Typically, we like to get up to the Okanagan at least once a year for a few days to visit wineries, enjoy the lake or just to switch up the scenery and go for a weekend getaway. This year, with Covid and having to remain close to home or travel via vehicle only, we decided to extend our summer vacation and enjoy a full 10 days in Osoyoos. We’ve never spent that length of time on a BC holiday and were pretty excited about it, but also somewhat apprehensive about the whole driving 5 hours with kids thing. How long was the drive really going to take? Were one of the kids going to barf on the way up? How was I going to keep them entertained?
Well, it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In regular life, I tend to go into situations thinking of the worst-case scenario so that I come out of it very pleasantly surprised. How negative does that sound? I think it makes me plan better but hey, might just be me!
Anyway, the car ride with 3 kids under 3… I’m not kidding when I say we packed the car completely full. There wasn’t even a spot for one more item like a kids beach shovel. We had a bottle of Aperol hanging out of the sketchy cup holder on one of the kids car doors, a giant beach bucket dangling over our toddlers head just waiting to fall on her (which it did), and I had 3 different bags at my feet in the front seat… thank god for my short 30” legs I tell ya. We were rammed. And yes, this could have been prevented but I seem to have an overpacking problem which I am now realizing and will try and be better at it next time.
In terms of a few hot tips for traveling with a 2.5-year-old who no longer wears a diaper and our 11-month-old twins, there’s mainly one thing I would suggest: snacks on snacks on snacks and an entire playlist of music geared to toddlers and babies.
I had a Spotify playlist on deck that covered all things Disney, with a side of Little Baby Bums and Cocomelon… if you know, you know and you wish you didn’t know. As annoying as some of these songs are, it made a huge difference to break up the longer stretches of driving. All 3 kids were quite content with this and it bought us some time and saved my neck from constantly turning around and passing them whatever random items I could find.
As for snacks, we were nervous about feeding them due to our toddler vomiting on the way to Whistler a few weeks prior but it all worked out. I had a cooler full of build your own sandwich stuff, lots of Babybel cheese, crackers, cut up fruit, squeeze packs and all baby snacks ready to go. I pretty much fed them for most of the trip in small amounts and at one point would hand the bowl of crackers to the toddler and have her feed them to again, give me a breather.
We did stop 3 times. Once for a pee break for our toddler, once for lunch (however, the A&W decided to close that day so we ended up making and eating sandwiches in the car as it was pouring rain) and then stopped once more at one of the local fruit stands before entering Osoyoos. We made it in under 5 hours which I think is pretty darn good considering how long I thought it was going to take. The twins slept for an hour and the toddler did not sleep at all.
Where we stayed:
For the duration of our trip, we were staying at the Watermark Beach Resort. We had stayed there a few times before and loved everything about it, so we knew how great it was for kids and were excited to be back with my entire family (brothers, their kids, my parents). We booked three different condos which was awesome as everyone had their own space and own rooms.
Upon checking in, the hotel had all their Covid rules in place and I must say, it was pretty seamless. Not to mention the added bonus that our room was ready upon arrival at 2pm instead of the usual 4pm/5pm check in time (can you say win?). Each desk was separated by plexiglass when you checked in/out and luggage carts were all sanitized and ready to go. We felt very well taken care of and could not wait to get unpacked and head to the pool.
For those of you looking at this hotel, I really don’t have anything bad to say about it. All the units have full kitchens and I believe that most of them have a pull-out couch in the living room/kitchen area. We stay in a two-bedroom unit with our family of 5, however, I think you could definitely do a one-bedroom depending on your child/sleep situation.
Fun activities for adults and kids:
Heads up, this is not going to be a post about fun-for-children ONLY activities in Osoyoos but will touch on activities that are equally as fun for parents. More like a list of win-win things we like to do while visiting. Things that you can bring your kids along to. Maybe pack one of these baby jails to be extra safe…
The obvious thing to do while in the Okanagan is to visit a few wineries and/or cideries (if you like either beverage). So, outside of the few wineries I visited with my mom for her birthday (sans kids) while we were there, which I will mention later on in this post, we decided to take our kids to a couple other ones and see how it played out.
I had been to Tinhorn Creek several times before and sat in the grassy vineyard area behind the tasting room but had never thought to order take-out from their Miradoro restaurant and bring it back there… until a friend of mine mentioned it to me. So, my husband and I decided to bring the 3 littles along and try it out.
