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Okanagan Valley Road Trip: What to Do and Where to Stop

The Okanagan Valley is hard to beat for a summer road trip. The views are epic, distances are short (it’s only 170km from Osoyoos to Vernon), the local produce plentiful, the weather wonderfully warm.

Plus, there’s a lake everywhere you look. There’s definitely no shortage of things to do in the Okanagan Valley!

Vineyards sloping towards Okanagan Lake, Naramata Bench
The Naramata Bench wine region in the Okanagan Valley

With surroundings as beautiful as this, you can’t really go wrong whatever you do on an Okanagan Valley road trip.

With this in mind, here are our favourite things to do in the Okanagan Valley on a road trip. We’ve lived in Penticton for 5+ years now so we’ve explored this area reasonably extensively.

Elevated viewpoint looking down on lake surrounded by vineyards in Osoyoos
Osoyoos Lake

If you were to base your Okanagan Valley road trip itinerary entirely on the places mentioned in this post, you should allow 5-7 days.

Short on time? Head to Penticton and spend at least one day in town before road tripping out to Oliver/Osoyoos (south) and Summerland/Peachland (north).

An alternative idea would be to base yourself in Vernon and day trip to the Kelowna area.

A hand holds up a wine glass containing red wine in front of vineyards and lake view in Penticton. Wine tasting is one of the best activities on any Okanagan Valley road trip
Wine tasting on the Naramata Bench

Here’s what to expect in this post:

Screenshot of Okanagan Valley road trip Google Map
Click here or above to view Okanagan Valley road trip map

Published 2019, updated 2022. There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Okanagan Valley is located on the traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan and Nlaka’pamux Nations.

Tubers float down the Penticton Channel
Floating the Penticton Channel, a quintessential summer activity in the Okanagan Vallety

Osoyoos 

The town of Osoyoos is the perfect introduction to the Okanagan Valley. Hot, dry and yet also wildly abundant with local produce, this is the Canada that overseas visitors never imagine. 

Osoyoos is the most southern destination in the Okanagan Valley, located just on the border with the USA.

Panoramic views of the town of Osoyoos and Osoyoos lake from Anarchist Mountain, Osoyoos
Osoyoos

Top things to do in Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley:

  • Take a swim! The warm waters of Osoyoos Lake are enticing, no matter whether you like swimming, floating, sunbathing, paddling or boating.
  • Spotted Lake is an unusual natural formation just off Highway 3A. Dozens of small mineral rich coloured pools remain after the lake water evaporates in summer
  • Anarchist Mountain is accessed via a steep, winding section of the highway but offers the best panoramas in town. If you want to get even higher, check out Mt Kobau and take a hike
  • The Desert Centre is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the unique ecology of the Osoyoos area. Walk the 1.5km elevated interpretive boardwalk for a better view
  • Haynes Point (sẁiẁs Provincial Park) is a peninsula jutting out into warm Osoyoos Lake. There is a boardwalk here, great swimming and a very popular campground
The patchwork of tiny lakes that make up Spotted Lake
Spotted Lake – one of the most unusual places to visit in the Okanagan Valley

Looking to book a stay in Osoyoos?

Watermark Beach Resort – Our top pick. Located right beside Osoyoos Lake, this upscale hotel is also only 5 minutes walk from a choice of restaurants and shops.

Spirit Ridge – Spectacularly situated above vineyards and Osoyoos Lake. There is a heated outdoor pool, hot tub and highly rated restaurant.

Lakeview Motel and Suites – Highly rated option offering excellent value for money. Just a short walk from the beach.

Read Next: 50+ Things to Do in Osoyoos

Back view of JR sitting on bench looking out to mountain view. Osoyoos Lake sits in the valley in the distance

Oliver and Okanagan Falls

Fiercely hot in summer, the area between Osoyoos and Oliver produces the best red wines the Okanagan Valley (perhaps in all of Canada!) has to offer.

