Our first full day in Banff started with a trip into town via a 20 minute walk. We strolled down Banff Ave (the main street), but we were not in much of a shopping mood so we continued on across the Bow River Bridge. The paths along the river were quieter than usual, and in fact the whole town was quieter than usual. It definitely pays to come in the off season. The paths took us towards the Bow River Falls on the south side of the river. The afternoon was cloudier, even though the morning had started off rather bright, and the wind had picked up a bit.
A couple young bucks grazed right next to the trail; tourists walking along had already spotted them and were taking selfies. The deer were not frightened and stayed, calmly nibbling the foliage as a few people buzzed around them. Even though this domestication is not healthy for the animals, travelers can definitely get their fill of wildlife in Banff National Park.
Continuing further up a set of steps, we came across the Bow River Falls. Although it’s nothing too amazing as far as water falls come, it is a nice area to hang out. At the bottom of the falls, white water rafting companies depart down the river.
We saw a sign near the bottom of another set of steps to go to the Waldhaus Restaurant. I’ve been interested in checking this one out, as I love cultural cuisine. There’s an old looking wooden staircase that takes you up partial ways to the Bavarian style cottage. It’s advertised as Banff’s “best kept secret”. The restaurant and pub overlook the Stanley Thompson golf course, and serve various German and Alpine foods, including fondue. I’m sure it would have to be delightfully delicious at $90/person for a four course fondue experience or $145/person with wine pairings. Maybe when I’m wealthy…
From here, we walked up and around the Banff Springs castle, snapping pictures of the architectural masterpiece as we went. I’ve always wanted to peek inside, so inside we went. Just off the main entrance, there’s doors to shops and a ground level mall, where visitors are welcome to browse. We went in the door to the wine cellar, where they have quite the array of wines, champagnes, and spirits, ranging from around $10 to $1000. Most of the wines are authentically local.
There were many other shops and a few other restaurants on site. We found our way back outside and back into the castle reaching the front lobby. Once inside, we were greeted by a harpist dressed in medieval garb, “Welcome to the Castle!” she smiled. We headed up the grand staircase and to the right where we found a small photographic museum that told the history of the Banff Springs Hotel. It was interesting and the antique black and white photographs were beautiful.
Overall, I was glad we took time to explore the hotel, it’s a nice sight to see in Banff, even if you won’t be staying there.