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8 must-do summer activities in Penticton

From worldly wine tours to world-class rock climbing, there’s plenty to discover in this paradise in the South Okanagan
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In Penticton, you can easily explore by foot, pedal or paddle.

For Vancouver locals like us, there’s no local summer vacation spot quite like the Okanagan Valley. This B.C. gem offers scenic paddleboarding, creative craft brews, endless sunshine, and so much more.

Penticton offers quick and easy access to all outdoor trails and adventures, wineries and breweries, and more. Unlike other cities in the Okanagan region, where you’ll find yourself spending most of your time driving around, Penticton is fuel free... almost. In most cases, you can just park your car and easily explore by foot, pedal or paddle.

As a year-round destination for good times, there’s lots of activities to keep you occupied during the summer months. Here’s what you absolutely must see and do in Penticton in the summertime.

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Float the river channel on a hot and lazy summer day. Photo by Chris Stenberg/Visit Penticton

1. Get out on the water

There are only two cities in the world located between two lakes – one of them is the Swiss town of Interlaken, and the other, Penticton.

On a hot and lazy summer day, you can grab a rubber floatie and float the river channel between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake for 7 km. Rentals for single floaties and multi-seater floating islands are provided by Coyote Cruises, situated at the start of the float on Riverside Drive. 

There are many other ways to explore the area’s waterways, including waterskiing, wakesurfing, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming, or by cooling down and soaking up the sun on one of Penticton’s sandy beaches. Or set sail with a 4-hour sailing adventure with Winds of Change Experiences.  

2. Hike or bike the KVR Trail 

Converted from a decommissioned rail trail to a recreational trail network, the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail stretches a grand 660 km from Hope to Castlegar, connecting Penticton to Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Summerland and everywhere in between. The section between Penticton and Naramata is one of the most developed areas of the KVR Trail, taking you through vineyards and orchards with gorgeous viewpoints of the valley, mountains, and lake throughout. 

Choose your preferred outdoor activity – be it walking, hiking, biking, or horseback riding – and experience one of Penticton’s most iconic attractions. For e-bike rentals, visit Pedego or Penticton E-Kruise.

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Rock climbing at Skaha Bluffs. Photo by Kari Medig/Destination BC

3. Enjoy world-class rock climbing

Rock climbing in Penticton is guaranteed to be a scramble you won’t forget. The South Okanagan’s dry and warm weather between March and October gives Penticton the longest climbing season in the country, and the rocks at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park are one of the top rock climbing destinations in Canada. What makes Skaha Bluffs a world-class destination for climbing is the easy access to over 1,200 routes, with incredible views of Skaha Lake below. Plus, the park is located only 10 minutes south of downtown.

Skaha Bluffs is meant for climbers of many levels, including novice, intermediate and advanced climbers. Hoodoo Adventures and Skaha Rock Adventures offer rock climbing lessons to show new climbers the ropes.

4. Go on a wine tour

Nicknamed the Napa Valley of the North, the Okanagan Valley is a paradise for wine touring adventures, with more than 180 wineries in operation that produce over 75 grape varietals. 

Penticton sits at the heart of all the activity, with close to 90 wineries within a 20 minute drive, making it the perfect base for wine tours. Through operators such as Grape Escapes Wine Tours and Cheers Okanagan Tours, you can take in the surrounding vineyards and orchards as you sip the wine varietals and taste the culinary delicacies on offer. For added fun, combine wine touring with outdoor adventure by booking a guided biking wine tour with Epic Cycling, a kayak and wine tour with Hoodoo Adventures, or a hop-on hop-off ride on the Grape Savvy Wine Trolley.

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Wine tasting at Poplar Grove Winery. Photo by Wei with Photography/Visit Penticton

5. Hang out at the local breweries

Home to eight craft breweries, Penticton is Canada's craft beer capital. In the area locally referred to as the Penticton Beer Blocks, there are more breweries per capita in Penticton than any other Canadian city. From Tin Whistle Brewing, the original craft brewery of the South Okanagan, to Abandoned Rail Brewing, which uses its own estate-grown barley in its brews, each of the eight establishments is worth a visit to their taproom or patio. 

6. Shop at the summer markets

Along Main Street in the downtown Penticton core, you can peruse through the Penticton Farmers' Market and the Downtown Penticton Community Market, taking place every Saturday all summer long, with a variety of market stalls, food vendors, and live entertainment galore. 

Vendors proudly make, bake or grow everything they bring to the Farmers’ Market. On any given Saturday morning, you’re bound to find farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, honey, baked goods, preserves, local liquor, handmade crafts, clothing and jewellery, antiques, furniture, and more to shop from.

7. Learn about the local history 

snpintktn (nsyilxcən name that “Penticton” comes from) or the Penticton Indian Band, is one of the seven member communities of the syilx Okanagan Nation, the original people of the land associated with B.C.’s Southern Interior. Visitors can learn more about Indigenous history, art and culture by visiting the En’owkin Centre, located on the Penticton Indian Band reserve in a traditional pit house. 

The Penticton Museum also has a permanent display, the Syilx-scape, which focuses on the first people to inhabit the Penticton area, the Syilx (or Okanagan First Nation). See a model of a traditional village, and learn more about a culture and way of life thousands of years old.

Those interested in uncovering the Okanagan Valley’s marine history can stop by the S.S. Sicamous Marine Heritage Park, where you’ll have the unique opportunity to explore Canada's largest surviving sternwheeler, the SS Sicamous.

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Get “All Shook Up” at the Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival. Photo by Gord Goble/Visit Penticton

8. Catch a local festival or marathon event

All year ‘round, Penticton is buzzing with all sorts of festivals and events. As the host of 30 annual major events, there is sure to be a fitness marathon, cultural showcase, or live entertainment festival that you can take part in during your visit to Penticton.

This summer’s festivals and events season will include:

  • Penticton Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival from June 27-30 at Okanagan Lake Park
  • Penticton Scottish Festival from July 5-6 at King's Park
  • Peach Classic Triathlon on July 7 at Rotary Park
  • Okanagan Granfondo on July 14 across Penticton
  • Penticton Peach Festival from August 7-11 at Okanagan Lake Park
  • IRONMAN Canada Triathlon on August 25

The drive between Vancouver and Penticton takes just under five hours. Or, you can hop on one of the daily direct flights with Pacific Coastal Airlines from Vancouver International Airport and arrive at Penticton Regional Airport in less than one hour. 

Visit www.visitpenticton.com for more inspiration for your next trip to Penticton.