Fruit is also plentiful here, be sure to stop at one of the many fruit stands along Highway 97. 

Vineyards sloping down towards valley bottom in Oliver
Wine tasting in Oliver

Fun things to do in Oliver and Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley

  • Meander between the many wineries found on this parallel drive but don’t miss Platinum Bench Estate Winery; wine tastings here are offered with samples of home made bread and cheese.
  • Burrowing Owl Estate is worth a stop just for a peek at the beautiful winery grounds. The wine range is pretty great too!
  • If you’re pushed for time, consider a stop at the new District Wine Village. There are 13 wineries plus a brewery and a distillery in one location
  • Those feeling more active should take a hike to McIntyre Bluff (nʕaylintn). The four-hour return trail to the summit provides awesome panoramic views of vineyards, orchards and arid lands.
  • Vaseux Lake is a picturesque stop for a picnic, paddle or swim. There is a bird observatory, accessible via a short boardwalk, at the northern end of the lake.
  • Take a tour of the Dominion Radio Observatory and learn a thing or two about the skies above the Okanagan Valley (unfortunately closed since 2020)
  • Just above the community of Okanagan Falls, the Peach Cliff hike is short, interesting and rewarding. The epic views stretch from Penticton to Vaseux Lake.
Calm lake view with reeds in foreground and mountains in background
Vaseux Lake (McIntyre Bluff is the hill with a steep drop-off on the right)

Looking to book a stay in Oliver or Okanagan Falls?

Coast Oliver Hotel – Newly built chain hotel, within walking distance of everywhere in downtown Oliver.

The Orchard at Oliver – Highly rated, newly renovated motel style accommodation with swimming pool and hot tub. There are cabins too.

Holiday Beach Resort Motel – Great value option in Okanagan Falls, just a stone’s throw from the beach.

Side view of Gemma and small dog sat on ground in front of scenic lake views at the top of Peach Cliff
Hiking to the top of Peach Cliff

Penticton

I may be more than a little biased, but Penticton is the perfect place to base your Okanagan road trip. Yes, Kelowna is bigger, but Penticton has great accessibility, small town charm and two spectacular lakes to enjoy!

Elevated view towards Penticton from Munson Mountain, with a bench in the foreground
Looking towards Penticton from Munson Mountain (a must stop on any Okanagan Valley road trip)

Best things to do in Penticton

  • Fruit, vegetables, coffee, street food, crafts and more – the Saturday morning Penticton Farmers’ Market is an essential summer stop when visiting the Okanagan Valley.
  • Join the Kettle Valley Rail trail at Vancouver Hill and take in the beautiful panoramic views of Okanagan Lake and Penticton. Click for more recommended Penticton hiking trails
  • Go wine touring on the Naramata Bench, BC’s most spectacular wine region with 40+ boutique on one 20km stretch of road. The wineries are so close, you can even go for a walking wine tour.
  • The perfect compliment to your new wine purchases (above), pick up some locally made cheese at Popular Grove Cheese or Upper Bench Winery, both located on the Naramata Bench.
  • Floating the Channel is an absolute must do in Penticton in summer! It’s also a completely free activity if you have your own tube. Rentals are available if you don’t. 
  • Just south of town, Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park offers hundreds of world class climbing routes plus challenging hiking trails
  • With eight at the last count, Penticton has the most craft breweries per capita in British Columbia. Tour one, tour them all. 
  • And of course, with Penticton being one of the few towns in the world located between two lakes, there are plenty of wonderful local beaches for swimming, chilling and paddling. 
Vineyards with 'wine shop' sign and pink roses
Wine touring is another popular summer activity in the Okanagan Valley

Looking to book a stay in Penticton?

Penticton Lakeside Resort – Penticton’s flagship hotel has the best location in town. Right on the waterfront, most rooms have impressive views of the leafy downtown area or Okanagan Lake. There is an on-site Wine Experience Centre.

