Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada

Bow River, Banff, Alberta

Our first trip to Alberta, Canada was truly magical. We plan on returning with friends and family for many years to come!

Traveling to Canada

We started our journey by flying out of DFW in Dallas, TX. American Airlines offers a direct flight from DFW to Calgary, Alberta that only takes 3.5 hours.  We chose this flight because it was the most convenient for our family. Customs and immigration going into Canada from the US is super easy as long as you have a current passport.

I always recommend each person, including children, to carry on a backpack. Backpacks are easy to tote around the airport, and you can easily pack activities, passports, phones, tablets, etc. in them for the plane.

DFW Airport

One more tip I have before you fly out of the country is to call your phone provider. If you plan on using your phone while on the trip, most providers have an automatic default that will turn your cellular service off when you leave the country, but that can be easily handled with a quick phone call before you leave. 

First stop, Banff, Alberta

After collecting our bags and rental car from the airport, we headed out on the short road trip from Calgary to the town of Banff, Alberta. The trip from the airport to Banff was about 1 and a half hours on highway 1. Once you hit the Rockies, the drive is so beautiful. I think my eyes were wide open the whole time, as I was in awe of how beautiful it was! Be sure and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the sides of the road.

Scenic drive towards Banff, Alberta

When we arrived in Banff we didn’t have an agenda, we only knew we wanted to walk around and find somewhere to eat lunch. The town was so charming, I recommend finding a parking spot and walking around. We stopped for coffee at Starbucks, and next door is an adorable, and super fragrant popcorn shop, Mary’s Popcorn. If you are a popcorn lover, like myself, I suggest grabbing a bag to go. This came in handy as a snack during the week while on the road. While walking around on the main street, Banff Ave, I highly recommend making your way down to the Bow River to take in some beautiful views.

Banff, Alberta

After our walk, we walked back to the main street in town to find a restaurant. We settled on Athena Pizza, mainly for the second story outdoor seating. The food was great and they had a lot of options for kids.

Athena Pizza, Banff, Alberta

After lunch, we jumped in the car for a short drive to Bow Falls. It’s a tiny waterfall right outside of town. The falls area has great views and photo opportunities. You will also get a view of the famous Banff Springs Hotel along the way!

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta

Bow Falls, Banff, Alberta

We then got on the road to head to Lake Louise. Had I known we would love Banff so much, we would have stayed there and booked some activities around town. I recommend booking at least one night there, maybe two.

Next stop, Lake Louise

When we put Lake Louise in our GPS it told us to take highway 1 the whole way there from Banff. I noticed there was a side road that followed the major highway, so we took that in hopes of being able to spot wildlife. The road we took was Highway 1A, and you can follow that from outside of Banff all the way up to Lake Louise. We were lucky enough to spot a small grizzly and a bull elk along the way!

Highway 1A, Banff National Park, Alberta

When we got to Lake Louise we immediately went to check into our hotel, as it was right on the lake and I couldn’t wait to see it. Lake Louise is where I suggest splurging on your hotel accommodations if you can. The Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise is the only hotel on the lake. If you plan on spending much time there and enjoying the many activities, its much nicer if you are staying in the hotel that’s within walking distance of everything. You will also have access to the lake early in the morning and late in the evening, when the tourist who aren’t staying at the hotel have gone. We stayed three nights, but when we go back we will probably book only 1-2 nights.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta

My recommendations while in Lake Louise at the Fairmont are.

Lakeview Lounge, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
  • Lunch or dinner at Lakeview Lounge.
  • Sunrise canoe tour at the boathouse.
  • Ask the concierge for a trail map and take advantage of some of the great hiking trails. (We did a hike to Mirror Lake.)
  • Dinner at Lago Italian Kitchen.
  • Grab a hot tea or some hot chocolate and enjoy the evening at the outdoor fire pits overlooking the lake.

Sunrise Canoe Tour at Lake Louise

Half day hike to Mirror lake from Lake Louise

You can book any of these things through the very helpful concierge desk at the hotel.

While staying in Lake Louise, we did the activities at the hotel, as well as a few others outside of the hotel. Moraine Lake is just a short drive from the hotel, and is a must. I recommend going early in the morning or late in the evening, as the parking lot fills up very quickly. This is another great hiking and photo opportunity. There is a hotel and restaurant on the lake, so there are bathrooms and dining available.

Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Alberta

We also made the longer drive through Yoho National Park one day on our way to an ATV tour in Golden, BC. It was a little over an hour drive, with beautiful scenic views. We booked our tour through the concierge at the hotel. This was a super fun outdoor activity that gave us a break from hiking, and is kid approved! They provide all the gear that you will need.

On our way back from Golden, BC to Lake Louise, we took the random exit to Emerald Lake because we were curious. DO NOT SKIP OUT ON THIS ONE. Emerald Lake is magnificent, and they have a great little walk around the edges of the lake that will give you the opportunity to stretch your legs and take in the beauty.

