• Banff Sunshine ski resort

Things To Do In Lake Louise: A Guide To The Perfect Winter Getaway

Lake Louise Banff National Park

Lake Louise is a quaint mountain hamlet that draws visitors from all over the globe…

…and it’s been a bucket-list destination for more than a century. While high season is summer, when temperatures drop and the snow falls, the towering peaks, glaciers, and sparkling lakes might just be at their best. In winter, Lake Louise transforms into a snow globe and the snowboarding and skiing is world class. All the scenic views are just as accessible and absolutely awe-inspiring, but there are many more ways to enjoy the Lake Louise area than sit and stare.

“In winter, Lake Louise transforms into a snow globe…”

Where to Stay

There are only a handful of hotels in the quiet community of Lake Louise. The luxurious and peaceful properties are a welcome contrast to the busy town of Banff. Each has a distinct sense of place and a bit of the grandeur of the area to enjoy at all price points.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise This iconic property is the only hotel right on the shore of Lake Louise. Lake-facing rooms open up to unparalleled views overlooking the waters (equally stunning frozen solid in winter or brilliant turquoise in summer).

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Post Hotel & Spa The Relais & Chateaux property fits right in with Lake Louise’s magical mountain atmosphere and provides a posh place to rest. It first opened as the Lake Louise Ski Lodge in 1942, and Banff-based guide Jim Boyce built it with logs from Revelstoke and at the headwaters of the Bow River. Now, it boasts an indoor saltwater pool, steam room, whirlpool, and a full-service Temple Mountain Spa to ease any aches and pains from the slopes. Accommodations here range from studio lodge rooms to a spectacular 3,000-square-foot mountain house, with a variety of suites and cabins in between.

Baker Creek Mountain Resort Unless you drive down the Bow Valley Parkway, you’d never know this adorable cluster of log cabins exists. The cabins range in size from lodge rooms to two-bedroom cabins, so it’s a convenient place for groups and families to stay while snowboarding at Lake Louise Mountain. Most rooms have wood-burning fireplaces or stoves to add to the cozy atmosphere, and the on-site Bistro is a popular choice for aprés ski and dinner.

Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Lake Louise Inn This budget-friendly inn is right in the town of Lake Louise. It has a variety of buildings and room types ranging from cozy single rooms to two bedroom suites. The basic rooms are compact, but not a problem if you plan to spend most waking hours exploring the slopes or trails nearby (as we’d recommend).

Lake Louise Inn

If you don’t mind a longer drive, check out more hotel options in nearby Banff town.

Where to Grab Coffee and Tea

Lake Louise village is tiny, and there are really only two cafes serving up coffee, tea, and more outside of the hotels. Trailhead Cafe has delicious coffee, espresso, and specialty drinks. The best part might be the long breakfast burrito and sandwich list. Come early and don’t be surprised to find a line out the door filled with hungry locals. The other is Laggan’s Bakery and Delicatessen, which brews premium coffee and teas and has pastries made fresh daily. Stop by again later in the day for a mix of English- (pasty and meat pies) and American- (hot dog, burger, and ribs) influenced lunch menu items.

Trailhead Cafe Lake Louise

Where to Aprés

Right at the base of Lake Louise Mountain is the Kokanee Kabin. You can slide right up to the door and stop for a cold beer or cocktail between laps on the gondola or right after a full day on the slopes.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Ice Bar at the Fairmont Lake Louise is open on winter weekends, the Ice Bar serves up signature cocktails like the warm mulled wine and other hot and cold beverages. The bar itself is quite a sight to behold. Calgary-based ice carvers designed it using over 6,000 pounds of solid ice.

Baker Creek Bistro at the Baker Creek Mountain Resort pours must-try local craft beers from Grizzly Paw, Big Rock, and Philips Brewing Co. and fun cocktails filled with Canadian ingredients.

Sir Norman Lodge opens for aprés at 2:00 pm daily with light bites and wide variety of beer, wine, and cocktails. Live piano entertainment fills the room on weekend evenings and wine from the award-winning cellar is always flowing.

For a livelier aprés scene, head to Banff town for nightly specials.

