For a perfect girls’ getaway this fall, head to Elk +Avenue Hotel in Banff.
A girls’ weekend is good for the soul. It’s time to reconnect with friends, let loose, and not think about work or the kids for a while. While you could wait for someone to get married or for that friend to visit from out of town, why not take off for the weekend with your BFF “just because”? And let’s face it, with online school and working from home, we could all use a short break from family right now. I was happy to ditch my WFH wardrobe and get dolled up for a couple days too.
Whether you seek adventure or rest and relaxation, Banff has everything you need for a perfect girls’ getaway. Enjoy hiking and sightseeing by day, and culinary experiences and cocktails by night. With Elk + Avenue Hotel as our base camp, we parked the car for the evening because everything was within walking distance (or waddling distance if you order all the things like we did).
Farm + Fire Restaurant
Seated by large, open windows at Farm + Fire, we have the best of both worlds. We’re dining comfortably indoors, but still have fresh air and mountain views. As the sun dips lower in the sky, Tunnel Mountain is bathed in golden light and the clouds turn pink. It’s the perfect setting for colorful cocktails and farm-to-table fare.
While we peruse the menu, Jacqueline orders Park Observation Peak, a modern twist on an Old Fashioned (Park Glacier Rye, Appleton Rum, cherry liqueur instead of maraschino cherry, and orange bitters) with smoked cedar square. I opt for the Wild Rose Spritz, a sweet and sparkly pink concoction made with aromatized wine, sparkling wine, rosewater, and rose petals. Both beverages are fragrant and delicious.
With locally sourced ingredients, creative dishes, and lots of gluten-free and dairy-free items (as well as vegan and nut free), Farm + Fire is one of my favorite places to eat in Banff. Since I’ve been here a few times this year, I let my friend pick the mains – Porchetta and the Catch of the Day – but insist on getting three veggie sides, saying, “This is the only place where I get excited about vegetables. I don’t know what they do to make them so good!” Colette-Jane Marshall, Manager of Food and Beverage at Farm + Fire, agrees. “I’m a huge meat eater, but when I come here, I eat vegetables.” Later when she brings out the honey roasted carrots with hazelnut dukkah, she tells us, “This is my absolute favorite.” Marshall elaborates that dukkah, a nut and spice blend, is really popular in Australia, where she’s from. Basically, it’s the “secret” ingredient that elevates the flavor of a seemingly simple dish.
This understated, rustic elegance is Farm + Fire’s strength. Whether you go with BBQ chicken and bacon flatbread baked in the forno oven (Canadian Cheddar and Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing take it to the next level), rotisserie chicken with thyme and lemon brine (roasted to perfection in a rotisserie oven imported from France), brassicas with magenta beet hummus (cauliflower and broccoli never tasted so good), or homestyle cornbread served in a mini cast iron skillet (sweet and buttery amazingness!), unique flavors and attention to detail make every dish memorable.
Executive Chef Scott Hergott and Head Chef David Ryc are the masterminds behind the menu, but Hergott is quick to attribute the restaurant’s success to the whole team. His face lights up talking about the fall menu and a signature squash dish Ryc created that he’d “love to do at Sky [Bistro]!” The front of house staff share his passion for food and are excited to recommend their favorite dishes and cocktails. It’s four months since Farm + Fire opened and it’s thriving. Locals and tourists alike are excited about Banff’s newest restaurant, and guests like myself return time and time again for the fire roasted goodness, ambience, and great service.
Seared melt-in-your-mouth Albacore tuna in a buttery lemon sauce with greens offsets the richness of the Porchetta and preserved lemon gremolata. Both mains are complemented by honey roasted carrots with hazelnut dukkah, savory garlic green beans and crispy mushroom chips, and brassicas with tangy beet hummus and chickpeas.
Since our eyes were a bit bigger than our stomachs (portions are generous and made for sharing), we pack up the rest of our delicious dinner to save room for dessert. I order the highly recommended Pavlova, and Jacqueline gets the Baked Alberta (Farm + Fire’s version of baked Alaska). Beets add color to the whipped coconut cream and strawberry-beet chutney, but it’s hard to beat the flaming Baked Alberta’s presentation. As the flames die down, we order more drinks: a Solstice (my fav – not too sweet) and Wild Rose Spritz. It’s the perfect ending to an amazing meal.
Farm + Fire’s Dinner hours are 5-9 pm Monday to Thursday and 5-10 pm Friday to Sunday. Reservations are highly recommended. Reserve a table here. If you’d prefer to get your order to go, takeout is available daily from 5 – 9 pm.
Coming Soon: Check out Farm + Fire’s Thanksgiving menu for October 9-12, 2020 and new fall menu which will debut in mid-October. Check out Farm + Fire’s menu here.
For more girls’ weekend fun, check out our recommended itinerary!
Girls’ Weekend in Banff Itinerary
Here’s how to spend a fun girls’ weekend in Banff. Plan to stay at least one night so you aren’t rushed.
Check in to Elk + Avenue Hotel.
Put some tunes on, pour some wine, and get ready for dinner.
Dine at Farm + Fire Restaurant (conveniently located at Elk + Avenue so you don’t need to drive anywhere).
Walk to Park Distillery Restaurant & Bar (locally made spirits) or The Radiant (according to Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, “Their cocktails and cheese boards are amazing!”) for after-dinner drinks.
Enjoy brunch at Farm + Fire (open 8 am – 2 pm) or coffee and a muffin at Good Earth Cafe. Both are located at Elk + Avenue Hotel.
Get lunch to go from Wild Flour Artisan Bakery Cafe. There’s also an IGA grocery store beside Elk + Avenue if you need hiking snacks.
Hike around Johnson Lake for great views of hoodoos and Mount Rundle, and look for the old hermit cabin on the south side of the lake. 2.8 km loop, minimal elevation gain. For a longer hike, try C Level Cirque (3.9 km one way, 450 metres elevation gain).
Go on a driving tour of Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, and stop at Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka. Before driving back to Banff, stretch your legs at Cascade Falls (short, steep hike to the base of the falls) or Cascade Ponds. Observe the speed limit and keep an eye out for elk, deer, and bighorn sheep.
Take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain and walk the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak (500 metres one way with 368 stairs – wear flats!).
Have dinner with the best view in Banff at award winning Sky Bistro. The food is as wonderful as the view! Reservations recommended.
Have brunch at nearby Touloulou’s. Their cajun-themed menu is perfect on a cool, fall day.
Pack up and check out of Elk + Avenue Hotel.
Option 1) Head to The Mount Royal Hotel for Banff’s newest tour: Open Top Touring (last day this fall is October 12, 2020). Sightsee in style in a 30’s style coach and learn about Banff’s history. 90-minute tour. Read about our experience here: Discover Banff’s history and scenery in style with Open Top Touring. Reservations recommended.
Option 2) Get a massage at Cedar & Sage Co., Banff’s top rated spa!
Drive home relaxed and refreshed.
Where to Stay: Elk + Avenue Hotel
Elk + Avenue Hotel, has spacious and stylish rooms and suites in the heart of Banff. I highly recommend the loft suite – with two queen beds on the upper level and a pullout couch – for 4-6 people. We loved our room, the onsite dining, and location. At the edge of downtown, it was easy to walk wherever we wanted to go, and having the grocery store next door was handy for last-minute hiking snacks. We’ve stayed there several times and would definitely stay there again!
For More Information
To book your girls getaway now, or get more information, please visit Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection | Elk + Avenue Hotel. For a limited time only, book your hotel stay and receive up to $100 in attraction credits and 20% off the Best Available Rate.
This story was written in partnership with Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection, but all words and opinions are my own.