP

The beginning of this Moraine Lake hike has a bit of an uphill climb through a rock pile at the base of majestic Tower of Babel. The Consolation Lakes hike then leads hikers through a dense mountain forest.

Hiking at Moraine Lake with Kids - Consolation Lakes

This easy Banff walk ends at a very scenic spot along the shores of Babel Creek. Hikers who wish to reach the shoreline of the Consolation Lakes will need to do some minor scrambling for approximately 100 m over some medium-sized boulders. The boulders are a good spot to see a rare marmot – please help them stay wild by not feeding them.

Hoary marmot in Banff National Park

6. Lake Louise Playground

While in Lake Louise, make a stop just for the kids. New in 2020, the Lake Louise playground is for the most adventurous kids. It’s located off Village Road at the Lake Louise Sport and Recreation Centre.

Lake Louise Playground

Be prepared to have to tear your kids away from this fun Lake Louise playground.

7. Sunshine Meadows

Hiking Sunshine Meadows offers some of the most incredible mountain scenery within Banff National Park. This spectacular hike is located within the Sunshine Village ski resort.

The entire experience is fun for kids. Start with a scenic 4.3km gondola ride to the ski resort. Once at the top, you take the Standish Express Quad chairlift. If you’ve been skiing with kids at Sunshine while visiting Banff in winter, this will be a fun experience to see it in the summer.

best banff hikes with kids - Sunshine Meadows

There are several hiking trails to choose from within Sunshine Meadows. The easiest scenic route we recommend is Trail 2 (Standish Viewing Deck Loop) to Trail 3 (Rock Isle Junction) to Trail 1 (Rock Isle Road).

Sunshine Meadows Hike - Banff National Park with Kids

Get more information on the Sunshine Meadows hike here, but note that unfortunately Sunshine Meadows will be close in Summer 2021.

8. Hike Tunnel Mountain in Banff

Kids can proudly tell their friends that they summited a mountain in Banff. The Tunnel Mountain trail is the easiest hike to a mountain summit in Banff National Park.

Two kids enjoying the view at the top of Tunnel Mountain - a popular kid-friendly hike in Banff National Park

The Tunnel Mountain hike is a gradual uphill trail, so there will still be some work involved but the views are worth it. You will be rewarded with excellent views of the Banff Townsite, the iconic Banff Springs Hotel and the surrounding mountain landscape of Banff National Park.

Tunnel Mountain is one of our favorite easy hikes in Banff with the kids.

9. Vermilion Lakes

The Vermilion Lakes are just a short distance west of the town of Banff along the Vermilion Lakes Road. You can walk the Vermilion Lakes Road, with impressive mountain views behind the three lakes that make up Vermilion Lakes. You can walk up to 4.4 km before turning back. Just be aware that this road is shared with vehicle traffic.

stand up paddle boarding in Banff from docks on Vermilion Lakes

The Vermilion Lakes are perfect for a canoe or stand up paddle in Banff with kids.

10. Fenland Loop

Walk along the 2.1 km Fenland Trail loop. It’s an easy kid friendly walk through the wooded marshland along the banks of the Forty Mile Creek. This easy Banff hike can be accessed right from the town of Banff.

easy hike in Banff with kids - Fenland Loop trail

Don’t forget to stop for a picture at the nearby Banff town sign. The Fenland trail connects up to the Bow River Trail which is a paved path that will take you to Central Park (0.9 km) or further to Surprise Corner (1.4 km).

11. Bow Falls

Bow Falls is a must-see in Banff. This wide but short waterfall will impress you with its intense flow. You can reach the Bow Falls viewpoint by crossing the Banff Pedestrian Bridge from the Bow River Trail and following the paved Bow Falls Trail to the viewpoint.  

Bow Falls near downtown Banff

12. See the Banff Springs Hotel

Even if you aren’t staying at the iconic Banff Springs Hotel it’s worth a visit. This European chateau tucked in the Canadian Rocky Mountains will impress you with its grandeur as you walk into the grand lobby.

