The Getaway
Some of the Best Things to Do in Kamloops

Kamloops, nestled in the heart of British Columbia's Southern Interior, is a gem waiting to be discovered. With its rich Secwepemc heritage, exemplified by the Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park, it features the remains of a village that existed when Jesus was walking the earth.  Kamloops is known for its pristine air quality and unpretentious charm, inviting visitors to explore its landscapes and activities. Its designation as the Tournament Capital of Canada only adds to its allure, promising a ton of fun at McArthur Island Park and beyond. Whether you're seeking a tranquil retreat or an adrenaline-fueled escapade, Kamloops serves as the perfect backdrop for a mini-break filled with unforgettable experiences. The city's commitment to preserving its natural beauty and cultural heritage, combined with its welcoming community and accessible outdoor pursuits, makes it an ideal destination for travelers of all ages and interests.

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01 Riverside Park

You'll find Riverside Park a stone's throw from downtown. Stroll along the river banks, admire the rose garden's colors and fragrances, and view the monument depicting how high the water reached during past floods. You can swim in the roped-off section of the river with lifeguards watching on, sink your feet in the sand, or enjoy a picnic on the lawns. The park has tennis courts, and pickleball is a frequent pastime. There's also an impressive new water park and a nearby ice cream place for cooling down. In summer, the Rotary band shell hosts popular free evening concerts called Music in the Park.

Riverside Park entrance sign. Alisa Khliestkova / Shutterstock.com

02 Kenna Cartwright Park

winter in Kamloops, Kenna Cartwright park. winter frosty view of the city, Thompson rivers.

This nature preserve is the largest municipal park in British Columbia. It offers stunning views of Kamloops and the Thompson River valley. If you're looking for hiking and mountain biking trails in varying terrain as well as somewhere to take your canine bestie for off-leash walking, this is the place to go. The Tower Trail and the Sunset Trail are two well-liked routes in the park, and the former takes about an hour to complete. Be sure to wear sun protection for areas with limited shade, and look up trail conditions in spring when it can get quite muddy.

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03 BC Wildlife Park

At BC Wildlife Park, you'll get to see about 65 different species up close. It's an informative outing featuring grizzly bears, cougars, mountain lions, badgers, wolves, and other primarily local animals. There's also a petting zoo, mini maze, and a splash pad for the little ones.

Hop on the train ride for a small fee, or get your 10,000 steps for the day by sticking to walking. During the holidays, a fantastic annual light show wows visitors, and seasonal events for Easter and Halloween ramp up the fun factor in spring and fall. The park's Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Center is involved in animal rescue and rehabilitation operations, so you can learn all about how they help orphaned and injured creatures.

04 Kamloops Heritage Railway

Board a restored steam train, the Kamloops Heritage Railway, for a historical journey. The KHR promises a ride into the past and a memorable excursion for all ages. Themed trips include haunted zombies or trick-or-treating, and a polar express during the festive season sees Santa, the reindeer, and other Christmas characters coming along for the adventure. Volunteers run the show, and one of the highlights is the dancing saloon girls and the staged robbery at the end. If you have a passion for locomotives, a museum details the train's restoration, and you can take a tour to learn more about what's gone on over the last century.

05 Kamloops Art Gallery

Kamloops Art Gallery showcases contemporary and historical art from local, national, and international artists. It's one of the largest public art galleries in BC's Interior. Pop in for about an hour to see well-organized and thought-provoking exhibits. Admission is free on Thursdays, and special programming is affordable. You'll find the staff to be approachable and enlightening. When you're done perusing the artwork, stop by the gift shop to see Canadian pieces available for purchase.

06 Explore Local Cuisine

You're not going to struggle to find an eating spot to suit your mood in Kamloops. Peter's Pasta is a self-explanatory choice, but to narrow things down for you, try the seafood alfredo and Caesar salad and the creme brulee and gelato for dessert. It's an excellent choice for date night, and they have kiddies' pasta, too. Lee's Garden serves the kind of Chinese food that can make fans out of those on the fence about the cuisine, and Spice of India will satisfy your curry cravings. Mitts Kitchen is a fave with foodies who appreciate innovative dishes. Finally, Hello Toast had us at "all-day breakfast."

