Ultimate BC Family Road Trip – Your Adventure Packed Guide For 2024

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Are you looking to plan the ultimate BC family road trip? 

British Columbia is one of the best places in the world, if you ask me. I may be biased as my family headed out on a road trip to explore the province when I was just five years old and we never went back (no really, we sent movers and never returned home!). Now that I’ve called BC home for over 35 years, I can tell you that it is a unique place, designed for those who love outdoor adventure, pristine scenery, and a vibrant food and culture scene. 

So if you’re looking to plan your own incredible BC family road trip you’ve come to the right place! With a province that is 364,764 square miles (that’s almost four times the size of Great Britain), you can spend a week or a couple of months exploring, so we’ve broken it down into our most visited spots to help you design an itinerary that suits your family and your timeline. 

This itinerary will take you from crashing waves on Vancouver’s west coast, traversing through the mountainous regions in Whistler, searching for gold in Northern BC, to pristine warm lakes in the Okanagan, we’ve put together the ultimate BC family road trip and now we want you to plan your own excursion! Take a portion of our adventure or spend a whole month exploring. 

Here are the four regions we have split this article up into for you to highlight some amazing British Columbia family vacations: 

  • Vancouver Island Road Trip 
  • Vancouver Coast & Mountains Road Trip 
  • Northern BC Road Trip 
  • Thompson Okanagan Road Trip 

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links from which I may earn a small commission if you choose to make a booking. Money goes to help fund Adventure Awaits and keep more informational and educational articles coming your way!

British Columbia Road Trip Itinerary Map

Vancouver Island Road Trip

Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful regions in our province, with 3400 kilometers of coastline, old-growth forests, mid-island mountains, and an abundance of small towns inviting you to slow down and embrace your stay. Residents are a proud bunch, and many share a passion for the environment and sustainability. The communities and experiences you will have will reflect this passion and you too may leave with a deeper appreciation for untouched nature. The arts and culture scene is also thriving on the island too, with notable places like the mural covered town of Chemainus. With over 70 murals for visitors to experience, Chemainus is definitely worth stopping and visiting.   

We recommend that you start your road trip off in the Ucluelet & Tofino Region to allow you to truly escape and experience the rugged West Coast, and then work your way back to the east side of Vancouver Island visiting places like Parksville and Victoria.

Ucluelet & Tofino, BC

Where to Stay

Choosing where to stay in the Ucluelet and Tofino region is a difficult thing to do as there are so many different types of accommodations and wonderful places to stay. On our big BC family road trip we actually opted to stay at all three, doing 2 nights at each of these places, giving three very different Westcoast experiences. Choose one as a basecamp or double up like we did:

Beachfront Campsite – Wya Point Resort, Ucluelet

girl-at-wya-point-resort-campgroundOne of the best ways to really experience the West Coast is to wake up on the sandy shores with an unobstructed view out over the waves greeting you for sunrise. Located in Ucluelet is the Wya Point Resort, where you can walk into your site and set up your tent on one of their oceanside campsites.  Our site was steps from the sandy beach allowing the kids to play on the shore all day as well as give us adults some well-needed vitamin-sea. Their sites were private, and included a firepit (check local fire regulations to ensure that it is safe to light the fire) a picnic table, washrooms, and a dishwashing station. They also have bear-proof food storage containers which are essential to use, as bears are a common site in Ucluelet and Tofino. On our visit we came within few feet of a bear who was checking out our campsite! (Be sure to practice safe camping and a “bare campsite” for the duration of your BC family road trip).

Book your stay at Wya Point Resort in Ucluelet here!

Oceanfront Luxury Hotel – Blackrock Resort, Ucluelet

BC road trips black rock ocean side resort

If you’re like my husband and prefer a luxury experience and a warm bed over a tent then the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort may be the perfect fit. Built into the black rocks of the Ucluelet shores it was designed as a masterpiece, as if created by Mother Nature herself. The building even arches over a natural inlet where the ocean waves crash into the rocky shore and you can stand inside to experience the power of the mighty ocean (without ending up soaking wet!). 

Once you’re in your hotel room you’ll be greeted by a stunning view, a large kitchenette, and fresh linens that are perfect for cozying into after a warm hot shower. We swooned over the views and even left our doors open at night so we could fall asleep to the sound of the waves. During the day we took in local hikes, wandering along the 8km Wild Pacific Trail that winds right through the property. Lazy afternoons were spent in the oceanside hot tubs watching the waves crash into the huge black rocks and sunsets were enjoyed on the beach, me taking photos while the kids and dad skipped rocks into the sea.

Book your stay at The Black Rock Oceanfront Resort here!

Oceanside Cabins – Long Beach Lodge Resort, Tofino

Nestled in behind the property’s main lodge is a series of cabins at the Long Beach Lodge Resort. Perfect for a family, these two-story cabins have two bedrooms, with either two kings, or a king and two doubles, a pull-out couch in the living room and a full kitchenette so you can cook your meals.

But the best part? Well, that’s easy, each cabin comes with its own hot tub outside the master on the main floor. My husband and I enjoyed morning coffee out in the forest before the kids woke up and the kids, they preferred an evening dip before bed. This property is one of my favourites in Tofino and one our family has returned to again and again. Be sure to check out our full feature article about Long Beach Lodge Resort here.

Book your stay at the Long Beach Lodge Resort here!

What to Do In Tofino and Ucluelet

While visiting the Ucluelet and Tofino region there are a lot of excellent outdoor adventures to explore including hiking, biking, beach combing the long sandy beaches, eating at one of the great restaurants in the towns of Tofino or Ucluelet, or just hanging out at your base camp and soaking it all in. 

When we visit the area we like to do a combination of a few things, being sure to balance out the free activities and explorations along with some paid adventures.

Best Free Things to do in Tofino & Ucluelet

Beach lookout in Tofino, pettinger point, an easy walk from long beach lodge resort, a tofino family resort
  • Bike the new pathway called ʔapsčiik t̓ašii, that connects Tofino to Ucluelet with a 24 km (one way) multi-use trail. 
  • Hike one of the many hiking trails in and around Tofino and Ucluelet, All Trails is a great resource. Fun find: If you hike Pettinger Point look on the boardwalk for a board that was gifted to me that says “Adventure Awaits.” 
  • Spend a day (or week) at the beach. With 13 amazing beaches to choose from, each offering its own bit of magic and something to explore, pack a picnic, sunscreen, and beach essentials and take the family out for a day in the sand. Some of my favourite days have been spent wandering the beaches in Tofino, with no expectations, no schedules, just sand between my toes and family by my side. 
  • Get your Parks Canada Xplorers program at the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre (open 7 days a week from mid-May to mid-September and Saturday and Sundays only from mid-October to mid-May).

Best Eco-Experiences in Tofino

Here are my two favourite family-friendly adventures that are worth investing (and even getting up early) for!

