For those unfamiliar, reference to something Homer said on the show “The Simpsons.” I am not a big fan, but my husband enjoys it on occasion.
Anyway, we recently went as a family, in-laws and all, to visit Alberta and its national parks. We used frequent flyer miles for all 7 of us to get there from Florida and also redeemed points from Amex Blue Sky card for car rental.
For some reason, after having visited Alaska and Denali national park, I really thought this part of Canada would be a step down. Boy, was I wrong! In fact, in some ways, it’s even more impressive.
There are several national parks to choose from, all of them spanning huge distances. There is Banff, Jasper, Yoho and some others. My favorite spot by far was at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, apparently one of the most photographed places in all of Canada. And for a good reason, it’s quite spectacular.
I have seen photos before, but you really have to be there to appreciate the snowcapped mountains and emerald lake with the background of a grand historic hotel. We just had to splurge and have lunch in the restaurant, taking in incredible views.
Doing so much driving was a bit hard on the kids, but they did well and seemed to enjoy themselves. It was nice having some helping hands, even though with so many people tempers flared many times. We did stay in Banff, which I recommend. Its a very nice, walkable town, with lots of shops and a small park for kids to play in.
This part of Canada is somewhat expensive, so be prepared. We were able to travel on a budget by renting a house on www.vrbo.com for all of us to share, which had a washer, dryer and a kitchen. We also got a minivan instead of an SUV, in order to save on gas (more expensive than in US).
When you travel with small kids, it’s really no “vacation” per se, more like a change of scenery. And this scenery was something truly spectacular! Here are my top 3 things to do as a family around the area in the summer:
1) Fairmont Chateau Lake louise. You just have to go there. Try to splurge on on-site restaurant (lunch entrees are around 20 dollars per person, not cheap) or bring your own cooler to enjoy picnic on the bench by the lake.
2) Hot Springs in Banff. Incredible views, lots of fun for kids, if somewhat crowded. Around 6 Canadian dollars for entry per person.
3) Gondola ride in Lake Louise village. It’s about 28 dollars for adults, less for kids. Worth it to see the parks from a different perspective.
There is a lot more to do, but those are my quick recommendations on things to enjoy in the area for those with little kids, without going broke.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.