Tag Archives: Vernon with kids

Back at O’Keefe Ranch

Bennett has never met a chicken he didn’t like, and this truth was evident at O’Keefe Ranch near Vernon, BC. There, on a sunny July day, he spent a good hour admiring the poofy silkies, watching the silver spangled hamburgs and contemplating the bearded and booted Belgian D’uccles. When he tired of these exotic cluckers he chased the other, lesser chickens around the coop.

Bennett holds a fresh egg picked up from under a roosting chicken (really!) at O'Keefe Ranch.

Bennett holds a fresh egg picked up from under a roosting chicken (really!) at O’Keefe Ranch, while Avery readies to grab a chick.

Three hours and many animal encounters later — including Avery holding a baby Jacob sheep and many fluffy chicks, and Bennett petting the friendliest farm cat ever — I had to wonder how this was our third trip to the northern Okanagan but only our first visit to O’Keefe Ranch.

Avery cradles a baby Jacob sheep in her lap at O'Keefe Ranch.

Avery cradles a baby Jacob sheep in her lap at O’Keefe Ranch.

Founded by western settler Cornelius O’Keefe, the ranch at the turn of last century was not only a working ranch, but a townsite complete with a church, post office and general store. The ranch has been preserved as an historic site and includes many of the original buildings, such as the O’Keefe mansion, which is open for tours. The General Store is also kitted out with old-time candy and we had a ball troughing on chicken bones, cherry sours and a giant lollipop.

Through these doors lie the best selection of sugary treats this side of the Monashees.

Through these doors lies the best selection of sugary treats this side of the Monashees.

The highlight, of course, were the animals. After our snack, a hayride and a lazy attempt to lasso some faux cows, we circled back to the chicken coop to say goodbye.

Avery hold a chick inside the coop at O'Keefe Ranch.

Avery holds a chick inside the coop at O’Keefe Ranch.

Don’t miss Family Fun Day on August 24, or the corn maze in October.

Pet Beach

Kalamalka Lake near Vernon in the Okanagan Valley has been rated as one of the world’s top 10 most beautiful lakes by National Geographic. It is stunning — its clear blue waters that range in hue from aqua to indigo are framed in by ponderosa pine-forested hills to the east and scrubby, rocky promontories to the west. In the middle of this natural splendour sits Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, a hiker’s and swimmer’s haven with marked trails that lead to secluded bays perfect for a dip on a hot day.

Kids and pup enjoy the clear blue water of Kalamalka Lake.

Kids and pup enjoy Kalamalka Lake at Pet Beach.

We hiked from the main parking lot down to a quiet bay and then up to a rocky lookout that afforded views down the lake and back toward Coldstream, near Vernon. From there it was an easy descent to Pet Beach, a dedicated area where you can let your dog swim. And doggy paddle Piper did. We took her out in the water a few times and let her swim back to shore, where she was rewarded with a treat. Before long she plunged in on her own and swam a lap around Blake. Then Avery threw a stick out for her, which she retrieved, over and over and over again till she was pooped.

High: Piper is officially a water dog! And we had the beach to ourselves, a drastic departure from nearby Kal Beach, the local Coldstream summer hangout that teems with people every day all summer.

Low: For some reason we didn’t bring swimming suits and Bennett tried imitating Piper’s puppy strokes… with all his clothes on.

Outcome: This park is an Okanagan Valley gem. Plan to spend a half day exploring it. Come prepared with water, snacks, swimming suits and a towel or two.