Sun Peaks with Kids: Five Reasons to Love BC’s Sun Peaks Resort

For Presidents’ Day Weekend, Joanna Veldhuisen’s family of four (plus two teen friends) headed north to Sun Peaks Resort in Interior BC for several days of snow play and skiing. The entire family agreed this ski resort makes for a fantastic weekend. I asked Joanna what she loved so much about the destination. She sent me some great photos, and this is what she said:

Size. Sun Peaks is the second biggest resort in BC, but it’s a fraction of the size of Whistler and as a result it’s very family-friendly. Many parents of older kids (12+) feel comfortable turning the kids loose to ski or at least lunch on their own in the one-horse village. You can’t get lost, and most condos and hotel rooms are just a few minutes’ walk from the village center and chairlifts. Even over President’s Day Weekend, the resort had a relaxed, un-crowded vibe.

Sun Peaks main street

Sun Peaks: Main Street

Awesome alpine skiing. Although the village is small, the ski slopes are not, and BC’s Interior snow is reliably good. Three mountains surround the village in a 360-degree layout of 124 long runs that terminate near or at the village. Getting from one chairlift to another is easy and the lifts are fast, so you can’t help but do a ton of skiing in a day. This British Columbia ski resort is particularly good for beginner and intermediate skiers, but also offers plenty of black diamond terrain for advanced runs. While I was busy on the green runs, the kids headed off to the harder stuff and everyone was happy. Here’s a map of the alpine runs.

 

Sun Peaks with Kids

A ski run at Sun Peaks Resort

Nordic skiing at Sun Peaks. For those who would rather get away from it all, Sun Peaks has miles of trails for Nordic and skate skiing as well as snowshoeing. My crew hit the slopes on the first day, and I hit the Nordic trails on my own, bumping into other friendly solo skiers whose families were on the alpine runs.

Kid-friendly activities at Sun Peaks. My kids didn’t take much time off the slopes, but Sun Peaks has plenty of other fun for youngsters, including a year-round, outdoor heated pool at the Sports & Aquatic Centre, a tube park, a terrain park, a bungee trampoline, ice skating, and dog sled tours. Many of the condos and rental houses come with a hot tub for added fun, and playing in the snow just outside the door has never been so easy.

A walk through Sun Peaks BC

A walk through Sun Peaks BC

Sun Peaks Village amenities. Like Whistler, Sun Peaks is laid out like a walkable alpine village. It contains a few clothing shops, boutiques, and restaurants and cafes for all tastes, enough to be interesting without being overwhelming. You’ll also find rental shops for any ski equipment you need, and lessons for all ages and ski styles.

Tips on accommodation and groceries at Sun Peaks Resort:

Sun Peaks offers condos, rental homes, and a variety of hotel lodgings. The hotels are conveniently located right in the heart of the village, but a condo’s fully equipped kitchen is unbeatable, as restaurant eating adds up quickly. Many kids will be too tired to go out for dinner, after a day in the snow.

Americans, I suggest doing your grocery shopping stateside and stop for fruits and veggies in Hope or Kamloops. Sun Peaks has a small general market for incidentals.

Getting there: Sun Peaks is the closest ski resort in BC’s Interior to the Lower Mainland and Seattle. The resort is located 45 minutes north of Kamloops, approximately 4½ hours north of Bellingham, 6 hours from Seattle via the Sumas/Abbotsford border crossing and 4 hours east of Vancouver. The Sun Peaks website says 5½ hours from Seattle, but that’s optimistic when accounting for possible road conditions, border waits, and shopping for fruits and veggies. Plan for an hour longer, and the drive home will pass a little quicker.

The resort’s website provides more information about taking the kids to Sun Peaks, including ski lessons. The Sundance Kids Centre is a daycare facility that entertains children from 18 months through 5 years.

Photo at right courtesy of Adam Stein/ Sun Peaks.

Family Travel: Manning Resort, BC with kids

In winter, many of Washington, Oregon and BC’s ski resorts become overwhelmed with hordes of weekend ski bums (yes, that description includes my own family). For a change of pace, smart families — like Bellingham-based travel writer Joanna Nesbit‘s family — head for the quieter ski resorts. No, the resorts aren’t filled with flash ‘n’ cash, but they’re perfect for a low-key, snow-filled getaway. We chat with Joanna to find out what she loves about Manning Park Resort, set in British Columbia’s lovely Skagit Valley Provincial Park.

Cross-country skiing at Manning Park Resort

Located a mere 2. 5 hours northeast of Bellingham (Sumas/Abbotsford border crossing) and two hours from Vancouver, BC, the area is a fine option for a long weekend or a winter break.

Who went? How long did you stay? How did you hear about Manning Resort?

Over President’s Day weekend, we took our family of four plus a friend (Curt, Joanna, Leah, 13, Ty, 11, and friend Emma, 13) to Manning Park Resort in British Columbia’s Manning Provincial Park for a weekend of alpine and cross-country skiing and snowplay.

We’ve been visiting Manning for some 15 years, and one year by accident we discovered that many families from our neighborhood make the trek for President’s Day weekend. This holiday weekend — also a 4-day school break — has turned into a Manning tradition for many Bellingham families.

Manning Park Resort has a lodge and cabins, and all visitors stay at the resort because there are no other lodgings nearby. The resort is 45 minutes from Hope to the west and Princeton to the east.

