Lake Minnewanka, or Lake of the Spirits, is a beautiful glacier fed lake just outside Banff and one of the only lakes in the area that allows motor boats. Bring your own boat, book a boat tour, have a picnic, take a hike, or drive the perimeter of the lake for a seriously scenic drive. With the hikes and campsites surrounding the lake you could easily spend your entire weekend here.
Whenever I leave Banff I always try to squeeze in a quick hike or pitstop in an effort to prolong my time in the mountains, on our last trip Lake Minnewanka was our pitstop, so we only took a quick walk around the main picnic areas with our dog and didn't have a chance to hit any of the trails. There is an ice cream stand right near the boat launch, though- bonus!
If you do check out the trails in the area I highly recommend bringing bear spray with you. You're in the Rockies so you should already have some on you if hiking, but we saw a bear in the main parking lot before even getting to the lake.
We also saw an elk and some other small animals on the side of the road when driving out. So if you're excited to see some Canadian wildlife take the scenic drive and you'll be in luck.
We'll definitely be back to check this place out further and venture passed the picnic areas. If anyone has any favourite trails in the area let us know. Actually, we'll be here September long weekend so if anyone is interested in meeting up send us a email!