Downhill fun is only minutes from the heart of Kamloops

Kamloops, B.C. – The lineup was already out the door by the time we arrived at Hello Toast, the kind of breakfast joint that hipsters swarm to like a savannah in the desert – but it’s so much more. Families, coffee chat groups and those fuelling up for the ski hill, congregate over Dirty Chais (espresso-spiked Chai) served in generous, two-hands-required mugs in this downtown Kamloops hot spot.

Green Eggs and Ham are on the menu, along with Birds Nest (basted eggs smothered in cheese and bacon, sitting on a bed of spinach and toast). Not to mention the pan fries. I was still dreaming about those pan fries while I was heading down the Midway Run at Harper Mountain later that day.

Book in to a new winter basecamp. Book into Kamloops.

Kamloops was my basecamp for my wintry adventures this year and it’s where I found lively nightlife, Instagram-worthy cocktails, healthy meals and two ski hills with seemingly endless snowy activities for the whole family.

Watch Downhill fun is only minutes from the heart of Kamloops on YouTube.

Staying in town, where you can take a walk by the natural beauty of the South Thompson River or stroll down a mural-covered alley on your way to a local boutique or board shop, it just takes 20 minutes to get up to Harper Mountain. This family-run hill has been hosting lessons, tubing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, plus apres fun for the last 45 years.

Photo: Destination BC

Epic snow that creates snow ghosts is just part of the fun at Sun Peaks.

If you’re looking for big terrain, Sun Peaks is just 45 minutes from downtown Kamloops. It’s “the second largest ski area in Canada but second to none" my Sun Host, Thor Grundell, told me as we sipped Americanos in the recently renovated Sunburst Lodge. Thor has been a part of the complimentary Sun Host program for the last 17 years since he retired and moved up from the coast with his wife.

Hosts are available to take riders down the runs of their choice, tell them about the resort, provide insights (like how you have to try Powderhound’s schnitzel or the tower of ribs at the Steakhouse) and generally be your all-knowing ski-pal for the day.

“It’s a complimentary service and many people don’t know that. If you go to other parts of the world, you have to pay and it’s quite expensive.”

Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt

Thor has been a Sun Host at Sun Peaks for 17 years, and he loves leading the complimentary service for guests of the resort.

Thor is living the dream, skiing 120 to 140 days a year and when he’s not hosting, he does cross-country, to keep his cardio strong. For those looking for a less rigorous experience, he told me about Snow Limo tours, an accessible way for anyone who is a non-skier to get a lift down a run and experience what the rest of the skiers and riders in your crew love about downhill.

In a Snow Limo, the rider sits comfortably in a type of sled with a blanket on their toes for warmth and a guide, Mike Pfeil, will hop on the attached skis at the back and whisk you down. Now grandma and grandpa can experience downhill safely – and even folks like me will really enjoy the ride as Mike can whip up the giggles with his turns down the 5 Mile run.

Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt

Have your apres fondue off the hill. Check out the sweet and savoury options at The Commodore Grand Café & Lounge in downtown Kamloops.

Apres isn’t reserved just for the ski hills and once you get back down to Kamloops, you can enjoy a pot of fondue at your table at The Commodore Grand Café & Lounge. “Dino has the most legitimate Facebook friends I know,” our new friend, Dale Cul, told the Seekers' crew as she pointed at the co-owner who was bringing a fondue pot over to our table. A group of surprise birthday party-goers were organizing in the other half of the restaurant, which also serves as a lounge and DJ dance space.

Dino explained that The Commodore, which has an awesome atmosphere, has been around for 12 years and he believes a key to its success is a combination of the clientele, the drink specials, and the great food (including vegan) options. He’ll be updating the menu to reflect the new Canada Food Guide. When the 40th birthday girl arrived, she was overwhelmingly surprised and our night was made as well.

Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt

This is the place to be for nightlife in Kamloops - at Dino's bar at the Commodore Grand.

Just down 2nd Avenue, you’ll also find the legendary Brownstone Restaurant, with a seasonal menu of elevated Canadian-inspired dishes. On my second night in town, I arrived as the sun was setting, casting an orange glow on the restaurant’s historic 1904 Canadian Bank of Commerce building. The evening’s cocktails were inscribed on a chalkboard just past the bar and the menu offered up down-home delicacies like rabbit terrine, trout, and bacon-wrapped elk meatloaf ­– which was a resounding hit with our group.

From the steamed-up windows of craft breweries in downtown to the crackling fire of Harper Mountain’s lodge post-tubing run and the amazing terrain of Sun Peaks, it’s quick and easy to manoeuvre from the heart of Kamloops to downhill fun.

When You Go

For more information about Kamloops and to start planning your trip, head to the official website.

Visiting before Christmas? Catch the CP Holiday Train as it rolls into Kamloops on Dec. 15, 2019. It’s a dazzling light display like no other – on a train that’s been travelling across the continent – paired with a FREE concert with Terri Clark, all in support of local food banks. This event and more can be found on the Kamloops event calendar.

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