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The Quintessential Après Guide To Banff

Skiing and boarding in deep powder is a transcendental experience, but when your thighs start to burn, it’s hard to reject the call of après. Few places offer better après than Banff, Alberta. This ski town is world renowned for its global nightlife scene, and for good reason; there isn’t actually skiing and riding within the town itself. Most first time visitors are shocked to learn that the name of the town is actually in reference to Banff National Park, and that the downhill activities occur on three nearby mountains: Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise. What this means is that you don’t have to actually ski or board to enjoy the great nightlife, and by extension, the crowds are bigger and more diverse than many other resort villages.

Banff is straight up one of the most bustling and energetic ski towns in Canada. The options for après are nearly endless: vibrant nightclubs, fireside wine and cocktail bars, and plenty of traditional bars to drain a pint. The options can be a little overwhelming, so we’ve put together a quintessential guide to a night out in Banff.

Photo: Pumpandtap.com

Photo: Pumpandtap.com

Take our advice, before losing your shirt and your inhibitions, begin your evening with a meal. If you’ve been on a nearby mountain all day, you’re not going to be inclined to wait for something proper, instead opting for something quick. To get things started, head to The Pump and Tap Tavern, a traditional English-themed bar that serves up $10 jugs of brew, donairs, and Nathan’s hot dogs. Alternatively, try out the Elk and Oarsman, a sports bar with a lengthy beer menu and a kitchen that serves up elk nachos, elk burgers, and elk poutine. Speaking of which, get used to the elk, maple syrup, and bacon-themed cuisine now, because it’s awesome, and it’s everywhere. If we’re calling a spade a spade (and we are), don’t sweat this first meal too much as you’re going to be on a quest for a post-bar snack in no time. Consider this your appetizer before your liquid main course and post-bar dessert.

Next, head to the Rose and Crown for some live music. This massive pub has bands playing seven nights a week in addition to a great patio that opens up when the weather shows even a tinge of spring. If the band is a little bit too local, there is a back room with a dartboard, pool tables, and usually, another band playing. Order a few more pints or another round of shots and prepare to really drop in on the après: Wild Bill’s Legendary Saloon and Hoodoo Lounge and Nightclub.

Photo: Panaramio.com

Photo of Wild Bill’s: Panaramio.com

Wild Bill’s is to Banff what Garf’s is to Whistler: an institution. This is Alberta after all, and Wild Bill’s serves it up in true Albertan style: Barbeque food, a mechanical bull, an eclectic smattering of live music, and plenty of good looking people. On any given night you can expect square dancing, two stepping, lighter waving, or mosh-pitting. Yeah, things can get a little weird, and you never know what to expect, but that’s what’s so endearing about this legendary saloon. Faking your way through a Texas Two-Step can be enough to endear oneself to the locals, but if you aren’t loose enough to take back the night on Bill’s sticky dance floor, please the crowd by mounting that bull and letting that thing buck. If you’re into a bit of a mellower scene, get there a little early, grab the picturesque table overlooking Banff strip, and pull out your iPhone out for some potential Instagold passing by below you.

Dancing Sasquatch

Dancing Sasquatch

As you move on from The Pump and Tap, Elk and Oarsman, and through to Wild Bill’s, your night will usually take you just across the street to Hoodoo Lounge and Nightclub or The Dancing Sasquatch. The interior of Hoodoo is token Banff-style, in the form of rock, wood, and leather, with live DJ’s playing good music, and quick and easy drink service. Beyond midnight, Hoodoo becomes a heaving mass of sweaty movement, so get there early. For max enjoyment, make the stop at Hoodoo’s on Thirsty Thursday’s, which serves up $3 bombs all night long, or Fridays for $9 triple fishbowls.

aardvarkpizzasub-2

Photo of Aardvark Pizza and Sub: Yelp

If there is a line at Hoodoo Lounge, your other option is The Dancing Sasquatch, a long and narrow club with Banff’s best sound system. All drinks are reasonably priced, but the locals typically opt for “Time Machine,” a cocktail that possesses a name that should tell you that this club has all of the ingredients to get pretty loose.
What’s up with the appetite that follows a night of partying? Sure, you’ve likely danced up a storm and bar-hopped all night, but that insatiable appetite for something salty needs satisfying. We understand this insatiable hunger, and as such, your night needs to end with poutine. You’re going to find the best late night food option in Banff at Aardvark Pizza and Sub. This local pizza joint stays open until 4AM, and beyond pizza and poutine, serves up beef donair, chicken wings, nachos, tacos, giant cookies, and one last shot at love.

If you’ve made it through a full day of skiing or boarding followed by a full night on the town, you’re ready for the best sleep of your life. Set your FlakeUp powder alarm so you don’t miss out on any epic pow days, and rest easy knowing you did Banff the right way.

 

Like this post? Check out Explore The Best Of Alberta This Winter In One Amazing Road Trip and Where To Find The Best Cup Of Coffee In Alberta, too!

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