One of the funnest things you can do as a family is take a road trip. Get out and explore a new Province, State or region in your own backyard. Our family road trips regularly between British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba visiting family, and enjoying hotel stays and attractions along the way.
This summer we spent time house sitting pets for a friend in Kelowna in British Columbia. Having been to Kelowna and Vernon many times before both for work and pleasure, this was going to be a new experience for us since the house we were watching was electronics free. This would give us the opportunity to teach the kids boundaries and respect for staying in some one’s home without the owners present, which could eventually led to some Airbnb stays in the future.
In our feature photo above of the kids at City Park in downtown Kelowna, is the Ogopogo. What is the Ogopogo you ask? The legend of the Ogopogo begins with the First Nations people speaking of “N’ha-a-itk”, a fierce lake monster that resided at Squally Point, 20 kilometres south of the city of Kelowna. In 1924, a little song was composed about the lake monster and it was given the name, “Ogopogo”.
Fast forward and there have been sightings of this lake monster reported. Ogopogo is described as green with a snakelike body about 25 meters long. Some say its head looks like a horse, while others say that it’s reptilian or goat-like. Many even claim to have photographed Ogopogo. The pictures have always been inconclusive.
After a day of driving from Calgary to Kelowna, we finally arrived at our destination with our bikes in tow and a plan; visit wineries, local attractions, bike the Kettle Valley Railway, and get in some beach time. A plan to satisfy everyone in the family.
The Kettle Valley Railway Trail is an abandoned railway bed located in Myra Canyon, originally built by hand at the turn of the last century. In 2004 12 wooden trestles and 2 steel trestles had to be rebuilt following a large fire known as the Okanagan park wildfire. Remnants of this fire are still visible in the canyon as you wind your way through the majestic trails in awe of the beauty before you.
The Trans Canada Trail from Kelowna to Penticton follows the old Kettle Valley Railway and the trail itself is 45 km one way. The trail winds through the mountains featuring breath taking views and boasts 2 tunnels, 2 steel bridges and 16 wood trestles for the first 8 km of the ride. We brought our own bikes on this trip and traveled at least 6km before turning back due to tired little legs. For those not traveling with bikes you can hike as far as you are able to, rent a bike or get a guided tour to learn more about the area. For more information, visit the Myra Canyon Restoration Society website.
One of our favourite places to get lost at for an afternoon is the Lavender and Herb Farm. The farm itself will have different blooms at different times throughout the summer. We visited in August and while there was still an abundance of lavender and herbs, it was limited.
Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm is a skip and hop down the road from several quality estate wineries a short drive out of downtown Kelowna. A family owned boutique dairy farm, they produce premium goat cheese and gelato available for purchase on site. Book a tour for a larger group in advance or take a drive out and carefully weave your way down the path to the barns to view the goats and boutique cheese shop. A varied selection of goat cheese ranging as soft ripened, hard aged and simply fresh. A delicious assortment of gelato is available and well worth the drive.
As many times as we’ve been to the Okanagan we’ve never visited the Kangaroo Creek Farm. Excitement was mounting the morning we got going to explore the farm and meet up close for the first time, a real kangaroo.
This hobby farm is jumping with more than just kangaroos. There are emu, peacocks, fancy chickens, goats, parrots, a baby albino wallaby, wallaroos, wallabies, baby kangaroos and potbellied pigs. In addition you can see a capybara, the world’s largest rodent. Fees are small and help keep the farm operational. They allow you to wander the grounds and touch the kangaroos however kids are to be kept under parent surveillance at all times as rules are enforced for the safety of the animals. We completely supported the rules to ensure kids are taught to respect animals at a young age and are kept safe.
Staff are very knowledgeable about kangaroos and wallabies and are on hand to answer any questions you have regarding various species, habitat, breeding, diet, housing and general physiology. Getting back to nature with animals is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. And then go find a fabulous place for lunch!
Get your Frybread on at the Kekuli Cafe
We heard the story about Sharon Bond-Hogg and her First Nations Bannock Cafe long before we came to Kelowna. One of two Kekuli Cafes in British Columbia, they offer fresh food, home made items made using in house made bannock, wifi, and music inspired by their family and a super inviting atmosphere. The foodie in me couldn’t wait to try this place out. Oh by the way it’s also featured on You Gotta Eat Here Canada!!
Kekuli Cafe offers breakfast, lunch, desserts, gourmet bannock treats, coffee, teas and alcoholic beverages if you choose to partake. The gourmet bannock are liken to beaver tails and topped with deliciousness such as saskatoon berry, skor bar, apples and cinnamon, lemon and more. Of course we had to a have a couple to share as a pre-lunch appy.
Lunch for the big guy is typical – a burger, only this time a bannock burger. For me I had a bannock taco. The kids were happy with their gourmet bannock appys and sharing some of our lunch. They tried the saskatoon berry ice tea. My mom made saskatoon berry wine, jam, pies and more when I was a wee child. This berry holds a special memory for me.
A unique experience, one you must do when in Kelowna.
While the kids might not be as interested in the wine museum, which admittedly is mostly a wine store with wine artifacts at different points of interest inside, they will get a lot out of the formally named BC Orchard Museum. This side of the old historic Laurel Packinghouse has hands on exhibits for the kids and live bee hives! Here they can learn first hand about the history of growing and handling the tree fruits for which the Okanagan is known for.
While here you can view exhibitions featuring packing, processing, home preserving, picking, orchards and more. This museum tells the story of the Okanagan Valley’s transformation from wide open cattle range to beautifully manicured, symmetrical orchards. The interactive stations for the kids are both entertaining and informative and enjoyed our time there with the kids. Plus they kept offering the kids free cherries!
We did a lot during our stay in Kelowna and we still didn’t get it all done. After several adventures one of the best things we did was spend some time on the beach. A must for everyone!