O Canada!

It official. The Blue Whales are heading to Canada for our honeymoon. We just couldn’t resist this”¦

   Image from Rocky Mountain Magazine

Mr. Whale and I were both a little bummed that the Rocky Mountaineer train ride was a little out of our budget. But we decided we can still see everything. We’ll just have to drive ourselves. The tentative plan is to fly into Calgary, rent a car, and stay a few days near Banff or Lake Louise and a few days in Jasper.

If you know nothing about British Columbia, it might be helpful to see a map. Image from BritishColumbia.com

This is where you come in, hive. We’ve never been there. And we don’t know anyone who has been there. So I’m hoping there are bees out there who can give us some advice. We’re looking for recommendations on”¦

  • Where to stay. (Both specifically, like an actual hotel recommendation, and generally, as in, “Which towns should we visit?”) I’ve heard Jasper is very nice, so we want to spend several nights there. I’ve heard Banff is fairly touristy and expensive, but I’d still like to spend a night or two in the area. Are there other places we should stay? We can drive anywhere, and we can potentially stay on our honeymoon for almost two weeks.
  • Where to eat. (Nom nom nom.)
  • What to do. Here’s what we’re thinking:
  1. Mr. Whale and I want to do some hiking. But we don’t really know what we’re doing. I don’t even know how to find out anything about where to hike.
  2. Is there something we should be doing that we just don’t know about? Like, should we rent a canoe at one of the lakes or something? Or I’ve heard the Banff Gondola ride is nice”¦
  3. We’ll be driving along the Icefields Parkway. Other than pulling off and enjoying the view every once in a while, is there anything we should know to do on this drive?

Oh, and you may want to know that we’ll probably be there in June or July.

Has anyone else done a non-beach honeymoon? What were your favorite parts? How did you split your time between relaxing and “doing stuff”?


Mrs. Blue Whale

College Park, MD
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Wedding Dress Nightmares
On Being a Crazy Bride”¦
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  1. mslemur Bee
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 1:16 pm

    @jennyinstereo: Yes 🙂 American born abroad!

  2. Member
    brittandkelly 32 posts, Newbee @ 8:10 pm


    +1 this is a great list of places to visit and I second the updrafts in Golden and Radium Hot Springs. I live very close to the hot springs and they truly are so amazing! Especially at night.

    Oh and @Miss Blue Whale I think Emerald Lake Lodge is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen! Sounds like you’re going to have a wonderful honeymoon – congrats!!!
    Enjoy my neck of the woods 🙂

  3. Member
    nicole73 58 posts, Worker bee @ 7:27 am

    just in case it hasn’t been mentioned, in Banff, if you decide to trek up Sulfur Mountain, you can actually take the gondolla back down for free… but make sure you have good shoes for this, as there will be snow near the top even in the summer… I am from B.C. in the Kooteneys so as for continuing on to the Fairmont or Radium Hotsprings it is a definate yes…. I have lived in Calgary for 4 years too so check if your trip is close to the Calgary Stampede… it is billed as the greatest outdoor show on earth; so worth the trip! As for the food, depending on whether you want cheap or a good resturant meal, you can pick your choice at any place you visit…. all have your standard fast food as well as 5 star dining.

  4. Member
    Barb-arian 1 posts, Wannabee @ 8:52 am

    I’m also from Calgary – and I just spent last weekend at the Fairmont Banff Springs. The rooms are definitely small – but really cute. The hotel is beautiful. If you want a fancy dinner, Costello’s in the hotel was amazing. The Rimrock (as Pinkmoon mentioned) is fabulous too and you can get a better deal on the rooms than the Fairmont properties (and it’s built into the side of a mountain).

    I would suggest either going up to Jasper or going towards BC – rather than trying to do both. If you want to do a hot springs I would skip Banff and do either Miette (in Jasper) or Radium. The Banff Hot Springs isn’t fed by the springs anymore so now it’s just a heated pool.

    If you want to go to BC, I’d go down to Radium/Invermere rather than Golden. I really dislike Golden and avoid stopping there if I can. But I really like Radium.

    June can be really rainy here. The later into July you can push your trip, the nicer weather you’re likely to have – warm days (mid-high 20s – but no humidity). We always plan our summer holiday in the last week of July/first week of August because it has the best chance of good weather.

    And finally, I’ll echo the advice to avoid Stampede week if you don’t plan to go to Stampede. Yes you get free pancakes every day, but the cost/availability of accommodations is ridiculous.

