Ultimate Guide to Banff with Kids in Summer

Visiting National Parks with our kids is one of our favourite things to do whenever we travel. It’s no wonder we’ve chosen to live right beside one. If you are wondering where to go on your next family vacation, Banff with kids (in the summer) is an excellent choice.

Whether it’s getting out on the hiking trails or canoeing across a turquoise lake, you’ll find so many things to do in Banff with kids in summer! Banff National Park has so many family-friendly activities, that you probably won’t be able to cover them all in one trip.

In this Ultimate Guide to Banff with Kids in Summer, you’ll get much more than a list of the best things to do. I’ll share where to stay in Banff with kids, how to keep everyone safe while exploring and how to get the most out of your trip.

two kids throw rocks into the Bow River in Banff.

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Best Things to do in Banff in Summer with Kids

Let’s start with the best things to do in Banff with kids in summer. You’ll find tons of kid-friendly activities in Banff suitable for all ages. You’ll find hiking trails for all ages, a list of lakes to visit or even swim in and much more.

Johnston Canyon with Kids

Johnston Canyon is one of my kids favourite hikes in Banff National Park. While they aren’t always excited about going a hike, they are always up for the hike up Johnston Canyon. It’s really the perfect hike for kids because it has plenty to keep them engaged along the way.

two kids sitting in front of a waterfall along the Johnston Canyon hike.

The elevated boardwalks are fun to walk and don’t feel at all like hiking. There are plenty of squirrels and chipmunks running across the trail. At the Lower Falls, there’s a little cave they can climb into to get up closer to the falls (getting sprayed with water too). The Upper Falls is a little steeper but they happily make the trek. This is a good place to stop for a snack or lunch and you’ll find some perfectly located benches in this area.

One of the many waterfalls along the Johnston Canyon Hike in Banff National Park.

The only challenge with Johnston Canyon is that it can get over crowded which can ruin the overall experience. We always try to get out on the trail before the crowds and rarely visit on a weekend.

One way to avoid this is to stay at Johnston Canyon Cabins so you can easily get out on the trail before the crowds arriver or after they leave! The Johnston Canyon Cabins are perfectly located at the trailhead at Johnston Canyon and because they are on the Bow Valley Parkway, they are right in between Banff and Lake Louise. My kids love staying in cabins and Johnston Canyon Cabins was no exception!

two kids sitting on chairs outside of Johnston Canyon Cabins in Banff National Park.
Our kids enjoying our time at Johnston Canyon Cabins

Lake Louise with Kids

Lake Louise is a must visit with kids. While they may not be able to appreciate how stunning the location is with it’s turquoise waters surrounded by mountains and the Victoria Glacier as the backdrop, you will!

There’s plenty to do as a family at Lake Louise. Canoeing on the lake with kids is a fun experience for the whole family. Just make sure to arrive early so you don’t have to spend too much time waiting in line.

Dan Brewer and two kids canoeing on Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Canoeing on Lake Louise with our two kids

Lake Louise is also home to several of the best hikes in Banff. A hike up to Fairview Lookout (2 km out-and-back), while short and steep, offers incredible views of the Chateau Lake Louise and surrounding mountains. If your kids have the stamina, hiking to the Lake Agnes Teahouse is well worth it (6.8 km out-and-back). If they are able to go further, then continue on to the Big Beehive hike.

two kids standing in front of Lake Agnes (Lake Louise).
Our kids hiked up to Lake Agnes

Finally, if your kids can manage the distance (14.6 km out-and-back), hiking to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse is an incredibly beautiful hike at Lake Louise.

If hiking isn’t your thing, the Lake Louise lakeshore walk is also beautiful and is on an easy flat path.

Chateau Lake Louise from the end of the Lake Louise lakeshore trail.
The view from the end of Lake Louise towards the Chateau Lake Louise

Similar to Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise can get very crowded in the summer months. There are some benefits to staying at the Chateau Lake Louise, including having time at Lake Louise with less people, being closer to Yoho National Park and the Icefields Parkway and even getting to skip the line for canoeing on Lake Louise!

