Top 5 Best Things to Do in Banff, Alberta With Kids

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Liz Behler
Staff Writer

The mellow rapids of the Kananaskis River makes it perfect for families.

BANFF, ALBERTA—Canada—Whether you’re long overdue for some family bonding time, or faithfully take a family vacation each year, Banff, Alberta is a great place to plan your next family getaway. To help, we’ve compiled a quick hit list of the top five best things to do in Banff with kids—from scenic float trips down the Kananaskis River to wintertime horse-drawn sleigh rides. Read on as we cut through the clutter, highlighting only the very best things to do in Banff with kids. All that’s left for you to do is pack your family in the car and go.

1. Take a Family-Friendly Float Trip

If the term “whitewater rafting” spurs visions of drenched rafters furiously paddling through eddies, fear not! Alberta, Canada has plenty of more mellow rapids, perfect for families. The Kananaskis River, near Banff, is a dam-controlled river (meaning the water levels are predictable) with Class I and II rapids. The Elbow River—which sports a shallow access point, making it easy for both kids and adults to navigate—is another option, but make sure you plan accordingly. The Elbow River can only be accessed during May and June each year due to water levels.

Planning a side-trip to Jasper? The gentle Athabasca River combines the scenic beauty of the Canadian Rockies with wildlife viewing, all from your raft. For more information about whitewater rafting in Banff, Alberta, visit or, or dial 1-800-519-4770.

2. Get a Bird’s Eye View With a Banff Gondola Ride

Adults and kids alike will enjoy Rocky Mountain views from on high with a Banff Gondola ride. Ride 8 minutes in a safe, fully enclosed passenger gondola as it climbs 2,285 meters to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Once at the top, take in 360-degree views showcasing six separate Canadian Rockies mountain ranges. Located just five minutes from downtown Banff in Banff National Park, the Banff gondola is one of the best ways to see the Canadian Rockies.

3. Take a Wintertime Sleigh Ride in the Canadian Rockies

Experience the magic of winter in the Canadian Rockies with a sleigh ride. Your whole family will enjoy gliding through the stunning, secluded countryside of the Bow River Valley on a one-hour ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Bringing a baby? Infants 3 and under ride free. Sleigh rides are available every hour, on the hour, 7 days a week with Banff Travel.

4. Get a Different View With a Helicopter Tour of Banff

Fly high in the sky for a different view of the Canadian Rockies with a Banff helicopter sightseeing tour your whole family will love. Get unparalleled views of Cline Glacier, Wilson Glacier or the Columbia Icefields, or if your traveling with kids a bit older, choose a combination helicopter tour that blends bird’s-eye views with seasonal activities like horseback riding or hiking in summer, and skiing or icewalking in winter. Visit for more information about the combination helicopter tours offered.

5. Get Out and See the Sites in Banff

Whether you have a couple days or a couple weeks, taking a sightseeing tour can help you make the most of your vacation in Banff, Alberta with your kids. Children of all ages will enjoy visiting new places and learning their history, giving them a deeper understanding of the Canadian Rockies. Discover the stunning blue-green waters of Lake Louise, or visit “the other lake,” the equally beautiful Moraine Lake. See the Columbia Icefields and trek across glacial fields, or choose a tour that combines the beauty of both the mountains and the lakes.

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