Trip Ideas

Thompson Okanagan Family Activities

Bike, climb, swim, get up close with desert creatures and see spawning sockeye — family fun in the Thompson Okanagan region means one outdoor adventure after another, whether riverside, mountainside, lakeside or cliffside. Grab the family, pack a picnic and start exploring.


50.678877,-120.329793|49.882358,-119.499865|49.587067,-119.733052| 50.359918,-119.058713|52.20929,-120.00412| 50.92058,-119.628435| 49.040776,-119.433694

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MAP LEGEND
  1. Kamloops
  2. Kelowna
  3. Summerland
  4. Vernon
  5. Wells Gray Provincial Park
  6. Salmon Arm
  7. Osoyoos

Sunshine, Sandy Beaches and Fun

With more than 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, what better way to beat the heat than a trip to the beach? The Okanagan is famous for warm water and sandy beaches – Trip Advisor recently named Okanagan beaches among the best in Canada – and Summerland’s beaches are among the finest. Sun-Oka Beach (the name is short for “sunny” and “Okanagan”) is a local favourite.

While in Summerland, you can also climb aboard a 100-year-old steam locomotive with open-air cars for a 90-minute journey into the past. Interact with costumed staff and listen to musicians as the Kettle Valley Steam Railway showcases the mountains, wineries and orchards around Summerland.

Biking

Okanagan

When the snow melts, cyclists come out to play at Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon. At the resort’s mountain bike park, ride a chairlift to the top and then let gravity take over as you cruise down to the village. Gnarly or easy, there are trails here for every kind of biker. Want to learn more mountain biking tips? Silver Star offers a variety of bike camps for beginner to advanced riders.

From Kelowna or Penticton, enjoy an unforgettable bike ride along a reincarnated railway. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a rail bed turned multi-purpose trail, runs for a gentle 455-km/282-mi. One of the most dramatic sections is Myra Canyon, near Kelowna, where cyclists ride across 18 gorge-spanning trestles.

Wells Gray Provincial Park (Clearwater)

Listen to the water fall at Helmcken Falls, one of many beautiful cascades in Wells Gray Provincial Park, a sprawling wilderness in the rugged Cariboo Mountains. Hike the trails, ranging from a few minutes to a few days in duration, spot wildlife, and paddle a canoe on forest-framed lakes.

Heritage and Wildlife

Secwepemc Aboriginal Museum. Photo Credit: Tourism Kamloops

Head to Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park near Salmon Arm in early October to see the bittersweet beauty of the Adams River sockeye run. Visit on a dominant year (every four years, with 2014 being the next big one) and be amazed as you watch millions of salmon struggle upstream.

While in the area, spend a day watching history come alive at the Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park, home to the archaeological remains of a 2000-year-old Aboriginal village. Check out the on-site ethnobotanical gardens and learn about the healing properties of plants indigenous to the Secwepemc territory.

On the slopes above Osoyoos Lake, hear the desert’s story at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. The centre (pronounced in-ka-meep) portrays history and culture through interactive displays, tours and programs. Learn about the land, legends and Aboriginal peoples who have called the South Okanagan home for thousands of years. Don’t miss the rattlesnake exhibit, where western rattlers and their lookalike cousins, gopher snakes, are coaxed from their underground burrows by savvy handlers. Get up close and personal with these fascinating reptiles.

Family Friendly Restaurants

Kelowna. Photo Credit: Don Weixl
  • Storms On The River in Kamloops overlooks the South Thompson River. Order from the sundeck then play on the lawn until the meal arrives.
  • Nothing says fun like chicken fingers and a cheese pita pizza at Theo’s Restaurant in Penticton, a restored grand villa with a Greek Islands ambience. Fresh fruit drinks (in the summer) offer an Okanagan signature flavour.
  • Sugarcoat a day trip around Kelowna with a gelato at family- run Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan. Carmelis is at the foot of Okanagan Mountain; pop in before or after a dip in the nearby lake.

Thompson Okanagan Transportation

One international airport in Kelowna and two local airports in Kamloops and Penticton service the region. VIA Rail’s cross-country service, called The Canadian, stops in Kamloops. Commercial bus lines run to nearly all cities and towns, while highways flow into the region from all directions.

Family Friendly Accommodations

  • Riverland Inn & Suites in Kamloops has an indoor pool, and some rooms feature kitchenettes. Request a river-facing room to take advantage of the motel’s spacious lawn, perfect for tossing a Frisbee.
  • Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna will keep the kids amused for hours with a Kids Klub, outdoor pool, waterslide and children's splash area.
  • Spray the heat away in the open-air water park at Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa in Osoyoos. Shop at local produce stands and then cook up a meal in a fully-equipped gourmet kitchen, standard in each suite.