Spokane, Wash.: Family reunion at the Best Western Plus Airport Peppertree Inn

Spokane Washington
My family at the Best Western Plus Airport Peppertree Inn.
Every great hotel has a great lobby, a comfortable, inviting space where you can relax in an overstuffed chair and take in the bustling energy of the travelers coming and going. The staff behind the check-in counter wear warm smiles and quickly learn the names of guests. They remember that you're in town for a wedding or a graduation and ask you how the ceremony went.

My 11-year-old daughter will be the first to tell you this. We recently stayed in a grand, luxurious hotel with a lobby fit for a queen. Oriental rugs the size of small swimming pools were spread across the gleaming hardwood floors and chandeliers dripping with hundreds of sparkling crystals hung from the ceiling. The only problem: Nobody was there and the woman who checked us in looked tired and worn. Her smile was weak. My daughter declared the place depressing.
Spokane Washington
Watching TV in the lobby of the Best Western Peppertree.
The lobby at the Best Western Plus Peppertree Airport Inn immediately won my daughter's approval. When we walked through the door late in the evening, the assistant manager Megan Morgan greeted us with the sort of smile you expect from a long-lost friend. We carried our luggage and bagsful of mini cheeseburgers from a well-loved burger stand called Dick's. Megan invited us to sit at one of the tables in the lobby as if she were welcoming us into our own home. At 10 pm, my kids slurped up vanilla malts in front of a giant TV showing Disney channel. Meanwhile Megan filled me in on all there was to do in Spokane. Even late at night, a few guests trickled in and Megan made sure to say hello to them all. Life was good at the Peppertree.
Spokane Washington
Hot buffet breakfast is included with your room at the Best Western Plus Peppertree.
The next morning the lobby buzzed with activity. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends from afar were in town for college graduations and many carried overflowing bouquets of fragrant flowers. In a dining room off the lobby, my kids and I enjoyed the hot buffet breakfast as we waited for the "dads" (my husband and father) to arrive. The Peppertree breakfast is generous with a full spread of typical breakfast items such as bacon and eggs, a yogurt parfait bar and fresh waffles that you make yourself.

Soon the Dads arrived via the hotel's free airport shuttle. I'd specifically picked the Peppertree because my husband and father would be flying in and out at separate times. I didn't want to spend half my vacation driving to and from the airport.

Spokane Washington
Watching a World Cup game in the lobby of the Best Western Plus Airport Peppertree Inn.
We visited Spokane in the middle of World Cup season and the kids wanted to watch a soccer game. My family plopped down on one of the lobby couches to watch England play Italy while I took the baby up to the room for a nap.
Spokane Washington
Baby Julia gets comfortable at the Best Western Plus Aiport Peppertree Inn.
The rooms at the Peppertree are clean and tidy and the decor is fresh. My kids got a kick out of the decorative pillows on the beds that looked as if they were covered in green grass. Wi-fi is included with the room; a perk at all Best Western properties.  
Spokane Washington
Indoor swimming pool at the Best Western Plus Airport Peppertree Inn.
After a nap and a World Cup game, the kids were ready for a swim.  The hotel's indoor pool is heated and there's also a hot tub. Let's face it, on vacation all my kids really want to do is swim, especially with their dad and grandpa. Cannon balls!
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Spokane, Wash.: Five fun neighborhoods for families to explore

On a visit to Spokane, you can easily spend all your time downtown as Riverfront Park offers an endless array of fun activities for families. But you should also check out the outlying neighborhoods where you'll find leafy streets lined with historic homes, bright blooming gardens and clusters of charming cafes, unique boutiques and hip restaurants where local chefs are using the freshest ingredients from the Spokane Valley to create inventive dishes. Put on your walking shoes and explore these enclaves!