I went to the restaurant and ordered one of their wood oven pizzas (delish) and an order of chicken strips for the toddler, while my husband took the kids to secure a table on the grass outside the tasting room. It worked out perfectly. I brought the food over, we bought a bottle of pinot gris from the tasting room, poured some wine and the babies crawled around on the grass around us, while the toddler enjoyed her chicken strips. It was lovely!
After lunch, we walked up to the tasting room to see if they could accommodate us for a quick tasting as Covid has brought in a lot of new rules for wineries. You typically have to book your tastings in advance as they can only accommodate so many people inside. We were lucky as they had a gap in bookings and could sneak us in for a quick tasting with our 3 kids in tow. This worked out fairly well and we ended up joining their crush club and purchasing several bottles to take back home. All staff wore face shields and there were arrows pointing where you could walk and lot’s of signs reminding us that we couldn’t touch certain items. The biggest win? Their hand sanitizing station was all done by a foot pedal so you didn’t have to touch a thing!
This is one heck of a special place if you have kids and like wine or animals. I’ll get straight to the point… They will take your kids (not infants obviously) on a farm tour while you drink wine. I repeat, you can book a tasting for adults and add on (for a nominal fee) a farm tour for your kids while you sit and do a wine and cheese tasting. How is that not a win for everyone?!
We also added the juice tasting for the kids after they were done their tour and then everyone went for a bounce on what I can only describe as an in-ground bouncy-balloon trampoline thing that is a ton of fun.
This place is beautiful and great for all ages. My brother and sister-in-law had their dog with us for the tasting, the kids loved the farm and delicious fresh juices and then could bounce and run around on the grass afterwards while the adults sat, watched and drank wine. You can purchase a bottle after your tasting and take it over to where the kids are and enjoy.
As for Covid related rules, they had plexiglass in front of the table for the staff to talk behind (see photo of adults above) and everything was safe and contact free. They did a fantastic job!
We ended up renting a pontoon boat for a couple hours one day from Spirit Beach Watersports and it was fantastic! They supply life jackets for everyone if needed (I would suggest bringing your own for toddlers and infants though for this reason shown below).
The staff were very thorough with the rules and instructions on how to use the boat, tie off the tube for tubing, etc. This was a great activity for everyone, except for one of the twins who was not a huge fan of the sound of the boat… or anything that day really.
The thing I like about pontoon boats and babies is that they’re relatively safe when you have the doors closed. The sides of the boat are higher and there’s more room on the ground for crawling around (with adult supervision of course) than a regular speed boat. Babies and boats aren’t the best combo but I felt like it was a good solution for everyone to have a good time. The older children tubed from the back of the boat, we jumped off and swam, and then all had some snacks and floated around the lake. We only booked two hours and it was perfect. FYI, this was one of the few places we could rent from that would take a two-hour booking.
Other than the above activities and one round of golf for the boys, we did a lot of lake and pool hang outs during the day.
The Watermark has a pretty killer slide for kids (and adults… cough cough) which is great if you have kids who can do this themselves while you watch from a poolside lounger. They had 1-2 staff around the pool to make sure everyone was keeping their distance from each other and that the kids were playing safely on the slide. They had also removed some pool chairs and taped off areas where the loungers could be to abide by social distancing rules. It all felt very safe.
Other wineries we visited sans kids:
Platinum Bench Winery: This is one of my favourites every time we visit Osoyoos. They know what’s up when it comes to doing a wine AND BREAD tasting with their own home-made artisan breads!! This is a MUST VISIT place for those who are into wine and carbs. Oh, and the local cheeses they sell are the icing on the cake. If you like white wine, I would highly suggest the Mur-Fi’s white. It’s delicious!!
Black Hills Estates Winery: Beautiful venue with a restaurant overlooking a swimming pool. It almost hurt to see the pool and not be able to jump in but their Rose wine is UNREAL and quickly made me forget about the fact that I was still sweating.
Faustino Estate Cidery: This was a very last minute decision (that may or may not have required a U-turn and quick slam of the breaks) and I am so happy we went. Their Dry Apple cider is legit. It’s a tiny little cottage style hut that could easily be missed but I would definitely suggest going…and buying the dry apple cider.
At the end of the day, outside all the activities I mentioned, my favorite thing to do is to be on the beach at the lake with everyone. We pack a bunch of large floaties for the kids to use throughout the week, bring a cooler full of snacks and drinks, set up the umbrella and beach chairs and create a home base for the day. Family comes and goes depending on nap schedules (children and adults), dogs needing walks, making lunch or just needing a break from said family and it all works out really well. There are 14 of us (immediate family members..same bubble) and it can definitely get hectic at times with 7 crazy kids running around but it’s always a fantastic time when we’re there! We’ve already booked for 2021!