Surfing In Tofino

woman-surfing-in-tofino
Photo Credit: Tofino Surf School

A trip to Ucluelet and Tofino isn’t complete without going surfing. With a rich community culture of surfing, it is one of the quintessential experiences to have and a great way to connect with mother ocean. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner, I recommend taking lessons with Tofino Surf School. The family lessons were a perfect way for all of us to learn the sport, while my kids got all the support they needed to have a successful day. The only problem? My son is officially hooked on the sport and keeps asking to go back! (A great problem to have).

Mom Tips: 1. Go surfing! Some Moms are nervous to try but the sense of accomplishment and adventure when surfing with the kids is worth it! 2. Bring warm clothes / towels to change into after surfing. 3. If you want a luxurious surfing experience check out the Surf Club at the Long Beach Lodge in Cox Bay. They offer great lessons and afterwards you can hop right from your wet suit into a hot tub, to warm up and recount your surfing experiences!

Boat Tour to the Tofino Hot Springs

If you want an adventure that has it all, this is it. You’ll start off with a morning on the ocean, hike to a natural hot spring, and (fingers crossed) spend your afternoon watching humpbacks, all in one day I might add! Can a visit to Tofino’s West Coast get any better than this?

This incredible adventure can be done with Ocean Outfitters. This Tofino based tour company has a reputation for quality and a spirit of adventure. With so many tours to choose from it was hard to decide which one to choose, but we chose the Tofino Whale Watching Hot Springs Tour as it included a 1.5 hour boat ride up the inside passage where we were able to see wildlife (otters, eagles, bears, and whales) and the hot springs tour. It was a long six-hour adventure-packed day that our whole family absolutely loved. At each point in the day, one of us said, “This is the best day ever.” Here are some highlights from our trip: Hiking, to Hot Springs, and watching Humpbacks! 

Tofino to Horne Lake Caves Park

After spending a few days in Tofino and Ucluelet it’s time to head East across Vancouver Island and start to explore the other regions of this beautiful area. I recommend stopping in Port Alberni to restock your groceries and essentials then stop at this next point of interest before you carry on to Horne Lake Caves.

Point of Interest – Cathedral Grove

woman-in-front-of-huge-tree

Located south of Port Alberni is Cathedral Cove (MacMillan Park). I’ll be honest, when we first drove through my family was fully engaged in road trip mode and didn’t want to get out of the car, but I quickly told them to unbuckle and come explore with me. 

After being in the 800 year old growth forest they quickly realized that this was a place worth stopping at. With huge towering trees overhead, we meandered down the dirt path, pointing out each tree at a time. The trail meanders around to the biggest tree, an 800-year-old red cedar, which our family could barely wrap our arms around the FRONT of, let alone the whole tree!  MacMillan Park is a part of a Coastal Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone, and is definitely worth getting out of the car for! 

Traveler Tip: To visit once isn’t enough and we now stop every time we drive by. I’ve had the opportunity to walk through the forest in all seasons, with the winter being especially beautiful as the trees were covered in snow.

Next Stop – Horne Lake Caves

Where to Stay – Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park

horne-lakeHorne Lake Caves Provincial Park is a BC Parks campground that has great campsites right on the lake. This is rustic camping (aka. no amenities other than pit toilets) so it’s for more experienced campers (and don’t forget to bring water!). But if you’re up for it, this is a great site! The kids loved being able to swim out in the water, wander and build stick creations and play unlimited rounds of Monopoly Deal with their parents.

If you’re in the Horne Lake Region a trip to see Horne Lake Caves is an absolute must! We took part in a guided tour that provides you access to caves that are not open to the public. Whether you’ve got little kids (minimum 5 years) or bigger ones the whole family will love this underground eco tour. Fun fact: After we did this tour many of our followers went and did the tour and all came back with glowing reviews as well. 

Note: I don’t typically like smaller spaces but was okay with this tour as the guides moved slowly, used lights, and there was always an easy exit route. 

After spending a day (or a few days like we did) in Horne Lake Caves Park, it’s time to continue on, with your next stop being Parksville. Before you head to Parksville though I recommend you stop at this next point of interest.

Point Of Interest – Coombs, BC

The town of Coombs has a unique collection of artisan markets, eateries, shops, and The Old Country Market that has everything and anything you could imagine, including their famous Goats on the Roof! From specialty food items to artisan crafts, to toys for the kids, it’s a feast for the eyes and a place where you can wander.

Traveler Tip: Go hungry and give yourself time for lunch and touring around. From surf shops to ice cream eateries to massive donuts, it’s a destination all in one little goat centric town.

Next Stop – Parksville, BC

beach-in-parksvilleAn oceanside community that is centred around family fun, Parksville is a must-stop spot on any BC family road trip. With ample activities to do, all within walking distance to what feels like endless kilometers of beach, Parksville is where kids, summer, sand, and memories all collide.

Where to Stay – Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort

cabin-at-tigh-na-mara-resort-parksville

Imagine a resort where 1970’s classic family summer retreat meets 2024 family fun. Upon check-in kids are offered their own key cards so they can roam the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort property. Their very active kids club had over 40 scheduled activities for kids including arts and crafts, service projects, sports, yoga classes, scavenger hunts, and unscheduled yet supervised play like tennis, playground time, and even babysitting including dinner and a movie. It’s clear who the focus of the resort goes to…it’s kids! 

With spa bungalows, rustic cabins, studios and oceanfront rooms, this mix of accommodation types means there is the perfect space for everyone. Add in amenities including a pool, hot tub, tennis court, hockey, basketball, badminton, volleyball, campfire pit, giant chess, bocce, and the world class grotto spa and you have a basecamp for family summer fun! 

Book your stay at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Seaside Spa Resort here!

What to do in Parksville

parksville-sandcastle-competition

The beach town comes alive in the summer with the focus on family fun being a priority. While you could spend the whole day at Tigh-Na-Mara and going in between their resort amenities and the long sandy beach, there are a few great places in town that you should check out while you’re there. From mini golf, the community playground, the sandcastles, and more, check out our list of family-friendly things to do in Parksville here.

After spending some fun family time at Tigh-Na-Mara and the beautiful little town of Parksville it’s time to head to your final destination on your Vancouver Island portion of the road trip, Victoria! On your way check out these points of interest.

Point of Interest – Birds of Prey Experience

woman-holding-falconThe Raptors Experience is a sanctuary and educational destination where people can connect with birds of prey and learn more about these special birds and their role in our ecosystem. We weren’t too sure what to expect during our visit and loved the flying demonstrations as well as the close animal encounters. We had intended to stay for one hour and didn’t want to leave after three! A must-do if you’re in the region!

Point of Interest – Chemainus Murals

murals-in-chemainus
Photo Credit: Tourism Cowichan

Central Cowichan is an area that needs to be explored. From educational experiences including the BC Forestry Museum in Duncan, to walking alongside history with the Chemainus Murals, to strolling across an iconic trestle bridge, there’s so much to explore in Cowichan!

man-holding-giant-hockey-stick-in-cowichan

One family favourite was posing with the world’s largest hockey stick in Duncan!