1) Brown's Addition: Spokane's oldest neighborhood
Spokane Washington Family Travel
This was Spokane's first residential neighborhood and for years the city's wealthiest elite lived in its opulent mansions dating back to the 1800s.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
 Today many of those storied homes remain and through the Spokane Historical Society Web site you can take a self-guided tour of the neighborhood's historical buildings. Many of the big, airy homes have been divided and turned into apartment buildings, but a few have been restored to their original glory and are still inhabited by a single family. As you stroll the streets, notice the bronze plaques in front of homes offering up historical facts.
Family Travel Spokane Washington
After a neighborhood stroll, we stopped in the Museum of Arts & Culture, aka the Mac, where a well-curated display of artifacts tell the city's history. My kids had a lot of fun looking at the random assortment of items, including a racehorse blanket worn by a Kentucky Derby champ named Spokane, the mouth piece used by a famed local Trapeze artist who performed all over the world, and a case of artificial eye balls from 1900. Included in admission is a 45-minute tour of the neighboring Campbell House that's been beautifully restored to the exact condition it was in when the Campbells, one of the town's wealthiest families, lived there in the early 1900s.
You'll find a handful of cafes and restaurants in the neighborhood and our favorite was Trattoria Italia, a great Italian spot for lunch or dinner. Sophisticated yet casual, this restaurant could hold its own in any metropolitan city with its menu featuring fresh, flavorful, and light dishes. For lunch we especially liked the panzanella salad — grilled crusty bread tossed with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, prosciutto and chicken. At lunch, everyone gets a free chocolate sundae; a scoop of creamy vanilla gelato drizzled with dark chocolate sauce and topped with fresh cream comes in a cherry red dish.

2) South Perry: Spokane's hippest hood

This might be Spokane's hippest neighborhood. On a warm, balmy Friday evening we visited, the main drag, South Perry, was buzzing with young families pushing strollers and professionals getting off work early. A bright-blue-eyed musicians strummed his guitar outside the Wollnick's General Store where you can buy everything from a toy mustache for your dog to green cleaning supplies to baby blankets made from bamboo. It's basically modern take on the general store specializing in green, high-design items.

Next door, at the newly opened Perry Street Brewery, every table was taken at the outdoor patio. This pub makes its own beers and you can order food from the trucks that pull up on the curb outside. The menu will tell you which trucks come on which days.

Looking to hang somewhere cool in Spokane? This is your spot.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
My recommendation for visiting the neighborhood: Start with a stroll along South Perry where you'll find a few shops from Wollnick's to the running store Title Nine. Grab an outdoor table at the Brewery and order a sample flight of beer so you can get a taste of this pub's wide array of
Spokane Washington Family Travel
Then head over to South Perry Pizza where the cooks pull fro the oven piping hot blistery pies topped with fresh vegetables such as arugula and cherry tomatoes and salty meats like sopressetta salami.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
Before leaving the main drag, stop in The Shop for a latte or a scoop of ice cream. Try the dirt, Oreo Cookie in chocolate pudding ice cream.

4) Manito: Spokane's garden enclave
Family Travel Spokane Washington
 Spokane's tony South Hill neighborhood includes many smaller enclaves including Manito, which is the area around the Manito Gardens. Within this 90-acre Eden you'll find blooming flower beds, well-manicured lawns, a duck pond, biking paths, and playgrounds. The park is beautifully cared for and immaculate.
Family Travel Spokane Washington
The park is divided into five gardens: Rose, Japanese, Duncan, Dahlia, Lilac, and Perennial. In the Joel E. Ferris Perennial Garden all of the plants are labeled and we had fun reading the names: Lamb's Ears, Woolly Thyme, Dwarf Clustered Bellflower, Elfwort.
Family Travel Spokane Washington
At the Rose Garden, we played a family game of tag, running along the broad grassy boulevards dividing the rows of rose bushes.

5) Davenport: Downtown's history spot goes cool
Spokena Washington Davenport District
This urban hood is centered around the historic Davenport Hotel, an opulent property dating back to 1914 and filled with hand-painted frescoes, ornate woodwork and European marble.