Lake Louise Gondola with Kids

Chances are that you’ll be taking a shuttle to either Lake Louise, Moraine Lake or both during your visit. Since the shuttles leave from the Lake Louise Ski Resort, it’s a perfect opportunity to take the Lake Louise Summer Gondola.

With the choice of taking the chairlift or a gondola, it’s a fun and safe experience for the whole family. We always choose to take the chairlift, since it’s a more exciting experience getting to ride on the chairlifts plus we are always on the lookout for grizzly bears. The Lake Louise gondola and chairlift give visitors a chance to see and observe these incredible animals since it passes over a wildlife corridor.

a family of four on the Lake Louise Gondola.
Taking the chairlift at the Lake Louise Summer Gondola

We actually haven’t seen a grizzly bear from the chairlift yet, so hopefully you’ll be luckier than we are! We did see a lynx though!

At the top, there’s a viewpoint that looks over at Lake Louise. It’s pretty impressive to be able to see the lake from this vantage point. Kids will also enjoy the interpretive centre. There are a couple of hikes at the top that are pretty when the wildflowers are blooming and even better during larch season in late September.

boy in front of moose head at interpretive centre at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Our son giving the moose a look at the interpretive centre at the Lake Louise gondola

And after all that excitement, you can relax and enjoy a meal at the Whitehorn Bistro, which has one of the most spectacular dining views in the Canadian Rockies.

Moraine Lake with Kids

When it comes to unforgettable family adventures, visiting Moraine Lake with kids is a must-do on your Banff itinerary. This stunning glacier-fed lake, known for its dazzling turquoise waters, is surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks, offering breathtaking views.

Celine Brewer and child watching sunrise at Moraine Lake
Catching a Moraine Lake sunrise with our kids

While many people visit Moraine Lake and don’t venture must past the shores of the lake or up the rockpile trail, Moraine Lake is home to some incredible day hikes in Banff.

You’ll want to venture up the Rockpile Trail for the most iconic views of Moraine Lake, but from there continue on to the Consolation Lakes trail (6 km out-and-back). With kids, Consolation Lakes is any easy hike with stunning views. Your kids will love spotting the hoary marmots among the rocks.

The Moraine Lake lakeshore trail is flat and easy, especially good for those little legs.

For more of a challenge with older kids, hike up to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass (11.4 km out-and-back). Which is beautiful even outside of larch season and you can’t beat the views from Sentinel Pass.

a mother and two kids sit on a rock after hiking to Minnestimma Lakes from Moraine Lake in Banff.
Having a break after a hike up to Larch Valley with kids in early September

You can also rent a canoe at Moraine Lake if your kids prefer to get out on the water. We’ve brought our stand up paddle boards on a shuttle and enjoyed getting on this beautiful lake with the towering mountains.

If visiting Moraine Lake at sunrise is on your Banff bucket list, it is possible with kids though the wake up time is pretty early!

Lake Minnewanka with Kids

Lake Minnewanka is an excellent place to spend a day in Banff. With hiking opportunities, a boat cruise and the perfect picnic area, you don’t need to rush through your visit.

The kids walk up the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise.
Our kids walking on the dock to join the Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise

I recommend starting your time at Lake Minnewanka with the boat cruise. Our kids really enjoyed the stories they learned about Banff National Park. From there, venture to the picnic area and let the kids play along the shores of Lake Minnewanka.

Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise.

The Stewart Canyon trail is a nice easy hike for the whole family (7.6 km out-and-back). The Lake Minnewanka trail is a very long trail (30 km out-and-back), but you can also do a portion of it then turn back.

On Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, you’ll find plenty of other places to stop and it’s an excellent place to spot some wildlife, so don’t rush through it!

Johnson Lake with Kids

A locals favourite, Johnson Lake is a smaller lake in Banff National Park that also covers all the activities you can do with kids. It’s also found along Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive.

