Not many towns boast Banff's staggering assets – the white-frosted peaks of the Canadian Rockies, a free-roaming menagerie of bears and elk, accessible hiking trails, fantastic skiing and thermal hot springs. Banff National Park surrounds the village, putting luminous lakes and glistening glaciers within easy reach, too.
Near town, hikers can climb Sulphur Mountain for the quintessential cloud-top lookout. Or hop on the Banff Gondola, which glides to the same spot in 10 minutes. Banff Upper Hot Springs burble at the mountain's base, perfect for a soak after taking in the views.
In summer, families cycle the trails that loop around town and raft the Bow River. In winter, everyone hits the slopes: small but mighty Norquay lies at Banff's edge, while world-class Sunshine Village is less than 10 miles from town.
A day trip to Lake Louise pays off big. Trails wind around the true-blue water and alpine teahouses provide scones and sustenance. Moraine Lake is more rugged and favored by grizzly bears. Nearby, the Icefields Parkway rolls alongside sweeping glaciers.