Saturday, 19 May 2018

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

On a recent trip to California earlier this year one of the top things I really wanted to do was go to the Museum of Ice Cream! I had seen pictures all over Instagram and had been dying to go, but of course every time I looked for tickets NONE! Then one day while scrolling through Instagram I saw they were releasing more tickets, and the dates matched the time I would be in San Francisco! I managed to get though after a long wait and I got tickets! It lived up the hype and if you are in a city with a Museum of Ice Cream and love to take fun pictures I would definitely recommend looking for tickets!


Book Ahead of Time: If you are traveling somewhere with a Museum of Ice Cream book ahead of time and keep looking for tickets even up until you leave. You might get lucky!

Show up Early: You have a particular entry time on your ticket and until it gets close to that time everyone lines up outside. Once it is time or close enough, they group you together (you don't have to stay together it is just for an introduction in the first room). We showed up a little bit before our ticket time when there was no line up and once another family showed up they let us go in together. This was a much smaller group than what I had seen earlier. This meant more time to interact in each room with less people in backgrounds.

Sprinkle Pool: They also limit your time in the pool which means bigger groups in the pool. If you are with a really big group you may wish to hang back in each room until they are finished and then by the time you get to the pool you might get lucky with a smaller pool group. 

Have Fun: The Museum is a place where adults can act like children; eat ice-cream & cotton candy, pose with giant unicorns, play in a pool of sprinkles and swing in a room with bananas on the ceiling.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Wildlife Spotting in Banff

One of my top priorities in visiting Banff & the surrounding areas was seeing as much wildlife as possible. I did endless amounts of google searches and scoured Instagram for any hints of the best places to look. Some of them turned out and others not so much. At the end of the day wildlife is just that.. wild, so there is no given when it comes to finding them. Below are the places that I had luck spotting wildlife to hopefully help you know where to look.

My Banff (and area) Wildlife Bucketlist was:
Grizzly, Elk, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goat
No matter what I want to see, I always consider myself fortunate to whatever animals happens to appear, no matter how big or small any wildlife is always a joy to see!

1. Bow Valley Parkway
- Black Bear

2. Fairmont Banff Springs
- Elk

3. Banff Gondola
- Hoary Marmot

4. Lake Louise
- Porcupine
- Clark's Nutcracker
- Elk

5. Lake Minnewanka:
- Columbian Ground Squirrel
- Deer

6. Icefields Parkway (by far our most successful drive)
- Black Bears (3 separate sightings)
- Grizzly Bear
- Big Horn Sheep


Other Good Spots to check:
- Around the town of Banff itself is known for lots of wildlife including Bears. I did see deer around town but that was it. Apparently near train tracks is a good spot to look for Grizzly's.
- Lake Louise Gondola I had seen on Instagram that there are Grizzly sightings from the gondola (we did the Banff one instead)
- Vermillion Lakes Road is suppose to be another wildlife hotspot - it wasn't for us, but timing is everything.
- Norquay Road - we didn't have the chance to check it out.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Banff Top 10

1. Fairmont & Surprise Corner
Whether you stay at a Fairmont or not, if you are in the Banff area you will undoubtedly come across one of these beautiful castles hotels. The first being the Fairmont Banff Springs or the "Castle in the Rockies" and the second is Chateau Lake Louise. There are a few viewpoints to see the Banff Fairmont with its beautiful mountainside backdrop, my favourite being Surprise Corner! Surprise Corner is not far from the main downtown area of Banff. It has a parking lot and a lookout area.
*The hotel is also great to go inside and explore. We also stayed overnight which I will discuss more in a later post.

2. Lake Minnewanka

Very close to the Banff town area is Lake Minnewanka. The road creates a complete loop where there are lots of places to take pictures and get out to explore. Parts of this loop are known for wildlife spotting. During certain times of the year they also do Boat Cruises and canoe rentals.

3. Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway runs parallel to the main highway towards Lake Louise. It is considered the scenic route as you must go at slower speeds due to the amount of wildlife in the area. They do close this road during the evening to early morning to allow for the wildlife to pass through the area. Therefore your best chances are when it first opens or right before it closes. Besides the wildlife there are many beautiful viewpoints along the way. It is also the road you take to get to my next top 10 thing to do...

4.  Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon Hiking Trail is found along the Bow Valley Parkway. It is an extremely popular hiking trail but it lives up to the hype. The trail follows a beautiful river with two main waterfalls to finish each path. Neither waterfall was very impressive but they are still pretty nonetheless, but the trail itself is what I found to be the reward of the hike. Bring lots of water and enjoy!

5. Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is located in the Banff town area. I had first heard of the area for wildlife spotting but what I have come to love it for is the breathtaking views with the mountain reflections. It is a narrow inconspicuous road to drive down but it is worth the exploration. I recommend going in the early evening to get the best light and reflections!

6. Upper Hot Springs

I feel the need to preface this being in my top 10, with saying that it is not the best hot spring I have ever been to, however I still really enjoyed my time here. It is the highest elevation of a Hot Springs in Canada, located in the Rocky Mountains and the water is 100% natural mineral water! We came here to relax after our hike of Johnston Canyon and it did the job!

7. Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is a must-do on any Banff goers list. My favourite part was the "hike" up Sulphur Mountain. The pathway on the way to the top of  Sulphur Mountain had breathtaking 360-degree views! Did I mention there is a Starbucks in the lobby where you can have order your coffee at the highest elevation in Canada (see a theme here?).

8. Moraine Lake

Our visit to Moraine Lake was in the beginning of June so the lake was just beginning to melt. Although we really missed seeing it in its full beauty, its frozen form is honestly still stunning as well. Moraine Lake is the lesser known of the two lakes but I can imagine in the summer it would be just as stunning as Lake Louise and possibly a bit less busy so I wouldn't miss it!

9. Lake Louise

I'm sure by now you have guessed that this would be on my list! Lake Louise is the most picturesque and famous lake in Canada! Once again I didn't visit it in its full glory but luckily it was a bit more melted than Moraine. It was truly beautiful and if it isn't on your bucketlist it should be!!

10. Columbia Icefield

Technically I'm cheating as the Columbia Icefield is not Banff but if you have found yourself in Banff then I can not recommend enough the drive up to the Icefields. They are halfway to Jasper, we were able to drive there, do the tours and drive back in the same day with enough time to still do other exploring in Banff. This was a highlight of the entire trip for me. Not only being on the Icefield itself but also the drive up the Icefields Parkway is just crazy beautiful and full of wildlife!

Icefields Parkway

The Glacier Adventure
Glacier Skywalk

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Canmore & Banff

After our time in Drumheller we headed towards Canmore & Banff (our main destination for the first portion of our Canada Road trip). The drive from Drumheller to Canmore is breathtakingly beautiful and you can’t help but want to pull over every 10 minutes to take pictures. We filmed parts of the journey on our GoPro so now I can relive it over and over.

I had planned for us to stay one night in Canmore before our multi-night stay in Banff as I thought it would give us the opportunity to explore another town. Although now on retrospect I would have just stopped in Canmore for a visit and still stayed in Banff as there was just more to see and do. Nonetheless I enjoyed my visit to Canmore, so here are a few pictures from our time there.

After we checked in to our hotel in Canmore and explored the downtown area we headed out to an area of Banff National Park called Lake Minnewanka. The road creates a complete loop and there are lots of places for pit stops to take pictures and other parts you may wish to park and get out to explore. Parts of this loop are known for wildlife spotting. After the loop we headed back to Canmore for the night!