For August Long weekend we went on a incredible road trip to Kelowna, British Columbia. The trip from Edmonton was about 10 hours driving time- we read on a travel forum that the Friday of the long weekend would mean the roads would be heavily backed up. This meant leaving Edmonton on the Thursday night, staying in Calgary and leaving before 6:00 am Friday morning. I had to agree with the consensus on the travel forum- leaving Calgary before 6am meant no construction, no stand stills on the highway, and smooth sailing (tip- leave as early as possible to avoid construction as we heard horror stories from people who left later in the day).
I’m going to share our favourite stops, eats, activities and things to do with kids between Calgary and Kelowna. It’s a wonderful road trip that can easily be done with kids- and the beaches alone are worth the drive!
Revelstoke is a great place to get out and stretch your legs along the way. It’s close to being half way between Calgary and Kelowna, so it’s the perfect place to grab lunch. There’s a ton to do here and the town even merited an over night stop on the way home.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort- We stopped in at Revelstoke to ride the Mountain Coaster. I would consider this a NOT TO BE MISSED roadside attraction (capital letters, so you know I’m not joking!). I haven’t had that much fun on a “ride” in a long, long time. I couldn’t stop laughing. It exceeded all expectations and both my girls loved it. There were also euro-bungees my kids begged to do while waiting. We gave in, since they had been so good in the car, and decided to do them while we waited for our turn (the coaster is ticketed with a simple numbered system). You can also eat lunch or just walk around the shops till your number block is called. Don’t be scared of long wait times- you actually don’t spend much time in any lines- it’s a great system. The current wait time is also listed on their website, making it simple.
(It was the best day with the worst pictures! The girls loved the gondola ride up to the top of the roller coaster too and their excitement was contagious. Also they do take pictures of you as you fly down the hill, probably should have bought one of those!)
Giant Cedars Boardwalk. If coaster aren’t your thing and you’d still like to get out and stretch your legs, definitely stop at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk. It’s right off the highway east of Revelstoke and well marked with signs. It’s less then a 1km walk and took us around 15 minutes. The walk was beautiful and although there were not always barriers along the boardwalk, it was safe and easy for kids. The light pouring down through the huge old trees was stunning.
The Enchanted Forest was a place I hadn’t stopped at since I was Violet’s age, but I was happy to see it still kept all it’s charm. The girls loved running from storybook house to house, seeing the woodland creatures and trying to guess each nursery rhyme. It was really nostalgic for me and we made some really good memories walking through the forest enjoying the sites. Attached to the Enchanted Forest is the Sky Trek Adventure Park and elevated playground. We really wanted to go, but time didn’t allow for a visit. But if you can, make some time to check out the giant bungee swing, forest jungle gym and different ropes course. There’s a giant swing for all ages- we could hear people laughing/screaming while they were on it as we walked through the park. It looked incredible- and from what I’ve heard, the ropes course is quite hard and the forest playground is very fun for little ones.
Three Valley Gap and Ghost Town. We ended up staying over night at The Three Valley Gap Chateau on our way home from Kelowna. I’ve always wanted to stay there- it’s a stunning old building and the lake views are incredible. I’m going to recommend it as a great overnight stop- as long as you don’t mind “80’s vintage” or “rustic charm”. Keep in mind there’s no A/C (it was 32c while we were there) and the rooms are very basic. But, the beach was awesome with cheap SUP and kayak rentals, a great playground and very reasonably priced Helicopter tours for families. The hotel itself had loads of family activities- giant chess boards, ping pong, billiards, a large games room, a Titanic themed indoor pool and nice surrounding gardens. At $150 a night the hotel was priced similarly to hotels right in the town of Revelstoke, but it had that charm that no chain hotel can provide. Attached to the hotel is the Ghost Town. Hotel guests get 50% off the already reasonable admission and it’s (strangely) just a little token you pop into machine to open the gate to the Town. The Ghost town is a pretty amazing large display of old buildings and artifacts. My kids love museums so they enjoyed running from building to building and guessing what they were used for. Only thing was the (super) creepy mannequins in each house and well, Maeve was having none of that. The round house had several passenger trains to explore (including a “haunted” one that I’ll admit to being to chicken to go into). The amount of things to see was incredible for a small little ghost town. There was also some pretty awesome(included) mini golf and train rides for kids. I’d say it’s definitely worth a stop and is awesome “bang for your buck”.
Our next roadside stop was Sicamous-
We stopped in at D Dutchman Dairy for a sweet treat. Definitely a “must-do” as it’s a true “farm-to-table” experience. You can order your ice cream (real flavours made with real fruits and treats) and can eat it next to the dairy cows. You’re allowed to explore the around farm and there’s even a small farmers market on site. Don’t forget to grab some crazy good chocolate milk on your way out!
