Despite sitting just a few kilometres outside Banff National Park, Canmore has never been at the top of many travellers' wish lists. While the former coal-mining town brought in crowds during the 1988 Winter Olympics when it hosted the Games' cross-country skiing events, its downtown remains relatively small and its prices comparatively low compared to its northwestern neighbour, Banff. Instead, those in the know come to enjoy the area's wealth of natural pursuits, which range from hiking and biking to – yes – skiing.
Hugging the banks of Bow River, Canmore's position in Alberta's Rocky Mountains makes it a true destination for outdoor adventure. Winter sports of all varieties can be enjoyed throughout the colder months, especially at the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, while less snowy conditions see visitors hiking trails to Grassi Lakes and the Three Sisters peaks, biking, river rafting, rock climbing and spelunking in Rat's Nest Cave. Of course, Banff National Park offers its own wonders including Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.
The more leisurely pleasures you'll find in Canmore's downtown area are few but noteworthy. The area is home to a handful of quality restaurants and bars, not to mention multiple breweries and distilleries. The streets are also extremely walkable and ideal for window-shopping at galleries, boutiques and bookstores. Get a lesson on Canmore's history, from its coal-mining stint to its Olympic days, at the Canmore Museum.