Do you love spending time outdoors during the summer?
While there are several activities to enjoy in Vancouver during the sunny season, many of them require a car to get to. Additionally, many of the most popular hiking trails and beaches see massive crowds.
That's what makes one B.C. destination so attractive to Vancouverites looking to escape the daily grind and leave their keys at a hotel, too.
Located in the breathtaking Okanagan Valley, Penticton is one of only two cities in the world located between two lakes (the other is actually a Swiss town called Interlaken).
Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake each offer several fuel-free activities to enjoy as well as panoramic vistas of the stunning mountain ranges. The freshwater lakes are also perfect for a dip on a hot day and are located near numerous amenities, too.
At Okanagan Lake, beachgoers will have access to a variety of lakeside eateries, shops, accommodations and activities. For those looking to rent a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard, a local company called Hoodoo Adventures offers several options for tours, lessons and independent excursions.
Founded in 2007, the company is located at 103e-250 Marina Way and offers a variety of ocean kayaks for people of all ages. Tours include a wildlife kayak tour, a picnic kayak tour, a wine and cheese kayak tour, a yoga kayak tour and others.
On the wine and cheese tour, kayakers will enjoy two hours of blissful paddling on the pristine Okanagan Lake before visiting a beach in wine country. From there, the group will enjoy a chauffeured tour of boutique wineries along Naramata Bench.
Are you nervous about kayaking?
No problem. Hoodoo offers lessons for everyone from first-time paddlers to seasoned seafarers, too.
The adventure company also offers outdoor enthusiasts rentals and lessons for a range of other activities including rock climbing, camping, mountain biking and snowshoeing.
With sweeping mountain vistas in all directions, Penticton is an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. The region offers a variety of responsibly maintained road cycling routes and bike trails that transport visitors to numerous attractions as well as breathtaking vantage points. You'll never have to travel very far to find the next awe-inspiring lookout that allows you to see for miles and miles across sparkling lakes and soaring mountain ranges.
Freedom Bike Shop is conveniently located within walking distance of the accommodations near Okanagan Lake at 555 Main Street. While the shop offers bikes for all skill levels, many tourists will enjoy renting e-bikes for some of the region's popular trails. The e-bikes allow you to enjoy a full day on your bike visiting many of the most picturesque locations along the trails without feeling exhausted.
Thrill-seekers also have the option to rent mountain bikes and enjoy the Three Blind Mice or Campbell Mountain single-track trails.
The Kettle Valley Railway Trail (KVR) offers a stunning journey through several sweeping orchards and overlooking the breathtaking Okanagan Lake. While there are a few inclines along the trail, an e-bike easily offers an extra push through these gentle uphill segments. Tourists will find several jaw-dropping lookout points along the ride for photo opportunities. The recreational trail network provides nearly 650 km of connected pathways throughout the region but there are several shorter routes for people hoping for a leisurely excursion.
One of the most "Instagrammable" locations on the KVR is Little Tunnel, which offers an incredible perspective of the surrounding landscape. Many people like to photograph their friends riding through the mysterious tunnel or posing just outside of it.
Hoping to stop for a sip or two along the way?
The trail is located near several wineries where cyclists may stop to enjoy a tasting or a bite to eat.
Hillside Winery is located at 1350 Naramata Road just off the trail and offers a picturesque place to stop for a refreshing tasting on a hot day. It focuses on hand-crafted wines made exclusively from Naramata-grown grapes. And with a gentle touch and minimal intervention, Hillside wines may best be described as simple and elegant. The modern farmhouse tasting room offers a casual tasting experience, while the Bistro features a striking 65 seat dining area, lower outdoor patio and an upper open-air patio with breathtaking views of Okanagan Lake.
While the Okanagan is famous for its wineries, there are also several cideries in the region. Creek & Gully Cider is located just down the road from Hillside at 1053 Poplar Grove Road. The family-run business handcrafts its ciders in small batches using PACS Certified Organic apples from Naramata orchards with traditional methods.
Creek & Gully Cider prides itself on keeping "it wild with our farming and ferments" by encouraging the natural microbiome to express itself throught its cider. "We intervene very little in the fermentation process, shepherding the spontaneous action that transforms our apple juice into delicious cider. Our ciders are alive and unfiltered, handmade with minimal sulphites."
The cidery offers a variety of refreshing flavours that are perfect after a long ride. They also offer delicious juice for little ones, too.
Float down a breathtaking 4 mile long lazy river
Spanning an impressive four miles long, the Penticton River Channel offers one of the best floating experiences in British Columbia.
The man-made waterway cuts across the breathtaking Okanagan Valley and offers tubers hours of relaxing fun with stunning vistas in every direction. Connecting Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake, the pristine passageway is considered a bucket list item for the summer season.
Tubers may opt to bring their own floatie or they may rent one from the launch site. There are a number of floaties to choose from, including: solo inner-tubes, double tubes, quad tubes, and ten person party floats.
The length of the float depends on the strength of the current, which varies quite a bit through the year. In fact, it can be anywhere from an hour-and-a-half long to over three. As such, prospective 'floatees' should ensure that they wear sunscreen and bring adequate water with them.
Once you're on the river, you'll notice that the resident water fowl are not afraid of humans. Multiple ducks swim alongside the floats, as well as some Canada Geese. You may also notice that some people appear to float faster than others, and that floating near the edges slows the journey down. That said, it can be dangerous to grab onto anything to slow your float down, so exercise caution. Overall, the float offers a relaxing drift under the hot Okanagan sun, with sweeping mountain views in all directions.
No need to drive in this nearly fuel-free destination
Numerous accommodations near Okanagan Lake are located just steps away from the waterfront as well as a variety of eateries, shops and much more. There's also a place to rent single, two, four, and six-person bikes near the beach, which is a great way to get around town (or burn off a hearty dinner!) This means you can easily leave your car keys in the hotel and enjoy the city on foot.
Penticton has the highest concentration of wineries in the province, but many of the biking and kayaking tours will visit these places. Of course, if you want to indulge a bit more, there are several companies that offer shuttle tours to the wineries, which offers another alternative to leave the car behind and fully relax for the experience.
The Ramada by Wyndham Penticton Hotel & Suites is pet and family-friendly and located minutes from the beach and downtown Penticton. There are several room styles to choose from depending on your needs, which include one-bedroom kitchen suites. The hotel opens onto a large courtyard, featuring a year-round hot tub and seasonal pool and grill, on-site restaurant, a playground and BBQs available for guest use.
For a casual bite to eat, Slackwater Brewing is a local favourite with a gorgeous rooftop patio in the heart of Downtown Penticton that offers 12 taps, including some guest beers and cider, along with a cask engine. Tip: Try Liam's Angry Chicken Sandwhich — the juicy concoction has stayed on the menu for a good reason — it's to die for.
Pizzeria Tratto offers classic Italian flavours in a selection of pasta, pizzas and appetizers. The pizza is made in a traditional domed forno, which churns out perfectly soft, yet charred, Neapolitan pizza.
For elegant dining on the water, look no further than Elma. This Turkish-inspired dining experience offers a wide selection of choices as well as sweeping views of Okanagan Lake. Customers will enjoy everything from savoury flatbreads to fresh seafood to creative cocktails and much more.
Thanks to Ramada by Wyndham Penticton Hotel & Suites ifor providing a two-night stay; all opinions and inclusions are those of the author’s and were not guided or influenced in any way, and the business was not granted any previews of the story prior to publication.