We've retired this feature; questions can no longer be asked or answered, but we're not
getting rid of any old information on these pages, as it might come in handy.
Check out our travel guides for travel inspiration and to plan your trip.

Question

Photos page thumb dsci0028

My wife and I have been gifted some airline miles to be used in August and we are currently trying to decide between Anchorage, Vancouver, or Calgary / Banff. Anyone have an opinion as to which is the best trip? Although the flights will be free, we'll be trying to keep the rest of the trip as cheap as possible.

Posted on May 30, 2011

9 Answers

Default photos page thumb

I can only comment on Vancouver, since I haven't been to Anchorage or Calgary. I liked Vancouver, it was interesting, but I felt that it was very residential. It really did feel like a "lived" in city. I didn't get to spend too much time there, but I will say the drive from Vancouver up towards Whistler (where the Olympics were held) was probably one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. I would go back just to drive that route again. 

Another thing, Vancouver had the worst streets I have ever seen. So if you do go, do NOT plan on driving. I am really surprised we made it out of the city alive. An alternative to Vancouver would be Victoria. 

I heard that whale watching is pretty fun from both cities.  

Posted May 30, 2011

Photos page thumb fb52bef3b77626e37c3f50a3f29ecf92?1383769699

A favorite trip that I have repeated many times has been to fly to Calgary, then make a loop out through Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, West Edmonton Mall, and then back to Calgary. Calgary itself is a terrific city. The scenery of the mountain parks is unmatched. And West Edmonton Mall is great fun -- especially if you stay in the attached Fantasyland Hotel.

Vancouver is also a great destination. But it's a trip that I've not repeated while I've done the Calgary/Banff/Jasper/Edmonton loop multiple times. I'd give the nod to Calgary. I have not been to Anchorage.

Posted Jun 01, 2011

Photos page thumb laura headshot 9.1.07

It depends on what kind of trip you would like. The nice thing about Anchorage is that you can easily be out in wilderness not too far from the city, there is Denali up the road a 4 +hr. drive, which you can also take by train, there is the beautiful Kenai Peninsula, another short drive, where you can get out on the water in Seward, Soldtona, Homer.


I love Vancouver (used to live in Seattle), especially for a city, great food, Stanley Park, you have lots of cultural aspects to the city.  You can also take a trip over to Victoria, which is a beautiful place.


I would also say that Banff & Jasper are spectacular to visit from Calgary .

Posted Jun 05, 2011

Photos page thumb 9726b022bbef26a8e89b3ac156383ac1?1383769679

Anchorage. Rent a car and take off. If you're really wanting to do it on the cheap, check your camping gear and camp out on your trip. Lots of places to pitch your tent for free or cheap. Spend the money you save on activities you can't do elsewhere like a glacier cruise or fishing trip.

Posted Jun 05, 2011

Default photos page thumb

I live in Vancouver but have spent time in Calgary both of them are beautiful but there is far more to do in Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Tofino and Victoria are a must see on the island.  The nice thing about Vancouver is if you want to experience City Life we have a great night life scene but if you want to go camping or take a nice walk there are so many places to visit!

Posted Jun 05, 2011

Photos page thumb 4e357481cf7ebaaf291fa2f5a8c4cb4c?1383769966

I would recommend Vancouver because it has the most to be seen, although I can't say anything on Anchorage. You can find decent rates in Vancouver and there's plenty to be seen, and you don't need to drive. Our transit system is pretty solid. If you plan to go to Victoria, you should plan to either rent a car or prepare for a long transit ride. Also count in the ferry fare to get there.


As for Vancouver itself, there's a loooot to do. You can rent bikes and explore the city. You can ride around Stanley Park and enjoy the view. If you're more active, you can do the Grouse Grind, which is a nice hiking challenge. You can go to the UBC campus which is a little city in itself. Go up to Whistler to experience the village and see the view, although in the summer there's nothing in terms of skiing and such. Gastown and Yaletown have some good clubs. There's a lot of shopping around Robson and  a TON of great restaurants if you want some good food. :) And neeeever forget the beaches.


If you're into it, there's a lot of camping sites just outside. And, with a few hours' drive out of the city, there are a lot of amazing camping resorts you can check out, like Manning Park. You can really see the beauty of BC there.


It all depends on what you're looking for in your vacation, but as a student I can tell you that there's a lot of great options if you play it smart.

Posted Jun 06, 2011

Photos page thumb open uri20131006 25735 14uy74g?1383771525

I have only been in Vancouver, B.C. I like it very much - not only is the city international and cosmopolitan, but it is also close to some outdoor excursions (Whistler, Vancouver Island, Tofino). Plus, in July and August, the northwest and British Columbia area are absolutely beautiful. I can't think of a place I'd rather be in the summer!


Some things I would recommend in Vancouver include Chinatown, Gastown, all you can eat sushi, Robson, and Stanley Park (plan to go during the day and at sunset - two very lovely views).

Posted Jun 07, 2011

Photos page thumb f98c0005450a5166ecb9603fb8a02b28?1383769786

Anchorage is much less expensive than Vancouver most times of the year. Especially after September 15, rates drop super low and the weather is still excellent. The wildlife is still out and you can get a decent place to stay or even camp. I have been to all three places and Vancouver itself didn't attract me, the drives near it did, but we have that in Alaska too!!!

Posted Oct 22, 2012

Photos page thumb open uri20140221 24161 o51xnq?1393050921

Anchorage is beautiful but expensive if you plan to stay in the city and not camp - also be prepared for long drives out of the city to get to places like Denali or the Portage Glacier. It's beautiful - but just make sure you're into doing a long drive.

I'd recommend going to Banff because there is just so much to do in relatively short distances once you get there. If you don't want to rent a car there is some public transportation available too, I believe. The camp sites in Banff are great too. If you do want to rent a car, Kootenay National Park and Jasper National Park are nearby and offer even more great adventures.

Oh and one last plug for Banff...Hot Springs...

Posted Mar 12, 2013

Also in AFAR Magazine

Small open uri20140619 6331 11korlf?1403222121