My next nursing contract is way up in Northern BC and I decided to drive all the way there so that I’d have a bit more freedom while on assignment. My boyfriend Andrew just so happened to be off on holidays the week before my start date so it worked out perfectly for a road trip together. Our plan was to drive to Banff for New Years Eve with a stop in Winnipeg along the way and then up to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. Andrew has never been further than Banff before so I am super excited to show him the best places before he flies home from Fort St John at the end of the week! We were in Banff a few years ago around the same time (read that post here) and it’s pretty funny that we always end up here when it’s freezing cold. I’d take the cold in the mountains over anywhere else any day though.
We drove from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg on December 27th and met up with my sister and her husband for dinner and an evening at The Forks. I love The Forks and I try and go there every time I’m in Winnipeg. It was really cold but we walked around the trail they have- you can skate on it too! We had a beer at The Common which is the new trendy common area of the Marketplace. This is honestly the cutest winter date idea if you are in Winnipeg!
The next day we left bright and early and drove 10 hours straight across Saskatchewan to our stop for the night- Medicine Hat, Alberta. We stopped for lunch in Regina at the Olive Garden. Once we arrived in Medicine Hat, I went to grab my ID and Visa to check into the hotel and realized…I forgot my purse at the restaurant!!! They ended up finding it the next day and a friend in Regina was able to pick it up and ship it to me thankfully!!! I was very lucky. We literally just slept in Medicine Hat at a cheap hotel then continued on the next day to our destination…Banff!! I cannot even explain the excitement and joy I feel when I can finally see mountains in the distance. It feels like I’m home and it makes me so happy. About 20 hours of driving later we had finally arrived. We checked into our hotel, the Red Carpet Inn which is right on Banff Avenue and within walking distance to everything. I do like staying 20 minutes away in Canmore because it’s much cheaper but I figured it was worth the extra money to be in close walking distance to all of the restaurants and shops! Our first night in Banff, we hit up the Banff Ave Brewing Co. for some delicious local beer and we also went to Park Ave Distillery for an amazing meal. I highly recommend eating here if you are in Banff! Our drinks had their locally made vanilla vodka in them and we had a fantastic dinner- pasta with elk meatballs and a bison burger with wild boar bacon!
The next morning, we walked down to our favourite breakfast spot- Tooloulou’s. I had to have that pork belly eggs benny! We drove the Minnewanka Loop which is just outside of town. The one section of the road was closed so it wasn’t actually a loop but we drove to Lake Minnewanka and back which was about the same distance. We stopped at Two Jack Lake as well and walked on the ice and explored a bit. On Lake Minnewanka, a bunch of people were skating on the ice but you could see water flowing nearby which was super sketchy!! Too close for comfort for me!
After our little drive, we drove to Canmore and visited a couple of breweries there. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love craft beer and visiting breweries wherever I go! Canmore has my all time favourite brewery, the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. We did a tour here with a full tasting and even got to take home a couple of 6-packs of beer with us! We had a quick bite to eat in their BEAUTIFUL tap room with the most gorgeous mountain view surrounding it. It’s one of my favourite places! We also stopped in at the Canmore Brewery and Andrew bought another growler to add to his collection. We attempted to visit the Banff Hot Springs up on Sulphur Mountain once it got dark but we ended up turning around and going back to town because the line up of cars was SO long to get up to the parking lot. We decided to try again the next day.
It was so good!!! I’m going to leave it here for this post and continue in the next one! There’s so much more to show you in the next one when we go to Lake Louise! Stay tuned…