The 3 km hike around Johnson Lake not only offers incredible mountain views, but it has a secret! There’s a hermit cabin found in the woods, that kids will love to discover!

The hermit cabin found along the Johnson Lake hike in Banff National Park.
The hermit cabin at Johnson Lake

With it’s shallow, clear waters, Johnson Lake is also one of the best lakes for kids to play in. Not quite as cold as others (though it will still be chilly), there’s also a small sandy shores for kids to play in. Complete with a picnic area, it’s the perfect place to be on a hot summer day.

mother and daughter on a paddle board at Johnson Lake in Banff.
Paddleboarding on Johnson Lake in the summer

In the summer, we love to take our stand up paddle boards out on Johnson Lake. It’s an easy paddle to make it to the end of the lake and back. There’s also a hose to wash down your paddle board, making it a very convenient location in Banff for stand up paddleboarding.

Always remember to follow the water activity rules for Banff National Park, which gives specific timelines and rules for using watercraft and water recreation gear (including all inflatables) in any bodies of water in the park. You must also self-certify and you’ll find the forms to do this right at the lake.

Finally, if your kids prefer mountain biking, you can also bike from Johnson Lake. There’s a 4.3 km (one-way) mountain bike trail that runs from Johnson Lake to Cascade Ponds. It’s a fairly easy trail to the water tower then it becomes more challenging. Between the water tower and Cascade Ponds, you’ll be riding over a lot more roots and to get down to Cascade Ponds it’s a long set of stairs. I recommend riding until you get to the viewpoint looking down on Cascade Ponds, then returning the way you came.

boy mountain biking near Johnson Lake in Banff.
Our son mountain biking near Johnson Lake

Cascade Ponds

Cascade Ponds is one of the best picnic spots in Banff. With incredible views of both Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle, you can enjoy a nice leisurely walk around the ponds.

bridge and view of Mt Rundle at Cascade Ponds.

The crystal-clear ponds are shallow, making them ideal for kids to splash around in during the warm summer months. The grassy areas surrounding the ponds are perfect for a game of frisbee or a family picnic, with several picnic tables and fire pits available for use.

The Cascade Ponds area is a great place to stop while you’re exploring the other lakes (Lake Minnewanka, Johnson Lake and Two Jack Lake) on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive.

Tunnel Mountain with Kids

Tunnel Mountain, despite its name, doesn’t actually have a tunnel. The name comes from a proposed railway tunnel that was never built. It was once called Sleeping Buffalo by the Stoney people, since it looks like a sleeping buffalo from certain vantage points.

Tunnel Mountain offers a relatively easy and incredibly rewarding hike, that’s perfect for families with kids. Kids will be proud to summit Tunnel Mountain and take in the incredible views at the top! Aside from the panoramic views of the town of Banff, you’ll also look down on the Bow River and get impressive views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Kids at the Tunnel Mountain Summit in Banff
Our kids the first time they hiked Tunnel Mountain

Tunnel Mountain hike leaves right from the town of Banff, making it a quick and easy hike to get to. Hiking Tunnel Mountain is 4.6 km out and back with 266 m of elevation gain.

Sunshine Meadows with Kids

Sunshine Meadows is one of our favourite places to visit in the summer. The stunning alpine setting reached by the Sunshine Gondola ride followed by a ride up the Standish chairlift is a fun experience that the kids love. From the Standish viewing deck are some of the most incredible views.

Sunshine Gondola to Sunshine Meadows in Banff.

From there you can do an easy hike back down to Sunshine Village gondola station, hiking along trails surrounded by wildflowers and passing crystal-clear lakes with spectacular mountain views.

There are over 11 km of hiking trails up at Sunshine Meadows. The easiest trail is to hike from the Standish Viewing deck down to the Rock Isle Viewpoint then continue on the Rock Isle Road down to the gondola station. Before hopping back on the gondola, we always stop at the interpretive centre.

a mother and two kids hike at Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park.
Celine and the kids hiking at Sunshine Meadows

When we have more time, we like to do all the trails and finish on the Twin Cairns to the Monarch Lookout trail. Which ever trails you take, you’ll love hiking in the alpine meadows filled with wildflowers and surrounded by the mountain landscapes.

