If you’re looking for things to do in Kamloops, you’ve come to the right place. After years of passing through to visit places like Vancouver, we finally took the time to spend a few days in Kamloops to experience some of the best activities, attractions, and restaurants.
Located approximately halfway between Calgary and Vancouver, Kamloops is a beautiful mountain town with roughly 100,000 people. With a thriving winery scene and a dry desert-like climate, Kamloops reminds me of Kelowna, but without all the crowds. It’s a place for outdoor adventure, with many beautiful lakes, rivers, and trails to enjoy. It’s also close to Sun Peaks Ski Resort, which is the second-largest ski resort in Canada.
In this Kamloops travel guide, we’ll fill you in on the best things to do in Kamloops, as well as where to eat, stay, and more.
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Things to Do in Kamloops BC
Now for the fun part. If you’re going to take the time to actually explore Kamloops, you need to have fun. Here are the top things to do in Kamloops throughout the year.
Go Inner-City Hiking at Kenna Cartwright Park
As the largest municipal park in British Columbia, Kenna Cartwright Park is a great place to go hiking, biking, or for a dog walk. The park is named after a former mayor and at more than 2,000 acres in size, it’s quite incredible to be located right inside the city.
There are a variety of trails spread out over about 40 kilometres and most of them offer some of the best views of Kamloops you can find. We love a good view, so we did the hike up to Tower Trail and Sunset Trail, which overlooks both the city and the beautiful lake. The trail can be done in less than an hour but you can easily connect with all the other trails to make a half-day out of it.
Learn about Local Animals at the BC Wildlife Park
While we never really want to run into wildlife on the trails, it’s an exhilarating experience to see them up close at the BC Wildlife Park. We had such a great time taking a tour at the park as we not only got to learn so much about the wildlife but to also see them in such an up-close and personal way.
What’s unique about the BC Wildlife Park is that most of all the animals are native to the area and have been rescued. From coyotes, wolves, and cougars to grizzly bears, eagles, and owls, the park features over 60 species of wildlife. In addition to rescuing animals that have been injured, the park is also home to a hospital and rehabilitation facility that helps injured and orphaned wild animals that have been found in the southern interior region of the province.
For a truly special visit, check out the park’s VIP Wildlife Experiences, which allow you to interact with the wildlife and learn about them from one of the trusted “zookeepers”. You may even get to feed some of them!
Ski, Snowboard, or Hike and Bike at Sun Peaks Resort
British Columbia is known for its epic skiing and snowboarding terrain and Kamloops is no different. Located just 30-minutes away is Sun Peaks Resort, the second-largest ski resort in the country! Featuring more than 4,200 acres of skiable terrain, 13 chairlifts, and 137 ski trails, there’s more than enough powdery fun for any level of skier. There’s also a reason it’s called Sun Peaks. Boasting an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine each year, there are plenty of beautiful bluebird days to enjoy.
However, Sun Peaks isn’t just a winter destination. In the summer, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, biking, golfing, and general sightseeing as well. Some of the lifts remain open, transporting you up the mountain for a hiking experience you may not get otherwise.
Visit the Many Wineries
Move over Kelowna! Kamloops is also a wonderful wine destination with four wineries that offer premium, award-winning wines, and a lovely winery experience to try them all. With dramatic mountain views all around, the Thompson Valley wine region can be explored on your own or on a tour. The four wineries include:
Monte Creek Ranch Winery (2420 Miner’s Bluff Rd): Located not far from the BC Wildlife Park, Monte Creek Ranch Winery is the largest of Kamloops’ wineries. They feature a gorgeous patio with dining options, award-winning wines, and incredible river valley views. If you get the chance, we highly recommend the Rose sparkling wine.
Privato Winery & Vineyard (5505 Westsyde Rd): Whether you’re looking for a bottle of wine or a Christmas tree, Privato Winery has you covered. Located on the family’s 80-acre Christmas tree farm, this boutique winery offers small-batch premium-quality single-vineyard Burgundy wines and a wine-tasting experience that offers a sense of intimacy surrounded by stunning views.
Harper’s Trail Winery (2761 Shuswap Rd): This picturesque winery is surrounded by hoodoo formations, rolling hills, and the beautiful South Thompson River. The scenery is best enjoyed with a fresh glass of wine from their tasting room while sitting on their expansive picnic patio.
Sagewood Winery (589 Meadow Lark Rd): Known for its Kamloops Terroir, this family-owned boutique vineyard offers award-winning wines and tastings.
