A weekend escape to Kamloops, B.C.

by Sarah Deveau

Once just a stop for weary travellers on the TransCanada Highway, or a tournament destination for sports teams who would spend the weekend in rinks and nondescript hotel rooms, unassuming Kamloops has reinvented itself as a hotspot for Vancouverites seeking a weekend getaway. [Photo credit: Tourism Kamloops]

A weekend escape to Kamloops, B.C.

Home to 85,000, Kamloops is nestled in the fork of the Thompson River, where it splits into the North and South Thompson. Its proximity to Vancouver (just three hours west on the Coquihalla Highway) and growing culinary and arts scene appeals to those wanting an adventure mecca without sacrificing the big city perks of amazing food and drinks.

Foodie’s paradise

A weekend isn’t long enough to sample all of the delectable treats on the menu at Kamloops’ restaurants – but you can certainly try. If you’re staying at the beautifully appointment Hotel 540 in downtown Kamloops, you’re walking distance to the nightlife and steps away from the city’s hottest eateries. Popular breakfast spot Hello Toast has a perpetual line up, but their divine Eggs Benedict and roasted potatoes are well worth the wait. If you’d like an upscale meal, Terra offers a constantly changing seasonal menu (you’ll find owner David Tombs at the city’s farmer’s market every Saturday morning).

The city’s numerous brewpubs offer a rowdier experience, with The Noble Pig gastropub topping our list of favourites. Enjoy a craft beer while people-watching on their funky patio, a converted outdoor wading pool, and enjoying really exceptional pub fare. Save room for dessert, though – local favourite PDK Cafe offers perfectly over-the-top homemade doughnuts while Erwin’s Fine Baking and Delicatessen serves up traditional European bakery favourites, handcrafted breads, delicate pastries, cakes and desserts.

Of course, every good meal should be paired with a lovely wine. Kamloops is home to four wineries on the Kamloops Wine Trail, each with its own distinctive style. Our favourite is Monte Creek Ranch Winery. Visitors can take a vineyard tour, sample a few of their selections or enjoy a decadent gourmet meal on the open-air terrace restaurant. Feel like imbibing? Tasteful Excursions offers full service touring along the trail.

Burn off the calories

Don’t feel guilty overindulging on the crispy dill pickles at Noble Pig – vow to burn it off instead. There are 82 parks in Kamloops perfect for cycling, hiking or running, the largest being Kenna Cartwright Nature Park. Encompassing nearly 800 hectares of Mount Dufferin, there are over 40 kilometres of trails with varying difficulty levels, and it’s the largest municipal park in the province. Even a short hike offers spectacular rewards in the form of lovely views of the valley, the river and usually a glimpse or two of grazing deer.

“With over 100 freshwater lakes within an hour’s drive, the Kamloops area has become a great destination for SUP, or stand up paddle boarding. A fun favourite is SUP’ing with local expert, Bodie Shandro of Paddle Surfit on Heffley Lake,” notes Monica Dickinson, Director of Communications for Tourism Kamloops. “If you’ve never SUP’d before, he’s your guy to build confidence, maybe a little grace, and learn some of his tips and tricks for a great paddle. Once you’re feeling great, grab a rental board and check out some other great lakes in the area such as Paul Lake or Kamloops Lake.”

Adrenaline junkies will love the multitude of activities at Sun Peaks. This alpine resort just 45 minutes from Kamloops offers heart-pounding thrills no matter what season you visit, from mountain biking to skiing, snowboarding, mountain cross carts and more. It has many leisurely options as well – voyageur canoe rides or luxury spa services might be more your speed.

Kamloops, B.C., is the ideal spot to escape the 604 for an adventurous or romantic weekend away. What will you indulge in first?

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