Next Stop – Victoria

Where to Stay – The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa

swimming-pool-at-westin-bear-mountain

The Westin Bear Mountain Resort is located in a resort community about 30 minutes from downtown Victoria. Our children loved “The best pool ever” and visited it daily, while my husband and I swooned over the poolside bar and restaurant. From luxury food to family-friendly amenities, to huge soaker tubs to sit back and reflect on the day, our stay at Bear Mountain was the perfect way to wrap up the Vancouver Island portion of our trip.

The 30 minute proximity to downtown Victoria makes heading into the city a short trip, and an absolutely must for visiting our province’s capital city.

Book your stay at The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa here!

Best Eco-Experiences in Victoria

Eagle Wing Tours – Whale & Wildlife Watching

Photo Credit: Eagle Wing Tours

If you’ve never seen whales in their natural habitat then you haven’t lived. Okay I’m being a bit over dramatic, but it really is one of the most magical experiences you can have.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see whales many times in my life and it always brings me to tears to see such a magnificent animal, living right here on our West Coast.

Eagle Wing Tours is a locally owned and operated company that has been sharing its passion for the Salish Sea with guests for 24 years. The reason I love them the most is because they are leaders in the industry, prioritizing conservation and sustainability all while creating life-changing guest experiences through educational tours.

Sea otter spotted from tofino boat tours

While you head out on the water to see whales, while you are there you’ll get to see so much more. Otters, seals, sea lions, eagles, grey whales, dolphins and many other incredible creatures call the Pacific Northwest home and with Eagle Wing you’ll get to see them first hand. Here’s one of the first articles we ever wrote, that my kids actually took the lead on sharing their candid experience, check it out.

Malahat SkyWalk

Only 15 minutes from Bear Mountain resort is the Malahat SkyWalk. Located 2350 meters above sea level, you’ll be invited to walk amongst the old-growth forest and head out onto a skywalk where on a clear day you can take in the 360-degree panoramic views. And when you’re done… walk down or embrace your inner child and slide down the centre of the spiral, squealing optional!

“Wheeeeee!” I couldn’t contain my ear-to-ear smile as I went down the 20-meter-high spiral slide… a four-second ride that reminded us that we’re never too old to have fun!

Get your ticket for the Malahat SkyWalk here!

Victoria Harbour

victoria-downtown
Photo Credit: BC Ferries

Downtown Victoria is one of the most beautiful cities in the whole wide world (that’s my official quote on the subject!). An oceanside capital, you’ll walk past the historic Romanesque Revival style architecture of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings as well as the world renowned Fairmont Empress Hotel on one side of downtown Victoria all while looking out over the bustling inner harbour where water taxies, sea planes, and seals all call the water home. Stop at one of the amazing eateries (with lots of gluten free options) or watch the sunset on a ocean view patio. With beautiful hanging baskets, bicycles all around, and a mix of warm sun and good energy, a day in Victoria is quintessential to a visit to Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Coast & Mountains Road Trip

City of Vancouver

view-of-downtown-vancouver-from-stanley-parkWhenever people tell me that they are coming to Vancouver they are quickly greeted with a long list of places to go and things to experience (whether they ask for it or not, my toxic trait!). Another one of my most favourite cities in the world that I love coming home to every time, Vancouver really is quite extraordinary. Surrounded by the ocean with the North Shore mountains as a backdrop, one of Vancouver’s claim to fame is that you can go skiing and golfing in the same day, and during many months of the year this is actually true!

Where to Stay in Vancouver

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver – Downtown Vancouver

If you are looking for an iconic and historical place to stay while visiting Vancouver, I highly suggest you book a stay at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Built in 1939 and known as the “Castle in the City,” this hotel puts you right in the center of downtown Vancouver, making it the perfect basecamp for Vancouver adventures. With both rooms and suites available, there is room for the whole family.

Book your stay The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver here!

Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier – North Vancouver

Wanting to stay close to downtown Vancouver, but in a quieter part of town that is close to the mountains? The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier is a quick 20 minute Seabus (walk on public transit ferry) ride to downtown Vancouver and a 10 minute drive from the local mountains. This hotel features incredible views of the Vancouver harbour, is walking distance to a variety of local shops and eateries and has an indoor pool, steam room, sauna and hot tubs, making this hotel a family favourite.

Book your stay at the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier here!

Eco Adventures in Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Photo Credit: Capilano Suspension Bridge

Nestled amongst the West Coast rainforest in North Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most popular attractions for visitors and locals alike, inviting you to come and check out their four main attractions: 

  • Suspension Bridge – The 450 foot suspension bridge has welcomed millions of visitors since 1889. Don’t rush over the bridge, be sure to check out the phenomenal views of the old growth forest and the Capilano River below. 
  • Treetops Adventure – Once you’ve trekked across the bridge you can get a really cool perspective of a thriving coastal rainforest from viewing platforms and seven suspension bridges that are positioned high up in the trees.
  • Cliffwalk – Back entrance side of the park there’s the Cliffwalk, a cantilevered walkway that clings to the granite cliff high above the Capilano Canyon.
  • Rainforest Explorers Program – If you’re traveling with kids this is a great program to take part in. This interactive program is self-guided and allows kids of all ages to explore and learn about the rainforest. You’ll start at the Treehouse, which marks the very beginning of Treetops Adventure, and receive a booklet to fill out as you make your way through the rainforest, engaging in fun activities and puzzles. Before leaving the park, collect your own Rainforest Explorer’s reward before heading back across the Suspension Bridge!

Travelers Tip: If you are looking for an excellent souvenir shop, the store at Capilano Suspension Bridge really is one of my favourites in the city. I love it so much for it’s high quality Canadian items that I often will go there to source Christmas presents or gifts for clients. For more information, visit their website.

Purchase your tickets for the Capilano Suspension Bridge & Park here!

Grouse Mountain

Another favourite for visitors is to head up to Grouse Mountain, also known as the “Peak of Vancouver.” Grouse really comes alive in the summer where the mountain top activities are plentiful and you’ll get more than just a great view! 

Once you arrive at the base of Grouse Mountain you’ll take one of the gondolas up on a 8 minute ride to the top the mountain. During your ride you’ll notice that most people are looking south out over the incredible view of the Vancouver skyline that pops into sight within minutes of leaving the lower tower. If you can hear between in the ooohs and awes you’ll be able to hear commentary sharing insights on the region and what you’re looking out over. 

Up on top of the mountain you can head out to the south side of the Chalet where you can take in more scenic views out over Vancouver. Then its time for your mountain top adventures to begin! I would check the schedule so that you can plan out what you want to see so you don’t miss anything! Here are some of the highlights on what to expect:

  • Lumberjack Show: One of my favourites is checking out the very Canadian sport of being a lumberjack. From log rolling to pole climbing, this interactive show and demonstration is really fun. I used to take my kids every summer and it was definitely a highlight.
  • Grinder and Coola: Grinder and Coola are two resident rescued grizzly bears who were orphaned at a young age and were not able to be rehabilitated into nature. Grouse offered to create a large open (but fenced) area for them to live out their life, and you can go and see them playing in the water, climbing trees, wresting, and chasing squirrels. They have also been a big research project and have things like a camera in their den so you can watch them hibernate through the winter! 
  • Birds of Prey Show: Another popular show is the birds of prey show where you can get up close with birds of prey and learn more about them and their roles in our environment.
  • Ziplining and Ropes Course: There are other activities up on the mountain including ziplining, and a ropes course that are available for you to explore.