The iconic "Castle in the Rockies" - the Banff Springs Hotel

Wishing you could stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs? Get all the tips for finding Banff Springs Hotel deals.

See the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel from a stunning vantage point from Surprise Corner in Banff. This is also the location of the start of Hoodoos Trail.

13. Hoodoos Trail

While you can see these impressive rock spires at the Hoodoos Viewpoint along Tunnel Mountain Road (which has a parking lot), doing it as a hike is also worthwhile.

Hoodoos in Banff - hiking in banff area

Starting at Surprise Corner, you’ll love the vantage point of the iconic Banff Springs Hotel. From there, you’ll meander through the forest with incredible views of the Bow River and Mount Rundle. After climbing on to the ridge along Tunnel Mountain Road, the views over the valley are equally impressive.

14. Visit the Scenic Mountain Lakes

Just 20 minutes from the Banff townsite along Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive are three glacial lakes that are well worth a visit.

Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake is the one closest to Banff. Johnson Lake has a picnic area and a small sandy beach for kids to play in. There’s also a short easy hike around Johnson Lake with impressive mountain views.

The kid-friendly Banff hike around Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake is a perfect spot to spend the day in the mountains. It’s also a great place for stand up paddle boarding with kids.

Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake, home to two popular campgrounds in Banff, has similar offerings to Johnson Lake. There’s an easy walk along the shores of Two Jack Lake. The lake itself is perfect for Banff watersports like canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding.

two jack lake paddle boarding in Banff with kids

Two Jack Lake is also ideal for anyone looking for a picnic spot near a lake or to do some swimming (if you can brave the cold water).  

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, Banff’s largest lake, is where you can go on a boat cruise. If a boat cruise isn’t your style, you can also rent a motorboat, canoe or kayak and get on the water on your own.

Lake Minnewanka - places to visit in banff

For anyone hoping to get in some fishing in Banff, there are guided fishing trips at Lake Minnewanka.

Hiking with kids in Banff National Park - Stewart Canyon Hike

Lake Minnewanka is also a popular picnic spot. For hikers, the Stewart Canyon trail or the Lake Minnewanka trail are both fun hiking options. For the Lake Minnewanka trail, plan to go as far as you want then turn back.

15. Cascade Ponds

If you are looking for the perfect picnic spot in Banff, look no further than Cascade Ponds. Cascade Ponds lies at the base of Cascade Mountain. Complete with fire pits, picnic tables, Cascade Ponds is the ideal spot to have a relaxing day.

Cascade Ponds are a popular picnic spot in Banff with kids

You can also find another of Banff’s easy hikes at Cascade Ponds. This kid-friendly Banff hike is a 1.5 loop over footbridges and between the ponds.

Cascade Ponds is also reached along Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive and it makes a good starting point for biking the Legacy Trail with kids.

The Banff Legacy Trail bike ride from Canmore to Banff

16. Bike the Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail is a 26 km paved trail that connects Canmore to Banff. While at times you have the highway noise to contend with, this is still a fun way to get between the towns.

Cycling Legacy Trail with Kids

If you plan to bike the Legacy Trail only one way, ride from Banff to Canmore as it’s mostly downhill the entire way then hop on the Roam Transit Canmore-Banff Regional (Route 3) to get back to Banff. Keep in mind the bus can only accommodate six bikes at a time.

Alternatively, start the bike ride on the Legacy trail from the Canmore Information Centre and ride to Banff for lunch before returning back to Canmore.

Canmore to Banff biking Legacy Trail with kids

When biking the Legacy Trail with kids, we recommend going early in the morning as it will be far less busy.

17. Lower Bankhead Ghost Town

Also located near Lake Minnewanka is the Lower Bankhead Ghost Town. Bankhead was a coal mining town near Banff in the early 1900’s. The remnants of this old mining town are still there and an interpretive trail will tell the story as you complete the 1.1 km loop.

