Labour Day... our last cherished opportunity to celebrate the season that gilds us all a little more like Gods, and to say thank you Mother Nature for once again sharing with us that blissful sun that allowed us all gleeful, slow, easy days.
If you're looking to squeeze every drop of hot, hot, sun out of this summer, there is no better place than Osoyoos, BC. Located 4.5 hours south east of Vancouver, Osoyoos is known as one of Canada's only true desert towns, their motto: "Canada's warmest welcome", is spot on. During our visit, in early August, the temperature hit 37 deg C, often it can hit 40 deg C during the peak of summer. If you plan to head out now, expect a moderate 30 deg C.
Osoyoos has a way of drawing you in. The rolling hills, the carefree breeze, the gentle lake lapping at the shore, the welcoming community and approachable activities are all reasons we put this town on our vacation list every single year. As a young family it is, in my mind, the perfect place to find balance for everyone in the family. You won't hear the kids say I'm bored, and you won't want to pull out your hair. Not once, not for a full week.
While there is tonnes to do during the day, there isn't much happening at night. It's quiet. Very, very quiet. Not unlike a Hawaiian holiday, everyone is knackered from the exposure to the sun, the fun water sports, and the fresh HOT air. Generally, after the kids go to bed, you spot parents quietly high-fiving one another for their clever vacation planning under the bright star lit sky.
Here is the short list of how we filled up our week: Beach, Wine, Beach, Golf, Shopping, Beach, Beach.
The Beach: The sand is soft and fine in Osoyoos and the water is really warm. The other great thing is that (most - check before you leap!) beaches are relatively shallow. The beach that we go to allows you to walk out about 150 m (!) before it's too deep to touch the bottom. Making swimming with wee ones easier and more fun, especially if you bring (or rent) a longboard, a swan float, a kayak, or a floating island. Most beaches, if not all, offer some sort of shade, which is ideal for sand castle construction (and demolition... HEN----RAAY?!). There is nothing better than finding a spot under the huge elm tree, watching the kids fill their swim suits with sand, whilst sipping on lemonade or other mommy type juice - you decide. Ahhh serenity.
On our second day we were caught in some pretty heavy smoke (from BC wildfires) and decided it was best not to subject the kiddies directly to it for hours on end. So we did the adult thing... We took charge, strapped those kids in and headed to the wineries. There are nearly 40 wineries within a 15 minute drive of our resort. This year highlights were: Stoneboat, Tinhorn Creek, Black Hills, Hester Creek, and Church and State. If you are looking for something less rustic than a bbq, I highly recommend booking in for a winery lunch. Tinhorn's Miradoro has a gorgeous view of the vineyards and their menu selections are a beautiful testament to the setting, the hot, sultry breeze, and of course to their wine. This year we lunched at Terrafina (located at Hester Creek), it was also incredibly curated. I had the gnocchi with sundried tomato tapenade and broccoli pistou. I am still talking about it. I later found and immediately bought, "The Okanagan Table" cookbook (by Rod Butters, Chef at Terrafina), which includes this very recipe!!
Another favourite thing of mine while in Osoyoos is shopping! While it is a very small town and there aren't enough shops to fill an entire day, there are a few amazing stores worth checking out. Four to be exact. Unity, on Main Street, has the best selection of beach / skater clothing for kids I have every seen in my whole life, Hawaii included. They have the cutest bathing suits, cover ups, baseball caps, and sandals. We always stock up. Seriously, this place is a major highlight. Next up we hit Home Hardware - lol! I know that sounds crazy but this place is a gold mine. It has an extremely eclectic, if not eccentric, collection of goods for sale: toys, paint, sun hats, glow sticks, lawn chairs, you name it, you can get your fill here! Around the corner you'll find the 85th Boutique. This store is a girl's bad habit, offering cute kitschy home decor, locally made jewelry and a carefully planned clothing inventory, you can spend a lot of time and money here. Last year I found a child's rocking chair for my daughter's room, this year, a gorgeous bracelet left with me. Finally, visit California Day Clothing. This store offers customers a light cool mist while you shop in their open air store. While cooling off, you'll probably find a bathing suit or six for the family as well as some new shades, hats, and cover ups.
Jordan and I also managed to get in a couple of rounds of golf, which we love. Golf allows us to play together, compete together, it typically offers a gorgeous setting, fresh air, and uninterrupted conversation, which we don't often have ;).
Later to make up for our absence, we took the kids to the memorable "Rattlesnake Canyon" amusement park. Tethered trampolines, mini golf, go carts, bumper boats, ice cream, and cotton candy. What better way to say, "I missed you this morning" to a four and two year old?
We left a bunch of other great adventures for another trip, but you don't have too. Other things to do in Osoyoos include: visiting the fruit stands in Keremeos, a trip to Canada's largest model railroad (more than 4000 sf) - one day Henry will love this; horseback riding; helicopter tours; eco-tours; sea-doo rentals; and the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre which offers a 'live' snake presentation (presumably rattlesnake as they are the predominant snake species in the area - I've never seen one in the wild), and a First Nation cultural experience through interpretive dance/song.
If I'm being honest, Hawaii is my happy place, every single thing about it, the salty air, the warm breeze, the soothing sea water all equate to absolute island seduction. But if there were a first runner up prize it has to be Osoyoos. How perfect that it should be located in Canada?! The ease of vacationing here is a child's dream, therefore a mother's dream. Idyllic.
As you know forest fires caused many BC small towns to suffer major economic losses this summer, their most critical time of year to capitalize on tourism dollars. There is no better way to support our neighbours, than to return to the great small towns in our own backyard and enjoy all that they have to offer. #DiscoverBC
Enjoy your labour day! Make some noise! Find that blissful ruckus.