    Traveler Tip: Sunset in the summer up at Grouse is undoubtedly one of my favourite ways to end the day. I recommend either getting a window side seat at the Altitudes Restaurant or if you’re looking for a fine dinning experience visit The Observatory for a first class meal.

While there are lots of amazing places to explore in BC, no stop to the province is complete without a visit to our beautiful city, while these are my top things to see and do, be sure to check out my full list of favourite Vancouver highlights in this article.

Next Stop – Squamish, BC

Squamish has declared itself the “Outdoor Adventure Capital of Canada”, and rightfully so. Situated at the end of the Howe Sound Inlet, this mountain meets ocean town is a place where outdoor adventure seekers thrive. From kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and paddling, to rock climbing, hiking, biking and camping, Squamish has a thousand adventures in every direction.

Where to Stay – Executive Suites Hotel & Resort

The Executive Suites Hotel & Resort in the Garibaldi Highlands area of Squamish is the perfect basecamp for all of your families adventures. Featuring full kitchens in every room, one & two bedroom suites (perfect for families), an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub as well as a fitness centre, this hotel has it all. We love that it is in close proximity to all of the outdoor experiences that Squamish has to offer!

Book your stay at the Executive Suites Hotel & Resort here!

Squamish Eco Adventures

Sea to Sky Gondola

Driving down the Sea to Sky Highway, on the right hand side before you arrive in Squamish, is your first stop, the Sea to Sky Gondola. This experience takes you from sea level to 2900 feet in the mountain top sky, where incredible views of Howe Sound and the Vancouver Coastal mountains are on display to the West, while the East has you looking down over the mountain town of Squamish and all the way up into the spectacular mountain range towards Whistler.

While you’re there be sure to check out a few essentials including:

  1. Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge – If you love a little adrenaline rush, there’s nothing like a suspension bridge to get your heart racing! The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge at the top of the Sea To Sky Gondola is approximately 100 meters long (300+ feet) and looks down onto the forest and out onto the Salish Sea.
  2. Spirit Trail Glacier Lookout – The spirit trail is a short 400 meter trail that takes you around the back loop back to the kids playground and summit lodge all while stopping at some pretty incredible lookouts along the way.
  3. Panorama Trail & Chief Lookout –  Located across from the Spirit Trail is the entrance to the Panorama Trail, which is not to be missed! If you’ve spent any time on Instagram researching the Squamish Gondola you’ll have certainly come across the iconic Chief and Squamish Valley Viewing Platform which is arguably one of the most spectacular places to view the scenery at the Sea To Sky Gondola. The trail is 1.6 km and takes between 30 – 60 minutes to complete with minimal elevation gain.
  4. Basecamp Adventures – The Summit Lodge is a great place to grab a meal and soak in the views below. From sweet treats for the kids, to healthy sit down meals there are lots of options for food. Be sure to check out their schedule to learn about special events and activities that may be happening during your visit.

To learn more and plan your own adventure check out our extensive guide on the Sea To Sky Gondola here!

Purchase your Sea to Sky Gondola Admission Ticket Here!

The Chief Hike

family-at-the-top-of-the-chief-hike

If you are looking for a challenging hike that will take you to new heights, gear up and tackle the world-famous Squamish Chief Hike. Let me be clear, this hike is not for the faint of heart, it is a challenging intermediate trail but one that boasts an incredible sense of accomplishment as well as stunning views out over Howe Sound. You can opt to do the first peak or if you want a longer route tackle all three peaks which make for a full day adventure. Check out more information from our last trip up to the Chief here.

River Rafting

Squamish is surrounded by ocean and rivers, and heading out on the water with a river rafting tour is a fun way to get into the backcountry and explore Squamish. On our trip we were expecting to head out on an epic adventure with a focus on the outdoors and nature but got so much more out of the experience than I ever could have imagined. From pushing outside my comfort zone, to learning new skills, to being vulnerable, our river rafting experience was everything you can ask for in an adventure, and more! Check out Rugged Rafting Princesses –and plan your own epic adventure. 

After visiting Squamish, it’s time to head up to one of Canada’s most famous ski towns, Whistler, BC. Whistler was host to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and really meets at the intersection of the quintessential ski town village and outdoor mecca of year round adventures! With so much to do and explore it’s hard to pick out my favs, but coming up are some to start your planning and then you can customize your itinerary to your families specific interests as well as time. 

Traveler Tip: Some families plan to stop for the day in Whistler, and all of them regret it! Anything less than 2 days in the village isn’t enough and I find for your first time to the region you’ll want to spend at least 3 or four days. 

Next BC Family Road Trip Stop – Whistler

whistler-villageWhistler is such a family-friendly destination and is full of adventures for all ages. From resorts right in the village, ziplining, mountain biking, shopping, great eats and ATV adventure tours, there is something for everyone! We never hesitate to stop and spend time in Whistler, as we know we are never disappointed!

Where to Stay – Aava Whistler Hotel

The Aava Whistler Hotel is my favourite basecamp when looking for a hotel in Whistler. Perched next to the Village you get the benefits of being steps from the village stroll without the noise of the village outside your window. The hotel was built in 1987 and went through a major renovation in 2009, allowing it to offer big rooms with modern decor and amenities that other hotels just haven’t embraced yet. For example the whole family is welcome and dogs are treated like royalty upon arrival. There’s a ski valet in the winter and a bike valet in the summer. And you can rent GoPro cameras for your adventures right from the front desk! They really do have it all, be sure to check out our experience at Aava here.

Book your stay at the Aava Whistler Hotel here!

Things to Do in Whistler in the Summer

As a Travel Writer, we get to visit a lot of places, but every summer I have a non negotiable tradition that I take the kids up to Whistler for a weekend of Summer adventure seeking in our favourite mountain town. Whether it’s strolling in the village, mountain biking, hiking, or just hanging out at the lake, there’s so much to do that no two trips are the same. Now that my kids are getting older, they love having the freedom to stroll around on their own, taking in the shops and planning out their day. 

Some of the most family friendly things to do in Whistler in the Summer are: 

Ziplining in Whistler

Whether you are six years old or sixty years old, everyone is encouraged to embrace their inner child while flying through the air on a zipline! I took my daughter and my mom on a tour and it was perfect family fun, with accessible trails that connect you from one zipline to the next, finishing off with a zipline that took you across the whole canyon! Check out this article for pictures and more insights on what to expect when taking your family.

Book your Whistler Zipline Adventure here!

Mountain Biking

Whistler has a first class bike park that is accessible to riders of all levels. Now I’ll be honest, if this is your first time mountain biking I wouldn’t attempt the trails without a guide. Having a guide ensures that you can learn the sport and evolve your riding on the proper trails, resulting in everyone in your group having a great time. Whistler has a lot of great bike shops, like Premium Bike Rentals which is actually owned and operated by a good friend of mine (so head there and know you’ll be taken great care of!). Whistler has a variety of lessons for you to choose from so check out the program that best suits your family.