Banff hiking trails with kids - Lower Bankhead Ghost Town

This easy Banff hike is perfect with kids as they’ll be excited to explore the ruins of the Bankhead Ghost Town.

easy hike in Banff with kids - Lower Bankhead

18. Cave and Basin National Historic Site

The discovery of hot springs at the Cave and Basin site led to the creation of Banff, Canada’s first national park. Visitors to the Cave and Basin will walk through a narrow tunnel to see the mineral rich water in an atmospheric cave. Then spend some time watching the movies and learning from the interactive exhibits at the Visitor Centre.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site - things to do in Banff with Kids

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy at the Cave and Basin, which include easy hiking trails along the Bow River, like a walk along the Marsh Loop or the kid-friendly bike ride to Sundance Canyon.

There are plenty of jaw-dropping views along this kid-friendly Banff bike trail

19. Sundance Canyon Bike and Hike

The Sundance Canyon can be reached along the paved trail from the Cave and Basin. It’s 3.7 km one way from the trailhead to the start of the Sundance Canyon. There are some impressive mountain views as you bike along the Bow River. Once at the Sundance Canyon, there’s a place to lock up bikes before completing the 1.6 km loop on foot.

thing to do with kids in Banff - bike the paved Sundance Canyon biking trail in Banff National Park

Though Sundance Canyon is a short Banff hike, there are some challenging spots where younger kids will need some help.

The entire excursion can be done by walking, but it makes for an excellent bike ride in Banff with kids. On the way back, you can go off the paved trail by finishing along the Marsh Loop.

Water flowing in Sundance Canyon in Banff National Park

20. Banff Upper Hot Springs

It’s easy to be on the go all the time, with so many things to do in Banff with kids. Take some time to relax and soak those tired muscles at the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Banff Upper Hot Springs are located near the top of Sulphur Mountain and 4 km from the Banff townsite.

21. Icefields Parkway

From Lake Louise you can drive North up the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway is one of the worlds most scenic drives as it winds itself up through both Banff and Jasper Nationals parks over 232 kilometers.

Visiting the Icefields Parkway is worth spending an entire day on this drive and stopping at the many attractions along the way.

The brilliant turquoise water of Peyto Lake as seen from the easy hike to the viewpoint

Peyto Lake, Mistaya Canyon, Sunwapta Falls, Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Falls are all great spots to stop.

22. Lake Louise Gondola

The Lake Louise Gondola is another opportunity to get some of the most stunning views in Banff National Park. Even more exciting is the possibility of seeing grizzly bears down below. There are some hiking trails at the top as well.

23. Spot wildlife

One of the main attractions of Banff National Park, besides the mountains themselves, is spotting the Rocky Mountain wildlife in their natural habitat. Save some time for viewing wildlife or join an organized tour like this evening wildlife safari.

Bear in Banff National Park

24. Horseback riding

See Banff from the back of a horse as you join a trail ride for an hour or for the afternoon. With so many options and no experience required, this is a fun Banff activity for the entire family.

*Kids must be 8 years or older for the horseback riding in Banff

25. Raft tour

Take the kids on a scenic float down the Bow River with Rocky Mountain Raft Tours. You’ll get a different perspective seeing the mountains from the water and with any luck spot some wildlife along the way.

26. Banff Avenue

With so much to do during the day, spend the evenings walking along Banff Avenue where you can try the many different restaurants and visit all the shops.

Walking along Banff Avenue in Banff National Park with Kids

The kids will be excited to stop in the Banff Sweet Shoppe or the Fudgery for some amazing treats.

27. Visit Nearby Canmore with Kids

Whether you are staying in Banff National Park or saving some money by staying in Canmore, you’ll still want to leave some time to explore this scenic mountain town.

Hike to Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lakes is one of the most popular Canmore hikes and once you do it you’ll see why. Hiking to Grassi Lakes is an easy 2 km hike on a wide trail through the forest that ends at the stunning blue-green lakes. The pictures don’t do this place justice, especially if you catch it on a sunny, blue sky day.