Always keep an eye out for local wildlife, like marmots, pikas, a fox and even bears.

Banff Gondola with Kids

Taking the Banff Gondola with kids is another easy but fun adventure with kids. As you ascend Sulphur Mountain, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley, and the town of Banff.

two kids on Banff Gondola.
Still wearing masks for this trip up the Banff Gondola

Once you reach the summit, there’s plenty more to explore. Check out the interactive exhibits at the interpretive centre, take a stroll along the boardwalk to the Cosmic Ray Station and Sanson’s Peak, or enjoy a meal with a view at one of the summit’s restaurants.

The Banff Gondola is a must-do activity for families visiting Banff, offering a different perspective of the Canadian Rockies.

Peyto Lake with Kids

Just up the Icefields Parkway (past Bow Lake) is a short path up to a viewpoint over Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is one of Banff’s most beautiful lakes. The paved path up to the viewpoint makes it an easy outing for the whole family.

two kids posing for a picture in front of Peyto Lake along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park.
Peyto Lake is the perfect backdrop for a picture

If you are up for more hiking, continue past the Peyto Lake viewpoint on a short interpretive loop or hike up to Bow Summit for even more impressive views!

Peyto Lake is a popular stop for tour buses, so be prepared to share it!

a father and two kids hiking up to Bow Summit from Peyto Lake in Banff National Park.
Dan and the kids climbing the final section to Bow Summit

Other Banff Hikes with Kids

Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Banff National Park. With an abundance of family-friendly trails, you can get away from the crowds by choosing some lesser known hikes.

Here are a few more fun hikes for kids in Banff National Park.

Lower Bankhead Trail

This 1.1 km loop trail is relatively flat and easy, making it perfect for kids. The trail takes you through the ghost town of Bankhead, an old coal mining town that was operational in the early 20th century. Along the trail, you’ll see remnants of the old mining operations, including mine entrances, processing buildings, and even some old machinery.

Informational plaques dot the trail, offering insights into the town’s history and the lives of the miners who lived and worked here. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Banff’s past, and while it might seem like a great educational experience for kids, they are probably just going to enjoy running around and discovering all the nooks and crannies.

two kids run down a hill towards an abandoned building at Lower Bankhead in Banff.
The kids are too excited to wait for us to explore Bankhead

Fenland Loop Trail

The Fenland Loop Trail is fun little trail right from the town of Banff. This 2.1 kilometre trail is a flat, easy loop that winds its way through a beautiful, old-growth forest, making it an ideal choice for families or for those seeking a leisurely stroll.

A boy hikes the Fenland Trail in Banff.

The trail also takes you alongside the peaceful Forty Mile Creek, where you might spot some local wildlife, such as elk, going about their day.

two kids playing in the 40 Mile Creek in Banff.
Creeks are for throwing rocks in!

The Fenland Loop Trail is conveniently located just a short walk from the town of Banff, making it easily accessible for a quick nature escape. The trail is also equipped with a few benches along the way, providing perfect spots for a quiet moment of reflection or a picnic lunch.

Upper Stoney Lookout Trail

The Upper Stoney Lookout Trail is an easy to moderate hike and a favorite among locals. You’ll get a workout climbing to the top, but will be rewarded with stunning views of the Bow Valley and surrounding mountains.

The hike to the Upper Stoney Lookout is approximately 4.6 kilometers round trip, with an elevation gain of about 275 meters. This hike leaves from the Mt Norquay Ski Resort parking lot.

a boy hiking Upper Stoney trail in Banff.
Our son on one of the many times we have hiked Upper Stoney

Kid-Friendly Bike Trails

If your family is more into biking than hiking, here are three kid-friendly bike trails in Banff National Park.

