{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} 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} 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…

2016-02-12 13.08.53

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.

 

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 Disney Dream Come True

I’ve written a few posts on how blogging has changed my life and the fantastic opportunities that have come to me through my humble little writing space in the blogosphere. I’ve also shared with you my first family vacation experience with my little ones – a Mexican cruise with some of our closest family members. While memorable and full of adventure, my children were less than enthused about their first cruise experience. But what I haven’t shared with you, what I’ve been keeping a secret for almost a year from even my closest family and friends, is the most exciting opportunity, and most treasurable family experience I think my family will ever encounter, thanks to a promotion I did with Disney Junior and Disney Cruise Line.

Last August, I was contacted by a representative from Disney after she had browsed through my blog and social media sites. She was looking for Canadian moms who fit a list of criteria, and I had met the requirements and was offered the opportunity to apply for an undisclosed Disney assignment. Without knowing the details of the opportunity, I agreed to the terms, and our family submitted a video for consideration.

When they called to notify me that our family had been chosen, I was speechless. We were to go on an all-inclusive Disney vacation to film promotional spots for a contest run by Disney Junior, but we were to tell no one.

With only a few family and friends aware that we were leaving town (and no one aware of where we were going and why), we packed up and travelled to Florida where our adventures began.

Our Disney jaunt began with a fun-filled day at Walt Disney World, a first time visit for all of us. Equipped with all-day Magic Your Way park passes and a gift card to spend at our leisure, our family ventured into the magical world and were mesmerized by the characters, sights and park attractions that surrounded us. We strolled through castles, hugged princesses, and rode through enchanted places on rides unique only to Disney Parks. With the blink of an eye, our day was over and we were exhausted, unable to wipe the ear-to-ear grins from our faces.

The next morning, we boarded our Disney Dream cruise and headed for a Bahamian dream vacation.

When we stepped aboard the Disney Dream ship, our surroundings took our breath away. With a warm welcome announcement and applause from the ship’s crew, we strolled through the Atrium and into a magical Disney wonderland at sea.

Our itinerary was filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences: private encounters with beloved Disney characters, a red carpet interview before  the Golden Mickey’s evening show, and a private cabana on an exclusive island in the Bahamas.

We enjoyed rides on the AquaDuck – an elevated “water coaster” that wraps around the ship’s exterior. Our children spent hours splashing around in the Mickey Pool, and Nemo’s Reef spray park, and the hubs and I were able to get away for a little grown up time at Senses Spa, and the beautiful adult exclusive Palo restaurant.

And unlike on our previous cruise, our kids enjoyed every minute of their time at the Oceaneer Club – a children’s activity centre filled with Disney-themed play areas (the life-sized replica of Andy’s Room from Toy Story was so amazing, us adults wanted to spend the day playing in there too!), engaging and fun activities, and a friendly and enthusiastic staff of counsellors.

The ports-of-call were equally as exciting. We strolled the breathtaking beaches and observed the unique and colourful architecture that decorated the shoreline of Nassau, and spent an action-packed day at Castaway Cay – a private island reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise guests, and featuring water parks, an open-air BBQ, various water activities, Disney character encounters, and lots of beach fun!

Our trip was a whirlwind of adventure, magic, and ongoing family fun, and was an experience that we will never forget. And our entire experience was captured on camera for Disney Junior viewers to enjoy through the eyes of a real-life family.

Want to win a once-in-a-lifetime Disney Cruise experience like ours? Click on the link below for contest details.

ENTER TO WIN A DISNEY CRUISE VACATION HERE

Watch Disney Junior during the month of August to see our full, four-part promotional series
on our adventures aboard the Disney Dream, and to learn more about this exciting contest.
For channel information in your area, visit this link: Disney Junior Channels