Lake Louise Ski Resort Kokanee Kabin

Where to Eat a Delicious Meal

Casual options include the open-fire grill out at the Lake Louise Inn. Freshly prepared burgers, chicken sandwiches and more with salad and s’mores are a fun way to cap off a full day. There’s no need to change out of snowboarding gear, just head straight to the gazebo and join in.

Baker Creek Bistro at the Baker Creek Mountain Resort serves modern Canadian cuisine in a rustic log cabin setting. The new executive chef, Collin Rogers, is dedicated to using local ingredients in uniquely Canadian dishes.

Alpine Social at Chateau Lake Louise draws inspiration from the glory days of Canadian mountaineering and offers a welcoming “place to meet, eat and celebrate.” Chef Jean-Francois Fortin serves up hearty, alpine comfort food with artisan, and locally grown ingredients. Plus, there’s an extensive local craft beer list, creative cocktail menu, and plenty of Canadian wines and spirits to pair with whatever’s on your plate.

Make it an interactive night at Fondue Stübli at Post Hotel. Start with cheese fondue and work your way to chocolate fondue for dessert, all prepared in traditional Swiss style. Or book a table at the Dining Room at Post Hotel for an elevated meal. Here, chef Hans Sauter brings his world-wide experience to the kitchen and what arrives at your table are fresh and sophisticated dishes with local, seasonal produce.

Lake Louise restaurants

Worthwhile Attractions Off the Slopes

The absolute must-do in Lake Louise is visit Lake Louise Ski Resort and and the other SkiBig3 resorts. {Check our complete guide to snowboarding at Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine, and Mt. Norquay for the best runs and local secrets.} BUT, there’s much more to explore on rest days off the slopes around Banff National Park.

Lake Louise hosts the International Ice Magic Festival every year in mid-January. Professional ice carvers from around the world convene and build ice castles, sculptures, and decorations at the shore of Lake Louise. You don’t have to time your visit exactly with the festival, either. The ice art lasts for several weeks (the cold temperatures preserve the incredible creations beautifully).

Lake Louise ice castle

Also along the shore, it’s hard to miss the horse-drawn sleighs on the paths. You can go dashing through the snow and feel like a kid again. There are cozy blankets, but the marvelous mountaintops and snow-covered trees will keep you distracted from any chill.

Drive to Castle Junction for beautiful sunrise views on Castle Mountain with the sparkling Bow River in the foreground. Be sure to confirm sunrise timing to catch the alpenglow on the peak.

Take a driving tour up the Icefields Parkway and make frequent photo stops. It’s one of the most beautiful drives with must-see Bow Lake and Peyto Lake only 30 minutes north of Lake Louise. These sights are still accessible in winter and only a short walk from the Parkway.

Cross country ski up the snow-covered Moraine Lake Road. The road closes to vehicles during the winter and has tracks set for gliding along. On the way, pause to catch your breath and gaze at jaw-dropping views of Mount Temple and the towering Ten Peaks. For a closer look at the lake, book a guided tour or come prepared with avalanche safety gear and know-how.

Lake Louise Banff National Park

Getting There & Around

Lake Louise is a 2-hour drive from Calgary International Airport or 40 minutes from the town of Banff along the Trans-Canada Highway. The actual lake is another 15 minutes drive up a two-lane road. The town and all the activities around Lake Louise Ski Resort is a popular day trip from Calgary, so be prepared for more traffic on weekends and busier parking lots. There are shuttles that run to popular sights around Banff National Park, however a car makes traveling place to place much more convenient.

For every day you plan to spend in Lake Louise, you’ll need a Banff National Park Pass. You can purchase one in advance online or in the ranger station in town (opens daily at 9:00 a.m.). There are pop-up pass checkpoints, so don’t get caught without one.

Jennifer Nied
Jennifer Nied

Jennifer Nied has more than 10 years of writing and editing experience specializing in adventure and wellness travel, fitness, and spa. A Colorado native, Jennifer has been snowboarding for more than 23 years. She is a contributing writer for Women’s Health and her work has appeared in Budget Travel, American Spa, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and more.

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