If you were to ask me to go on a road trip to the Okanagan, I’d say yes in a heartbeat and start packing my little weekend getaway bag as I think about all the winery stops we’d make. But ask me to bring my 10-month old child along, and I’d really have to stop and think about whether I’d have any fun at all. The reality of going anywhere with an infant or toddler is that not only would you have to pack more than just a weekend getaway bag, but find baby-friendly accommodations, and ensure that there are sufficient toys, snacks, music, and videos for the 41⁄2-hour car ride. And if you come out of that drive unscathed, your itinerary will be tested by your little ones who may be teething, missing their bed, or just plain home sick. After all that, once you decide to set off despite the potential nightmares, congratulations – you’re on your way to discovering a ton of family fun in the Okanagan.
We joined a group of Vancouver bloggers and their families on a 2-night trip to Summerland. It had been a few years since we’ve been to the Okanagan, so our wine fridge was definitely due for a stock-up. As we had never stayed in Summerland, this was something new for us. The town is on the west side of Okanagan Lake, nestled between Peachland and Penticton, and directly across from the Naramata Bench. There are a number of wineries in this community, along with small beaches, fruit orchards, and hiking trails.
During our time there, we stayed at the Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa in a 1-bedroom suite with a nice view of the pool and the lake. They also offer studio suites for couples and 2-bedroom suites for larger families. Our suite came equipped with a full kitchen with appliances, a Keurig machine, and kitchen wares. We used the kitchen every chance we had to make and heat up our baby’s food, and to wash and sterilize her bottles.
If cooking isn’t something you expect to be doing while on vacation, you can choose to dine at Local Lounge, the resort restaurant that happens to have a great waterfront patio. We sampled their appetizers, and ordered dinner to go one night. They are currently expanding their family-friendly dining room, so that is welcoming news for parents. But fear not, because they also have a child-free dining area if you want an evening to yourself sans kids. The Bistro is another spot where guests can go for breakfast, lunch, or a light snack. We enjoyed their very large breakfast paninis.
For those who just want to hang out at the resort, their large outdoor heated pool and hot tub might tickle your fancy, or you can stroll along their small beach, head out to the dock for a nice view, or go explore the nearby trails. They also have multiple outdoor barbecues on their lawn ready for use if you have the urge to grill. We didn’t barbecue, but we did put the pool to good use, and our daughter really enjoyed the water too. The pool is shaded by the resort in the late afternoon, so it was perfect after we returned from our earlier adventures.
Being a parent means you have to compromise, so you can’t expect to go on full-day wine tasting tours without your kids getting bored or throwing at least one tantrum – I would too if I couldn’t drink. Luckily, Summerland Sweets may be the answer. At this stop, the adults sampled fruit wines from Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery while the little ones sampled fruit syrup in a separate room. Being one of the original food processors in the Okanagan, they carry an assortment of goods from syrups and jams, to fruit jellies and nut brittle, and much more.
If you want to do some conventional wine tasting, you can visit Okanagan Crush Pad. This 10-acre Switchback Organic Vineyard overlooks Lake Okanagan, and is British Columbia’s first purpose-built custom winemaking facility. They have a small patio where you can bask under the sun and enjoy a light snack or glass of wine, while the kids explore the vineyard and meet the chickens on their property. We really enjoy their Haywire Pink Bub, and picked up a few bottles on the way home the next day.
A major attraction in Summerland is the Trout Creek Trestle Bridge. It’s a very scenic stop with an ice cream stand nearby, and you can even walk across the bridge or watch the historic train cross over. We stopped at the bridge for 5 minutes to soak in the scenery. For more photo ops (or to work off all that ice cream), train lovers can take a stroll along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail.
A photo posted by Dennis Pang 🇨🇦 (@dennispang) on
On our way to Oliver-Osoyoos, we made a stop at Tickleberry’s in Okanagan Falls, a hot spot for kids and adults alike. With delicious homemade fudge, kettle popped corn, tickleberries, and ice cream available, it’s no wonder why there’s always a long lineup here. They also make their own gourmet ice cream using ingredients from local fields, orchards, vineyards and craft breweries. We all enjoyed our ice creams outside in the sun, and the kids even took a group picture together.
Once all the ice cream was eaten, we left for Covert Farms Family Estate, where the 5th annual Pig Out Festival was underway. This outdoor food festival was hosted by Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, and is an annual vineyard pig roast where chefs from local restaurants come together and show off their skills serving samples of their pork and beef favourites. Think Brewery & the Beast, except instead of beer there’s wine. Each restaurant tent was paired up with one or a few wineries from the surrounding area so wine was never too far away. There was live entertainment from local musicians, lots of sunshine, and great food and wine. Even the kids had fun jumping the afternoon away on the giant outdoor jumping pillow.
