5 great spring getaways

Five destinations for shaking off winter ― or embracing it one more time

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3. Late-season skiing's capital is a thrill: There's no end to winter fun in the Canadian Rockies

Lying in the midst of Banff National Park, the city of Banff, Alberta, is one of North America's capitals of spring skiing. Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, two of three nearby ski areas, operate well into May. Plunge down stunning slopes ― but only after taking in a panorama of the Canadian Rockies. Soak in hot, mineral-rich waters or enjoy a massage at historic Banff Upper Hot Springs. Explore trails near town on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Enjoy a learning adventure, exploring, partly by foot, a glacier hundreds of years old. Or just wander around town, shopping the end-of-season sales ― it's your vacation. ― Claire Walter

INFO: Banff is 90 miles west of Calgary in Canada's Alberta province.

Banff Lake Louise Tourism.  www.banfflakelouise.com or 403/762-8421.

Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. Lift ticket (good at both ski areas for five out of seven days) $279. The Banff Ski Hub, 119 Banff Ave., Banff; www.skilouise.com, www.skibanff.com, or 800/661-1431.

FUN

Athabasca Glacier. A fascinating excursion via a special "ice explorer" vehicle. Tours begin Apr 15; $29. 112 miles from Banff; www.columbiaicefield.com or 877/423-7433

Banff National Park. Glaciers, wildlife, plus great views of the Canadian Rockies. $8. On Trans-Canada Hwy. (Hwy. 1) between Banff and Canmore; www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff or 403/762-1550.

Banff Upper Hot Springs. Outdoor pool with views, restored '30s bathhouse, day spa. Pool admission $6.44, spa treatments from $43. www.hotsprings.ca or 800/767-1611.

LODGING & DINING

Bumpers ― The Beef House. Family-friendly steakhouse featuring Alberta beef and an all-you-can-eat salad bar. $$; dinner daily. 603 Banff Ave., Banff; 403/762-2622.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Baronial 770-room hotel overlooking town, with excellent on-site dining ($$$$; dinner daily), shopping, and world-class spa (treatments from $120). From $170. 405 Spray Ave., Banff; www.fairmont.com/banffsprings, 866/540-4407, or 403/762-2211.

Le Beaujolais. Romantic restaurant featuring a three-course prix fixe menu ($53) and a six-course "surprise" feast ($77) chosen by the chef. $$$; dinner daily. 212 Buffalo St., Banff; 403/762-2712.

Post Hotel & Spa. Alpine-style hotel and restaurant within sight of Lake Louise's slopes. From $219. 200 Pipestone Rd., Lake Louise; www.posthotel.com, 800/661-1586, or 403/522-3989.

Ticino. Italian-accented Swiss restaurant, favored for beef, cheese, and chocolate fondues. $$$; dinner daily. 415 Banff Ave., Banff; www.ticinorestaurant.com or 403/762-3848.

Travel tip: Instead of a rental car, take a motorcoach or van between Calgary airport and Banff/Lake Louise (a two-hour trip), and free shuttles between town and the ski areas.

Next: Monterey Peninsula

 

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