Book your Guided Mountain Biking Tour here!

ATV Tour

Grab clothes that can get dirty and head up to Callighan Valley for an ATV tour you won’t forget! The ATV tour will have you winding through the backcountry trails out to scenic spots and great places to pull out the camera and take some family photos. But be sure to clean off the lens as I’m sure it’ll be dirty from all the dust that you kicked up on the trails! Want to see what I’m talking about? Check out pictures from our amazing ATV trip here.

Vallea Lumina

people walking under large vallea lumina review sign
Photo Credit: Vallea Lumina

A multimedia light walk in the Callaghan Valley, Vallea Lumina is a show that I can’t recommend enough. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been (at least 5) and every time I’m still in complete awe. The mix of story telling, projection lights, and music, sparks your imagination and leaves you wondering “Where am I and how are they doing this?”. Each season changes the landscape and makes for a great experience. Be sure to check out our review of the Vallea Lumina experience.

Purchase your Vallea Lumina tickets here!

Eco Traveler Tip: For all of the Whistler adventures there are options to take shuttles, which means you don’t need a car to get to them and it’s a more eco-friendly way to travel.

What to do in Whistler in the Winter

jami walking with a tube at the whistler tube park

If you’re doing your BC family road trip in the Winter and heading to Whistler during ski season, then hitting the mountains is the number one attraction. Known for early opening and late Spring skiing, the world class POW is worth chasing. But if you and the family don’t ski but want to spend time in the snow, no worries, there are a LOT of experiences awaiting you.

We have put together a comprehensive article showcasing all of the things to do in Whistler for Non-Skiiers, but here’s a quick sampling. You can go skating in the village, get your adrenaline pumping up in the tube park, go ziplining, take in a snowshoe tour, go snowmobiling, take in the evening multimedia light show, Vallea Lumina, go Nordic skiing and try biathlon at Whistler Olympic Park. If you’re looking for something more mellow you can head over to the Audain Art Museum. One of my “non negotiable musts” for those who love spas is to visit the Scandinave Spa, a true Nordic spa experience nestled into the Whistler forest.

Check out pictures from our Winter adventures in Whistler and start planning your own trip here!

Pemberton

Located half an hour north of Whistler is the town of Pemberton, where many of the people who work in Whistler call home. With only 2500 residents, it really is a small mountain town. Located at the base of Mt. Currie, this town really has a stunning view and one of the best places to see it is at North Arm Farm. 

North Arm Farm is a 60- acre working farm that invites you to come and explore. Whether you go for one of their delicious brunches, want to stock up on fresh berries for your BC family road trip, or just want to give the kids a fun place to run around and play, North Arm Farm is a great place to stop on your way through Pemberton. Check out this article showcasing 10 of my favourite photos from our visit as well as more insight on what to expect.

Central BC to Northern BC Road Trip

Small towns, wide spaces, and long winding roads await your BC family road trip as you extend your explorations into the Northern area of the province. This portion of the road trip will bring longer stretches of driving in between each stop (but feel free to modify and add stops in the small towns along the way). Some of the highlights to the region include a stay at the Flying U Guest Ranch, the ghosttown turned museum that is Barkerville, family explorations in Prince George, and even a quick trip into Jasper, Alberta since you’ll be so close. Let’s dig in on the essential stops and what to expect along the way.

Lillooet, BC

Located just a two hour drive from Pemberton, along the scenic Duffy Lake Road, Lillooet is a small town with stunning scenery that makes for the perfect road trip stop. But don’t rush the drive there, it really is one of the prettiest drives in the province where you’ll traverse through mountain ranges, see rivers and streams and lakes on the side, and really get into the essence of what a BC road trip is like. Lillooet is famous for it’s huge U shaped river that is broadly showcased on their visitor website, BC’s bluest lake (that is calling you to cannonball into) and a small town that makes for the perfect afternoon stroll, Lillooet is a great little town worth exploring.

Where to Stay – Texas Creek Campground

This quiet campground is the perfect pit stop in Lillooet on your BC family road trip. With 5 RV sites, 2 tent sites, 1 cozy one-room cabin and a private B&B, its a great place to relax and unwind for the night. Located 3 minutes from downtown, this campground is close to hiking and biking trails, Seton Lake for swimming, canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. For more information and to book, visit their website.

What to do in Lillooet

Swim in Seton Lake

Known as one of BC’s bluest lakes, Seton Lake is located 6 kilometers south of town, making it the perfect stop on your way into Lillooet.  This is a great lake for swimming, paddle boarding and fishing. Hike the 1.3km moderate Seton Lake Lookout hiking loop trail for a gorgeous view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Pack a lunch and enjoy it lakeside at either the Naxwit Picnic Area or the Bridge River Picnic Site.

Stock up on Farm Fresh Products

If you happen to be going through the town on a Friday be sure to stop at the Farmers Market between 8:30 am and 1:00 pm to stock up on everything from fruits and veggies for your car ride, to local handmade items from Lillooet artisans.

Take a Hike – Literally

With lots of hikes to explore, the tourism board has a whole webpage dedicated to hikes to choose from. Depending on your families hiking preferences (capacity, intensity, duration) you can choose from one of their great hikes. Red Rock has been recommended as it’ll give you great views and is only about a 90 minute climb. While I haven’t personally done this one I am excited to check it out! 

70 Mile House – Flying U Guest Ranch

horse-during-sunset
Photo Credit: Flying U Guest Ranch

Where your stay and adventure is all in one stop!

The Flying U Guest Ranch is the oldest guest ranch in Canada making it a must stop destination on your BC family road trip. Located 2 hours from Lillooet, 60,000 acres of trails and adventure await you and your family to explore.

Upon arrival you’ll check into your 100+ year old cabin and then you can head out on a guided horseback riding tour, head to the lake for a swim, go paddleboarding, canoeing or kayaking, or take part in one of the ranch’s guest activities like playing horseshoes, badminton, playing mini golf. If you’re more adventurous you can try out water ski lessons or if you’re looking for something more serene check out the spa! With so much to do make sure you allow your family lots of time for ranch life at the Flying U Guest Ranch.  

Fun fact: They like to do long table style meals, encouraging guests to get to know each other and give them the family style experience that has been a tradition at the ranch for over 100 years.

Search for Gold in Barkerville

barkerville-old-town-on-dirt-roadAfter a 3.5 hour drive North of the Flying U Guest Ranch, the next stop on your BC family road trip will be at the Barkerville Historic Town and Park. Upon arrival you’ll be instantly transported to 1862 and the booming gold rush days in the Cariboo of British Columbia. As you walk through the town you can almost feel the excitement that the gold prospectors felt as they mined the hills in hopes of finding riches. Shows, stagecoach rides, gold panning and sleeping in luxury cottages are just a few of the things to discover here!