Breweries, Cideries, and Distilleries
It’s not all wine you know. Kamloops also has some excellent breweries, cideries, and distilleries for those into other kinds of delicious alcoholic beverages. There are a number of them to try but one of the breweries we highly recommend is Bright Eye Brewing. We haven’t had the chance to try every one of them yet but Bright Eye Brewing offers both an extensive and creative beer menu as well as some of the best food in the city. In fact, Bright Eye Brewing was the first brewery here and has since been renovated to offer a very nice dining experience. The beers are constantly rotating and served right from the tanks they’re made in. During our visit, we tried a flight but truly fell in love with their dark cherry sour.
Go Golfing in Kamloops
Surrounded by mountains, Kamloops is also a beautiful place to go golfing. In fact, Kamloops is home to 7 world-class golf resorts and an unusually long golf season compared to most of Canada. Featuring steep cliffs, rolling grasslands, canyons, and a desert-style climate, it really is a stunning place to smash some balls.
Some popular options include Talking Rock Golf Resort, which offers an 18-hole, 72-par course on the shores of stunning Little Shuswap Lake, and Tobiano Golf Course, which is also a 72-par course built on a historic ranch.
Go Horseback Riding
While Alberta is often proclaimed as the cowboy capital of Canada, Kamloops is also surrounded by the cowboy lifestyle, including some of the biggest ranches in the country. While you may not want to herd cows, you can certainly go horseback riding amongst the stunning mountain scenery.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned rider, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. Some popular options include Campbell Hills Guest Ranch and Jandana Ranch, which are close to the city but still far enough away to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Most people like to enjoy the entire experience by getting to know the horses, assisting with the grooming and feeding, and then jumping on the back of the majestic creature to hit one of the many trails.
Experiences range from a couple of hours to a full day, or in some cases, even overnight excursions where you can camp under the dark skies.
Paddle Kamloops Lake
If you do any of the little hikes we recommend in this article, you’re likely going to see beautiful Kamloops Lake. It dominates much of the landscape. But you don’t have to just admire Kamloops Lake from a viewpoint, you can also paddle it!
Whether you like to kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, Kamloops Lake is a great lake to explore. At more than 29 kilometres in length, it’s a heck of a lake. Visitors will find a boat launch on the north shore and once you start paddling, you’ll be able to see rocky beaches, hoodoos, cliffs, and so much more.
Go Fishing in Kamloops
For those into fishing, Kamloops is a real gem. Surrounded by lakes and rivers, Kamloops is one of the top fishing locations in British Columbia. If you’re new to the area, you might want to hire one of the many guides who can ensure you go to the right place at the right time. Although fishing takes place almost year-round, certain places offer a better experience at certain times. During our visit in the fall, we met up with Interior Fly Fishing and went to Stump Lake, which is about 45 minutes south of Kamloops.
However, there are also mountain lakes you can explore as well as rivers that are home to some incredible salmon fishing as well as the chance to see majestic bald eagles. So whether you like to fly fish, cast fish, or ice fish, Kamloops has it all.
Meander Through Riverside Park
For a mellow hike along the beautiful Thompson River, head out for a hike in Riverside Park. Go for a couple of hours or pack a lunch and make a half-day of it. Stroll along Rivers Trail while listening to the sound of the water or park your butt on the sandy beach.
The park features more than just scenic views. You’ll also find picnic tables, a water park, a lawn bowling club, tennis courts, and even some beautiful gardens. In the summer, it’s also a great place to visit in the evening when it comes alive with their Music in the Park program, which features live acts every night.
Visit Kamloops Heritage Railway
Those interested in locomotives or a unique experience will find solace in the Kamloops Heritage Railway, which offers the rare opportunity to actually ride a restored steam train. This non-profit group is home to one of the 25 engines built for the Canadian Northern Railway that was built to transport passengers around the prairies and the mountains in the early 20th century.
Today, visitors can experience what it was like to ride in a steam-powered locomotive, riding along the 8-kilometre railway for over an hour. Events are held throughout the year, including a Halloween special, a winter train ride, and a Spirit of Kamloops tour.
Visit the Kamloops Art Gallery
Art has a certain way of bringing the human spirit to life and the Kamloops Art Gallery is a great place to see some beautiful contemporary and historical art, which includes both local artists and touring exhibits. Combined with the Kamloops Library, this massive 20,853 square foot building is a great place to spend some time, enjoy the gallery, and browse a good gift shop.
