{TRAVEL} 4 Places To Peruse & Play In Penticton

Biking along the Okanagan River Channel in Penticton.

We had been pedalling for almost an hour, our noses red and our breath making small clouds of condensation with every exhale. As we rode our bikes side-by-side in silence, we took in the beauty of the Okanagan River Channel that flowed peacefully beside us. In the Summer months, this is the hub for warm-weather fun in Penticton, where locals and visitors flock to float on tubes down the river that connects one lake to another. But on this day, the river was quiet, with only a gaggle of geese on its cool surface.

Skaha Lake was our destination, and when we arrived, the view was breathtaking. While the day was chilly, the glasslike surface of the lake mirrored the calm sky that skulked above. The view was worth the trek, and we stood together grinning as we took it all in. This was the perfect way to start our mother-daughter trip to Penticton, where we would explore the city by bus, seeking new adventures and bonding over our weekend getaway to The District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

Based on our recent excursion, here are 4 ways you too can peruse and play your way through Penticton – and all of these fun spots are accessible by bus.

We kept dry going from stop to stop by bus!

Bike The River Channel Path To Skaha Lake

Whether you’re a cycling enthusiast or a biking newbie, Freedom Bike Shop is a must-visit spot. Not only can you buy top-of-the-line mountain and street bikes or get a tune up from this great local shop, but they offer biking lessons and round-the-year rentals so you can explore Penticton by bike whenever you feel like going for a ride. Leave your car at home and visit the shop by bus – BC Transit buses are equipped with bike racks so you can hitch a ride to and from your biking destination if the weather takes a turn for the worst or if your legs are too tired to pedal on (the bus definitely saved us when we took a wrong turn and got lost at the other end of town!).

My girl was such a trooper!

A quick water break by the river.

We got a bit lost and ended up on a golf course – oops!

This view of Skaha Lake was totally worth the trek!

Browse The Classics At The Book Shop

This hidden gem is is a book lover’s paradise! With over 5,000 square feet of floor-to-ceiling literature, The Book Shop is one of Canada’s largest used book stores, and a treat for anyone looking to explore their favourite subject matter through the written word. Not a book lover? The Book Shop also offers over 20,000 videos and DVDs for rent! This is a great spot to peruse after a chilly day outdoors, and the perfect place to pick up a gift or keepsake. My daughter and I left with 8 books!

The Book Shop on Main St.

She picked some great classics!

Boulder The Indoor Climbing Wall at Hoodoo Adventures

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or an indoor adventure type, Hoodoo Adventures is your go-to spot in Penticton. We started our visit with a beginner’s lesson in belay-style indoor rock climbing, where Emma nailed the figure 8 knot and scaled the walls like Spiderman’s quicker, more agile younger sister.

Mama Bee, on belay.

Those climbing skills!

We then tried the 15-foot-tall bouldering wall, where we solo-climbed sans ropes.  It was fun to switch back and forth between climbing styles to figure out which worked best for us.

Emma tackling the bouldering wall.

After a quick lunch break, we headed back to Hoodoo for part 2 of our day full of adventure…

Bound Through The Snow At Apex Mountain Resort

Not only does Hoodoo Adventures offer an indoor climbing gym, but they offer a wide range of outdoor activities as well, such as outdoor rock climbing, kayaking, hiking tours, and snowshoeing – which would be our next feat. We geared up into our warmest snow gear and headed up Apex Mountain with our friendly tour guide. Once we reached our starting point, we strapped on our snowshoes and scampered along the snow, stepping swiftly through the powdery surface while catching snowflakes on our tongues. We took a trail that wrapped around the 3 lakes that sit tucked tightly amongst the trees and took in the views as we stopped for hot chocolate. This was definitely Emma’s favourite adventure, and hopefully a new one that we can continue to enjoy together back home.

Bounding through the powder in our snowshoes.

Taking a quick hot chocolate break.

Mother-daughter snowshoe dance!

Hoodoo adventures I’m adding to my bucket list for next time: The Kayak Kelowna Wine & Cheese Tour, and The 3-Course Fireside Dinner & Snowshoeing Tour – how amazing do these sound!?

We had such an amazing time bonding while exploring a new spot in BC, and can’t wait to see what else our beautiful province has to over. To learn more about how you can #ExploreBCByBus, check out these great destinations and pre-built itineraries designed with families in mind.

