Less than an hours’ drive from Kamloops, BC along a tree-lined mountain road is the resort of Sun Peaks. It boasts Canada’s second largest ski area (after Whistler-Blackcomb) and is a much-beloved if somewhat under-the-radar winter getaway. But as we discovered, it is a wonderful summer destination too.
The fun goes all summer, but for families, the ideal time to visit is during Family Weeks in Sun Peaks. The festivities are held weekdays, from mid-July to mid-August. Some of these activities are available only during Family Weeks (or are offered free only as part of the special promotion) but several of them you can do whenever you visit during the warm weather. Take a look at the Tourism Sun Peaks website for the schedule and details.
So, in no particular order, here are top picks for 14 Fantastic Things to do at Family Weeks in Sun Peaks:
- Spot animals My youngest son picked up a checklist of animals that can be found in the Sun Peaks region (available from the Sun Peaks Tourism office) and spent literal hours diligently watching the skies, meadows, and wooded areas for the animals. He brought the checklist with him everywhere we went, and it brought more entertainment hours than I would have thought possible.
- Jump for your life At the base of the ski hill is the bungee trampoline. Strap a harness on and get ready for sky-high bounces! My kids begged the operator to slingshot them up (over the roofs of the nearby chalet from my perhaps-a-little-anxious perspective.) I got strong-armed into trying it too, and the adrenaline rush was formidable. As was the reminder to keep on Kegeling.
- Take a hike My preferred way to use my legs is walking, not jumping—and there are plenty of opportunities; whether your family is looking for a stroll or an intense hike, with 18 trails that leave from/close to town. During Family Weeks, free guided walks are offered. The route is all-ages appropriate, and your guide will share information about flora and fauna in the area as you go. If your kids are older and you’re looking for a more in-depth experience, you can join a guided tour (inquire at Elevation in the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel.) The price includes a lift ticket to take you up the mountain–our legs bring you back.
- Decorate a cookie. The Tod Mountain Café is a buzzing breakfast spot and bakery. During Family Weeks, you can get an extra dose of delicious when they set up cookie decorating outside. Watching the kids pile icing and sprinkles on the bakery fresh sugar cookies may induce hypoglycemia, but as my son joyfully explained between mouthfuls: “It’s not an ‘anytime’ treat, it’s a ‘sometimes’ treat!”
- See a play. On select afternoons during Family Weeks, the central village square becomes an impromptu stage, with visiting actors presenting silly shows for kids—no ticket required. The open-air experience, short run times, and audience participation made for a fun, casual way to expose even really young kids to the theatre.
- Pan for treasure. The Tod Mountain Mining Co. is a new addition to the warm weather fun at Sun Peaks. Buy your small sack of sand from Guest Services in the day lodge, then take it out to the sluice. Pour your sack onto the screen and shake away the sand to reveal the colourful rocks and semi-precious stones within. My son chose to use his souvenir money for another go the next day, so thrilling did he find the experience. I don’t think I’ll tell him about the Klondike.
- Go for a ride. You’ll find the mini-karts with the bungee trampoline behind the day lodge. Pay for your ticket inside, and then take some laps around the course. The pedalling takes some effort and little legs might get a bit tired racing their big brother (and moms might get a bit tired giving push starts), but there are two sizes of cart to accommodate a range of kiddos wanting to give it a go. For the plus 16 crowd, the gravity-fed mountain coaster is pretty thrilling. (I mean it looks thrilling…I didn’t do it!)
- Get some grub. For such a tiny village, there is a shocking variety of restaurants. In the summer it is rare you will have to wait for a table at any of them. We found the cuisine tends toward gastro-pub fare which made it easy to find familiar kid-friendly plates. Special mention goes to the more upscale Voyageur Bistro (pictured) the breakfast buffet at Mantles Restaurant, and after a long travel day we thoroughly enjoyed a yummy Mountain Pizza up in our suite.
- Play giant checkers. At the top of the village, just outside of the Tourism Sun Peaks office is a small recreation area, with free games to while away some time. Enjoy ping-pong, bean bag toss, and giant checkers. If you are my family, remember to stop before things get hyper-competitive and ugly. Ahem.
- Hit a bucket of balls. The Sun Peaks Resort Golf Course is lovely and offers family-friendly promotions throughout the summer. Monday afternoons during Family Weeks in Sun Peaks, you can grab a bucket of balls from the pro shop for free and give ‘em a whack on the driving range.
- Saddle Up. A horseback ride over alpine paths gives a different view of the mountains, but if you aren’t quite ready to hit the trails, kids can get the chance to sample the cowboy life during family weeks. Gentle horses are led around the paddock by experienced handlers giving kids the opportunity to get a feel for what it’s like in the saddle.
- Hear live music. Listening to orchestral music performed al fresco in an alpine village feels like something from the life of European royalty, so we counted ourselves lucky to be able to enjoy the dulcet sounds of the Kamloops Music Collective in such a picturesque setting, I bet you would like it too!
- Get a treat. You’ll be wanting a little treat to go with the warm weather fun. We loved wandering through the village with ice cream from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or loading up on fresh-made mini-doughnuts from Baby DOh’s. Yes, we went back for seconds.
- Lay your weary head. After all that fun celebrating Family Weeks in Sun Peaks, you need a comfortable place to bed down. The village has a variety of accommodation options for families. We stayed at the Hearthstone Lodge in the middle of town. Our one-bedroom suite was well set up with a pull-out bed for the boys and a kitchenette. We took advantage of the outdoor whirlpool, although under the summer sun we started to cook a little. On a chillier day, it would be perfect!
Many thanks to the folks at Tourism Sun Peaks for hosting my family. The opinions are, as ever, my own.