Living in the suburbs of Ontario my whole life, travelling to Western Canada has always been on the bucket list and we think it should be on yours, too! We experienced the beginnings of the holiday season in Alberta and discovered new date ideas, local businesses, and fun things to do that made it well worth the flight over.
From take-off in Toronto to Calgary’s International Airport, the trip is around a four-hour domestic flight that is incredibly easy. All you need is your driver’s license and boarding pass to head over to Alberta and once you land, being graced with the distant shadow of the Rocky Mountains is enough to drum up some Canadian excitement.
We want to share all the spots we discovered during our November adventure to Calgary, Canmore, and Banff in this full datenight travel guide. Get an inside look at where we stayed, what restaurants we ate at, and what tourist attractions we had to check out!
Ready to do the Ontario-to-Banff drive? Keep your eyes out for our ultimate road trip itinerary coming soon.
Our datenight Alberta Travel Itinerary
Our first part of the Alberta trip brought us to Canmore. It’s a small mountain town just outside of Banff, making it an hour drive from Calgary and a perfect (and slightly less busy and expensive) spot to stay when you want to experience the mountain life without being too far from the airport and city.
Through airbnb, we rented a suite in the Falcon Crest Lodge via Rise Co Host. We absolutely love the lodge-style living and easily outweighed getting an hotel. The one-bedroom suite had a full kitchen, living and dining room area, and the balcony provided an unreal view of the mountain range.
The building also had underground parking and amenities like two outdoor heated pools, a restaurant in the lobby, a cardio room, and vending machines with food and convenience items, and on-site staff.
The location was just a 5 minute drive (or 20ish minute walk) to downtown Canmore, and a 5-10 minute walk to a few plazas full of local shops, a brewery, restaurants, and stores making it an incredibly visitor-friendly spot.
When we left the mountains and retreated back to city life, we stayed at a residential condo building in the heart of downtown through Corporate Stays, a company that rents executive apartments in prime locations around the world for business and pleasure travel.
We love staying with Corporate Stays because we know they exist in every major Canadian city, have amazing comfortable furniture by Casa Suarez, and are super reliable, and affordable. We scored big because this building was located right about a popular food court and market in Calgary, First Street Market, which means we barely had to step outside to access local restaurants, a bar, and cafe!
Eat & Drink
If you’re a travelling foodie, chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time looking for unique and delicious restaurants to try while you’re out – and that’s exactly what we did. The Calgary food scene is growing with inventive chef creations, trendy spots, and creative food combinations that we were excited to check out!
While in Canmore, we visited Blondies Cafe for some morning coffee and breakfast. The cafe caught our eye immediately as we drove by. It’s a small little coffee house right beside the main intersection with 360 degree views of the mountains. Truly a dreamy place to have your morning coffee!
For beer lovers, we highly recommend checking out Grizzly Paw. They have a brewpub in downtown Canmore, as well as a taproom restaurant and tasting room/bottle shop at their main brewery location just a few minutes away. Go for the beer, stay for their extremely informative and fun tour, beer by the fire pits, and insane mountain views.
We weren’t there on a weekend, but we can’t wait to go back and dine at their Tank310 second-level eatery.
A hidden dinner date gem that surprised us in Canmore was Rocket Pie, the modern and romantic pizza restaurant is so much more than meets the eye – with a full bar menu and area, elevated cocktails, and the most delicious menu items ever.
What we thought was going to be a night of take-out pizza turned into a highly recommended pizza and cocktails date night!
When you stay just 20 minutes from Banff, you have to go visit, and yes it’s so worth just going over for dinner.
Hello Sunshine is a new spot in Banff that gives major Japanese ski chalet vibes. It’s a sushi and small plate restaurant with large fire tables, two private karaoke rooms, and a hidden Tiny Bar with it’s own menu. The food, ambiance, and design was impeccable and a must-visit if you want to impress your sushi-loving date to the max. We’d even pin this as a cute anniversary dinner spot after exploring the snowy mountain village during the day.
It’s hard to say goodbye to the mountains but Calgary‘s food scene is enough reason to hit the road with Banff in the rearview; the brunches we experienced in this city were beyond good starting with Benny’s Breakfast Bar.
If you couldn’t tell from the name, they specialize in eggs benny’s and have SO MANY flavour combinations that will have you making a list for your second visit. From chicken and waffle bennies, to latke and lox, lobster, and mac and cheese this is the ULTIMATE benny-lovers brunch date spot. Get one of their cute milkshakes, two straws to finish it all off.
Now Brekkie is a brunch place that anyone would want to be taken for a date to. The interior is trendy and bright, the dishes not only look but taste so good, and the drink list is an experience in itself. Whether it’s for mimosas and pancakes or coffee and granola, we loved Brekkie.
When exploring some options for takeout, we wanted to find something extra unique that you can’t find anywhere else; and until these spots decide to open more locations (Ontario, please!), we were elated to try out these delicious Calgary takeout restaurants.
Hankki is a Korean street food shop specializing in cheesy rice dogs, Cupbop, and crazy fry creations. Don’t underestimate how full you’ll get from eating at Hankki – this is comfort street food at it’s finest! When you’re looking for something different than the old burger and pizza routine.
Speaking of pizza, if you’re very much liking that routine (we do!) then you need to try Crispy Crust pizza. Never have we seen something so cheesy and delicious. The family-owned shop in the suburbs of southwestern Calgary specializes in cheesy pizza delicacies with a layer of crispy, yet chewy, cheese on top. The flight is worth it for one of these pies alone!
So you’ve found where to stay, you know all the spots to eat – what else? There’s nothing better than being a tourist, when you’re an actual tourist! The best ways to see the mountains in Banff without getting on your hiking gear is taking the Banff Gondola up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain.
Once you take the 10 minute gondola ride up, you’ll be met with a huge building full of things to do and amazing views. The Summit centre includes restaurants (we dined at the Sky Bistro), the interactive information area, a theatre, event space, rooftop lookout, and outdoor spaces with trails to the bottom, and stairs to another mountain peak.
Both Downtown Banff and Downtown Canmore have a gorgeous street full of restaurants, bars, cafes, and local shops to check out. You can spend so much time on the picturesque avenue surrounded by the mountains, just that is a date idea in itself!