The giant peach on Okanagan Lake.

{TRAVEL} My Top 4 Trips of 2016

The past year was filled with travel! I discovered some new destinations, and revisited some old ones, and I’ve loved sharing my adventures, discoveries and tips with my readers. Here are the places we explored in 2016 – both with and without our kids:

BOWEN ISLAND, BC
(September 2016)
BC LIVING – Where To Enjoy Nature and Namaste on Bowen Island

My most recent trip was to a fairly local destination. Only a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay (and a total of only 40 minutes from my home), I was surprised to discover all there was to see and do in this beautiful little ocean-side community. Visiting with a friend and enjoying a 2-day yoga retreat at Nectar Yoga B&B made the mini vacation extra special, as we bonded, relaxed, and enjoyed the natural surroundings of Bowen – immersed in serenity by the sea.

The geodesic dome at Nectar Yoga B&B in Bowen Island, BC

DISNEYLAND, CA
(June 2016)
BC LIVING – 10 Reasons To Stop Putting Off Your Trip To Disneyland
BITS OF BEE – Dashing Off To Disneyland

I hadn’t visited Disneyland since I was 9 years old, so I was excited to see the changes and experience the Most Magical Place On Earth with my two oldest children. We surprised our children with the trip on the day of departure, and dashed off to Disneyland to celebrate the 60th Diamond Anniversary and enjoy all that the destination had to offer. The trip exceeded my expectations and left me buzzing for months afterwards.

World of Color – Celebrate The World of Walt Disney Fireworks Show

SUMMERLAND, BC
(May 2016)
BC LIVING – 5 Things To Do In Summerland (Besides Golf and Wine Tours)
BITS OF BEE – A Sweet Escape To Summerland

Another fairly local destination that I had yet to explore, Summerland was a sweet escape. My oldest daughter and I enjoyed a special mother-daughter trip and joined some fellow writers and their families for an action-packed tour of the local wineries and eateries. Since our visit we’ve been eager to return with our entire family in tow!

Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa

HARRISON HOT SPRINGS, BC
(March 2016)
BC LIVING – Harrison Hot Springs: The Perfect Spring Break Family Getaway (On A Budget)

Harrison Hot Springs is one of our favourite not-too-far-from-home destinations, and we visit at least once a year. While it’s most well known as an ideal Summer destination, I shared about how it’s also a great (and budget-friendly) destination for families to visit in the off-season. We love it there and look forward to our next visit.

Harrison Lake

MAUI, HI
(February 2016)
BITS OF BEE – A Week Away in Kihei (Sans Kids)

This last-minute adults-only definitely topped my list of 2016 trips. It was a very last-minute getaway, made possible by some friends who own a beach-side condo in Kihei (and with the help of some long-accumulated Aeroplan points). We lazed on the beach, toured lava caves by boat, visited a pod of playful dolphins, and took in the views from the top of the Haleakala volcano (and did so much more! It’s amazing what you can pack into a trip when you don’t have 3 little kids in tow). We hope to return with our kids sometime soon.

At the top of the Haleakala volcano

With a new year comes a new list of exciting adventures! Next stop: SAN DIEGO, CA (sans kids)! I have a jam-packed itinerary and can’t wait to explore a new city for the first time. Stay tuned!

Bee xx

{TRAVEL} Dashing Off To Disneyland

Our family has just returned from a whirlwind adventure to the world’s most magical destination, and I’m still buzzing with excitement about all that we were able to see and do over the 4 days that we were there.

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier | California Adventure Park

I’m not going to lie, my expectations were moderately mediocre. It had been 30 years since my last visit to Disneyland, so I only had my faint childhood memories to help gage my level of excitement. I had loved every moment spent in Disneyland during my last visit, but I was only 7 years old at the time, and I knew that the experience would be much different as an adult – and especially as a parent.

The topic of travelling to Disneyland had come up off and on between my husband and I over the years, but we had always settled for “later”, justifying the postponement with the costs, timing, and inconvenience of everyday demands associated with taking time off for a family trip abroad.

This year Disneyland is celebrating its 60th Diamond Anniversary – honouring the year that Walt Disney himself opened the doors to his dreamland in July of 1955. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I was included in a group of media guests invited to experience the celebratory offerings of Disneyland Resort and write about my experiences.

