Top 3 Family Friendly Things To Do in Banff in One Day

Family Friendly Adventures & Tours in Banff

Over the years I have been to Banff, Alberta a number of times, but usually have only spent time downtown checking out all the unique shops and excellent restaurants. Since we were going to be driving through Banff on our road trip from Vancouver, BC to Calgary, AB, we decided that this time we’d stop by for a full day visit. Here are our top 3 things to do with the family in Banff if you only have one day as you’re passing through.

1. Carriage Ride & Cowboy Cookout Lunch

TopDaddies-Approved-TRAVEL-StampDriving in from Calgary with our Acura MDX, we arrived in Banff at around 10:00am. First stop – Trail Riders at Warner Stables for a Carriage Ride & Cowboy Cookout Lunch. We climbed aboard a covered wagon for about an hour-long ride enjoying spectacular Mountain Scenery, the Bow River and other viewpoints along the way. Even our 9 month old loved watching the horses, the views and people canoeing down the river. Our fabulous driver/tour guide, Nick, pointed out interesting facts about the area, and made a point to engage our kids by asking them questions and involving them in conversation. When we arrived at 3 Mile Cabin for the Cowboy Cookout, we were greeted with a steak lunch, complete with baked potatoes with all the fixings, ceasar salad, buns, lemonade, iced tea, coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and the kids favourite part – cupcakes for dessert! The food was amazing and the service was fantastic!

While waiting for our steaks to be made just the way we like them, Nick showed us how to rope a calf. They even had kid-sized ropes so they could have a turn. After lunch we had fun playing a game of horseshoes before we had to head back to the stables. All too quickly our time at the cookout came to an end and we hopped back on our wagon for the ride back. Since we were the only ones on the wagon Nick let our two oldest take a turn driving the team of horses, (with help of course). This was a really fun way to experience the back country without having to go far. We had a great time, and thought that the experience was perfect for the entire family! We can’t wait to come back when all the kids are old enough to ride the trails on horseback!

Here’s a video of our Carriage Ride & Cookout: 

What Is Mike Wearing?
By the way, check out the shoes & sunglasses Mike is wearing in the video! Skechers Men’s Relaxed Fit: Outland – the perfect shoes for exploring the trails in Banff! The Joseph Marc Havana sunglasses from Clearly are stylish but also great for the Banff sunshine!

2. Banff Cave & Basin

cave-basin-banffOur next stop was to the Cave and Basin. This is a national historic site where you’ll find warm mineral spring water both inside the cave, and outside in an emerald coloured basin. We headed into the cave first and the kids thought it was pretty neat to be in a real cave. In addition to the cave, there is a small museum and a lot of great exhibit information about the cave and area to learn from. There is also an open courtyard with a giant board game of snakes and snails and an outdoor basin where we looked for the endangered snails. The sulphur smell from the basin was a bit smelly for the kids, so we quickly moved on to the replica of a railroad workers camp. We also checked out the kids space where there were games to play and some books to read. This was a nice, low-key place to stop after our carriage ride that wasn’t too overwhelming for the kids, allowing them to rest up a bit before we moved on to the next place. Younger kids will find the various games and kids space interesting, while older kids might find the information about the cave and basin interesting to learn.

3. Banff Gondola

Lastly we made our way to the Banff Gondola. As we arrived in the parking lot and caught our first glimpse of the gondola, the kids started bouncing in their seats with excitement. The excitement only grew as our turn to climb in the gondola approached. Since baby was asleep we brought along the stroller and were relieved to find that we were allowed to bring it on. Giggles erupted as the gondola shot out of the station and quickly gathered height. The glass-windowed gondola meant we had a 360 degree view of 6 mountain ranges during the 8 minute ride to the top. I have to admit the height made me a little nervous, but it was definitely worth it once we reached the top! The views were truly spectacular! Pictures really don’t do it justice or show how truly amazing the sights are from above, and is definitely something that needs to be seen in person. The ride down was equally exciting and we all agreed we would have to come back another time and enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants at the top.

Here’s a video of our visit to the Banff Gondola;

Before we left Banff, we took a quick walk in town and decided to have a quick dinner at one of the many restaurants that you can choose from. Unfortunately, we needed to get back on the road, but will definitely have to stay longer next time, as there were so many more things that we wanted to see. Make sure to check out the Banff Lake Louise National Park website for a list of all the different tours, adventures, and attractions to see while in the area – including Glacier Tours!!

For more information, please visit

Thanks GoPro!

Portions of this video were filmed using a GoPro Hero 4 – a camera every family should have! Learn more about GoPro cameras & accessories here:


Disclosure: Although TopDaddies received products and services for review, our opinions are absolutely authentic! TopDaddies was not financially compensated for this post.

Author: Mike Granek

Michael Granek, MBA,CSEP,PID is a successful entrepreneur and an award winning event producer with two decades of experience in the special events and entertainment industry as well as in business. After selling his business and working for a large corporation, Mike decided to shift focus to spending more time with his kids and learning how to be the best dad he can be with his three children. For a complete bio, please visit:

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