We returned to the resort to rest and recover from our sugar-and-wine-filled day. As we hopped into the pool, we reflected on the trip and realized how family-friendly the Okanagan can be. It’s not just about the wines (although that is a good enough reason to visit anyway). Jasmine enjoyed her time there, but I think we’ll return when she is a little older so she can partake in all the activities.
2016 Ford Explorer Review
For our trip, we decided to test the 2016 Ford Explorer Limited. With a 41⁄2-hour car ride ahead of us, this was a vehicle that was roomy enough to keep us all comfortable and have enough room for all our luggage. The 2016 Explorer is newly redesigned and boasts a refreshed exterior, a noticeable upgrade from the 2015 model. At first, I have to admit that I was a bit peeved that it only had 6 seats, with a 2-2-2 configuration. It seemed like a lot of car for not a lot of seats. The second row had 2 large captain seats with a large immovable centre console separating them, meaning May and Jasmine had to sit apart from one another. However the centre console proved to be a blessing, as it was used to conveniently store items for Jasmine. With the 3rd row seats folded down to store our luggage, it had ample cargo capacity, while still having plenty of legroom in the 2nd row. And it was also helpful that there was a space in between the two 2nd row seats, as it allows passengers to reach behind and easily access items stored in the back. I drove almost the entire way with the adaptive cruise control on, as it not only allowed me to set the speed, but also the desired number of car lengths back that I’d like to maintain with vehicles ahead. So really, all I had to do was steer. This vehicle came fully loaded and it even had front massage seats to help keep me loose and limber. The fuel efficiency for such a big vehicle is great, as I averaged around 11 litres per 100 km. I was actually pleasantly surprised since this particular model came equipped with a 3.5L V6 engine, which I fully expected to be quite thirsty. There’s also a new engine option, a 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder that replaces the previous, less powerful 2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinder. Both engines are available in FWD or AWD. With 290 hp, I did feel at times, especially when going uphill, that it felt a bit underpowered. I’m curious as to how the V6 EcoBoost engine performs, as it has 75 more hp and almost 100 lb.-ft more torque. The 2016 Explorer LTD carries an MSRP price of $48, 399, and it competes in a class along with the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, and Honda Pilot (which I reviewed last month here).
Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
We were given a Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat to review, which is great because Jasmine is starting to outgrow her Maxi-Cosi Mico AP infant seat that has a maximum carrying weight of 22 pounds. From getting it out of the box and installed in the car, it took around 20 minutes. You really do need to read the installation instructions to get it right, as it’s quite elaborate to set up compared to the Maxi-Cosi, which has an easy to connect base and a seat that just clicks into the base. With the Boulevard, you have to install the anti-rebound bar, located at the foot of the seat that helps to limit seat rotation in a crash when it’s rear-facing, and it took me some time to figure out how to loosen and tighten the straps and harness. Luckily, I found an extremely helpful installation video on Britax’s website. The Boulevard ClickTight can be used rear-facing from 5-40 pounds, and front-facing from 22-65 pounds. In other words, your child can use this from newborn right up until they’re 6+ years old. The great thing with this seat is that it has a quick-adjust, 14-position harness and 2-position buckle, which allows you to easily adjust it as your child grows. With 7 recline positions and an automatic level indicator, you can adjust it to your child’s comfort. As Jasmine is almost a year old now, she especially loves looking out the window during car rides, and so she prefers sitting more upright. With the Boulevard, she also has fairly unobstructed side views. Her old infant car seat doesn’t have many recline positions, and it certainly wasn’t designed to be as conducive for looking around. I figured the ultimate test for this car seat was our road trip to the Okanagan. I’m happy to announce that she managed to sleep through over half of the car ride, so I knew she was very comfortable. With its SafeCell Impact Stabilizing Steel Frame, I have the peace of mind of knowing that it’s strong, safe, and reinforced for impact. I’ve read from some online reviews that some children seem to get really hot and sweaty in this seat, but for this year, Britax remedied that problem by using more breathable fabrics. Overall, I am quite happy with this car seat and would recommend it. It retails for around $499 CAD, and is a solid option for a convertible car seat that will hold you over for many years. As an added bonus, it’s also certified for aircraft travel.
Disclaimer: We were comp’ed for our accommodations and activities by Vancouver Mom, provided with a press vehicle by Ford Canada, and given a car seat to review by Britax. All thoughts and opinions are our own, and we were not compensated for this post.