07 Outdoor Adventures at Sun Peaks Resort

Sunset over the Shuswap Highlands from the ski slopes of Sun Peaks Resort in central British Columbia

Sun Peaks Resort is a winter sports mecca for those in the know. Between skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and the ice rink, cold-season enthusiasts have plenty to rave about. But the resort has lots to offer throughout the year. In summer, visitors can enjoy golfing, hiking, and mountain biking. You can take a chair lift up to the alpine meadows, where well-marked trails will take you past a glorious assortment of wildflowers from lupines to forget-me-nots. For canoeing, head for McGillivray Lake, a half-hour drive away.

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08 Golfing in Kamloops

Golf course near Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, North America

Practice your swing during Kamloops's eight-month golf season. Acclaimed courses like Talking Rock and Tobiano offer sublime scenery, and the latter, a Thomas McBroom course, was recently dubbed Canada's Best Golf Course by the World Golf Awards. Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Graham Cooke have also had a hand in shaping course aesthetics in the region. Whether you're a newbie or a long-time player, Kamloops is sure to make quite the impression.

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09 Paddle Kamloops Lake

With dozens of lakes to choose from in the region, where does one go for a bout of paddling? Kamloops Lake is a terrific spot for easy, year-round kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Paddle to the north shore's Painted Bluffs Provincial Park to see a rainbow of soil and rocks. You may also come across local fauna such as deer, otters, and an array of birds. Check out Moccasin Trails for paddling tours that touch on Indigenous history and heritage. Other lakes to check out include McConnell Lake, Lac le Jeune Provincial Park, and Paul Lake.

10 The Wine Region

The Thompson Valley was recognized as an official wine region in 2018, so it's relatively new on the viticulture block but has produced award-winning reds and whites. Fun fact—this area gets more sunshine than Napa. You can explore on your own or take a guided tour to learn about sustainability in the industry. While you're there, hit the trails to take in the scenery. There are currently three wineries: Monte Creek, Sagewood, and Privato Vineyard, which is on a Christmas tree farm.

11 Visit Monte Creek Ranch Winery

This gorgeous and unpretentious winery, the largest one in the region, deserves a special shout-out. Offering stunning views of the river valley and a fabulous al fresco dining ambiance at the Terrace restaurant, it's no wonder so many brides decide to get married here. Sample the wild mushroom pizza, take a shine to the barn architecture, and shop for local goods.

12 Attend Cultural Festivals and Events

Kamloops's calendar has event planners on their toes throughout the year. The Kamloops Festival of the Performing Arts in February is a three-week fiesta focusing on drama and music. In March, the local film festival has cinephiles buzzing. Summer heralds the return of the Canadian Enduro Series and Art in the Park. Also in July, the Kamloops International Buskers Festival and Merchant Market draw street performers and shoppers downtown. During August, Hot Nite in the City gets hearts racing, and the Kamloopa Powwow, a First Nations cultural bonanza, delights spectators. Fall is all about the salmon run.

13 Hiking and Biking Trails

Kamloops has an extensive network of hiking and biking trails covering diverse landscapes, from river valleys to mountainous terrains. A semi-arid climate facilitates biking through four seasons, although the largest municipal bike park, Kamloops Bike Ranch, closes for winter. The town of Kamloops birthed freeride mountain biking, and the Ranch attracts world-class athletes. Hikers can trek through ponderosa pine forests, inhale the scent of sagebrush, and take selfies with rock spires. Top hiking areas include Peterson Creek, which is off-leash friendly; Valleyview, which is next to the Bike Ranch; and Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park.

Kamloops Bike Ranch, British Columbia, Canada - April 2017: Dirt jumping in Kamloops Bike Ranch SimonaKoz / Shutterstock.com

14 Shopping in Downtown Kamloops

Looking for gifts, souvenirs, and some general retail therapy? Kamloops shopping is centered on the downtown area. Stores like Ms. Whimsy's Gift Emporium sell unique, small-batch items you're not likely to find anywhere else. Kamloops Artisan Bazaar supports dozens of artists, and Big Boot Inn sells leather shoes for grownups and kids. If you come up short downtown, check out Aberdeen Mall for brands like Lululemon and Saje Natural Wellness. Kamloops's farmers' markets have lots of stalls, and finding treasure is as easy as pie.

15 BIG Little Science Centre

This low-key and budget-friendly kids' center in Kamloops will keep children occupied for at least an hour and a half—getting your munchkin to leave may be the challenge. Kids and their babysitters can learn STEM concepts through games, hands-on experiments, and playtime. The Big Little Science Center is perfect for educational fun on a rainy day.

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