Tiki Shores – Located opposite Okanagan Lake, this condo beach resort has a large variety of room configurations. Easy walk to downtown.

The Inn at Therapy Vineyards – This winery property on the Naramata Bench features five luxury suites with vineyard views and a massive shared hot tub.

Read Next: 70+ Things to Do in Penticton

Sandy beach in front of calm lake in Penticton, on a sunny day
One of the many beautiful beaches in Penticton

Summerland and Peachland

Summerland and Peachland are two small communities located on the western edge of Okanagan Lake.

There is a surprising amount to do in the local area and both towns offer a quieter base for vacations in the Okanagan Valley. 

Elevated view looking down on vineyard and fields from Giant's head Summit in Summerland, with Okanagan Lake in background
Summit views from Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland

Fun things to do in Summerland and Peachland, Okanagan Valley

  • Summerland should definitely be your top destination if you like cider. There are no less than four local craft cider companies with tasting rooms here. My top pick is Millionaires’ Row. 
  • Stretch your legs on Giant’s Head Mountain. Keep in mind that the hike is breathtaking in more ways than one (…it’s uphill all the way)!
  • The Summerland Ornamental Gardens are educational and also a great picnic stop. Learn on how they use drought resilient plants to keep the garden green and luscious.
  • Lying directly opposite from Peachland is tiny Rattlesnake Island, a place with quite a dramatic history. Paddle the short distance over to the island or check out the full history.
  • Jump back in time and ride an authentic steam train along the last remaining working section of the Kettle Valley Railway.

Read Next: 47 Things to Do in Summerland, British Columbia

Two picnic tables and a fire pit on a sandy beach in front of a calm lake in Summerland
Sun-Oka Provincial Park in Summerland

Looking to book a stay in Peachland or Summerland?

Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa – Fabulous lakeside location with great views from most of the well equipped rooms. Large swimming pool. 

Dogwood Bed & Breakfast – Comfortable rooms with small balcony, perfect for enjoying a bottle of wine after a day’s tasting. Within walking distance to the centre of Summerland. 

Rosedale Motel – Good value option with spacious and clean rooms, conveniently close to Highway 97.

Read next: 40+ Things to Do in Summerland, British Columbia

Circular mini golf structure on island with blue lake behind
Abandoned miniature golf course on Rattlesnake Island, across from Peachland, Okanagan Valley

Kelowna and beyond

The city of Kelowna is a place of contrasts. The commercial side is undoubtedly busy and bustling as you would expect, yet farms, orchards and vineyards (and beautiful beaches too!) lie only a ten-minute drive away.

Elevated view looking down across golf course towards city of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake
Looking back towards Kelowna and Okanagan Lake

The best things to do in Kelowna, Okanagan Valley

  • Kelowna is another Okanagan hot spot for cider, as well as wine. Check out East Kelowna Cider Co, run by one of Kelowna’s oldest farming families.
  • To the east of the city, Bertram Creek Regional Park is a great place to have a picnic, especially after a trip to nearby Carmeli’s Goat Cheese Shop just up the road.
  • Also on this side of town are the most historic Myra Canyon trestles. These intricate wooden bridges provide a walking or biking experience like no other in the Okanagan Valley! 
  • Located immediately north of downtown, Knox Mountain Park offers great views and hiking opportunities. There is a disc golf trail here as well.
  • For something a little different, take a self guided tour of indoor and outdoor artworks at the Geert Maas Sculpture Gardens and Gallery on Reynolds Road.  
Back view of JR walking on huge wooden trestle bridge in Myra Canyon near Kelowna. The bridge is surrounded by fall foliage

Looking to book a stay in Kelowna?

Hotel Zed Kelowna – Funky rooms in renovated motel, with an ideal downtown location close to Okanagan Lake

The Royal Kelowna – Upscale resort less than five minutes walk from Okanagan Lake with rooftop infinity pool and hot tubs.