Emerald Lake, British Columbia

Last stop, Jasper National Park

I read during my research for the trip, that the drive from Lake Louise to Jasper is one of the most scenic drives in North America. I can confirm that statement to be true. Be sure and have your camera handy on the drive, as there are so many great spots to pull over and enjoy the views. You may even spot a bear or elk!

Not far into your drive you will see an exit for Peyto Lake. This is another, DO NOT MISS detour! You will have to park in the parking lot and hike up to the overlook. The hike isn’t super easy because it climbs so quickly, but it isn’t far. Our 6 year old was able to do it with no problems. This view was so unique and the photo opportunities are endless!

The only other actual stop we made on the way was at Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls. You can park and walk right up to both of these. If you have time, both are great, but I suggest stopping at at least one.

Sunwapta Falls, Alberta

Athabasca Falls, Alberta

When we made it into the town of Jasper we immediately went to lunch at this really fun upstairs restaurant with great views from the patio, Earls Kitchen and Bar. I recommend grabbing a sangria from there, if you are into that sort of thing!

While in Jasper we stayed at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The location and the grounds were beautiful. It was pretty pricey, and the suite we had was just ok for the amount of money we paid to stay there. I would recommend shopping around for hotels in Jasper if you aren’t wanting to splurge there. We did, however, take full advantage of the campfire smores in the evenings that were out on the main lawn!

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, Alberta

Jasper is a great place to see wildlife. Every evening we drove around on some of the side roads out of town to see what we could spot. The last evening we were there we did a Wildlife Tour, that was completely worth the money. We were able to spot so much. The only thing I would do differently next time is to book the wildlife tour for the first evening, so you will know all of the great spots to drive around on your own the other evenings.

Evening wildlife tour.

The last morning of the trip we got up early to make the 5 hour drive from Jasper back to Calgary to catch our flight. The drive takes you back through Jasper and Banff parks so you will get one last chance to take in all the views that Alberta has to offer.

All in all, our trip was amazing. The day after we got home, we immediately started talking about going back next summer. If your kids are old enough to travel in the car and go on short hikes, I highly recommend a family vacation there. If not, it would make for very romantic couples trip with lots of quality time together!

xo- The Davis Family

Instagram- Lauren.chicandeats

We are the Davis Family

Peyto Lake, Alberta

Hi guys! We recently traveled to Alberta, Canada, and since returning I’ve had an overwhelming amount of questions and comments about our travels there. I decided to create this blog as an outlet to discuss our travel experiences to help inspire others who would be interested in similar travels.

Bow River Falls, Banff, Alberta

My name is Lauren Davis, 27 year old wife and mama from small town, Oklahoma. My goal with this blog is to share my passion for family and couple travels, and my love of capturing the memories through photography. Growing up, my mom always made it a priority to plan family vacations with my dad, brothers, and I, sometimes just mother/daughter trips. She loved to travel, but has recently missed out a lot because of her health issues. She isn’t able to travel much and when she does, she isn’t able to get out and do much at all. All of my life I’ve heard people say, “when the kids get older we will travel,” or “when I retire I will get out and see things.” My mom is less than 50 years old and I know she is so thankful that she didn’t put those experiences off. In fact, I’m sure she wishes she would have traveled more when she was healthier.

If you know me at all, you know that I am the one always taking pictures. I love to capture memories for all of those around me. My love for photography started in High School when I joined yearbook. My yearbook teacher, Mrs. Hale, taught me so much and I will forever be grateful to her for helping me find something that would end up bringing me joy for many years to come. All of the pictures you will see here were either taken by me, my husband, our 6 year old daughter, or the random stranger that I asked to take our picture as a family.

You can follow me on Instagram for a deeper look into who I am! https://www.instagram.com/lauren.chicandeats/

Jt at Lake Louise, Alberta

I got so lucky when I married my husband, Jt. We both share a love of getting out and seeing things. Jt works hard on a daily basis owning and operating an oilfield construction company. He is on call 24/7, so when we get the opportunity to get away for a bit, it is so nice. Our ideas of where to travel aren’t always the same, but we try to comprise and find things on each trip that we both enjoy.

Claire in Jasper National Park.

My daughter, Claire is 6 years old. She has been an adventure lover from the very beginning. I think she went on her first, week long girls-road-trip when she was 1 year old and had no problem keeping up. Since we live in a small town in Oklahoma, my husband and I want her to experience as much as possible when growing up, so that her perception of life and people isn’t small. We want her to have the confidence to be able to leave home when she is older and be able to go anywhere she wants to go in life and not be afraid of it. She is awesome and you will see lots of pictures of her!

Stay tuned for my first post about our trip to the National Parks in Alberta, Canada. It’s going to be very detailed, so it may take me a little while