Legacy Trail from Banff to Canmore

This paved trail stretches from Canmore to the town of Banff, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a relatively flat and easy ride, making it perfect for families with kids. This is a busy trail, so I recommend going earlier in the day and making sure your kids know to stay on their side of the trail. The easiest direction is going from Banff to Canmore.

a father and son bike the Legacy trail from Banff to Canmore.
Dan and our son on the Legacy Trail from Banff to Canmore

Sundance Canyon Trail in Banff

The Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon is the perfect mix of a bike ride and hiking. The Sundance Trail starts from behind the Cave and Basin. It’s a paved trail for 4 km, then you’ll park your bikes and hike the Sundance Canyon loop. Sundance Canyon is a shorter and more rugged version of Johnston Canyon with small waterfalls along the way.

a mother pushing a bike helps a boy along the Sundance Canyon trail.
Celine giving a boost on the Sundance Canyon trail

Tunnel Mountain Trails

This trail offers a network of easy mountain bike trails perfect for beginners. The trails wind through the forest, offering a fun and exciting ride for kids. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful views of the Bow Valley.

Remember to always wear helmets, follow the trail rules, and respect the wildlife.

boy mountain biking on the Tunnel Mountain Trails in Banff.
Dan and kids mountain biking on the Tunnel Mountain trails in Banff

Wildlife Spotting with Kids

Seeing Banff wildlife is a pretty exciting experience for the whole family! Even as locals, we get excited to see a large herd of elk or big horn sheep. The best chance to see wildlife is to drive some of the secondary highways either early in the morning or in the evening.

a pika sitting on a rock in Banff.
A pika we spotted at the C Level Cirque hike in Banff

Even the Lake Louise gondola is an excellent place to see grizzly bears from a safe distance. We’ve even seen a lynx walking outside the fence at the top of the Lake Louise gondola.

Wherever you get to spot wildlife, always keep a safe distance and never get out of your car. Never feed any wildlife. And don’t linger too long. Let’s keep the animals wild.

a fox and her kits at Lake Minnewanka in Banff.
A mama fox and her kits in Banff

For hiking, you should always carry bear spray and know how to use it.

Please don’t ever try to position your kids with an elk or big horn sheep. This is extremely dangerous for both your child and the animal. I’ve actually seen people doing this on several occasions, so unfortunately it happens more than we’d like to believe.

a bear in Banff National Park.
A bear that surprised us along the Sundance Canyon trail

Exploring Banff Townsite with Kids

While visiting Banff National Park, spend some time in the charming town of Banff. Some of the things you can do in Banff include:

  • Strolling Banff avenue and visiting some shops. Make sure to stop for some ice cream or goodies along the way.
  • Walk the paved path from downtown to the impressive Bow Falls.
  • Getting a family picture with the Banff sign.
Banff avenue in the town of Banff with Cascade mountain in the background.

The town’s compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets make it easy to explore, ensuring you make the most of your time in this picturesque mountain town.

two kids looking at Bow Falls in Banff National Park.
The kids getting a good view of Bow Falls

Banff Playgrounds and Parks

Banff’s beautiful parks and playgrounds provide the perfect setting for family picnics, outdoor play, and relaxation. Central Park in Banff town is an excellent place to let the kids play on the playground and have a picnic. Even better if you can time it with the Banff Farmer’s Market in the summer to grab some yummy treats for your picnic.

Museums and Cultural Experiences

Immerse yourselves in Banff’s rich history and culture by visiting the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. The Cave and Basin is where the discovery of hot springs sparked the creation of Canada’s first national park.

Two kids getting shown the Banff Springs Snail at the Cave and Basin in Banff.
A Parks Canada employee showing the kids the Banff Springs Snail

It is also home of the endangered Banff Springs Snail and has a museum to learn more about the park. Outside, you’ll find a plethora of boardwalks that kids will love exploring.

A boy and girl look through a telescope along the boardwalks at the Cave and Basin in Banff National Park.
Checking out the view from the Cave and Basin boardwalks

The Banff Park Museum is the largest national history museum in Western Canada and is perfect for an indoor activity.

