A little trip to Winnipeg, Calgary & Banff

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

This summer was one to remember with an impromptu trip to Manitoba to visit my friend in Morden.  She made the big move out to the Prairies over a year ago and I figured it was about time to visit her on the farm and witness the incredible work her and her partner have done in creating a pesticide-free farm on their property.


Peas Out Farms is a small-scale, spray free farm located about an hour and a half south of Winnipeg. They grow veggies, herbs and micro-greens and have been distributing them to Farmer’s Markets, groceries and restaurants in the area. I attended two of the Farmer’s Markets in the area to see their stall in action and was so happy to see the amounts of people stopping by to purchase their fresh zucchini, cucumbers, micro-greens, tomatoes, pickled vegetables and patty pan squash. They are one of the only growers of micro-greens in the area and are getting known as the “micro-green” farmers. Next year, they’re planning on planting even more next year so be sure to follow them on their Facebook or Instagram pages for more info!

After my visit to Morden, we decided to spend a day in Winnipeg. Shannon showed me around the city, stopping at cute shops, cafes, brew-pubs and restaurants along the way.  My highlights for food, drink and accommodations are:

Winnipeg Food & Drink

Nuburger is a Manitoba-born burger joint that has perfected the guilt-free burger. All of their meat is free-range and 100% local, their produce is fresh and their buns are baked fresh daily by a local bakery (Stellas). Every aspect of this modern burger restaurant has been carefully thought out with health being the main motive. Each dip is homemade, the burgers are cooked on a grill instead of a flattop, their potatoes and yams are hand-cut daily AND there are a number of vegan and vegetarian options available.



We visited the location located in Osborne Village for lunch and I thoroughly enjoyed my burger and french fry experience.  I didn’t have a ‘burger hangover’ which is what Nuburger takes pride in, making delicious yet nutritious eats that give you energy and stamina throughout the day! A big thanks to the wonderful manager at Nuburger for chatting with us about Nuburger’s food and story.


The Forks Market offers a variety of shops to browse for a wide array of speciality items and souvenirs. Downstairs, The Market features a fresh food emporium with everything from gourmet cheeses to meats, organic baked goods, beer and wine.


Naturally we graviated towards the beer area where we settled upon bar stools at The Common. The Common is a craft beer and wine kiosk located in the newly renovated Food Hall of The Forks Market. They serve over 20 craft beers and 20 wines available by the glass or in flights that change seasonally. They always have a great selection of local favourites as well as beers from across Canada.



Smith Restaurant is a lovely trendy restaurant located in The Forks with a superb patio space. They focus on fine fare done right, using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients from Canada. The space at Smith is very modern and inviting, and I absolutely loved the Canadiana Décor.  From hanging antler-inspired lights to Hudson's Bay furnishing, this place definitely felt homely.  We ended up sitting on the patio since it was a gorgeous summer day and ordered a few cocktails to start.  Unfortunately the service was not that great and our waitress was a tad unfriendly and didn’t seem to want to be serving us.  Besides that disappointing factor, the food and drinks were really top-notch.



Where to Stay


The Victoria Inn is an ideal spot to stay at especially for those with an early flight the next morning or if you’ve just come in from a long flight.  It’s VERY close to the airport, you could probably even walk to it if there isn’t a ton of snow on the ground.

The hotel offers premier accommodations offering deluxe guestrooms, a relaxing corporate floor and executive suites which have everything you’ll need for your stay.

Besides the large and comfortable rooms, the hotel has a huge Dino Beach Water Park with multiple water slides, a pool, on-site dining and even kid’s themed suites.


The hotel seems like a popular choice for great value as we saw many guests walking about in the halls of this hotel as well as groups for corporate events and conventions. 

I really enjoyed the simplicity of this hotel and highly recommend it for those who would like to be closer to the airport.

 Calgary



Next up on the itinerary was Calgary. We stayed at the Best Western Downtown Suites which was conveniently located to many shops and restaurants.  We only had a day in Calgary but we made the most of it by walking all around the city, hiking, eating incredible ice cream at the Village Ice Cream shop (20 min line-up was well worth the wait), shopping along Stephen Avenue Walk, drinking beers at Trolley Brew Pub and Beer Revolution, and having lunch at one of the greatest vegetarian restaurants ever, The Coup. After an eventful day, our exhausted bodies were in need of a good night’s sleep before embarking on a road trip to Banff, Lake Louise and Lake Moraine the next day.