This was the push I had needed to turn my “later” into a “right now”, and our trip was booked.

I wanted to wait until the last minute to tell the kids about our exciting excursion, and the anticipation almost killed me. When departure day finally arrived, we had our kids pack up their backpacks, convinced that we were headed for school as usual. Here’s how they reacted when we revealed our real destination…

(click on the image for the video)

The Reveal

It felt so good to let the secret out, and we couldn’t wait to see what Disneyland had in store for our family. Here’s a little snippet of our travels once the kids knew where we were headed…

(click on the image for the video)

The Journey

When we arrived at Disneyland Hotel, we had the kids wait in the hallway while we dimmed the lights, turned on the headboards (adorned with fireworks), and switched on the music which played “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” – a tip I had been given by our gracious host. It was the perfect way to kick off our magical weekend.

After a quick costume change, we hit the parks! The next four days were jam-packed with awe-inspiring shows, riveting rides, fanciful foods and of course, one very magical mouse. Here’s a snippet of all the fun that was had:

(click on the image for the video)

The Rides

While I had left for our trip thinking that Disneyland would be all about the kids, the experience was just as magical (if not more) for us adults. Yes, the experience was very different from my last visit, but it was perhaps filled with more excitement, emotion, and enchantment than during my childhood days, because as a parent, I was able to appreciate all the details and history behind every ride, show, and character that crossed our path.

I’ll be sharing more details about all there is to see and do in Disneyland surrounding the 60th Diamond Anniversary Celebration on BC Living very soon, but here are some highlights to pique your interest until then…

live-at-the-hyperion-00

Frozen – Live At The Hyperion Theater 

I’ve been to my share of Broadway shows, but this one was on a whole new level. The costumes, set design, talented actors and high-tech tidbits had the crowd laughing, crying, and cheering for more – and I’m not just talking about the kids. This epic production is well worth the wait.

 

world-of-color-diamond

World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney

I had expected a fabulous fountain show similar to the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but this nighttime spectacular was so much more! Featuring soaring fountains, fire and laser effects, and towering screens  that came to life with Disney imagery and musical performances by the virtual host – Neil Patrick Harris, this amazing experience was a show stopper.

We’ve only been home for 2 days and we’re already dreaming up our next Disney vacation – next time with our youngest who didn’t get to join us this time around. Memories were made as we bonded as a family in the most magical place on Earth, and I can’t wait to go back.

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Have you been to Disneyland yet this year? If so I’d love to hear what you loved most about your visit! Please share your comments below.

 

{TRAVEL} A Sweet Escape To Summerland

At first it may seem strange that I passed up the opportunity to bring my whole family along on a press trip to Summerland, BC this past weekend. Finding a destination that can accommodate a family of 5 can be challenging (and often unaffordable), so one would think that I would jump at the chance to travel with my whole family in tow.

Bringing my little swarm of bees did cross my mind. I knew that there would be other families in our group – families with babies, toddlers, teens, moms and dads, and even pregnant moms filled the roster of guests who would be joining us. But I had been longing for a getaway with my oldest for awhile, and I knew that she would benefit greatly from some one-on-one bonding time with mom. So I packed our bags, created a “Road Trip” playlist for our 5-hour drive, and we hit the road for our mother-daughter weekend excursion to the Okanagan.

Summerland

Mother-daughter road trip!

My girl was full of questions, and as we drew closer to our destination, I could feel the air fill with anticipation. She wanted to know every detail of our itinerary, the names of the people who would be joining us, and whether or not there would be girls her age. I did my best to answer, and hoped that she wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the unfamiliar faces and surroundings when we arrived.

Summerland Resort

Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa – I took this photo (no filters needed)

When we arrived at our destination, the Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa took our breath away. We squealed in unison as we dashed towards the sparkling lake, and skipped down the dock to soak up the view. Our anticipation subsided and we were bursting with excitement.

When we opened the door to our two-bedroom suite, our jaws dropped. We had stayed at several BC resorts, but none had been as spacious as this one. With 2 full bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 TVs, a large deck, and a fully-equipped kitchen, we realized that we would have had more than enough room for our whole family.

We were mere minutes into our trip, and we were already eagerly planning our next visit.