Horseback Riding in Banff with Kids

There are several opportunities for horseback riding in Banff National Park with kids. From the town of Banff, you can take a tour that lasts from 1 hour to 4 hours. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll enjoy a scenic tour by horseback on trails around the town of Banff. A minimum age of 8 years old is required for many of the horseback riding tours and a minimum age of 9 years old for any of the overnight tours.

At Lake Louise, you can enjoy a half-day horseback riding tour up to the Lake Agnes teahouse. A minimum age of 8 years old is required for this tour as well.

Bow River Float Tour

The Banff Hoodoo Float Tour is an excellent family friendly activity in Banff in the summer. It’s a scenic float down the Bow River for 7 km that will give a whole different perspective of the surrounding mountains and the Banff Hoodoos. No worries about crashing waves or getting wet, as you’ll just have a calm and enjoyable float on the river.

It’s done on a large raft and is suitable for both children and seniors. Minimum age is 2 years old.

White Water Rafting with Kids in Banff

For those traveling with kids looking for a little more excitement, white water rafting is possible though it’s not in Banff National Park. You can drive 1.5 hours to Golden for whitewater rafting on the class 4 rapids on the Kicking Horse River. This requires an minimum age of 12 years old. For younger kids, the Kananaskis whitewater rafting tour requires a minimum age of 5 years old.

White Water Rafting in Kananaskis.

Scenic Drives and Day Trips from Banff

Beyond Banff’s townsite, the surrounding areas offer breathtaking scenic drives and unforgettable day trips. Venture along the iconic Icefields Parkway, stopping at awe-inspiring attractions like Peyto Lake and the Columbia Icefield, or explore the natural wonders of Yoho National Park.

Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is a scenic drive that winds through the majestic Canadian Rockies, connecting Lake Louise and Jasper National Park. As you traverse this awe-inspiring highway, plan stops at the must-see attractions like the Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake, and the Columbia Icefield.

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park.

To go all the way to Jasper National Park, plan an entire day and make frequent stops along the way to fully appreciate the stunning landscapes.

Yoho National Park with Kids

Just a short drive from Banff, Yoho National Park offers equally stunning lakes and impressive waterfalls. Both the beauty of Emerald Lake and the power of Takakkaw Falls are worth the drive.

Girl walking towards Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park.
Our daughter walking the paved path to Takakkaw Falls in Yoho NP

Kootenay National Park with Kids

You don’t have to drive far into Kootenay National Park for more fun hiking opportunities. Both Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots are fun hikes with kids.

The Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park are a fascinating and colorful natural wonder. This unique site features ochre beds, formed from iron oxide deposits left by cold mineral springs. The vivid hues range from yellow to orange, offering a stark contrast against the surrounding forest and mountain scenery.

The trail to the Paint Pots is an easy 2.9 kilometers round trip, meandering through open meadows before arriving at the mineral-rich ponds. Along the way, interpretive signs provide insight into the cultural significance of the area to Indigenous peoples and the historical use of ochre in this region.

two kids looking at the Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park.
Exploring the Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

Marble Canyon is a short and easy hike with a big payoff! The canyon has deep, narrow walls carved by the stunning blue waters of the Tokumm Creek. The trail to view the canyon is approximately 1.6 kilometers out and back that has a series of bridges with various viewpoints into the deep gorge.

Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park.
Marble Canyon is stunning!

Canmore with Kids

The town of Canmore is located just outside of Banff National Park and has plenty to offer families. Plan a day trip from Banff for a hike up to the stunning lakes along the Grassi Lakes hike. On a hot summer day, stop at Quarry Lake for a place to let the kids swim and splash around.

girl standing in front of Quarry Lake in Canmore.
Our daughter at Quarry Lake

For those who love mountain biking, the Canmore Nordic Centre and the town of Canmore has a bunch of fun mountain bike trails.

Within the town, enjoy walking or biking the many scenic paved trails.

Two kids biking on the paved bike paths in Canmore.
The paved paths in Canmore make for a very scenic bike ride!

Read More

If you are staying in Canmore or plan to spend a few days in the area, don’t miss our full article on Canmore with Kids in Summer.