(L to R) The Coup, Village Ice Cream, Calgary Tower, Trolley 5 Brewpub

Banff

What to do

The drive from Calgary to Banff was a little over an hour but it felt like a lot less thanks to the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.  I felt bad for Shannon since she was driving while I was straining my neck looking all around at the incredible scenery.  When we finally got to Banff, the streets were jam packed because it was a holiday Monday in August.  Maybe not the best time to visit Banff but we definitely made the best of it.

To help make our experience in Banff a little less hectic, I was graciously given a Banff Alive Pass which gave us access to a number of attractions in Banff.  The pass included the Banff Gondola, Upper Hot Springs, Buffalo Nations Museum, Banff Park Museum National Historic Site, Cave and BASIN SITE, Banff Canoe Club, Glacier Sky-walk and much more.  Unfortunately we were only here for a few days so we did not get a chance to do all of the wonderful excursions offered in this pass. We did stumble upon a few things though:

The Banff Gondola is one of the top attractions but on the day we went it wasn't as crowded due to the forest fires.  We still went on the gondola and hiked around Sulphur Mountain but the visibility was poor. We spotted some wildlife and tried to get some great scenic photos but the haze was just too much. 




After our hike we went to relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs which was a lot smaller than expected.  This natural hot spring pool was PACKED to the brim and so we only stayed for about 30 minutes.  It’s hard to enjoy this pool when there are screaming kids and loud adults surrounding you on every side. Also the germaphobe in me was getting squeamish.  I think this attraction would be much more enjoyed in the colder months with less people.



Cascade Ponds


Lake Minniwanka



Where to Stay


Irwin's Mountain Inn was one of the only decent-priced options in Banff on a long weekend. All of the other hotels were sold out or asking $300+ for a room. Camping would've been ideal if we were staying in Banff longer but for one night, we needed a hotel room.

Irwin's is located right in downtown Banff and a 10 minute walk into the busy restaurant and shopping strip. Our hotel room was spacious, comfortable and provided all of the amenities we needed.  There is also a restaurant attached to the hotel called El Toro, but we skipped out on that.  There are way better places to eat at, plus who eats at the restaurant attached to the hotel their staying at? Not me.


Where To Eat

Banff Ave Brewing Co.
Obviously beer was the first thing on my mind when driving into Banff.  We hit up Banff Ave Brewing Co. right away for some much needed eats and brews.  To my surprise, this place was kind of empty for a sunny afternoon.  Luckily for us we could enjoy the balcony patio offering up some lovely Rocky Mountain views.  I had a lovely Kale & Chicken Salad with a Crispy Pale Ale and life was glorious.  


Mary's Popcorn Shop
When the smell of fresh popcorn takes over the street, you pop in and see whats up. The moment the lady behind the counter gave me a few samples to try, I was sold.  Mainly because I'm a popcorn addict and because I feel that popcorn is a great snack to walk around with.  This cute little tourist spot offers a few different flavours of fresh handcrafted gourmet popcorn. The Chicago mix was hands down the best flavour, a mix of sharp and zesty cheddar popcorn and sweet caramel popcorn.  The combo is addictive and very-well done here at Mary's.

The Bear Street Tavern
The Bear Street Tavern is quite the dining destination in Banff.  The wait for dinner was over an hour but we put our names down and went for a drink.  What brought us here was the fact that we felt like ridiculously good pizza and on Monday's select pizzas are only $12! The vibe here was super laid-back and friendly which is the type of place you want to dine at in Banff.  Great pizza and good beer is a winning combination, and both were done very well at Bear Street Tavern.  


Rose and Crown
If you're in the mood for a little pub fun after dinner then the Rose and Crown is the best spot.  Depending on the night, they have live music and we must've gotten lucky because Chuck Rose was performing Maritime Tunes and Classics by request.  Just shout out yoiur favourite Jim Morrison song and ol Chuck rocked that shit like no other.  This fun sing-a-long aspect made the pub night a lot more exciting, not to mention the group of 10 American motorcyclists we met.  The night turned out to be later than expected, but after all, we were on vacation!


Lake Louise

Lake Moraine


If you're visiting Banff be sure to make some extra time to drive to Lake Louise and Lake Moraine.  Both are about an hour away from Banff and well worth it.  Be sure to leave early in the morning though because the parking lot reaches capacity at around 10 or 11 am (even earlier on long weekends in the summer months).


A special thank you to Banff & Lake Louise Tourism for the ALIVE pass <3




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