Across the street you'll find one of the city's coolest restaurants that looks as if it belongs in downtown Manhattan. Noodu (above) was opened by Josh Hissong, who owns the cutting-edge architecture firm HDG Architecture and Design. His firm has designed the spaces for many restaurants in Seattle and the eatery right next door to Nodu, Fire Artisan Pizza (also worth a try). Hissong wanted a restaurant of his own and opened the ramen house Nodu in 2014. The walls of the narrow restaurant are covered in tantalizing Roy Lichtenstein-style pop art and diners sit in sleek gray booths and modern white chairs.
Spokane Washington Davenport District
The ramen burger at Nudo in downtown Spokane looks unusual but tastes great.
My kids slurped up bowls of steamy ramen noodles topped with meat and veggies and my father was adventuresome and ordered the burger with a bun made from compressed ramen. My father declared it bizarre but delicious.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
Ice scream you scream for ice cream at Bruttle's historic candy shop in Spokane.
Next door to Nudo, we stopped in Bruttles, an old-timey candy store with chocolates and caramels made with the same recipes that were used when the shop was originally opened 60 years ago. The businesses started as a turn-down service for the Davenport Hotel across the street and now sells its treats to the public. The store's signature candy is a soft peanut butter brittle introduced by the original owner Aunt Sophia. My kids opted for some ice cream.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
A few blocks away the Fox Theater is a sentinel in the neighborhood with it's towering sign reaching for the sky. This classic theater first opened in 1931 and was built with a full-height stage house, orchestra pit and dressing rooms to accommodate a range of movies and live performances. On opening night searchlights rose above the theater and the streets outside were packed with over 30,000 people. The world premiere of Merely Mary Ann was shown and the film's stars, Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor, attended.

In the 1970s, the audiences waned as movie-goers turned to suburban theaters and the Fox was divided into several small theaters and then slowly declined into disrepair. In 2000, the plan was to demo the theater to make way for a parking lot but local philantrhopist Miss Martin Woldson decided the theater must be saved and put $3 million toward restoring it. The community rallied and more money was raised and in 2007 the Fox, beautifully restored to its original glory, opened. It's now home to the Spokane Symphony and hosts big-name musicians from all over the world.

If you're visiting, it's worth checking to see if you can get tickets to a performance.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
Across from the Fox, you'll find Spokane's first movie theater, The Bing Crosby, originally opened in 1915. The theater was originally called the Clemmer but later named after Bing Crosby, one of the city's most famous locals. Today it hosts touring groups and performances by local music and theater groups.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
The block of Sprague Avenue just past the Fox and Bing Crosby Theaters has become a popular for unique boutiques. We stopped in Artemis a home and clothing store specializing in items by local designers.
Spokane Washington Family Travel
Next door, the shelves at Vintage Angel are filled with gently used cowboy boots that have been dusted and polished.You'll find all styles and colors but I especially loved the row of white boots. The salesperson told me the owner had been collecting the white boots for years.

Audubon: Gateway to Riverside Park
 If you follow the Spokane River northwest of downtown, you'll enter this residential neighborhood of tree-lined streets, wide sidewalks and well-kept bungalows. The neighborhood is often called the "Gateway to Riverside Park" as it borders this popular hiking spot. Also, you'll find a couple excellent restaurants, including Flying Goat Pizza and the Downriver Grill, as well as Audubon Park, where locals spread out their blankets and unpack picnic baskets to listen to live music under the pines during the summer.

Audubon Neighborhood Spokane Washington
The best Pizza in Spokane: Flying Goat
We drove to this neighborhood on our last day in Spokane and grabbed lunch at Flying Goat Pizza, where we enjoyed what was hands-down our best meal in Spokane. The menu is simple with fresh salads and thin-crust pizzas but the preparations are inventive. The Kiernan pizza is topped with a hay stack of arugula with a poached egg at its center. 
A modern take on an old-school English pub, "The Goat," as locals call it, aims to embrace the surrounding hood. Pizzas are named after local streets, salvaged wood from an old grain elevator is used throughout the restaurant and an arresting image from nearby Riverside Park hangs on the wall. But what was opened as a watering hole and pizza joint for Audubon residents has turned into one of Spokane's most loved eateries. Arrive early to avoid lines!  
Spokane Washington Family Travel
After lunch, we drove less than 10 minutes to Riverside State Park. A network of trails winds through 14,000 acres that make up the second largest state park in Washington. It's a great spot for a brisk 30-minute walk or a full-day hike.
We visited the most popular Bowl and Pitcher area where a suspension bridge crosses the Spokane River. As my family hiked into a forest of towering pines, I thought about the past few days in the Washington city. We glided over a waterfall in a gondola built in a park that was originally built for a World's Fair, walked the halls of a beautifully restored 1900s mansion and dined at restaurants as good as any you'll find in Manhattan. And now here we were in pristine wilderness just minutes from all the action.

