If you still have vacation days to make use of come September and beyond, you’re in luck, because the perfect local getaway is waiting for you!
Dotted along lakeshores and waterways, the vibrant communities of the South Okanagan offer a unique blend of country charisma and city culture. With a relaxed pace and lots of space, it’s just the B.C. retreat you want and need.
An easy drive from Metro Vancouver, the region is connected by the Highway 97 corridor that runs through the Okanagan Valley. Driving along the Coquihalla/97C connector towards Peachland, you can travel through the region and depart through Osoyoos along Hwy 3 before heading back to Vancouver, making this route a perfect circle tour.
Visiting the South Okanagan in the fall months is one of the best times to visit the B.C. interior for a multitude of reasons — the weather is still warm and sunny, the fall foliage is alive with vibrant colour, highways are quieter, accommodations and local businesses offer great value, and there are great options for outdoor activities, including cycling along the Kettle Valley Rail trail and water activities on Okanagan Lake, Skaha Lake, Vaseux Lake, and Osoyoos Lake.
Plus, with roughly 150 wineries within the region and a reputation for producing fresh, high-quality local produce, the South Okanagan is the place for exploring world-class fine wines paired with farm-to-table culinary experiences.
From peaceful Peachland, the city of Penticton, to the acclaimed wine country of Oliver-Osoyoos, here are the must stops for your road trip in the South Okanagan this fall.
Peachland waterfront. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
‘Make The Right Turn’ off the Coquihalla/97C connector, at the most northern point of the South Okanagan region and you’ll find yourself at Peachland — a serene lakeside community with beautiful beaches and a variety of experiences in nature.
At Swim Bay, Peachland’s main beach hangout, you can unwind on the sand or drift on the gentle waves at this family-friendly, life-guarded, and wheelchair accessible spot. For fishing, the pier at Heritage Park is within short walking distance.
Explorers can hike the mountain trails, take an ATV tour into the backcountry, or see Peachland from the skies through the ZipZone, one of Canada’s highest, longest, and faster ziplines at Pincushion Mountain Park. During the fall, you can watch the salmon spawn at Hardy Falls.
Wine lovers will want to check out Peachland’s top two wineries — Hainle Vineyards for certified organic wines and Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards at the historic Greata Ranch.
Matsu Drive in Summerland, B.C. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
A playground for all seasons, Summerland’s seemingly endless summers are followed by a warm and vibrant fall.
The extinct volcano dome of Giant’s Head Mountain towers 500 metres above Okanagan Lake, making its peak the prime lookout spot for the picturesque town below and the valley landscape beyond.
Golfers will enjoy tee-ing off at Summerland’s two award-winning courses — Sumac Ridge Golf and Country Club, highest-rated short course in B.C, and Summerland Golf and Country Club on Paradise Flats — with unparalleled panoramic views.
Agritourism is ripe at Summerland's lush orchard farms and sweeping vineyards. You can sample the fruit syrups and gourmet jams at Summerland Sweets and check out the Farmers Market on Tuesday mornings until October.. Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive is filled to the brim with boutique wineries, cideries, breweries, and distilleries — including the organic winery at Sage Hills to the apple-based spirits at Alchemist Distiller.
Follow the fresh warm breezes scented lightly with fruit blossoms to Naramata, a village on the shore of Okanagan Lake with lush, pastoral views of the surrounding scenery.
As you navigate through the meandering country road, you will find yourself within the vineyards and orchards of Canada’s premiere wine region of Naramata Bench. Touring the winding 14 km wine trail is relaxed and rewarding as the twenty-nine member wineries are a short drive from one another; each tasting room presents unique wines and distinctive experiences — from the premium Bench 1775 to the one-of-a-kind Elephant Island under the shade trees.
Paddling is the way to explore Okanagan Lake from the village’s shores at Manitou Park and Wharf Park. In the mountains above Naramata, Chute Lake is stocked with rainbow trout for fishing.
Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Penticton. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
Nestled in the heart of the South Okanagan, Penticton is one of only two cities in the world situated between two lakes — with Okanagan Lake to the north and Skaha Lake to the south. For that reason, this lakeside locale is the spot for water activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and boating on the shimmering blue waters.
Penticton is also the perfect home base for wine touring, with over 80 wineries within a 20 minutes drive of the city, including Poplar Grove Winery with its patio bistro and Painted Rock Estate Winery. Or, rent a bike and tour the local wineries, cideries, and distilleries of the Naramata Bench just off the Kettle Valley Trail.
