{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} I Left My Heart In San Diego

As my husband and I sat squished in the corner of a tiny tiki bar, sipping on our overly-garnished and generously-poured boozy drinks, a couple sitting next to us shot a knowing glance our way. We could tell that they were thinking the same thing as us: we were too old to be in this bar that was jam-packed with peppy 20-somethings.

“Looks like we were put in the ‘old people’ section” the man said to us with a nervous laugh. It turned out they were also parents, trying to enjoy a quiet night out without kids. Like us, they had enjoyed a nice dinner and were having one last drink before calling it a night. We chatted casually like old friends, bonding over stories of parenthood, politics, and plans for the future, and when we parted, they kindly wished us well and went on their way.

Goofing off at Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego (Instagram: @bitsofbee)

We met several friendly characters like this during our 3-day stay in San Diego, and I realized later that each person who crossed our path represented something equally as endearing and unique about the city in which they lived.

Check out my post for BC Living on how to eat and explore your way through San Diego in 3 days, including an itinerary you can totally steal: READ MORE.

There was the 20-something surfer girl (our kayak tour guide) who epitomized the beach bum lifestyle. As she guided us through the waters of the cove, she spoke passionately of her surroundings, her love of adventure infectious and her glowing olive skin and laid-back attitude mesmerizing. She reminded me of Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush, working just enough to make rent, living for the sun and surf, feeding off the adrenaline rush of adventuring through nature’s playground.

Kayaking in La Jolla (Instagram: @bitsofbee)

There was the quick-witted VIP hotel concierge/aspiring food blogger, who served us drinks while sharing his passion for food and lust for life. He spoke with sincerity and listened with intent, making us feel interesting and appreciated even though we knew that he spent most of his days doing the same with every guest who walked through his door.

And there was the restaurant server/aspiring sommelier with a sparkle in his eye and an avid passion for the culinary world. I could tell he was an introvert at heart, whose inner extrovert only emerged when he spoke of his love for wine and travel to an attentive audience. While he rushed through the restaurant to ensure guests were happy and meals were delivered in a timely manner, he also stood patiently as guests asked him questions, projecting an air of confidence and calmness as he worked.

Strolling through Coronado (Instagram: @bitsofbee)

San Diego is a city full of as much passion, aspiration, and inspiration as the people who call “America’s Finest City” home. From the “surfer girl” feel of La Jolla Shores, to the colourful history behind the city’s Gaslamp Quarter neighbourhood, to the up-and-coming culinary hot spot that is Little Italy, there is something unique about each person, and each region of San Diego – and I loved them all.

San Diego Sunset (Instagram: @bitsofbee)

{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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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 Away In Kihei (Sans Kids)

A week in Kihei, Maui. Without kids.

It sounds like an unattainable fantasy, but it happened, and it was fantastic.

It had been 5 years since our last adults-only trip, and to be honest, I didn’t think we would ever do one again, especially with 3 young children.

When we were offered the last-minute opportunity to stay with my husband’s friend at his place in Maui, I hesitated at first. I was worried about leaving the children, missing work, and abandoning our everyday routines for a frivolous mid-Winter getaway. But I also needed a break.

I’m very fortunate to have the best parents in the world. When they heard about the trip, they jumped at the chance to spend extra time with their grandkids and urged us to accept. So off we went for a week in Kihei, where we filled our days with lazing on the beach…

Beach

Kihei

Snorkelling along the coastal corals…

Snorkelling in Maui

Touring the Southern tip of Maui’s lava-lined walls and caves by boat…

Boating

Boat

Visiting a pod of playful dolphins in the open ocean…

Dolphins

Dolphins

Watching the sea turtles rest along the shores of Makena…

Turtles

Enjoying the views at the 10,000 ft summit of the Haleakala volcano…

Haleakala

Volcano

Tasting the delectable cheeses at the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm…

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Cheese

And noshing on fresh fish tacos and sipping on cold bevies throughout the day.

Next time we’ll bring the kids, but enjoying a little adult time together was just what we needed to reset and reconnect.

The week in paradise flew by (as vacations always do), and now it’s back to reality, sun-kissed, well-rested, and ready for the rainy days ahead.

 

Family Travel: Springs RV Resort (Harrison Hot Springs)

Our family loves to explore local travel destinations, and Harrison Hot Springs has always been at the top of our list of family favourite getaways. And while we’ve always vacationed at the same resort in years past, this year we were invited to try something a little different – a weekend stay at Springs RV Resort.

I had never stayed in an RV, and had preconceived notions of what an RV park would have to offer as a travel destination, but I kept an open mind and was excited to explore my favourite BC spot from a new perspective.

When we arrived at the resort, I was in awe. As we drove into the gates, I realized that this wasn’t your average trailer park, this was a luxury retreat – complete with a plethora of kid-friendly amenities and family activities.

Harrison Hot Springs

When we pulled up to our site, I was impressed by the cleanliness of the grounds – each site was well cared for and carefully landscaped, and each featured its own unique, custom-built deck made of rough-cut timber, and cedar shake roofed gazebos with outdoor kitchens. Each site also featured a shabin (a shed-cabin!) with built-in bunk beds for the kids. The shabin was definitely a highlight for my little ones who spent hours playing in their own little fortress.

RV stay

While we had originally planned on spending most of our weekend enjoying the Sasquatch Festival in the lakeside village of Harrison Hot Springs, we found that there was just so much to do in our own little RV community, so we opted for outdoor activities that were a bit closer to home base.

Steps from our door were some lovely forested trails, perfect for a family stroll on a hot Summer’s day.

Harrison Hot Springs

With record-high temperatures, we also loved splashing in the beautiful pools.

Harrison Hot Springs

And after dinner, our kids loved playing on the treed playground, featuring an antique carousel (originally from The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, a true heritage piece).

Harrison Hot Springs

We quickly learned that there was so much more to do at Springs RV Resort than just glamping in an RV – it’s no wonder they’ve received recognition as one of the top RV resorts in North America!

Harrison Hot Springs

There were so many great things to love about this resort, including:

  • Brand new three-storey clubhouse
  • New adult pool and over-sized hot tub
  • Large heated family pool with hot tub
  • Spa-like bathrooms with heated tile floors
  • 5 outdoor community fireplaces
  • Two big screen TV areas
  • Library with fireplace
  • Games room – darts, pool, ping pong, foosball
  • Stone and cedar social pavilion for BBQ’s and dances
  • Laundry Room
  • Large treed playground
  • 1930’s Antique Carousel
  • Walking trails & dog walk
  • Free Wi-Fi & Shaw Hotspots

But what I loved most of all was the sense of community that I felt while living amongst the people who call this unique and special place their Summer home. People waved as we passed them by, and there were many family-friendly events and activities designed to unite the people of Springs RV Resort, including outdoor movies, community BBQs, and kids’ crafts.

Interested in checking it out for yourself?

The Springs RV Resort offers overnight rental, seasonal leases and sites for purchase, making the resort dream within reach. Ownership provides a home base in a resort community of friends and family. Yet, an RV’er is still free to go travel and explore where their time and interests carry them. 

Come by anytime for a tour and see why the Springs RV Resort was rated one of the top RV Resorts in North America. Phase two is now completed and there are 62 new RV lots available with 50 amp service. 

Learn More

We are so thankful to the owners for allowing us to enjoy this unique experience, and hope to return for another visit again soon.