Banff and Beyond, Canada: Day 1

Just like all good things happen over a glass of wine (at least in my world), the decision of taking this trip was no exception. Imagine four friends, a bottle of Merlot, some good music and bam! we’re going to Canada. Yes, that’s how quickly decided that we were all up for the adventure. Fast forward four months, the trip we had planned for so meticulously finally arrived.

It spanned over a period of 6 days in total, covered Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada and left us all in awe and inspired but most importantly glad that we made the decision to fly to a different country, hoping for an experience of a lifetime.

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Here’s how we spent day 1. Technically, day 2 since we spent the first day traveling from San Francisco to Calgary to Canmore.

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Brunch at Banff Downtown: We started the day with a half an hour drive from Canmore to the town of Banff. I couldn’t get enough of the scenery all around, almost wishing I could get a 360 degree view the whole time. Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, Banff Downtown is located within the Banff National Park almost like it’s intended to offer you the best possible view of the Cascade Mountain.  Wild Flour Artisan Bakery Cafe seemed like an obvious choice for brunch (Yelp helped 🙂 ), as it’s known for authentic local organic food.

The moment we arrived here all of us looked at each other like we’d struck gold. The aroma of coffee mixed with that of baked goods is undeniably the best way to uplift your mood. Icing on the cake is the view, surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground in all directions. Bustling with a great neighborhood feel, you can enjoy your food (sandwiches, soup, pastries, etc.) even outside in the courtyard if you wanted. Honestly, if I lived in Banff, I would end up coming here everyday even if it was for a cup of coffee or to buy some gourmet bread.

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Hiking Johnston Canyon Trail: Completed satiated and almost food high we headed to the Johnston Canyon Trail to hike the Lower and Upper Waterfalls. This a 3.2 mile roundtrip hike with only 365 ft elevation, I would consider this moderate to easy. As you can guess from my boots, the terrain wasn’t that rough either but of course nothing beats the comfort of a pair of sneakers. We just couldn’t stop admiring the rock structures around us through the entire trail. Both the waterfalls were picturesque but sadly can’t enter the water here for safety reasons.

At the end of the hike as we got back to the trail head we treated ourselves with some refreshments at the gift shop. I even ended up buying myself a cute pair of earrings 😛 I just couldn’t resist the temptation. Yes, Girls!! Even though I loved the experience, I would still suggest not making this the top priority on your Banff to do list. I’ll definitely elaborate on it in a future post.

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Downtown to Johnston Canyon Trail Parking Lot

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Lower Falls
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Upper Falls

Lake Minnewanka: While planning our itinerary the night before we were torn between either the hot springs or Lake Minnewanka as our next destination post the hike. I am so glad we chose the latter. It’s a great hot spot during summer months for a picnic, hiking or even biking. There’s also a cruise that gives you a tour of this 13 mile long lake or you can even explore it on your own by renting out a canoe or a boat.

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Johnston Canyon to Lake Minnewanka

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Vermillion Lakes: Vermillion Lake is a perfect example of something I talked about even in my Yosemite post, timing is everything especially when it comes to visiting lakes with reflection. If it’s windy or if there’s not enough light you might not be able to see the reflection at all and it ends being just another lake. This is exactly what happened with us. We were disappointment we couldn’t make it here for sunrise or stay back till sunset,  we stood there imagining how stunning it would’ve looked.

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Lake Minnewanka to Vermillion Lakes

Dinner at Banff Downtown: We decided to get back to Banff Downtown for dinner driving into the sunset through Trans Canada Highway. After an some delicious spicy creole meal at Toolouluo’s we decided to call it a day but the moment we got out it felt so alive and breathtakingly gorgeous, we ended up strolling through town way past our decided bedtime. After all that’s what vacations are for, impulsive decisions that make you happy.

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Vermillion Lake Viewpoint to Banff Downtown
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Trans Canada Highway
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Dinner at Tooloulou’s

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Style Details

The sweater dress from is perfect for fall. I fell in love with the color and the material was so soft. The scarf and the parka are a great addition if it gets colder or windy. I got all of these at Abercrombie for a steal. The boots (Coach) are so comfortable I could walk in them all day including a 3 mile hike.

Early summer in Canada is almost as cold as California in Fall/Winters with maximum temperatures averaging in low 50’s, thankfully I packed smart.

Sweater Dress                                         Scarf

Coach (Similar Michael Kors)             Olive Parka

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