As the growing capital for craft brewing in B.C., Penticton is among the country’s top beer towns; the Penticton Ale Trail will take you to Seven tap rooms and patios with local favourites like Tin Whistle Brewing, Slackwater Brewing, and Cannery Brewing.
A good wine, beer, or cider pairs well with the local fresh produce Penticton, home to one of the best farmers markets in B.C., is known for. With an emerging culinary scene, experience how the local chefs are influenced by the changing of the seasons.
The Restaurant at Poplar Grove. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
For the adventure seekers, Three Blind Mice and Campbell Mountain are two destinations with trails for hikers and bikers of all ages and abilities, offering incredible vistas of the South Okanagan valley.
For a quaint rural break, the small town of Kaleden offers the scenic beauty of lakefront living coupled with a friendly community spirit.
Kaleden, which means ‘beautiful garden’, is home to Linden Gardens, a picturesque 9-acre garden paradise with kaleidoscopic colours that change with the seasons, including the warm hues of autumn.
Before continuing along your road trip journey, stop by SKAHA Vineyard at Krāzē Legz Winery and visit Black Market Wine Company for some artisan wines.
Okanagan Falls. Photo: Allen Jones, provided by Visit South Okanagan.
As you enter the Okanagan Falls — found on the south end of Skaha Lake — take notice of the steep cliffs and canyons that line the vistas. The hillside area is often brimming with wildlife such as mountain goats, red tail hawks, and eagles. A hike to the top of Peach Cliff mountain will give you expansive views overlooking the lake.
Okanagan Falls is lush with orchards of apricot, cherry, peach, and apple trees; in the fall months, U-Pick farms and roadside fruit stands are brimming with these seasonal fruits.
With over 20 wineries located around Skaha Lake, Okanagan Falls is the Heart of Wine Country, with B.C.’s premium and most innovative favourites such as Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Stag's Hollow, Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery, and See Ya Later Ranch based in the region.
OLIVER OSOYOOS WINE COUNTRY
The final wine tour destination of the South Okanagan is Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country, with over 40 wineries that have won more accolades than any other wine region in the country. Showcasing a range of varietals in their vineyards, the warm and sunny desert slopes of Canada’s wine capital produces over 60% of all the wine grapes in the province. Here, you’ll find notable B.C. wineries such as Jackson Triggs, Nk'Mip Cellars, and Sonora Desert Winery.
Local fruit and produce stands are in abundance in the Oliver-Osoyoos region, with orchards and farms such as Osoyoos Fruit Basket and C&C Family Orchards providing a fall harvest of fruits, vegetables, and more in the summer and fall months.
Nk'Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course in Oliver. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
Beyond wine, Oliver is known as a small town with big room for connecting with nature. Outdoor highlights include the International Hike and Bike Path, a 18.4 km point-to-point trail that takes you through Oliver along the Okanagan River, and the Wildlife Sanctuary and Trail at Vaseux Lake, where you can go bird-watching before the birds make their migration for the winter months.
Golfers will not want to miss out on tee-ing off at Fairview Mountain and Nk'Mip Canyon Desert — two premier golf course facilities located in Oliver.
At the southernmost tip of the South Okanagan is Osoyoos, a captivating lakeside town characterized by desert lands, vineyards, and mountains.
The majestic Osoyoos Lake holds the distinction of being the warmest freshwater lake in all of Canada, making it the perfect place for a late summer-early fall beach day or afternoon on the water.
Osoyoos. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
In Osoyoos, you’ll find acres of orchards. Stop at a roadside stand to get your fill of fall produce: crisp apples, ripe plums, and mounds of brightly coloured squash are just a few in-season offerings. Or, sip straight from the source at one of their local cideries or distilleries.
No stop to Osoyoos is complete without visiting the area’s character attractions. Immerse yourself in the desert with a visit to the Osoyoos Desert Centre: an ecological centre with a scenic 1.5km boardwalk trail through the desert.
Or, visit the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre to learn about the land, legends, and people through Osoyoos’ deep-rooted Indigenous history and culture. For the young, and the young at heart, be sure to stop at the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad – a 4000 square foot miniature wonderland that will captivate and delight you.
Osoyoos Lake. Photo provided by Visit South Okanagan.
Framed by lakes, vineyards, orchards, and desert hills, the South Okanagan region is the ultimate destination for your local weekend escapes and vacations this fall and all year ‘round.
For more info, see visitsouthokanagan.com.