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Dick's: Best burgers in Spokane, Wash.

Where can a family of four eat for $15? Dick's Hamburgers in Spokane, Wash.
We arrived in Spokane, Wash., at 9 p.m. We'd traveled over six hours all the way from Kelowna, B.C., driving around Lake Okanagan where vineyards blanketed the surrounding hillsides and then passing through pristine timberland before entering a vast sagebrush dessert where we were treated to a spectacular lightning storm. As we crossed Grand Coulee Dam, the rain poured so hard that police officers were parked at either side of the bridge to make sure drivers crossed safely.

We wanted to reach Spokane before dark so we didn't stop for dinner. When we finally arrived in town, we were famished and went directly to Dick's Hamburgers on the outskirts of downtown.

A friend of mine grew up in Spokane and when I asked him, "What's the one thing we should do?" he said, "Eat at Dick's"
You can't miss this place as it's marked by a brightly lit sign with a panda bear holding a burger. At this old-fashioned burger stand, you order at the window and take your burgers to eat in the car or at home.

The burgers are small and cheap (about one dollar each) and diners order bagsful. You can also try the "Whammy" with two patties. My kids asked for lettuce and tomatoes but they don't serve their burgers with vegetables. Just cheese, onions, pickles and sauce.

We each ordered a cheese burger, a vanilla malt and one order of onion rings--all of this cost about $15--and took our food back to the Best Western Plus Peppertree Airport Inn where we enjoyed a picnic in the lobby.
Spokane Washington Family Travel

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Spokane's Riverfront Park: A playground for families

Spokane Washington Family Travel Things To Do
Spokane's Riverfront Park is a fun place for families to play.
Spokane, Wash., hosted the World's Fair in 1974 to revive its blighted downtown. Many doubted that this small city of well under 200,000 could pull off an international event. But like the "Little Engine that Could," the community rallied and created a 100-acre park hugging the Spokane River. Big-name companies and countries from around the world built exhibits and attractions luring in over 5 million people. The world's smallest Expo was declared a big success.

Today, Riverfront Park continues to attract locals and visitors from all over. The river still cascades through its heart and when you walk along the many bridges and pathways that get you close to the roaring, rushing water, you can feel its refreshing sprays. A few highlights from World Expo '74 still remain, such as a collection of carnival rides, and there are new things to check out. In a nutshell: This park offers nonstop fun for families and here's a list of things you must do on a visit. 
Spokane Family Travel Things To Do
Spokane Falls Skyride gets you up close and person with a raging waterfall.
1) Get a close up view of the falls on the SkyRide. Like giant toys, window-filled gondolas hang over the country's second-largest urban falls. Catch a ride in one and you'll get a close up view of Spokane Falls as you drop down 200 feet and then travel back up. The ride lasts about 15 minutes.

2) Take a whirl on the carousel. Fifty-four beautifully hand-carved horses, one giraffe and one tiger populate this well-preserved masterpiece dating back to 1909. Which one should you hop on? Doesn't matter as long as you get on the outside so you can pull plastic rings from the dispenser and toss them at the clown's mouth.

3) Feed the goat garbage. Is it a real goat? No, it's just a cool statue and if you press a button the goat sucks up garbage from you hand.

4) Glide across the ice at the Ice Palace. If you're lucky to visit the park late October through February, you can glide across one of the best outdoor skating rinks in the country.

Spokane Riverfront Park
Love rides that make you dizzy? The Sizzler is for you.
5) Get tossed around on the Pavilion Amusement Rides. From the Tilt-A-Whirl to the Sizzler, these carnival-type rides will have you flying all over the place. Prefer something tamer? Try the Ferris wheel.