Where to Stay in Barkerville

cottages-in-barkerville

Cottages in Barkerville

In Barkerville there are modern yet quaint cottages are located just outside the gates of Barkerville, making for the perfect place for a family stay. Located only a quick 2-minute walk into the town of Barkerville, you can be right in the action in minutes. They have 4 cottages each have 3 bedrooms (2 with queen beds and 1 with two twins, sleeping 3-6 people comfortably), a fully equipped kitchen, large dining room table, living room, a washer and dryer, a full bathroom downstairs and a powder room upstairs. A large porch is perfect for relaxing after a busy day exploring Barkerville. 

Historic St. George Hotel

Located within the heritage site, this 7 room hotel depicts an authentic 1890s atmosphere while providing guests with modern amenities. For a truly immersive gold rush experience, we recommend booking a stay here.

Book your stay at the St. George Hotel here!

Camping at Barkerville

There are two campgrounds available, both are a short drive from the Barkerville Historic Town and Park. The Lowhee Campground has both reservable and first-come first-serve sites, serviced and non-serviced sites, as well as standard cabins [basic sleeping cabins that feature heat, power, a queen-sized bed (you must supply your own bedding), a mini-fridge, a small dining table, two chairs, and a porch]. The Forest Rose Campground also has both reservable and first-come first-serve sites, serviced and non-serviced sites (some are pull through for larger RVs), and a group camping site.

What to do in Barkerville

Barkerville is a living museum that is filled with a ton of hands on activities and displays that the whole family will love, but the kids can really dig into (pun intended) and have some fun. Highlights of your visit to Barkerville will include a town tour, a visit to the royal theatre, stagecoach rides, and of course gold panning!

Theatre Royal

theatre-royal-actors-on-stage-barkerville

Step right up, grab a popcorn and settle down for the show. Depending on which day you are visiting, a couple of different shows are offered a few times a day. We watched Mrs. McGinley’s Barkerville Variety Show, a humorous show set in the 1860’s. This all ages show had us laughing, clapping and dancing right out of our seats! Don’t forget to stay after the show to have your photo taken with the performers.

Stagecoach Rides

stagecoach-rides-horse-and-carriage-barkerville

Visit the Barnard’s Express Office and hop aboard an authentic stagecoach for a horse-drawn tour of Barkerville. Barnard’s freighting company helped shape communication and travel to and from the town and was the main passenger service on the Cariboo Wagon Road. This tour around town gives you a different perspective of the town, especially if you choose the seats on the roof!

Gold Panning

gold-panning-at-barkerville

A visit to Barkerville wouldn’t be complete without trying your hand at striking it rich! Head over to the Eldorado Gold Panning and Gift Shop and give it a try. An experienced staff member will walk you through all the steps of how to pan for gold and share the best techniques so you can be successful in your panning experience. Maybe you will hit the jackpot!

Guided Town Tour

waterwheel-show-at-barkerville

Check the daily schedule, and join in on one of the guided historic walking tours of Barkerville. Join a few of Barkerville’s “residents” for this entertaining and informative tour up the main street of town. Learn about how the town was built, what life was like for the people in town and what ultimately led to the demise and ghosting of Barkerville.

Not only is Barkerville an incredibly fun and exciting family attraction, it’s also a very educational and interactive destination. The kids will love running around peeking into all the buildings, taking part in school programs, searching for gold, exploring the artifacts and immersing themselves into the Gold Rush days of BC!

Next Stop – Prince George

Prince George is BC’s largest northern city and a hub for services in Northern BC. It is also a hub for outdoor enthusiasts! As we drove into town, we looked down into the core of the city to see the town next to the confluence of the Fraser and Nachako Rivers. Not many towns can boast that view!  As we scanned up past the riverbank we could see beautiful hills and rolling mountains surrounding the area, and maps quickly unleashed a myriad of lakes and hiking trails for us to explore.

We hadn’t been on the ground for more than 30 minutes before we knew… we were going to like it here!

Where to Stay in Prince George – Prestige Treasure Cove Resort

This resort is the perfect place for families to stay while visiting Prince George. They offer family suites that feature 1 king bed, a separate bedroom with bunk beds and a kitchenette, or a standard hotel room with 3 queen beds. There is an on-site restaurant and coffee shop, it is pet friendly and has an indoor hot tub, pool and waterslide!

Book your stay at the Prestige Treasure Cove Resort here!

What to do in Prince George

When visiting Prince George for the first time you may be surprised to see how green the city is. With rivers running through town and lots of great parks to explore, there’s lots of outdoor spaces and playgrounds worth making a priority for your first Prince George adventures.

Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park

Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park is a great park to checkout as it’s a flagship park in Prince George and features enough amenities to keep the whole family entertained for the day!

We spent our morning at the playground, which provided the children with the opportunity to climb, swing, hide, and tag on a variety of equipment. The favourite playground equipment was a sunken ladder truck that had been converted into a climbing masterpiece!

Exploration Place Museum

Located next to the playground in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park is the Exploration Place Museum.  As we walked into the museum we were greeted by a “to-scale” dinosaur that reached from the floor to the upstairs level. The kids got to go inside an aquarium and meet face to face with some sturgeon, and also enjoyed posing inside a Tyrannosaurs Rex skull! We had planned on being there for an hour and after 2.5 hours my kids weren’t done and wanted to stay longer! 

The museum had a very unique approach to education. They openly invited guests to touch everything (and if it wasn’t appropriate it was out of reach or covered in glass). This meant:

  • The oldest snooker table in Prince George was still allowed to be played on!
  • Kids could hold snakes and help the caretakers feed them dead mice
  • Petting cockroaches was encouraged

Take a Train Ride in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park

After I was able to pull my kids out of the museum, we took a quick water break and a walk across the parking lot which brought us to the train station. This little train is a fully functioning steam train. “All aboard” and we were invited to take a tour around the track! After our tour, the engineer (a real engineer too) invited us up front to check out how the steam engine worked (and allowed a few poses for pictures).

While I have focused on this beautiful park as a basecamp for adventures while you are visiting Prince George, do note that there is a plethora of other adventures awaiting your arrival including an exit room, go-kart racing, glow in the dark mini golf, a climbing gym, bowling, drive-in theatre, aquatic centre, or just strolling the downtown streets of PG. For a full list of 30+ ideas check out this great site.

Head West to Jasper, Alberta

While technically not in BC, if you’re touring the Northern region of the province on your BC family road trip, it’s worth driving over the Alberta border and spending some time inside Jasper National Park. Downtown Jasper brings one of the things I love the most, and all you have to do is stop and listen and you’ll hear languages from all around the world being spoken, as people flock (especially in the summer) to this famous national park to see animals and explore Canada’s back country. 

With its towering mountains, pristine lakes, and wealth of recreational opportunities, Jasper offers something for everyone.

Where To Stay In Jasper

Jasper National Park Campground

otentik-in-whistlers-campground

With Jasper being a National Park, I highly recommend that you book Parks Canada accommodations or plan to stay in the park. My personal preference is staying in an oTENTik as it is perfect for road trips, offering the family an incredible glamping opportunity without having to pack the gear the whole trip. 

