It’s a lively place, the beach at Riverside Park in Kamloops. In the cool water, kids wait for the wake of a passing boat to throw waves through the water, tweens shriek and flirt and splash, while grandparents sit dutifully in the shade, safe from the powerful sun.
Feeling a bit like a popsicle with my feet in the chilly water at the edge of the shore, I stand with the other parents, vigilantly watching as our kids throw mud at each other and do the requisite mystifying kid-at-the-beach things.
Just for Kids
The downtown park easily became our vacation HQ, seemingly something new happening every day of our visit. That’s in addition to the elaborate playground, abundant green space for running and playing, and a sprawling splash park that offers a very welcome respite from the heat of an Interior British Columbia summer. There’s a concession near the beach and an ice cream parlour across the street (more on that later!) plus change rooms and bathrooms to make it extra convenient for visiting families.
Festivals and Music in the Park
In addition to the beach and park activities there, Riverside Park is a venue for shows and festivals. During our midweek, July visit, we were able to catch two festivals. Music in the Park is a summer concert series that happens each night at the band shell in July and August. It is a great showcase for local talent, with some big names thrown in. The Midsummer Music Jam had country star Gord Bamford bringing the crowds when we visited. Even the less country and western keen among us couldn’t help but tap our toes.
The International Buskers Festival made the move from its former home in Victoria to Kamloops this year. Acrobats, contortionists, musicians, comedians, basically entertainers and street performers of all stripes perform pay-what-you-can shows on stages set up throughout the park.
There are some other beaches that are easy to get to from a downtown base. If you are travelling with your furry, four-footed “kids” both Pioneer Park and Overlander Park are dog-friendly and offer sandy beaches for fun on the river.
Swimming and hanging out on the beach are far from the only opportunities for some fun at the river in Kamloops. The Thompson Rivers are popular with boaters; leisure-craft and whooping kids being towed on tubes zip past Riverside Park regularly. My kids were particularly enthralled with the jet skis and sea-doos that crashed through the currents. I can imagine them as teenage daredevils in a few short years.
Kamloops has a whopping 100 lakes within an hours’ drive from the city. If you are looking for water near the desert city, you won’t have to go far, with options from fishing to stand up paddleboarding. You might want to check out Isobel Lake, which has recently undergone upgrades to make it more accessible for those with reduced mobility, including a boardwalk near the lake for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs, and wheelchair accessible outhouses. A word to the wise, pack your mosquito spray…those little bloodsuckers know a good thing when they find it!
If you go:
The Sandman Signature Hotel is located directly across the street from Riverside Park. For an additional fee, you can request a park view room to take advantage of the location. The other side is near the train tracks, and while they have done an admirable job sound-proofing, the CN yard just isn’t as pretty as the greenery of Riverside Park!
Nothing is too very far from anything else in downtown Kamloops, and if you are travelling without a car, you will be pleasantly pleased at the variety of restaurants within walking distance. A few restaurants you may want to check out include:
The Noble Pig and their locally sourced ingredients, generous portions at Peter’s Pasta, and Hello Toast for the most important meal of the day. A special mention goes to Scoopz Ice Cream. Yes, we went three times in two days. Don’t judge. (FYI pick up a Kids’ Picks brochure from Tourism Kamloops for a coupon plus lots of great info. Also, the back of our tickets from the Kamloops Heritage Railway had a 15% off coupon—saving money on ice cream is kind of my hobby)
Many thanks to Tourism Kamloops for hosting my trip. The opinions are, as ever, my own.