Canmore vs. Banff, Canada

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Canmore is located just outside of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Much like the town of Banff, Canmore is a cute, family-friendly mountain community surrounded by some of the most stunning nature on the planet. It has paved walking and cycling trails, family-friendly breweries, unique restaurants, and local shops that make it a great place to visit. It’s proximity to Banff makes it the perfect base, especially for extended stays or longer trips. And when deciding whether to stay in Canmore vs. Banff, there are a few things to consider.

Parenthood and Passports - Canmore vs. Banff

Cost of staying in Canmore vs. Banff

One of the main reasons people stay in Canmore instead of Banff is the cost savings. Banff is not a cheap place to stay, particularly if staying in a popular hotel like the Fairmount Banff Springs. While a great experience, it comes with a hefty price tag. Canmore is a bit more budget-friendly, although it has its fair share of luxury, AKA expensive, hotels and resorts.

The other cost savings when staying in Canmore vs. Banff is that you do not have to pay for a park pass every day unless you go into the park. Admission to Banff National Park is $20 per day for a family pass (as of 2017). Because the towns of Banff and Lake Louise are located inside the park, if you stay at one of the hotels in those towns, you also have to pay for a permit when you enter the park. However, there are some great hiking spots and things to do outside of the park that won’t cost you a day permit. You could even spend a day exploring the old mining town of Canmore, which has become a thriving tourist destination itself, although not as popular or busy as the town of Banff.

Location of Canmore

Canmore is located in Alberta, Canada. Calgary International Airport in the capital city of Calgrary is the closest major airport to fly into if visiting Canmore or Banff National Par. The town of Canmore is approximately a 10 minute drive to the entrance to Banff National Park. At the entrance you will have to stop at a drive-up kiosk and pay to enter the park.  After entering the park, you’ll have another 15 minute drive before arriving in the town of Banff. So, from Canmore to Banff it will take about 30 minutes by car.


Where to stay in Canmore, Alberta

Parenthood and Passports - Canmore vs. Banff

We stayed at the Solara Resort. It is located right off the main road, which makes it easy to find. We had our toddler and my in-laws with us, so we opted for a condo with a full kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Staying in an apartment or even a hotel suite makes life much easier when traveling with a toddler. I also work remotely and often have to work while we are traveling, so the extra room is not only convenient but often necessary if I have conference calls I need to attend.

Parenthood and Passports - Canmore vs. Banff

The Solara Resort in Canmore is a very nice, luxury resort. The condo was well-equipped, nicely furnished, spacious, and comfortable. The resort also has a parking garage which would definitely be a huge benefit during Canada’s frigid winters.

Where to eat in Canmore

Parenthood and Passports - Canmore vs. Banff

One of my favorite places to eat in Canmore is the Grizzly Paw Brewery. Not only do they have great craft beer, the food is great, and the atmosphere is lively and fun.  While there are some cool restaurants in the town, when it comes to dining options, Banff wins out in the Canmore vs. Banff debate.

Parenthood and Passports - Canmore vs. Banff

What to do in Canmore

Beyond the shops and restaurants, Canmore, like other towns in the Canadian Rockies, is great for outdoor enthusiasts. There are a lot of things to do in Canmore for all ages. You will find various outdoor walks and hikes that range in difficulty. For an easy walk you can do with little ones, you can follow the loop around the Bow River, which runs through the town.

Parenthood and Passports - Canmore vs. Banff

More advanced hikers will find a greater challenge along the Mount Yamuska trail.

For a look at some of the other hikes in the area, click here.

Have you been to Canmore, Alberta? Which do you prefer, Canmore or Banff? Let us know in the comments and tell us your favorite restaurant, hotel, activity, or hiking trail.

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Parenthood and Passports - Canmore Canada

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8 comments on “Canmore vs. Banff, Canada”

I’ve recently been looking heavily into traveling to Banff, so this post comes at a perfect time for me. Thanks for all of the tips and suggestions. I never would have thought to look at Canmore, so I really appreciate this!

Great Recommendations! I’ve been wanting to go to Banff, but maybe staying in Canmore is a better idea–especially if it means we can rent an apartment because hotels with toddlers can be so challenging. 🙂

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