The last stop before Kelowna, Vernon-
Log Barn – Perhaps the most eclectic road side stop we visited but a lot of fun for kids. I have no idea exactly what is going on there (dinosaurs! old stuff! bears!) but the kids thought it was crazy and liked it all. We fed the goats (enter the pen at your own risk….no really, they’re very excited little goats. It’s actually a risk, ha!). The food samples were good and the baked goods hit the spot during a long drive. It’s a bit expensive to buy much, but it’s fun to walk around see the random display of characters, dinosaurs and antiques.
Atlantis Waterpark. There’s a outside waterslides park located in Vernon. I haven’t visited these slides since I was 10, but I remember them being awesome. They probably merit a full day, but it would be a great stop on your way to Kelowna.
The Starlight Drive in Theatre– Seriously, an old school Drive-in Theatre! I soooo wanted to make this work with our trip. If you’re staying in the Veron area, definitely go for a show!
We finally made it to Kelowna-
We stayed at Playa Del Sol Rentals through VBRO. It was the perfect location and gave us a great starting point for exploring the city. We could walk to the beach and great resturants right on the water like SmackDab and the Lakeside patio at The Hotel Eldorado. Seriously, don’t miss the patio at The Hotel Eldorado, a definite highlight of our trip. There were also grocery stores close by to stock the condo kitchen. I would definitely recommend the building and location- we would certainly stay there again. Each unit is individually marketed, so I can’t speak for the whole building, but the location in the Mission area is perfect. Right up Lakeside drive from our condo was fruit orchards and vineyards- perfection.
We visited several beaches with the kids favourite being Gyro Park Beach– there’s a zipline into the water and another one across the sand. There’s also a large playground, a concession, rental shop, lots of big trees for shade, soft sand, and a gradual beach incline to make it a winner. We also liked Rotary Beach as it was across the street from our Condo. It wasn’t as busy and had a place to rent paddle boards and other activities, along with lots of picnic tables. The City Park is the most popular of the Kelwona Beaches and has a great splash pad. Unfortintely it was damaged by the flooding this past spring and so spray park was not open. The beach here is also home to the inflatable Wibit which is like a bouncy house/obstacle course in the water. We didn’t get a chance to try it out this trip (4 days were not enough!!) but it’s always good to leave something to try for next time.
Fruit Orchards and Wineries
We stopped to pick Cherries at Sun City Cherries ($2 a lb and a total highlight of the trip for the kids). They also have locally made Gelato that’s worth the stop (you might end up thinking about it for days afterwards).
We also loved Twin Oaks Organic Orchards. This small orchard has been in the same family for decades and the fruit is all grown certified organically. They were so kind and friendl and we ended up chatting with the owners for a long time. We picked some apricots that were better then anything I’ve ever eaten. We also ate peaches right off the tree. Definitely a great place to pick fruit, and a nice bonus that it’s organic. (find them at 559 Barnaby Rd, Kelowna- it’s quite close to Summerhill Winery on Lakeshore Road)
The girls really wanted to see some grapes on the vine and we were able to stop in at several vineyards. If you are into tastings there’s a whole bunch of small vineyards within a short drive along Lakeshore Road- Summerhill, Cedar Creek, Oak Bay & St Hubertus…. they were all within 10 minutes of our condo rental. About 20 minutes up Lakeshore Road there is also Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm. We visited- but farm tours needed to booked weeks in advance and there weren’t goats out and about like we had hoped. Unless you love goat cheese (there were lots of samples for a small fee) it would probably be a miss for us.
Kangaroo Creek Farm-
Located just outside Kelowna, this unique farm is a gem. We had been looking forward to meeting some free-roaming kangaroos all summer long and Kangaroo Creek didn’t disappoint. From holding baby joeys to feeding Emus to petting Capybaras the place was a mecca for little animal lovers like mine. Our advice would be to visit during the 6-8pm time slot and arrive right when it opens to beat the crowds. We had very little wait to hold the babies but heard that the line up can be an hour+ during the day. But seriously, those joeys though.
Other awesome activities we researched but didn’t have the time to visit were-
Scandia Golf and Games. From the highway it looked like some pretty impressive mini golf- just like in the movies! There’s also the typical go carts, batting cages and arcade games.
Myra Canyon Adventure Park or Wildplay Kelowna. There’s ziplines, swings and ropes courses all close to the city. Both courses look impressive in their own ways. There’s also hiking along the Myran Canyon Trestles.
The Kelowna Lavender Farm is definitely on our list for next trip too- I love the smell of Lavender!
We can’t wait for our next visit to Kelowna. We barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do here- we didn’t even make it Summerland or Pentiction. For the short amount of time we were in Kelowna with kids so much of our time was spent at the pool or the beach. It was heaven relaxing by the water- it truly felt like a vacation. I’d love to hear all your ideas and favourite places for our next trip. We will definitely make it back soon and would love to hear from some experts of the area!