6) Catch a movie on a humongous screen. A projector the size of a Volkswagen beams movies up on a five-story-high screen. You feel as if you're part of the action.

7) Tour the park on a train. This red train on wheels rolls through the park as the conductor highlights points of interest and historical facts. Thirty-minute ride.

8) Slide down a giant wagon. You can't miss the giant Radio Flyer wagon. The cool thing about this gigantic sculpture by artist Ken Spiering is you can slide down the front of it. Spiering meant for the piece of artwork to be a symbol of childhood.
Spokane Riverfront Park

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Spokane, Wash: A fun family getaway spot

Have you ever considered Spokane, Wash., as a family getaway spot? Our family did!
Family Travel Spokane Washington
 Our family was ready to welcome summer with a mini vacation. Our two oldest kids had put away their backpacks and finished up school.  My husband had wrapped up a major project at work. As a mom with a new baby, I'd changed a lot of diapers and spent many days at home. I was rearing to get out and about.

We decided on Father's Day weekend and wanted to pick a vacation spot that was fun for the kids and would be easily accessible for grandpa who'd be coming from Seattle. We'd been to Portland, Ore., many times and the Northwest Coast. My eye was drawn to eastern Washington, an area I'd never explored....Spokane!
Spokane Family Travel
Spokane's Riverfront Park is a giant playground for families.
I'd heard wonderful things about its riverfront park filled with fun attractions for kids. Plus, my husband is a river scientist and he loves seeing how city's incorporate rivers into their downtown areas.

My father was game. "Did you know they had a World's Fair in Spokane? 1974. The year you were born." I always love having my dad along as he's a great source for historical information.

I booked a three-night stay at the Best Western Plus Peppertree Airport Inn because the airport location would be convenient. My husband and father would be flying in and out at separate times and I didn't want to spend half my vacation driving to and from the airport. The hotel has a free airport shuttle. What's more, the hotel has a swimming pool, and let's face it, on vacation all my kids really want to do is swim, especially with their dad and grandpa. Cannon balls!
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British Columbia Family Vacation Day No 9: Our final day on the road in Kelowna

Here are some thoughts and highlights from the ninth day of our British Columbia family vacation. We were happy to spend our final day in Kelowna, B.C.

Best Western Breakfasts are a great way to start the day
One of the reasons my family loves staying at Best Western Hotels is most properties offer free breakfast with your stay. The morning buffet at the Best Western Plus Kelowna was especially impressive with fresh cut fruit, yogurt, a cereal bar, hot waffles and an assortment of hot entrees including eggs, bacon and potatoes.
British Columbia Family Travel Okanagan Valley
How to capture this amazing breakfast in a photo? My son thought it would be funny to put his plate piled with food in front of his baby sister and snap a pic. The hilarious image above is the result of our photo shoot.

Want to get a view of the Okanagan Valley? Hike to the top of Knox Mountain
British Columbia Family Travel Okanagan Valley
 While on the road, I sent out a call for tips on things to do in Kelowna on Twitter. I quickly got a response: Hike to the top of Knox Mountain.
British Columbia Family Vacation Travel Okanagan Valley
This is an excellent suggestion because the many trails winding around this mountain in Kelowna's North End offer sweeping visits of the city, the lake and the surrounding area. It's a steep climb and the higher you go the more you see. You can opt to start at the bottom or drive about halfway up.
British Columbia Family Vacation Travel Okanagan Valley

Okanagan Street Food dishes up tasty comforting grub 
British Columbia Family Travel Kelowna Okanagan Valley
Neil Schroeter is an accomplished and well-regarded Canadian chef with an impressive resume listing those sorts of restaurants that receive five stars and get written up in magazines. Now he's taken his pro chef skills and put them to use in diner-style hole-in-the-wall in an Industrial Park just a couple-minutes drive from Knox Mountain.
British Columbia Family Travel
At Okanagan Street Food, Schroeter and his team dish up tasty comforting grub with a gourmet twist. Think fresh cut fries with truffled mayonnaise, a pulled pork sandwich with balsamic onion marmalade and Caesar salad topped with a homemade cracker.