Hiking Grassi Lakes with toddler in Canmore

Explore Canmore Walking Trails

Canmore has an extensive pathway system where you can enjoy an easy walk while taking in the mountain scenery. The Bow River Loop Trail is one of the most popular Canmore walking trails that is 2 km long and takes walkers across the impressive Canmore Engine Bridge, built in 1891 by Canadian Pacific Railway. Starting at Riverside Park, enjoy the views of Mount Rundle, Ha Ling Peak and the Three Sisters.

West Canmore Park Playground in Canmore, Alberta

Especially for kids, when you get back to Bridge Road continue on the pathway, instead of crossing the bridge, which will turn into a wide gravel path. You’ll soon end up at West Canmore Park playground. Kids can play while parents can enjoy the incredible scenery.

Quarry Lake

For an especially hot summer day, visit Quarry Lake. This small lake has a nice 1 km loop around it plus a small beach where kids can play. Quarry Lake is a fun place to stand up paddle board in Canmore.

Quarry Lake paddle boarding with kids in Canmore

Quarry Lake parking fees: Effective May 14, 2021 visitors will have to pay to park at Quarry Lake. Quarry Lake paid parking will be in place the entire year, seven days a week from 7am to 10pm. In peak season, parking at Quarry Lake will cost $20 for 4 hours ($10 for 4 hours in non-peak season).

Hike Heart Creek

While technically in Kananaskis but only 17 km from Canmore is the popular and kid friendly Heart Creek trail. Hikers follow the path of the gently flowing Heart Creek into the belly of a dramatic mountain canyon, filled with large evergreen trees and boulders on the canyon floor. The best part of hiking Heart Creek trail for kids is crossing fun, little wooden bridges over Heart Creek time-and-again.

The Heart Creek Trail near Canmore features many bridges, an evergreen forest and beautiful mountain views

Canmore Ice Cream Bus

Every Canmore adventure should end at the popular Canmore Ice Cream Bus.

Canmore Ice Cream Bus - Fun things to do in Canmore with kids

28. Hike in Kananaskis

For anyone staying in the area longer, there are some incredible kid-friendly hikes in Kananaskis that even parents will love. The best place to start is with these 12 Easy Kananaskis Hikes.

Some of our favorite kid-friendly hikes in Kananaskis are:

Mt. Chester as seen from the Chester Lake Trail in Kananaskis Country, Canada

Banff Family Itinerary

As you can see, there are so many things to do in Banff in summer with kids. It can feel overwhelming when trying to build your Banff family itinerary. Here is an example 5 day itinerary for Banff with kids:

Day 1: Familiarize yourself with the town of Banff. Visit Bow Falls, Surprise Corner, the Hoodoos, Fenland Trail and Vermilion Lakes. Hike up Tunnel Mountain or take the Banff Gondola for a different perspective.

Day 2: Visit the birthplace of Canada National Parks at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Take the time to bike to Sundance Canyon and hike the loop. Relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

The Sundance Canyon hike near Cave & Basin is a fun thing to do with kids in Banff

Day 3: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. See the lakes and plan on one amazing hike in the area. Be prepared with shuttle tickets if you don’t want to worry about parking.

Day 4: Visit Johnston Canyon in the morning. Spend the day in the area hiking up to the Ink Pots or visit one of the scenic mountain lakes (Johnson Lake, Two Jack Lake or Lake Minnewanka).

Two Jack Lake is a popular place to SUP in Banff

Day 5: Bike the Legacy Trail and spend some time exploring the town of Canmore.

With more time add on more fun activities in Banff for kids: play at the beach at Johnson Lake, enjoy a raft tour, or go horseback riding.

Other areas that shouldn’t be missed are a drive up the Icefields Parkway or doing fun kid friendly hikes in Kananaskis.

What to Pack for Visiting Banff with Kids

Whether you are visiting Banff in the summer or in the spring/fall seasons, you’ll want to pack the following:

  1. Warm layers

    Yes, even in the summer it can be chilly and you’ll be glad you have them. Choose warm layers that pack small and that you can carry around with you. As you hike to higher elevations, the air will get much colder and you’ll be glad you have them.