An oTENTik is the perfect opportunity for people who love camping but don’t want to put up with all of its hassles. It’s similar to an A-frame cabin without any set-up! You can stay warm and dry inside, enjoy cooked meals on your private deck or lounge on a chair outside while listening to nature sing at night time. Whatever type of camping personality you have, a stay in an oTENTik will be a great experience in this eco-friendly getaway.

The benefits keep going even after guests leave: there are no generators running so less noise pollution around campfire areas; the structure itself produces little energy waste due mostly because most materials used were recycled. Staying in an oTENTik is another one of our top things to do in Jasper National Park. Check out our oTENTik experience here!

Booking Tip: Parks Canada accommodations fill up quickly so be sure to know booking reservations dates and be sure to book as quickly as possible to secure your ideal dates and locations!

Newly Renovated Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

If your family road trip style is more of a luxury lodge style vs camping in a tent, then the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a picture perfect place to stay. Recently updated in 2021, the 442 superbly-appointed guest rooms and luxurious signature cabins offer the perfect family vacation in Alberta’s Jasper National Park. Surround yourself with incredible views at the luxury accommodations near Lac Beauvert!

Book your stay at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge here!

What to do in Jasper

The first thing you need to know when planning your visit to Jasper is that it is a National Park and that alone means there’s going to be lots to see and explore, and a lot of great free programming available for the kids.

Parks Canada Xplorers Program

Jasper Interpretative Programs

As soon as you arrive in town you need to make your way to the Parks Canada Visitor Centre and get each of your children a Parks Canada Xplorers program. This booklet will challenge the kids to take part in a variety of programs, games, activities, and adventures around the park, allowing them to choose the ones of their interest. Once complete they can return to the visitor centre with their finished booklets and earn an official Xplorers badge! (we collect them in our house). I love this program as it takes you all around the park and educates the kids (and you) on the park, the eco system, the animals, and the history.

River Rafting in Jasper

River Rafting with Jasper Rafting in Jasper, Alberta, Canada

If you’re looking for a guided experience, river rafting in Jasper is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I’ve ever been rafting. We did a slow family float down the river and also took part in a more adventurous river rafting experience as well. Both were amazing and some of our favourite photos that we have framed in the house!

23 Things To Do In Jasper

jasper-national-park

We have a whole article dedicated to everything that you can possibly do in Jasper including photographing the local animals (safely and from a distance), heading out to Maligne Lake, chasing waterfalls, visiting the Miette Hot Springs, going to Pyramid Lake, Visiting the Jasper Skytram, and more. Check out our comprehensive article on things to do in Jasper! 

After visiting Jasper it’s time to make your way back towards Vancouver all while spending a week or so in the beautiful Central Okanagan!

Thompson Okanagan Road Trip

Kamloops

battle-bluff-hike
Photo Credit: Tourism Kamloops / Tamra Jaeger

A 4.5 hour drive from Jasper will bring you through the Rockies and to the desert town of Kamloops. Often a transition or an “in-between” destination, Kamloops is a mecca of outdoor activities waiting to be explored! We spent three action-packed days in Kamloops where we rode a Nui for the first time, got lost in an escape room, took my son ziplining for the first time, came face to face with rescued animals (including 2 grizzly bears), and also learned about local mountain biking, hikes, and even a theatrical train to explore! Needless to say, Kamloops is a destination not just a pit stop for BC family road trips!

Where to Stay in Kamloops – Delta Hotels by Marriott

With an outdoor rooftop pool and hot tub (the views are incredible!), a variety of room options, on-site restaurant, pet friendly, laundry services and being located right downtown, this hotel makes for the perfect basecamp for all of your Kamloops adventures!

Book your stay at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Kamloops here!

What to do in Kamloops

With so much to do in Kamloops it’s hard to narrow it down, but here are a few of our favourite recommendations.

Ziplining

Do you like to plan surprises for your kids during a road trip? I do! I think that a nice combination of spontaneous adventures mixed in with some scheduled activities make for the perfect family memories. 

When we were visiting Kamloops I had told the kids I had a surprise for them the next morning and they even put themselves to bed early!. I managed to keep the surprise under wraps until we pulled into the Treetop Flyers Zipline Kamloops parking lot where the squeals of excitement burst out. “I finally get to go ziplining!” my 7 year old son said, “Thank you Mom!” (For the past couple of years my son wasn’t big enough to go ziplining so this was a bit deal for him. While my daughter and I ziplined in Whistler and Kauai, today was his day to make his ziplining debut and he was so excited).

Located a 35 minute drive east of Kamloops is Treetop Flyers. With 3 zip lines, 2 waterfalls and fun that can only be had as you soar through the treetop canopy. Treetop Flyers is an ultimate adventure for kids 6 years and above. With a minimum weight of 60 pounds and a chair style seat, younger children can try ziplining and experience what it’s like to be a thrill seeker and zip through the trees! Check out more pictures and insights on what to expect here.

BC Wildlife Park

BC Wildlife park Kamloops

With over 100 acres to explore, the BC Wildlife Park is a fun and educational stop for the whole family. The park is all about teaching, “We believe in conservation through education” Shayla said. “If we do a really good job and teach people how to protect and treat animals, hopefully the need for our rescue centre and park will decrease and there will be less animals in need or our care!”

Learn and visit with over 200 animals & 65 species of local BC wildlife including grizzly bears, black bears and a kermode bear, cougars & a bobcat, variety of birds of prey, wolves and foxes, as well as reptiles, amphibians and many more. Don’t forget to hop on the train and take a ride around the whole park. Learn more about our adventure visit to the BC Wildlife Park here.

Purchase your tickets to the BC Wildlife Park here!

Sun Peaks, Kamloops, BC

Sun-Peaks-girl-infront-of-resort

A great place to stop and spend some time is the destination resort that is Sun Peaks. A European village tucked into the mountainside, we felt right at home at Sun Peaks. From my daughter learning how to do her first drops on a mountain bike, to seeing my son get thrown 20 feet in the air in the kid’s zone, to alpine hiking and voyager canoeing, Sun Peaks is the perfect place for an outdoor family to explore during BC road trips! 

Sun-Peaks-family-mountain-biking

I love mountain biking but teaching my kids to ride can be challenging, especially with some specific skill development. When we arrived for mountain biking lessons my daughter was barely confident standing on her pedals! My daughter was inspired and quickly connected to our female instructor, Melissa and after lots of great activities, my daughter’s confidence was up and by the end of the two-hour lesson she had mastered her first drop!

Whether this is your first time mountain biking or you’re a seasoned rider, the mountain biking lessons at Sun Peaks were a great investment and we wholeheartedly recommend.

Vernon, BC

Only an hour away from Kamloops is the beach town of Vernon BC. Sandy beaches with warm water that whispers up to you “jump in”! From swimming and paddling on Kalamalka Lake to looking down on it from Predator Ridge after mountain biking, the scenery and the activities in and around Vernon beg you to stay and explore.

