Diary of a Staycation: Banff Mountain Adventures

In a year where we’re learning about disappointment, it’s time to add a splash of fun. When you can’t jump on a plane to visit beautiful far-off places, drive next door to visit the beautiful places on your doorstep. Travel with us to Banff, where we stayed at the Moose Hotel and Suites and answered the call for Mountain Adventurers. Book your own visit this September!

Banff Mountain Adventures (Family Fun Calgary)

Diary of a Staycation – Based on a True Story

6 pm: Pull up to the Moose Hotel and Suites, which you’ve driven by dozens of times, and now can’t believe you never noticed.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Welcome to the Moose! Credit: Charity Quick

6:30 pm: Try to calm the kids down (actually, follow them around) as they race from room to room in a hotel suite that’s bigger than their auntie’s condo.

7 pm: Head out the door to find the pool, only to be confused about which walkway to turn down. Be thankful you have big kids who were paying attention when you came to your room. They love to boss you around, anyway.

All evening: Enjoy the outdoor hot pools, a relaxing fire, and the gorgeous mountains ringing your retreat. Take a dip in the indoor pool (breaking up a fight while you’re at it – this is real life, after all).

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

The gorgeous rooftop hot pools at the Moose Hotel. Credit: Charity Quick

9 pm: Warm up by the fire in your condo. Read a book when Mom won’t let you watch the Food Channel yet. Then watch TV.

10 pm: Sleep in a spacious, comfortable bed. Ahh!

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Spacious accommodations, comfy beds, and Rocky Mountain Soap Company ‘on tap’! Credit: Matt Quick

8 am: Mmm . . .  plan to drink coffee on the balcony gazing at the lovely Cascade Mountain. (But actually oversleep and not care too much because it was a little chilly anyway.)

9 am: Wake up the teenagers. Teenagers get a bad rap sometimes, but there are some definite perks to having big kids.

10 am: Enjoy a delicious breakfast at Pacini, the on-site restaurant. Avoiding carbs? Feel sad, because their Bread Bar, even though it has to be modified for COVID, is a brilliant idea.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Pacini Restaurant for breakfast + #chandeliergoals Credit: Matt Quick

11 am: Manage feelings and expectations as the weather turns to fall and the climbing trip up the Via Ferrata gets cancelled due to snow. Decide to head up to Mount Norquay anyway for the sightseeing tour, hoping desperately that the clouds clear up.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Mt Norquay sightseeing chairlift – a little chilly! Credit: Charity Quick

12 pm: Enjoy the chairlift and try to sell the excitement of being inside a cloud. No one really buys it. Head to the Cliffhouse Bistro for hot chocolate and dessert while you wait for the clouds to clear. The kids are more into that.

1 pm: The clouds clear off! It’s a Labour Day miracle! Enjoy sightseeing. And a little snowball throwing, thankfully accompanied by laughter.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Watching the clouds lift and enjoying the view. Credit: Charity Quick

3 pm: It’s time to pivot. (It’s 2020 – you knew I had to use that word. Stand by for “unprecedented.”) Saddle up and head out with Banff Trail Riders, an adventure anyone ages 8 and up can enjoy. Remember your allergy pill and learn things about Banff you feel should have already known.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Enjoying our time with the Banff Trail Riders. Credit: Charity Quick

4:30 pm: Head back to the city, tired but happy and filled with stories. The kids don’t fight all the way home – unprecedented!

The verdict stands: it doesn’t matter how far you travel. Adventure, luxury, and fabulous family memories live just next door!


Escape the city for a mini staycation and fill your weekend with luxury and adventure with the Best of Banff and the Banff Lodging Company! With discounts until the end of September 2020, now is the time to plan your own family getaway and try something new. This Stay & Play deal offers you up to 30% off incredible activities and up to 20% hotel stays, and that is a true story!

We stayed in a rooftop 2-bedroom suite at the Moose Hotel and Suites on Banff Ave, only a minute from the pedestrian-only portion of downtown. Cozy, rustic, and luxurious, the hotel also has many multiple practical touches that elevate your experience. A kitchenette, 2 bathrooms, and lots of space for your bags add to the practical value, along with plenty of hooks, charging stations, and bedside LED lamps. A fireplace and a long balcony enhanced our feeling of relaxation and we loved the rooftop hot pools and the indoor pool. The atmosphere of the pool area was delightful, with two steaming pools and a gas fire for the evening. The kids enjoyed the outdoor pools but had as much fun inside, where they could splash around.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

My water baby was so happy to get in a pool for the first time in months! Credit: Charity Quick

But you can’t sit in a hotel all day with kids! Three members of the family (my husband and 2 teenagers) had been booked to climb the Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay. You need to be 12 years or older for this experience, so our youngest and I planned to take the sightseeing chairlift and enjoy lunch at the Cliffhouse Bistro. Early sleet and snow meant our climbing had to be cancelled, but we all went up the sightseeing chairlift and luckily, the clouds lifted while we were enjoying the Bistro. It was a disappointment to miss the climbing but between the chairlift, a hot chocolate break, and a few snowballs, everyone still had a good time.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Wonderful views from Norquay! Credit: Charity Quick

We wrapped up our trip with the Banff Trail Riders. They offer everything from pony rides for kids ages 3 – 7 years to trail rides for families with kids 8 years and up. Or you can enjoy a carriage ride through Banff and along the Bow River. We took the 1-hour Bow River Ride through some amazing scenery, past the Cave and Basin and along the Bow River. My city kids took their riding very seriously, having never ridden before, but the horses are calm and well-trained. They know what to do, even with newbies on their backs. Two guides ride with you, one leading and one following, to help ensure everything goes smoothly. The guides also impart tidbits of knowledge along the way. (There is no tunnel through Tunnel Mountain, for example. Trickery.) They also identify points of interest, such as a beaver dam or an eagle’s nest.

Banff Mountain Adventure (Family Fun Calgary)

Can’t beat this! Shout out to our guide who made the ride even better. Credit: Charity Quick

Rather head to the water? You can also check out the options at Chinook Rafting. Kids as young as 5 years can enjoy whitewater rafting on the Kananaskis River, while kids 12 years and up can enjoy a higher level of excitement on the Horseshoe Canyon.

Now’s the time to tick off those Banff bucket-list experiences – and steal a sizzlin’ summer deal. Banff Lodging Co., Mount Norquay, Banff Trail Riders, and Chinook Rafting have teamed up to offer never-seen-before summer STAY + PLAY deal combos! Take up to 30% off these must-do Banff activities, and with up to 20% off Banff hotel stays, why not make it a staycation? Find all the info you need and these limited-edition promos at www.bestofbanff.com.

The author would like to thank the Moose Hotel and Suites, Mt Norquay and Banff Trail Riders for offering our adventure close to home. All opinions expressed are her own.

Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.

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