H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre, one of the largest municipally-owned water parks in Canada, blends an indoor waterpark and gym, joining an Olympic-size pool and wave simulators with a 12,000-square-foot weight room, cardio area, and fitness studio. The centre's aquatic arena spreads out to accommodate 60-, 80-, and 90-metre waterslides, plus a river run. The FlowRider ocean-wave surf simulator invites boogie boarders to glide atop rippling water; the wave pool's 1.5-metre breakers roll over swimmers and the spray park entertains whippersnappers as they frolic about nozzles and jets spouting H2O. Instructors help members and drop-in participants tone muscles during land- or aqua- fitness classes.
Parking and admission is free at Castle Fun Park, allowing guests to customize their experience by only paying for the attractions and games they choose. Every day from 10 a.m. until midnight, kids and adults of all ages explore activities including mini golf with a view of the mountains. The go kart track, bumper-car arena, and remote-controlled boat pond sate needs for speed, and the shooting gallery and softball and baseball cages let athletes flex their skills. More than 200 games buzz in the arcade, including air hockey and pinball, which strengthens hand-eye coordination and improves players' ability to follow the bouncing ball during sing-along TV jingles.
It's completely dark within the Black Hole, one of Splashdown Park's premier water attractions. The slide twists, turns, and dives through a web of enclosed tubes, and as park visitors slide towards the landing pool, they have no idea what's coming next. Not that increased visibility makes anything less thrilling. At Big Jim's River Run, the sun shines down on a 320-foot simulated river. Its fast, churning whitewater caries tubes and their occupants through a series of rapids, ultimately culminating in a giant splash into the main receiving pool. Nearby, a children's area encompasses six pools and five tamer slides, and a giant hot tub lets adults relax between aquatic attractions or imagine what it's like to be stew.
Nestled behind the 425-foot Oliver Twist and Corkscrew water slides lie some dryer activities. Volleyball and basketball courts bustle with games, and hot dogs cook on gas grills, which are available for rent. Alternatively, the onsite concessions area serves up pizza and burgers.
The staff at Gyro Beach Watersports believes "fun in the sun" is the only way to take full advantage of a summer day. Staffers dedicate their workdays to launching clients into the sparkling water of Okanagan Lake, whether they are paddling in a one-seat kayak or jumping atop a 13-foot water trampoline. At the Giant Water park, located 250 yards from the shore, swimmers leap on bouncy platforms, slide down inflatable equipment, and walk air-filled balance beams, happily slipping into the welcoming, cool lake. For relatively dry fun, the staff pairs visitors with inflatable rafts for relaxing soaks in the sun, or standup paddleboards for on-water gondolier training.
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first garden outside of The People's Republic constructed in the fashion of a Ming Dynasty scholar's residence. The serene naturescape features asymmetrical arrangements, winding paths, and scenic vistas that overlook the garden's courtyards. Depending on the level purchased, an annual membership at the garden gets you, you and your mate, or you and your family (two adults and children under 17) unlimited access to the gardens for a whole year. On top of more garden-gazing than you can fathom, you'll get discounted entry to most programs and events and festivals thrown throughout the year, exclusive invites to members-only soirees, a litter of live pug puppies, a free subscription to the garden's newsletter, and 10% off purchases at the garden's gift shop. Welcome an out-of-town visitor or flower-phobic hypnotist to the placid escape with a complimentary free pass to the gardens (two passes are provided with the dual or family membership), or retreat to a different garden for a change with 10% off admission to VanDusen Botanical Garden.
Chough, a 15-inch-gauge steam locomotive, was an international jet setter before settling down at Bear Creek Park Train. Built in Holland in 1968, Chough went on to serve stints in model-train stores and tracks in London, Kent, and Scotland before rolling onto Canadian soil in the spring of 1996. Today, he and chugging buddy Eddy the Engine haul passengers into the cottonwood forests of Bear Creek Park, passing through a tunnel decorated according to holiday or season. The pair trundles past Bear Creek Floral Garden and across King Creek Bridge before pulling back into the station, where passengers can slurp up ice cream and other treats.
Nearby, the 18-hole mini golf course offers a different way to commune with Mother Nature. Like the tank of a scuba-diving naturalist, the course is filled with fresh air. Each hole incorporates the surrounding landscape so that the putting greens blend into towering cedar, hemlock, spruce, and fir trees, and between holes nine and 10, gurgling water streams from a fountain sandwiched between Squamish basalt-rock columns.
Surrounded by rolling mountains and the shimmering waters of Okanagan Lake, packs of go-karts spend their days chasing each other around Westside Superkarts’ challenging track. Under new management, Westside allows adult karts to navigate four hairpin and four banked turns at various speeds—basic single and double karts can hit 35 kph, performance karts are capable of 60 kph, and Extreme Elite karts reach velocities of up to 75 kph. Kiddie karts putter around a separate track, offering their young operators important driving tips, such as how to pass politely. After the races are finished, drivers may receive a personalized print-out or e-mail of their lap times, view them through a smart phone app, and have them posted to Facebook.
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