Kananaskis with Kids

Kananaskis is a locals favourite for the incredible mountain scenery and abundance of hiking trails. There’s a huge range of hiking trails for all hiking abilities.

Close to the TransCanada Highway, the Bow Valley Provincial Park has easy hiking trails for the whole family. Heart Creek is another easy hiking trail. Along Highway 40, Troll Falls is a popular family friendly hiking trail. Further along on the Smith Dorrien Highway, the Blackshale suspension bridge is a favourite for kids.

Celine Brewer and kids at the top of West Wind Pass trail in Kananaskis
Posing for a picture at the top of West Wind Pass

Where to Stay in Banff with Kids

When it comes to accommodations in Banff, there’s no shortage of family-friendly options to suit your needs. Aside from hotels, there is the option to camp, stay in a Banff Otentik or in a cabin like the Johnston Canyon Cabins.

Camping in Banff with Kids.
Camping at Two Jack Main campground in Banff

The best place to stay in Banff with kids will depend on your personal preferences and your budget.

Iconic Banff Hotels with Kids

For a truly luxurious and memorable stay, consider booking your family vacation at iconic hotels like the Fairmont Banff Springs or the Chateau Lake Louise. These enchanting properties offer exceptional service, world-class amenities, and stunning views of the Canadian Rockies, ensuring a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your family.

Budget-Friendly Banff Hotels with Kids

For families seeking more budget-friendly accommodations, properties like Hidden Ridge Resort and Douglas Fir Resort offer excellent value without compromising on comfort. With amenities such as swimming pools, fully equipped kitchens, and barbecue facilities, these affordable options provide a cozy home away from home for your Banff adventure.

Two kids sitting on a bed look out the window at the Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows.
The kids loved staying at the Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows

Best Time to Visit Banff with Kids

The ideal time to visit Banff with kids is between mid-June and mid-September, when the weather is warm, the days are long, and all the attractions are open. Between mid-July to mid-August, the mountain meadows come alive with beautiful wildflowers.

While this is the most crowded time in Banff National Park, it’s also the best time to see the turquoise color of the lakes and get the best weather.

wildflowers found at Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park.

Packing for Banff with Kids

Packing the right items for Banff in summer with kids is key to guarantee a comfortable and enjoyable trip for everyone. Here are some essential items to include:

  • Warm clothing, such as sweaters and a light jacket, even during the summer months, as temperatures can change quickly in the mountains. For early June and September, it’s worth packing a warm hat and small gloves for those chilly mornings.
  • A rain jacket is a must, so you can still enjoy being outside even during the rain.
  • Hiking gear for everyone like comfortable footwear, a backpack, and a water bottle. You’ll always want to pack more water than you think you’ll need for this dry climate.
  • A sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for everyone.

While bear spray is a must for hiking around Banff, plan to purchase it when you arrive as you can’t fly with it anyways.

two kids hiking at Sundance Canyon in Banff.
Even in July, we start with fleece hoodies in the morning!

Local Tip

Check in with your hotel to see if they have bear spray left over from previous guests that you can borrow.

Getting Around Banff National Park with Kids

Getting around Banff National Park is easy, thanks to a variety of transportation options. Within the town of Banff, walking is the best way to get around and saves you from having to drive through congested streets.

Public transit, such as Roam Public Transit, offers a convenient and affordable way to explore the park without worrying about finding parking at popular attractions. Places like the Banff Gondola, Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon and Lake Minnewanka can be easily reached by Roam Transit, as can places around the town of Banff.

blue roam bus at Lake Minnewanka in Banff.

A rental car will provide more flexibility for families who want to explore further than where public transit can take them.

Alternatively, guided tours can offer the whole family a chance to sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery while learning about Banff’s unique history and environment.

Best things to do in Banff with Kids
About the author

Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Banff with Kids. She has a passion for being out in the mountains with her kids any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find them hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, they enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skiing, skating and winter hiking.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other three travel sites: Travel Banff Canada, Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.

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