- Banff National Park,
- British Columbia,
- North America,
Mother and I are taking a trip by rail starting in Vancouver going through the Rockies and ending at Calgary.
See + Do
Granville Island, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Tel: 604 666 5784
Mini-ferries called "aquabuses" take you from one of several downtown stops (including Yaletown at Davie Street and the southern end of Hornby Street) to this happening enclave underneath the Granville Bridge—home to artisans, art galleries, and one of the best daily farmers markets anywhere, the Public Market. The "island" is actually a small peninsula attached to the south shore of False Creek and just a five-minute ferry ride from the Hornby Street stop. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here, munching your way through the market and browsing the fun little shops and galleries in the surrounding maze of streets. Check out the Wood Co-op, with its impressive selection of beautifully crafted wood furniture, art, and housewares (1592 Johnston St.; 604-408-2553). If you have children, hit the Kids Market for two levels of shops selling toys, books, kites, and marionettes (1496 Cartwright St.; 604-689-8447). For a full-size meal, stop in for cedar-planked salmon or sushi at the Sandbar restaurant. In the summer, a visit to the Water Park and adventure playground is a must for parents with young children.
See + Do
Kitsilano, British Columbia, Canada
The Vancouver equivalent of Haight-Ashbury, this '60s hippie community across False Creek from downtown Vancouver is now a laid-back family neighborhood of beachfront parks and streets lined with historic wooden homes, bookstores, and cafés. The main drag, West Fourth Avenue, is known for its trendy shops, though lately the selection seems to lean heavily toward maternity and baby wear, yoga gear, kitchen items, and other housewares. Sophie's Cosmic Café is a great spot for breakfast, which is available all day (2095 W. Fourth Ave.; 604-732-6810).
See + Do
Yaletown, British Columbia, Canada
This downtown district, once a maze of railyards and dilapidated warehouses, has been getting trendier ever since it was cleaned up for the 1986 World's Fair. These days, swanky residential lofts, chichi boutiques, and upscale restaurants occupy the old buildings. Most of the action is centered on Mainland and Hamilton streets. Be sure to check out Fine Finds, which stocks an eclectic mix of mostly Vancouver- and Canada-made items, like Barefoot Venus bath and body-care products, Matt & Natt and Ga Ya handbags, and fashions by Peel Designs (1014 Mainland St.; 604-669-8325). The Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery is one of the best places to view and buy contemporary First Nations art (1024 Mainland St.; 604-685-9298).
Lift Bar & Grill, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 3H5, Canada
Tel: 604 689 5438
Set right on the downtown seawall, super-modern Lift has the best views in the city through its enormous walls of glass (which prop open like French doors in the summer to let in the breeze). Diners near the windows get to look out over Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, and the North Shore mountains; so do those sitting on the fireplace-warmed roof terrace. Once the sun goes down, the backlit bar, softly glowing aquarium, and two flat-screen TVs create a lounge-y backdrop for enjoying the menu of eclectic small plates—they call them "whet plates" here. Options include classic moules frites, panko-crusted calamari, and a trio of wild salmon—gravlax, smoked with blini, and sockeye tartare.
Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to midnight, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to midnight.
The Sandbar, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3R9, Canada
Tel: 604 669 9030
The place to be at the Sandbar, a boisterous 300-seat Granville Island seafood spot, is the rooftop patio. Literally tucked beneath the Granville Bridge, it has gorgeous views of the city, plus heat lamps, a roaring fireplace, and blankets to wrap up in during the winter. No reservations are accepted on the roof, so if you can't come early to get a spot, grab a table in the beamed, lodgelike indoor dining room. Here, a crowd of tourists and locals tucks into small plates like crispy wok-fried squid and grilled scallop kebabs, which are admittedly average at best. Better bets include lobster pulled live from the tank, fresh-harvested mussels, and the house specialty: salmon fillet baked on a cedar plank and glazed with brown sugar, soy, and lemon. But the best-kept secret is the made-to-order sushi by Chef Hoshi, a contemporary of Tojo's, where the prices start at $2.50.—Kasey Wilson
Open Sundays through Thursdays 11:30 am to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 1 am.
Legendary Noodle House, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 2M8, Canada
Tel: 604 669 8551
Okay, "legendary" may be pushing it a bit, but the huge, cheap bowls of steaming noodles at this cozy Chinese hole-in-the-wall in the West End are more than a little addictive. The decor and food lean toward rustic; amazingly, almost all of the noodle dishes are hand-pulled to order by cooks who manipulate large balls of dough at warp speed, spinning and twirling until lo (ropes of fresh noodles) are produced. These are quickly boiled and then topped with flavorful broths enriched with cilantro, garlic-spiked lamb shanks, or chicken. You'll find no better remedy for a cold—or a hangover—in the city. Finish with a glass of the soothing flower- and wolfberry-infused house tea that aids digestion. Service can be absentminded, but that's part of the charm.—Kasey Wilson
Open Mondays through Thursdays noon to 9 pm, Fridays through Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.
See + Do
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Tel: 403 762 1550
With 1.6 million acres of mountain wilderness, more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, and the bustling town of Banff at its center, Banff National Park is the major draw to this region. You could spend months here and never quite experience everything. Of course there's the skiing in winter. And in summer, crystal-blue Lake Louise, a great spot for canoeing, hiking, or simply taking in the views. If getting around on foot or skis isn't your thing, there's always the Bow Valley Parkway—which runs from Banff to Lake Louise. The abundance of bears, elk, and deer, paired with a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit, makes for a safe and relaxing drive-through wildlife watch.
Coyotes Deli & Grill, Alberta
Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1C4
Tel: 403 762 3963
A Banff standby for ultracasual food and fast table service, whether you're rushing to get on the mountain, or looking for sustenance as you've just come off. Despite the name, there isn't all that much Southwestern food served here. Some of the best dishes, in fact, are the sweet-potato corn chowder served at lunch, or the sandwiches, such as Italian Melt: Genoa salami, capicola, provolone, and sun-dried tomato pesto oven-baked on a baguette.
Open daily 7:30 am to 9:30 pm.
Melissa's, Alberta, Canada
Banff, Alberta T1L 1A9, Canada
Tel: 403 762 5511
For rib-sticking chow, Melissa's is a local favorite and venerated landmark (its Tudor exterior and wood interior, dating to 1928, qualify it as a Banff Heritage Building). Melissa's serves from dawn past dusk, usually to a mixed crowd of locals and tourists, but families and hangover victims both seem to agree: Breakfast's the thing. Our choice? The apple pancakes: crisp on the outside, tender inside, with a fine balance of apple flavor, cinnamon, and fluffy grain.
Open daily from 7 am to 10 pm.