Most wineries in Kelowna welcome children
 We'd traveled all the way to one of the world's top wine region, we had to visit at least one winery. Is that doable with kids? Actually, the Kelowna area has 29 local wineries and all welcome families
Across the lake in West Kelowna at Quail's Gate, kids can sip apple juice and color while their parents sample pinot.

British Columbia Family Vacation Okanagan Valley
Down the road, Mission Hill Estate is the mansion on the block. An impressive building that's a modern take on mission-style architecture sits atop a mountain overlooking the lake. It's worth stopping here and walking around the grounds even if you don't plan to taste wine.
British Columbia Family Vacation Okanagan Valley
My kids had fun with a sculpture exhibit that's on display at the winery.
British Columbia Family Vacation Okanagan Valley
They also enjoyed rolling down a grassy amphitheater.
British Columbia Family Vacation Okanagan Valley

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British Columbia Family Vacation Day No. 8: Chilliwack to Kelowna

Here are highlights from the eighth day on our British Columbia Family Vacation. We drove from Chilliwack to Kelowna.

The drive from Chilliwack to Kelowna was gorgeous
We traveled along Highways 5 and 97 from Chiliwack to Kelowna, about a three-and-a-half-hour drive. The first stretch cuts through pristine timberland as it hugs the Fraser River. Snow-dusted mountains loomed in the distance. And as we climbed to the top of the Coquilhalla Summit, we started spotting patches of snow on the roadside. Waterfalls were everywhere, hanging like tassels from the mountainsides. As we descended the mountain and reached the town of Merritt, the terrain quickly turned into a vast dessert dotted with pines and sage brush.

Here's some video footage my daughter took of the drive:

The Okanagan Valley is best known for its wine but you'll find more here than grape vines
British Columbia Family Travel Vacation Okanagan Valley
Driving down Highway 97 into the Okanagan Valley, we caught our first glimpse of Okanagan Lake, a vast body of water stretching for 70 miles through the valley that's squeezed between the Cascade and Monashee Ranges. Sparkling under the sunshine, this deep royal blue lake, fed by snow melting on the surrounding steep mountains, is breathtaking. Rows of vineyards line the hills, providing grapes to some of the world's most renowned wineries. The Okanagan Valley is known for its ice wine, a type dessert wine that's produced with grapes pulled from the vine after the first big freeze, but more than 60 types of grapes are grown in the region.
British Columbia Family Vacation Kelowna Okanagan Valley
And while the Okanagan is best recognized as a wine region, you can do a lot more here than sip fine vintages. The area is filled with hiking trails, sandy beaches, golf courses, museums and postcard-picturesque towns sitting on the lake's shores. and with three kids in tow, we weren't here to rub elbows with sommeliers and sip fine vintages — though we hoped to visit a few wineries. Instead, we hoped to do all the other stuff. Plus, we'd heard this scenic valley soaks in a lot of sunshine. Living in San Francisco, where summer's are marred with foggy, cold days, a guarantee of warm, balmy weather was appealing.

Kelowna is a great town for walking
British Columbia Family Vacation
With only one night and one day to explore the area, we decided to focus on Kelowna. This pedestrian-friendly town is centered on the water with wide sidewalks along the main drag, Bernard Avenue, and the waterfront.
British Columbia Okanagan Valley Kelown Family Travel Vacation
We parked our car, changed into comfortable shoes and set out to explore. Downtown is chockablock with restaurants, their cafe tables spilling out on the sidewalk. Families were lined up at Moo-Lix for scoops of ice cream in bright, florescent colors. The warm, sweet smell of homemade waffle cones wafted out the door.
Bernard Avenue leads to the waterfront where tourists gather to look out at the lake and take photos in front of a soaring sculpture called "Spirit of Sale" that was designed to look like the sail on a boat. We walked south to a children's playground where sprays of water keep children cool and then because we had a baby who was eager to crawl around we sat in the grass and basked in the sun.
British Columbia Family Travel Okanagan Valley Kelowna