  2. Rain gear

    You don’t want to miss getting outside, even if it is raining. Rain gear is easy to pack and doesn’t take a lot of space.

  3. Hiking shoes

    Hiking shoes or boots are much better for hiking in the mountains. Sure, you can get by with runners on the easy hikes, but for anything more challenging we recommend a good hiking shoe for the whole family. You’ll get more ankle support and more traction on slippery trails.

  4. Backpack

    Have a good backpack for when you’ll be inevitably taking layers on and off. You’ll also need room for your packed lunch and plenty of water.

  5. Battery Pack

    Taking plenty of pictures will make your phone battery die faster, be prepared with a portable battery pack.

  6. Hats

    You’ll be spending a lot of time outside, so you’ll be glad to have some sun protection. Especially if heading out on the water, make sure to pack a sun hat.

  7. Water Bottles

    Make sure you always have plenty of water on hand, especially for hiking in Banff in the summer. An easier solution is to fill a water bladder, so you have enough water for everyone.

  8. Other items to pack

    Bathing suit, sun screen, and bug spray.

Tips for Hiking in Banff with Kids

1. Be wildlife smart.

  • Never approach wildlife for a picture and always keep a safe distance.
  • Travel in a group and make a lot of noise.
  • Unfortunately, hiking in Banff means keeping kids nearby and not letting kids run up ahead.
  • Bring bear spray and know how to use it. If you don’t own bear spray, rent or purchase bear spray in Banff.
wildlife in Banff NP - Pika

2. Choose hikes within your abilities.

  • There are plenty of Banff hikes for kids or walks that are perfect for families.
  • Don’t attempt a mountain scramble if you don’t have the experience or knowledge to do it.
  • Know when to turn back. It’s better to live to hike another day than to do something you aren’t prepared for or knowledgeable about.
Banff Hikes with Kids - C-Level Cirque

3. Plan ahead.

  • Use an app like AllTrails to download maps before heading out on the trails.
  • Have a backup plan for your phone in case the battery dies. A portable charger is perfect for this.
  • Know that many areas don’t have cell service, so you can’t depend on it to call for help if you need it.

4. Pack hiking essentials for the day.

  • The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Always pack warm layers if heading out on a long hike.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks with you.  
  • Don’t forget the bear spray and carry it in an easy to reach place with a Scat Belt.

5. Have the right hiking gear.

  • While expensive gear isn’t necessary, having the right gear can make all the difference.
  • Proper footwear makes a big difference on harder and longer hikes.
  • Have a good backpack to carry all your warm layers
  • Always use life jackets when heading out on the water.
  • Bring a baby carrier or a toddler carrier. Little legs can get tired and you’ll be able to see much more. Our preference was always for using a hiking backpack carrier.
beaches in Banff National Park - Johnson Lake with kids

Gear Rentals in Banff & Area

Camping gear

Don’t let the lack of camping gear stop you from camping in Banff. Rent camping gear in Banff from:

Rental Bikes for Kids

It can be hard to find kids rental bikes, but they can be rented in Banff. You can find kids bikes with 20″ or 24″ tires for rent. A 20″ tire bike should fit kids around 5 and half years old to about 8 years old. A 24″ tired bike will fit 8-11 years old. For kids younger than 5 years old a chariot trailer or trail-a-bike is another option.

For any bike rentals, make sure they will also have a appropriately sized helmet for both you and your child.

kid friendly bike trail in Banff - Water Tower Trail

Bear spray

You can’t fly with bear spray, but it can be purchased when you arrive in Canmore or in Banff. Alternatively, bear spray can be rented at the following places:

Stand Up Paddle Board Rentals

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Plan your trip to Banff with Kids. This guide is filled with ideas on what to do with kids in Banff, including everything from the best Banff hikes with kids to fun attractions in Banff for kids.

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