Written by Kait Kucy

If you are like every other Calgarian, the close proximity to the Rocky Mountains has you spending any spare minute heading out to the hills to enjoy the majestic beauty that our wild backyard has to offer.

With the Canada 150 celebrations continuing and the free National Parks passes out in full effect, some of our favourite spots to visit are filling up with tourists, busy traffic and a lack of parking. Not everyone is so lucky to live just 45 minutes away from such epic beauty so perhaps just this once skip the standard tourist-bait spots and try something new this summer in Banff. These ideas are simple and not completely off the beaten track but will show you a new side of Banff – the one that the locals know and love.

Live Music at The Banff Centre

A spot that is sometimes overlooked by tourists is the Banff Centre, world-renown arts centre that has made its home on top of Tunnel Mountain just steps from downtown Banff. Beyond the beautiful campus, gorgeous buildings and sprawling vistas of Banff National Park, the Banff Centre is an amazing place to view world-class art, experience incredible performing arts and outdoor concerts. Artists participating in all disciplines come from all around the world to use this incredible facility. You never know what you might see at the Banff Centre so it is certainly worth taking a look at their calendar of events to see what is coming up.

See a Movie at the Lux Cinema

Did you even know that Banff has a movie theatre? Chances are you’ve walked right past the Lux Cinema on the corner of Bear Street. It is a great spot to check out the latest blockbuster films or if you are lucky indulge in one of their special event screenings like the Banff Mountain Film Festival. And this summer, the cinema is also hosting three live theatre shows a day, six days a week!  These three shows offer something for everyone in the family, from the young to the young at heart: The Adventures of the Curious Bear In The Red Canoe at 2 PM (puppet show), Mavericks of the Mountains at 4 PM (whirlwind comedy) and Canada: The Musical at 7 PM ( a rocking good time!) Also, three nights a week we offer a comedy improv show at 9 PM.

2am Poutine from Aardvarks

(Photo via YELP)

Another Banff local staple is Aardvarks Pizza that is conveniently open until 4am every night of the week. You’ve have truly experienced the non-tourist experience until you’ve wandered over to Aardvarks in the middle of the night for a foil dish full of their scrumptious poutine. If you don’t want to run the risk of a hunger-fueled run-in with an elk, Aardvarks delivers anywhere in Banff for free!

Soup at Chaya

(Photo via Trip Advisor)

Although Chaya resides on Banff Avenue, this hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant is often overlooked by tourists looking for the quintessential Alberta beef dinner. Chaya may look unassuming but it is the perfect spot to get a delicious and affordable meal. Expect to try delicious ramen and tasty Japanese curries. The service is quick and friendly – Chaya will definitely become a favourite stop if it hasn’t already made your list of must-eats in Banff.

Ginko & Ink

So many of Banff’s shops cater directly to tourists and it is nice to see some diversity amongst the retail scene of Banff hoodies, bottles of maple syrup and decorative bear figurines. Ginko & Ink is a fun, paper-focused gift shop featuring beautiful stationary, wrapping papers and more. If you love hunting out pretty and unique finds, this is a great spot to check out just beyond the hustle and bustle of Banff Avenue.

Pick up Vegan Cheese from Glowfood Creamery

Bet you didn’t know that Alberta’s only vegan creamery exists in Banff. Glowfood Creamery makes delicious plant-based cheeses and ice creams that fans regularly make the drive from Calgary for. Using the best raw, organic tree nuts, the cheeses are completely dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free and GMO-free. You can pick up their cheeses at Nourish Bistro on Bear Street or email them directly for special order.

Mike Morrison