The Hobo Eatery welcomes diners with wholesome, home-style food
British Columbia Family Vacation Travel
When we arrive in a new town, I look to TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations. The site offers a user-ranked list of eateries and I often find that the number-one recommendation isn't necessarily the city's best white-table-cloth establishment, but rather a favorite, family-friendly affordable locals' joint. That was the case with Kelowna. The number-one ranked restaurant in town is the Hobo Eatery, which is basically a hole-in-the-wall off the main drag with satisfying soups and sandwiches.
The kindhearted owners Crystal and Steve are former youth counselors and took over the restaurant a couple years ago. "I've never been happier," Steve told me. They offer the sort of warm welcome you'd expect to get from your favorite aunt and uncle. They'll pull out a high chair offer a free scoop of Hobo Stew if you have a baby in tow, give you change for the meter, accept American dollars, and even give you an IOU if you don't have enough money to cover your bill. 
British Columbia Family Vacation Travel
The food is wholesome and comforting. My daughter devoured a hearty meat chili topped with cheddar, chives and sour cream and served with a fluffy biscuit studded with cheese and green onions. I enjoyed my broccoli salad dressed in a creamy poppy seed vinegarette and my son was happy with his roast beef and cheddar sandwich packed with fillings. Crystal invited both kids to take a chocolate chip cookie on their way out.

The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites is one of the greenest hotels in Canada
The Best Western Plus Kelowna originally opened in the 1960s as a basic motor lodge in a two-story building that wrapped around a parking lot. In recent years the Kelowna has been under the ownership of Greg Salloum who has transformed and expanded the property with a green vision. The hotel now has 154 rooms and a beautiful, modern eight-floor tower proudly rises above the former fully remodeled motel that now has its own "Environmental Wing."

The Best Western Plus Kelowna is now the greenest hotel in British Columbia, if not all of Canada.

What does green mean? Let's start with the hotel's LEED Certified "Environmental Wing" where my kids and I stayed in a one-bedroom suite. The well-appointed room had low-VOC paint, locally made furnishings and wall coverings made from recycled vinyl. The room was heated with an energy-saving geothermal system, which also kept the bathroom towel rack warm. Getting out of the shower and wrapping up in a warm towel felt luxurious.  

And the list of ways Salloum and his staff are committed to sustainability goes on and on. The heating and cooling systems and the lighting throughout the hotel are energy-efficient. All rooms were equipped with blue recycling boxes, starting in 1990 when recycling wasn't fashionable. Windows are covered in a sliver reflective film that helps to keep rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Rather than use chemical fertilizers, the grounds crew rakes Nature's Gold into the expansive lawn that many of the guests rooms' balconies overlook. Even the left-over coffee grounds at breakfast are composted and used as a garden fertilizer.

The Kelowna welcomes guests with a cozy lobby where you can relax in a comfy leather chair next to a fire. Walk past the front desk, and you enter an impressive room with cathedral ceilings constructed of raw, exposed cement. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the garden and swimming pool. It's a fresh and inviting room that's fit for the pages of the hip home decorating magazine Dwell.

The snappy style is carried throughout the hotel and the rooms, from the deluxe suites with cork floors, maple furniture and granite bathrooms to the bright, high-ceiling standard tower rooms with downtown views.

We stayed in a one bedroom suite in the Environmental Wing and when my daughter walked in she said, "Wow! This is so nice! I think we could just live here, Mom."

The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites is also a great place to relax
After a full week of traveling, we were all exhausted and decided to relax at the hotel and take advantage of its beautiful grounds and amenities.

The kids splashed around in the pool that's housed in a lofty, light-filled atrium. The water sanitized with mineral salt rather than chlorine. My kids appreciated that they could swim underwater with their eyes open. "Mommy, it doesn't sting," my son said.
Two hot tubs, also salt water, sit amid the one-acre outdoor garden. My daughter daughter had fun smelling and exploring the flowers while her bother and sister soaked in the tub.

Back at the room, the kids had fun playing spa and put on the robes and slippers.
After our afternoon of relaxing, we decided to order room service and eat in our spacious one bedroom suite with a kitchenette and family dining table. We enjoy Caesar salads and burgers.

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On the Go with Amy

Travel tips, tricks, and tales from a girl who knows how to travel