When we met up with the rest of the Vancouver Mom bloggers, I could feel my girl seize up, her 8-year-old shyness taking over. She locked eyes with a few of the girls who looked on wearily in her direction, but was hesitant to make the first move.

My fellow moms and I sat the girls at the same table and wandered away chatting, and it didn’t take long for the girls to introduce themselves and start playing together. They became fast friends, and were inseparable for the rest of the trip.

Fireside s'mores with new friends by the lake

Fireside s’mores with new friends by the lake

Our weekend was a blur of adventure. Saturday started with a visit to the beautiful Okanagan Crush Pad winery, where we sipped on an array of wines while the children visited farm animals and strolled through the vineyards. Then a pop in at Summerland Sweets where the children sampled 20 flavours of gourmets syrups while the adults sipped on fruit wines from the on-site Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery.

Taking a stroll through the scenic Crush Pad vineyard

Taking a stroll through the scenic Crush Pad vineyard (Photo by Jessica)

Summerland

The girls hanging out at Summerland Sweets

We stopped at the Trout Creek Trestle Bridge to snap photos of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, and then hopped over to Tickleberry’s for some sweet treats and some highly-anticipated ice cream cones.

A gaggle of happy kids and their cones

A gaggle of happy kids and their cones

After our treats, we headed over to the main event of the day – the Pig Out Festival. Full of activities for kids (including the hours-of-fun jumping pillow pictured below), food and wine samplings from over 30 award-winning BC wineries and restaurants, and live music, the family-friendly festival was the perfect place to spend the afternoon sipping, sampling and mingling with friends.

Summerland

The kids had so much fun bouncing, they barely ate lunch!

Our day full of adventure was all thanks to the expert planning of our tour guide, Karen of Authentically Okanagan, a custom travel tour company who knows how to marry the popular wine hot spots with the kid-friendly hidden gems of the Okanagan to make the perfect visit for families and friends.

The rest of our visit was spent by the pool, visiting, splashing, and bonding, enjoying the comforts of a first-class resort with a laid-back family-friendly feel.

The pool at Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa

The pool at Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa

I fell in love with Summerland, and will definitely be back – next time with the rest of my family! And I brought some of the weekend’s good vibes home with me to save for later.

Good vibes only

Good vibes only

For more on all there is to see and do in this beautiful BC destination (beside golfing and wine tours), stay tuned for my story on BC Living.

{FAMILY} Spring Came Early Thanks To Peekaboo Beans

My family and I recently enjoyed a last-minute getaway to our favourite local destination – Harrison Hot Springs, and on the day before our departure, a colourful little package arrived from our favourite children’s fashion line – Peekaboo Beans.

While we were away, I thought I would snap some photos of my little beans enjoying their stylish new outfits while doing what they love most, exploring the outdoors. And just our luck, amidst a week’s worth of rainy days, the sun came out just for us. Here are some of my top snaps from our little midweek jaunt.

Harrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot SpringsPeekaboo BeansHarrison Hot SpringsHarrison Hot Springs

We love it here so much, we’ll be back again during Spring Break! And I’m sure my kids will still be rocking their bright, funky Peekaboo Beans outfits then too.

{TRAVEL} A Week By The Lake – Unplugged

For the last week, I was (almost) completely disconnected from the digital world, and it was exactly what I needed.

Lake

Ruby Lake, BC

Our family rented a house on the beautiful, serene, hidden treasure that is Ruby Lake, located in the heart of BC’s Sunshine Coast. Joined by another family, we settled into our lakeside retreat and enjoyed 7 days of outdoor adventure – completely unplugged from technology.

Our days were filled with family fun on the water – boating, paddle boarding, swimming, and tubing, and our nights were spent eating on the sun-drenched deck, and stargazing under the moonlit skies.

At first I was nervous about the idea of a full week without Wifi. Due to the nature of my work, I am constantly plugged in – writing, checking in on social media, and responding to client emails. The thought of being completely disconnected from the digital world was daunting, and I was embarrassed by my distress.

But a week spent gazing at the breathtaking views of the lake, enjoying moments with family and friends and being physically active outdoors, left me feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to return to reality.

I’m going to make more of an effort to unplug. While I love technology and the opportunities that have come to me through the online world, nothing compares to real-life, offline adventures.

