Why You Should Visit Canmore, Alberta, in 2019

Once overlooked by visitors to the Banff area, this mountain town is gaining attention for its accommodations, restaurants and distilleries and breweries.
 

The Lamphouse Hotel, photo by Marc James Co.

Canmore has long been looked at as nearby Banff’s little sister. While Banff has all of the fancy hotels and posh restaurants, as well as the clout of being located in Canada’s first—and most famous—national park, quieter Canmore, located about an hour west of Calgary, lacked the same allure as a mountain destination.

But, thanks to a recent wave of developments, Canmore has achieved a style all its own. Visitors seek out Canmore for its Nordic Centre Provincial Park, hiking opportunities and proximity to the ski hills, but it has also become a destination for bachelor/bachelorette parties, family reunions and group get-togethers.

 

Sage Bistro, photo by Emilia Schmidt

 

Canmore is home to traditional hotels and motels, such as the new Malcolm Hotel and the hip walk-up Lamphouse Hotel, but it is also packed with a number of condo-style accommodations that boast multi-bedroom units with kitchens. Sky McLean, owner of Basecamp Resorts, which falls into the latter category, says that this variety is one of Canmore’s key draws.

“I thought there was great opportunity here,” says McLean. “People like being able to come back to their rooms and cook their own meals and wash their clothes.”

 

BLAKE, photo by Orange Girl

BLAKE, photo by Orange Girl

 

Beyond the varied accommodations, the town’s culinary scene is also hot. While perennial favourites such as Crazyweed and Sage Bistro have brought a level of sophistication to Canmore’s restaurant offerings, many new eateries have popped up over the past few years, bringing with them new concepts and flavours. Among the additions are BLAKE, featuring an internationally inspired menu with plenty of Asian influences, Hy Five, a trendy pub and live- music venue, and Where the Buffalo Roam, a stylish cocktail bar that’s a modern-day take on a traditional saloon.

 

Wild Life Distillery, photo by Bighorn Media

 

There’s also plenty of local distilleries and breweries. Along with its pub downtown, The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company now operates a restaurant out of its brewery. Cochrane-based Half Hitch Brewing Company recently opened a new saloon and restaurant in the historic Canmore Hotel. Meanwhile, RAW Distillery and Wild Life Distillery have opened in recent years, helping pave the way for a craft spirit scene.

And, there’s more to come. The Shops of Canmore, an ambitious commercial development, is expected to open its first phase early this year, featuring a new spa, restaurants and a number of shops.

3 new spots in Canmore

Photo courtesy The Malcolm Hotel

1. The Malcolm Hotel

The luxurious 124-room Malcolm Hotel is the first traditional hotel to be built in Canmore in 20 years, and includes The Stirling Grill and Lounge, a fine-dining restaurant.

malcolmhotel.ca

2. The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company’s Tank310

Grizzly Paw’s brew pub has long been a fixture on Main Street, but now its brewery operates a restaurant too. Tank310 serves upscale bar snacks flatbreads and entrees.

thegrizzlypaw.com

3. Lifeways Gallery

This new social enterprise gallery partners with local Indigenous artisans to sell one-of-a-kind art and cultural items.

lifewayscanmore.com

Read more: 26 Reasons to Travel in 2019, From ‘A’ to ‘Z’

 

[This story appears in the January 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]