Besides offering a friendly ski scene, the resort is compact enough that you can let your kids wander fairly freely (depending on your comfort level), which is what we love about the place. Manning has a pool/hot tub facility (the Blue Lagoon), a sledding hill, and an ice rink. Kids need adult accompaniment to the pool, but the sledding hill is close, and snow play is right there. You can rent ice skates for the rink, where you’ll often encounter a rousing game of hockey. There’s also a game room in the basement, but it can be underwhelming. When we were there, they were out of functioning ping-pong balls because of rowdy ping-pong players.

Kids ice-skating at the resort

Ice-skating at the resort

Compared to other ski resorts, Manning is nothing fancy, but it’s the low-key vibe and compact size that we especially love. The staff is always friendly, and the guests happily engage in casual conversations with each other. Many guests have been going to Manning for years, if not decades.

What types of activities did your family enoy, while at Manning Resort? Nordic skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, anything else?

Manning offers alpine skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing at Gibson Ski Hill, 6 miles from the lodge, and miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. The kids ice skated first, and then over the next two days, they hit the downhill slopes for skiing and snowboarding, while I x-country skied. My husband skied with Ty at Gibson Hill, and then x-country skied with me the next day. We met up at the hot tub.

What we like about Manning is how it accommodates all interests, and Gibson is a small enough ski hill that you can’t lose your child in the crowds, but still big enough to be fun for skilled skiers. The ski hill is never crowded, and no one waits more than a few minutes to get on the chair (there are two), even on a busy weekend. For beginners, it’s especially friendly with a low-intimidation factor (no fashion contest either). The bunny hill offers a graduated experience, with a rope tow on the upper, flatter portion, and a T-bar on the lower, steeper portion. It’s a great place to take lessons.

Any great restaurants in the Manning Resort area?

The resort only offers one restaurant, as well as a pub, and a tiny store that tends to be understocked and overpriced. The restaurant is good for a meal or two. The burgers are great, but service can be slow (I recommend a 5:30pm arrival to beat the rush).

Because Manning is isolated, we take groceries with us, and shop for fruits and veggies in Hope (you can’t take these across the border).

What are the rooms/cabins like at Manning Resort?

The last few years, we’ve been staying in the main lodge in a “mini-suite.” The lodge offers three different room configurations, but the mini-suite works best for families, as it includes 2 Queens and a hide-a-bed, as well as a table, chairs, mini-fridge, sink, and microwave. The resort also offers cabins, from small to large, with full kitchens. Many families we know opt for cabins, sometimes sharing a cabin with a second family.

A family room at Manning Park Resort

A family room at Manning Park Resort.

We have stayed in cabins and in the lodge, and lately have opted for the lodge because it’s closer to the amenities like the pool. I recommend both types of lodging. However, for a mini suite, be sure to book very early for popular weekends, as the lodge only offers 8 of these rooms. Otherwise, book accommodation for a less popular weekend or opt for the smaller room (comes with 2 Queens, a mini fridge, and microwave; no table and chairs).

Did you have to chain up to get to Manning?

In all the years we’ve traveled to Manning, we’ve never had to chain up, but it’s always a possibility. Also, the highway conditions east of Hope can be sketchy, so always watch for potholes.

What else should we know about going to this British Columbia resort with kids?

Manning is a year-round resort, offering mountain biking and hiking in the summer (there are also several campgrounds nearby). The ski hill closes in early April, but keep an eye on snow conditions because the x-country skiing may be great and accommodation rates at this time of year drop significantly. Also, be sure to check the website for winter package deals.

Thanks for the report, Joanna! Readers, can you recommend any great family ski spots in Washington, Oregon or BC?

Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak with Kids

Whistler with kids

Our launch pad, at the base of Whistler Mountain. We wanted to try out the the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which travels the longest unsupported span in the world.

Whistler with kids

In the gondola, en route to Whistler Mountain’s lodge, where skiiers, snowboarders and families catch the Peak 2 Peak.

Whistler with kids

At Whistler’s main gondola station, right outside of The Roundhouse Lodge. The lodge hosts a gift shop, a speedy self-serve deli (with piping-hot chili),  and a dining room with breathtaking views.

Peak 2 Peak

The Peak 2 Peak whisks travelers 1.88 miles across the gap between Whistler and Blackcomb.

Peak 2 Peak

Did I mention that the gondolas dangle 1,427 feet (426 metres) over Fitzsimmons Creek? The Peak 2 Peak cherry-red gondolas are on the highest run in the world.

Peak 2 Peak

Those afraid of heights can choose to look at the cabin interior. Unless you’re in a glass-bottom cabin (which we were). In that case, you’ll just want to close your eyes.

Peak 2 Peak

And then, our gondola glided into a mist. The cabin fell silent until we popped back out on the other side, arriving at Blackcomb Mountain.

Blackcomb skiiers

On Blackcomb, we watched skiers swoop down the slopes, and the kids threw snowballs at dad.

whistler with kids

Kids always make quick friends, even at 6,000 feet. Here, Emmett sits steely-eyed in his snow fort, prepared for an attack from a new pal.

Whistler Mountain

We took the gondola back to Whistler Mountain for hot chocolate and more photos.

Whistler with kids

Then, back down the mountain again.

I thank Debbie of DeliciousBaby for hosting Photo Friday this week — and every week. Visit her site to check out fantastic travel memories, tips and photos!

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To ride the Peak 2 Peak, I paid for the “sightseeing day pass” for myself and my family. Washington State and Canadian residents can benefit from the EDGE card.