Where to Eat in Kamloops
Everyone loves food and Kamloops has many options for filling your belly, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late-night snack. Below are some of our favourites:
Located inside the Best Western Hotel, Twisted Steak is a great place for steak, burgers, pasta, and more. Their steak menu offers everything from Boursin Filet Mignon to Chimichurri Flat Iron, but they also have things like Sweet Potato Crusted Salmon and Mediterranean Haddock. They also have an extensive drink menu. My favourite was the Smoky Mango Mezcal Margarita.
If you’re looking for something new or already know you love dutch crepes (Pannenkoek), then this is the place for you. Whether you’re looking for breakfast or lunch, chomp down on a savoury Pannenkoek with seared Granny Smith apples, double smoked bacon, and caramelized Gouda cheese or freshly sliced strawberries topped with icing sugar, Summerland sauce, and real whipped cream. However, they offer much more than dutch crepes. There are also dutch waffles, omelets, eggs benedict, and more!
Bright Eye Brewing
Not only is Bright Eye Brewing famous for its beers, but they also have an excellent food menu. During our visit, they were celebrating Oktoberfest, and so the menu had some interesting flavours such as their popular ramen dish made with German beer. Outside of special events though, the menu is equally appealing with options such as smoked brisket, creole prawn risotto, pork bulgogi Philly melt, and a variety of mouth-watering burgers and pizza.
Perhaps the most famous breakfast place in town, Hello Toast is the one place we wish we had tried. It was recommended by many locals and has more than 1,300 reviews on Google. It must be good. Their strawberry shortcake stuffed toast sounds truly delicious, as does their entire all-day breakfast menu. Whether you’re looking for oven-baked hot cereal, french toast, classic bennies, or a steamy hot drink, this is the place to go.
Where to Stay in Kamloops for Sightseeing
Kamloops doesn’t have any luxury hotel accommodations, but it has a number of top mid-range and budget choices. In fact, Kamloops is known as the tournament capital of Canada, so you can bet that there are loads of accommodation options to suit almost anyone. Some of the popular options include (with affiliate links):
Best Western Premier Aberdeen: During our time in Kamloops, we stayed at the Best Western Hotel, which is about a 5-minutes drive from Kenna Cartwright Park. This is a beautiful hotel with loads of amenities, including a heated pool, waterslide, exercise facility, and popular on-site restaurant called Twisted Steak, which also serves breakfast. This hotel also offers pet-friendly rooms.
South Thompson Inn & Conference Center: This is known as one of the “fanciest” places to stay in Kamloops. This boutique hotel sits on 55-acres right by the South Thompson River. Each room has a balcony facing either the mountains or the river and some rooms have jacuzzi tubs as well. Amenities include a restaurant, swimming pool, hot tub, and exercise room. You’ll also find board games and puzzles as well as pet-friendly rooms.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott: This is another popular mid-range property. The spacious rooms and suites are soundproof and include microwaves, fridges, and desks. There’s also a complimentary breakfast, parking, and Wi-Fi as well as a swimming pool and exercise room.
Wingate by Wyndham: This three-star hotel has vibrant rooms and suites with bright-colored walls and matching furnishings. The hotel is pet-friendly and also has family rooms for those with kids. Some of the amenities include free breakfast, on-site laundry facilities, and a fitness center.
Scott’s Inn and Restaurant: One of the most popular budget hotels in Kamloops is Scott’s Inn, which sits in a quiet residential neighborhood and features rooms and suites with extra-long beds and blackout curtains. The property is family-friendly and there’s a children’s playground on-site. Other amenities include Scott’s Family Diner restaurant, an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub, and a covered rooftop terrace.
Grandview Motel: This budget hotel is also a good pick and offers pet-friendly rooms. You’ll also find that the rooms have microwaves, refrigerators, and coffee makers. There is a seasonally heated pool with beautiful views, as well as a picnic area and BBQ grills for guests to use.
Getting to Kamloops
Kamloops is located right off the Trans-Canada Highway almost halfway between Calgary, Alberta, and Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s also two hours north of Kelowna and sits just south of Wells Gray Provincial Park. It really is a great base for exploring some of BC’s most stunning natural scenery.
If you’re not driving to Kamloops as part of your Canada road trip, Kamloops also has a regional airport – YKA Kamloops Airport.
Where to Go Next?
Certainly, Kamloops is not the only destination on your agenda, so check out some of our other travel guides below for more planning and inspiration.