Where to Stay – Predator Ridge Resort

Located in a four season resort community, sits the Predator Ridge Resort. With spectacular views out over the sunny Okanagan Valley and down towards the town of Vernon and both the Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes. The Lodge features studio, one bedroom and two bedroom suites (featuring full kitchens), meaning there is lots of room for the whole family. With access to an outdoor pool & hot tub (open May – September), bbq area, market, golf course, restaurant and tons of outdoor activities, The Predator Ridge Resort makes for the perfect basecamp while visiting the Vernon area.

Book your stay at Predator Ridge Resort here!

What to do in Vernon

Stand Up Paddleboarding with Kalavidavernon-sup-rental

Did you know you can find turtles in Kalamalka Lake? A short distance from the beach in front of the Kalavida shop brings you to a side estuary and the best experience of paddling through a tunnel.

vernon-sup-tour-through-tunnel

After going through the hanging willow tree branches, you’ll be on the lookout for turtles sunning themselves in the heat! Check out more of our turtle adventure here!

Vernon is known for outdoor adventure so you and the family will have tough decisions to make when deciding what to do first. From stand up paddle boarding to mountain biking to hiking, there’s lots of kilometers to explore. If you’re looking for smaller stops and simpler visits, head over to Davison Orchard, my favourite family farm in the province of BC! It has a ton of fun farming activities for the kids, lots of great food, and fruits and veggies that you can stock up the car with! 

While you’re in the area be sure to head next door to Planet Bee where you can learn all about bees and if you’re lucky spot the Queen Bee herself! 

If you’re in town on the weekend definitely check out the Vernon farmers market, which has so many great foods and goods from local artisans and producers. If you’re there be sure to stop and say hello to our friends at Keenan Family Farms!

With so much to do and explore we’ve put together a whole feature article summarizing the top must see experiences in Vernon.

Penticton

penticton-welcome-sign In just under two hours you’ll drive from Vernon to Penticton where a 1970’s beach town vibe awaits! I had never been to Penticton and after staying for one night, our whole family fell in love with the little lakeside town, stayed another night, and have been going back every summer since! So if there’s one “MUST stop spot” on your BC family road trip – this is it. You never know, you may see me there!

Where to Stay

The best hotels are the ones that allow you to have the best family fun experience all while not having to worry about logistics. The Ramada, in the heart of Penticton, is the epitome of family fun and 1970’s parenting combined into one property. With a pool in the middle of the resort you can hang out and lounge, get food and drinks delivered, all while watching the kids play in the pool or out on the grass fields. With walking distance to the lake and all of the town amenities, rooms that come with full kitchens, and so much more, this hotel really is the best in Penticton and worth booking (I go on and on about it sharing more insights and photos in this article here!).

Book your stay at Ramada by Wyndham Penticton Hotel & Suites here!

What to do in Penticton

Kayaking Tour

Hoodoo Adventures is one of the premier adventure tour and equipment providers in Penticton and we were fortunate to have them take us on a family kayaking tour. One of the favourite things that we did was spot turtles on our paddle which was something that we weren’t expecting but was so fun to see! 

Penticton has a ton of fun things to do right in town as well. Here are some of the kid friendly activities while visiting Penticton that you should add to your list: 

  • Wibit – This inflatable water park is located right off the Penticton beach and is a fun place to go and climb, jump, run, and dive! 
  • The Giant Peach – Literally a giant peach on the outside, but on the inside an icecream artist creates delectable bites combining ice cream, cake, and brownies. Their menu is full of all sorts of combinations and the portions equate to a whole meal! Sugar high guaranteed. 
  • Loco Landing – A mini theme park located right on the lake, Loco Landing has giant swings, climbing apparatus, mini golf, bouncy houses, and more! 
  • Tubing down the Channel – We love to load up huge 15 person inflatables and float down the river with our friends. We pack up the coolers with gatorades and snacks and the kids love jumping back and forth on the river. So. Much. Fun.

Osoyoos

osoyoos-lake
Photo Credit: Tourism Osoyoos

Osoyoos is only a 45 minute drive from Penticton and will be your last stop on this EPIC BC family road trip. One of the most southern cities in BC and also one of the hottest, Osoyoos is where British Columbian’s and Albertan’s go for summer holidays and we’re sure you’ll love it to. 

Osoyoos gives families the chance to slow down and spend a lot of time together, doing quality activities in the summer. A quaint, lakeside community begs you to slow down as soon as you enter. With world-class resorts and accommodations for every style and budget, Osoyoos is ready for families looking to slow down and spend time together in the summer.

Where to Stay

The Watermark Beach Resort is a beautiful, lakefront resort that has large rooms with kitchens, a beautiful resort style pool (including a waterslide!), and in four steps from the pool you can be on the sandy beach. It also has a great location, being right in the middle of town, allowing you to be able to access restaurant and shops within minutes (or like my husband loves to do, head out for a morning coffee from the local brew house). This really is a great family friendly resort that we can’t recommend enough.

Book your stay at the Watermark Beach Resort here!

What to Do

Osoyoos Lake

If you’re planning a trip to Osoyoos, then you’ll probably be centering a lot of your adventures around lake experiences. From kayaking to paddle boarding, to renting a boat for things like water skiing and wake surfing, to building sand castles and having a beach picnic, the whole town is built around the lake and I’m sure your vacation will be to (and this is also why we have it as our last stop, a great place to sit back and reflect upon it all). 

If you’re looking for some more adventures (or perhaps you need a break from the beach) there’s a lot of other great things to do including heading out to the Osoyoos Lake Waterslides, going mountain biking, going wildlife viewing and bird watching, or taking an interpretive tour at the Osoyoos Desert Centre. Check out our full list of what to do in Osoyoos in the summer to start planning.

Final notes on the best road trips in BC

We hope we have given you a lot of inspiration, education, and ideas for your BC family road trip. Whether you choose to do one region in the province or go for one big multi week trip, know that as local residents of BC we’re happy to share advice and recommendations, so feel free to reach out and we will do our best to help! 

Your BC Adventure Awaits!

British Columbia Road Trip Tips

  • BC is a BIG province, so be sure to calculate your drive time in between destinations as it may be farther than you think. 
  • E-vehicles are great and we recommend them whenever possible, but be sure to check out charging along your route so you don’t get stranded. 
  • Wondering what to pack to make the most out of your road trip? No worries, I’ve got you covered with this extensive list!
  • Check the weather! During the summer you can see everything from rain to droughts, be sure to check the forecast and plan accordingly.

BC Family Road Trip FAQs

What is the best time of year to visit British Columbia?

The most popular times to visit for a road trip are May through September, with May, June and September being shoulder season (less busy). July and August are the most popular months to visit, so if you’re planning on coming during that time be sure to book accommodations and key experiences ahead of time where possible. 

Is British Columbia family-friendly?

Yes! BC was made for families and is a very child centered province. Kids will be welcomed almost everywhere (except for adult only places like bars). You’ll find a lot of great kids adventures and activities as well as kids and family pricing to help you save by bundling up your purchases. 

What other questions do you have? Let me know and I can answer them for you as well as add them into this section.

About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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  1. Thanks, I was looking up road trips and camping spots in Western BC this yesterday to take my three-year-old on this summer.

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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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