Lake

Spring Break: Exploring Our Favourite BC Destinations

Our original plan was to spend our 2 week Spring Break vacation checking off items on our infinitely long to-do list. Fix this, clean that, buy this, build that. Sounds exciting, right? But when the first day of vacation arrived, we thought we’d throw that plan out the window and enjoy what might be our last time off as a family before the arrival of baby #3. A few phone calls later and we were off on an adventure around our beautiful province.

Our first stop was Gibsons, BC. Nestled along the shoreline of BC’s Sunshine Coast, Gibsons is a quaint and serene little town built around a picturesque harbour. Gibsons also happens to be the hometown of my husband, who was born and raised in the wharf-side community. A quick 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, Gibsons is a family-favourite local getaway.

 Gibsons BC

Our second stop was Victoria, BC, the capital of our beautiful province. Rich in history and offering a plethora of natural settings, the Vancouver Island gem is a favourite for many BC residents. For us, it’s also a favourite destination because we can visit with family members who call Victoria home.

 Victoria BC

Our third and final stop was Harrison Hot Springs, BC. The lakeside village has been a family-favourite Summer destination for years, but this was our first time visiting the resort during the Spring months. Surrounded by mountains and a glacier-fed lake, and featuring five pools warmed by the bubbling natural hot springs, the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa is the perfect getaway for families.

Harrison Hot Springs BC

We love local travel, and we love quality time outdoors as a family. The three destinations we’ve visited over the last two weeks have provided the perfect backdrop for a memorable family vacation – enjoying the natural beauty of our surroundings, and time with the ones we love most. Next year, we hope to do it again, with our new addition to the family in tow.

Spring Break

A Diaper In A Coach Clutch

You hold your beautiful gold Coach clutch in your hand, and stroak the soft leather surface. It represents dressy outings with girlfriends – you tossing your head back as it dangles off your wrist, complimenting the glass of wine you hold in your opposite hand. Now imagine you take a moment to unzip this fabulous little bag. The bag that has always held your lip gloss, money, ticket stubs, and credit cards. The bag that has always promised epic outings, nights of grown up fun, and stories that you tell a million times afterwards. You unzip the wristlet, and inside you discover…a diaper and a packet of baby wipes as its only contents.

This visual symbolizes my very first family vacation with my little ones.

It sounded so romantic at first, frolicking on the beaches of Mexico, my children building sand castles as I lay basking in the sun. Someone bringing me cold beers as my children giggle and take turns thanking me for the best time ever. Days exploring the cruise ship, munching on fine delicacies and sipping on pina coladas while my little ones enjoy hours of fun at the Kids Camp. Like a perfect little Coach clutch, this trip promised fantastic things.

This happened – while I was pinned under a crying toddler

While it was fun, it definitely wasn’t the picture I had painted in my mind. My children didn’t want to go to Kids Camp (and trust me, we tried everything to convince them otherwise), instead opting for 24 hours a day with mommy and daddy. When we arrived at the beach, my toddler didn’t want anything to do with the sand or water, instead opting for a seat on my lap – sun tan? Fuh-get about it. And on the trip home, my toddler threw up in the airport all over me and himself, and neither of us had a change of clothes. When we boarded the plane home, we discovered that the airline had seated us separately from our children, so I rode the entire 3 hour flight with a puke-covered toddler on my lap. Diaper and wipes, my friends.

We were very fortunate to have been treated to a fabulous family getaway. A group of twelve of us travelled to Long Beach, and boarded a Carnival cruise that took us to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. A 7-day adventure. It was so wonderful to spend time with my family, to enjoy each other’s company outside of the twice-a-year Christmas dinners and Thanksgiving get togethers that prompted visits in the past.

We did explore the ship and all the ammenities it had to offer. We enjoyed some time on the beach, and even had a photo with dolphins. We enjoyed fine dining every night, and even some evening shows. But woven into those precious moments were drawn-out toddler temper tantrums, mommy meltdowns, and not a moment’s rest.

Travelling with children isn’t a breeze, it isn’t romantic, and it definitely is NOT relaxing. But we had some good clean family fun, and I’m sure we’ve created some special moments that will live in our children’s memories forever.

And the Coach clutch? It was used. While its only contents throughout the trip were a diaper and a package of wipes, it looked fabulous on the outside, and kept the frustrations of motherhood tucked neatly in its interior. Just like the mama who wore it dangling from her wrist, complimenting the toddler hanging onto her opposite arm.