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That look you’re seeing on the faces of many Calgarians is confusion. 

The leaves are yellow. 
But the sun is still warm. 
Sure, the air is a bit cooler, but not much. 
Plus, there’s still no snow. 

All in all, it’s been a remarkable fall here in Alberta. To say we are having a rare warm fall would be an understatement, but we aren’t complaining. I’m certainly not! But this surprise early fall heat wave gives us even more time to enjoy the great outdoors in Banff. Many people are maybe unused to heading for the mountains during shoulder season, but now is the perfect time!

Take in the 360-degree views of Banff!

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I got a sneak peek of the new Open Top Touring experience in Banff. It takes you to some of the town’s most picturesque destinations while enjoying the fresh mountain air in these modern but vintage-inspired motor coaches. This experience is new but is on offer only until Thanksgiving, and will then return next year. But I honestly can’t think of a better time to try out these tours, just as the leaves are bright yellow, the air is warm, and fewer tourists than just a few weeks ago.

An unforgettable Moutain-top experience!

Speaking of 360-degree views, have you ever eaten on a mountain top? If you like your cuisine a little more elevated, literally, then you have to head to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, and the Sky Bistro. It opened a few years ago and you’ve no doubt seen me rave about it since then, and I’m just going to keep on raving about it because nowhere else in Canada can you enjoy a truly unforgettable meal, all while sitting and gazing at one of the most iconic and gorgeous views this province has to offer.

I’ve been there perhaps ten times. I’ve walked in and said “Oh my God!” every time I sat down.

But can you blame me? It’s truly stunning. 

But it’s not just the views that are delicious. So is the food. The menu features a handpicked selection of regionally-sourced local meats, produce, and ingredients, and changes with the season. As they get ready to launch their fall menu this week, you can expect a menu packed with fall favourites and dishes to keep you warm.

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I also want to highlight that Sky Bistro has an entirely Canadian wine menu. It features wines from across the country, as well as locally-sourced artisan spirits and select craft beers from Alberta and BC. To me, Sky Bistro is about enjoying all the amazing food and wines this country has to offer. The fact that you can enjoy all of these things while taking in views that you will literally never forget makes this an iconic stop, no matter the time of year.

Cozy up for fire-side dining

While your mouth is still watering I must tell you about Banff’s newest restaurant, Farm & Fire, which opened earlier this summer and quickly became the talk of the town. Located in the newly-renovated Elk & Avenue Hotel, Farm & Fire is another celebration of simple yet delicious food. If you know me, you know I don’t like complicated food. I like food that I can identify, that doesn’t have mysterious flavours and that’s fun to share. And that’s basically Farm & Fire’s goal. They’ve brought fire-roasted dining to life in the heart of downtown Banff, and if I were you I’d add it to your to-do list, because you won’t be disappointed.

In its short life, Farm & Fire has already become known for its flatbreads and its chicken, and maybe that’s because the restaurant uses a stunning rotisserie imported from Italy. Like Sky Bistro, Farm & Fire uses local ingredients and works with local farmers to create dishes that have people coming back time and time again (I’ve been four times already!). With their new fall menu being introduced this week, look for winter squash and carrots cooked in their forno oven, and of course you have to try their Funghi Pizza and the spit-roasted chicken.

The menu can be customized for people with dietary concerns or preferences, especially because it’s so focused on sharing. So you and your friends can sit around the table and pick and choose which dishes you’re craving.

Choosing only a few is the hard part.

A soft place to land.

And after you’ve spent your day taking in the fresh mountain air, and dining the night away, trust me when I say you’ll want a great place to stay. Right now, Albertans can save up to 20% on hotels and get activity credits for experiences like the Banff Gondola. You get this just for being an Albertan and booking a room at the Mount Royal Hotel or the Elk & Avenue. Both have been completely renovated and updated with modern amenities in recent years, and both are within easy walking distance of the best that Banff has to offer.



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Mike Morrison

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