  5. Member
    mtnhoney 1311 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:22 pm

    yes, as others have said, look into the dates of the Calgary Stampede, to avoid if you wish. If you’re into that kinda thing, then book early! the city becomes a zoo.

    I also recommend canmore over banff, probably will find slightly better prices there. as for hiking, there’s lots of websites to check things out beforehand, and there will be pamphlets wherever you go to show you trails.

    We spent our honeymoon in Whistler, BC, which is only a few hours from where we are in Vancouver, and we LOVED having a mountain honeymoon. Didn’t make any sense for us to go south in August!

  6. gazelle Bee
    gazelle 1019 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:32 pm

    Hey Blue Whale! I live in Calgary and have travelled to Banff and hiked a fair bit. Please feel free to send me a DM to ask questions as I’ve posted details on several hikes in the park on my non WB blog.

    My favourite place to stay in Banff is the Fox Inn. The newest hotel in Banff and it has its own private (and free) hot springs. The Hidden Ridge Resort is also really nice and you’ll get free bus passes to get into town.

    We also love the Grizzly House! Great fondue, fun atmosphere. Definitely call for a reservation.

    I don’t know too much about Jasper.

    Like I said, send me a DM and I can help you out with hikes or any other info about Banff or Calgary.

  7. gazelle Bee
    gazelle 1019 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:33 pm

    Oh, and Stampede is July 5-14.

  8. Member
    _adelaide_ 730 posts, Busy bee @ 1:39 am

    Lake Louise is actually where hubs and I met! The Fairmont at Lake Louise, actually. I would suggest staying there just for the sheer beauty, and there are some really accessible hikes. If its pricey, Deer Lodge is the only other hotel at the top of the mountain, but its not on the lake. worth a thought, though. for hiking, Little beehive is great and pretty easy. Also, there are two teahouses close within easy day hikes from the lakefront; that’s always a really great memory for guests. One is on the way to lake agnes/ little beehive. The other, which is more work but offers a far greater reward is the plain of six glaciers. Not hard, but its a bit of work. Still an easy day hike, though. I would recommend planning to be at the lake really early in the morning, before the tour buses get there. My favourite thing used to be getting a coffee and sitting down at the lakes edge when the sun was still coming up (before the tourists all got there).. It’s so quiet, and really beautiful.

    If driving out to moraine lake, be sure to use caution. (With all the mountain roads, actually) With all the tourists, the roads can be dodgey – foreigners renting rv’s and not being great drivers, or stopping in the middle of roads to get closer to grizzlies – and I’ve had a few friends in serious accidents over that way. I agree that canoeing is better there, though.

    Castellos is good at the Fairmont Banff spring but I wouldn’t recommend staying there – it’s beautiful, but there are so many other economical options in town / closer to things, and the payoff isn’t as great as staying at CLL. Really, besides taking the gondola up the mountain in Banff (which I think is better thank the ski hill one in Lake Louise), unless you want to do some shopping, I wouldn’t spend too much time in Banff. Staying in Canmore is a good option, and there’s a large grocery store there with cheaper prices, so I would stock up if you’re trying to stay on budget. Also, if you are driving, you will need to pay to enter the park system. I don’t know how much it is ( I think it’s free if you live there?) but just a little expense to consider.

    Also, Emerald Lake Lodge might be something to consider. Far quieter than Canmore/Banff/LL, but can still get a little busy in the summer months. Beautiful, though.

    Oh, this is making me so nostalgic! I spent three years travelling back and forth to CLL – spring break, christmas, summer, long weekends while my hubby was working on his apprenticeship – and still have so many friends that live there. I hope you have an amazing time. It’s beautiful, and the smell during the summer is amazing.

  9. bluewhale Bee
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 6:42 am

    @Barb-arian: I’ll keep the weather in mind. Since we’re both graduate students, we have a little more flexibility with our summers.

    @Ms. Gazelle: Thanks! I’m sure I’ll have lots more questions once I look everything up.

    @_Adelaide_: Those hikes sounds so wonderful. I think we’re going to have to either splurge on the Fairmont Lake Louise or the Emerald Lake Lodge. Both look amazing, but I think we can only afford one. What would you choose?

  10. bluewhale Bee
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 5:34 pm

    @Lakelyn: and @This Time Round: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! These links are so helpful.

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