Coast Capri Hotel – Reliable chain hotel pick with easy access to downtown and wineries. Two on-site restaurants.

Boats and condos on Kelowna's lakefront
Lakeside walking in Kelowna

Vernon region

The whole of the Okanagan Valley is true lake country, but the small town of Vernon is surrounded by three! Vernon is home to a few unique Okanagan attractions as well as a well signed network of excellent hiking trails.

Back view of Gemma walking away from camera on hiking path with lake and city views in Vernon
Hiking Middleton Mountain is one of the best things to do on an Okanagan Valley road trip

Top things to do in Vernon, Okanagan Valley

  • The stunning Kalamalka Lake turns an emerald green colour every year due to limestone deposits left by glaciers. Be sure to check out the views from the Turtles Head/Rattlesnake Point lookout in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
  • It almost goes without saying, but Kal Beach is a fabulous place to go hang out, paddle and swim during the warm months
  • Just to the west of downtown, Honeymoon Meadery breaks the local winery trend and produces hand crafted honey wine. Click to discover more about Vernon’s Tasting Trail
  • Another one-of-a-kind attraction in the Vernon area is Starlight Drive In, one of British Columbia’s three last remaining drive in movie theatres. A double feature (two films) is offered as standard.
  • Middleton Mountain is just a short drive from downtown Vernon and is the perfect place for a scenic hike in the Northern Okanagan. The 360 degree views are spectacular. Be sure to go early!
  • If you have the time and energy, I’d highly recommend the 7km one-way hike up Enderby Cliffs. The reward is spectacular, sweeping views of a patchwork of farmland as well as mountains, rivers and lakes
  • Located in Sicamous, a trip to Dutchmen Dairy for a locally made, hand made ice cream is the perfect way to finish any Okanagan Valley road trip. 

Read Next: 41 Awesome Things to Do in Vernon

Looking down on paddleboards on Kalamalka Lake, with bright blue lake water
On sun days, Kalamalka Lake displays gorgeous colours

Looking to book a stay in Vernon?

Prestige Vernon Lodge – One of a kind hotel with comfortable rooms looking out into three story tropical atrium

Sparkling Hill Resort – Spectacular adults only health and wellness resort overlooking Okanagan Lake. Treat yourself!

Predator Ridge Resort – Condominium style vacation rentals at award winning golf and lifestyle resort.

Read Next: Tried and Tested, the Best Places to Stay in Vernon

Views out of the back vehicle doors towards movie theater scene at Starlight Drive-In
At Starlight Drive In movie theatre, one of the most unique things to do in the Okanagan Valley

Planning an Okanagan Valley road trip? Consider extending your trip by exploring Boundary Country too

The Okanagan Valley is hard to beat for a lazy summer road trip. The views are epic, distances are short, the local produce plentiful, the weather wonderfully warm. With surroundings as beautiful as this, you can't really go wrong whatever you do on an Okanagan Valley road trip. Having said that, some of my favourite places are slightly off the beaten track and so are so often overlooked. Here is our guide for finding them! offtracktravel.ca

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jeffrey

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Fabulous blog! We're planning a trip to the Okanagan in early September - postponed from last year as we couldn't get in. Looking at your blog is energizing us! We're pulling a 16' Airstream so we're interested in camping options. Thinking about 3-4 days in 2 different places. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Gemma

Thursday 30th of June 2022

Wonderful to hear that you are planning a trip Jeffrey! Have you read our South Okanagan campgrounds post yet?

Pat

Friday 10th of September 2021

Hi, great road trip ideas, thank you. We were planning to do the Okanagan valley now in late September 2021. Difficult to get information. Is it a good idea to go now, is it a good time due to all the forest fires that were/are in the area. Thank you

Gemma

Sunday 12th of September 2021

Hi Pat,

While the wildfire risk still remains high, the major wildfires active in the height of the summer are now considered 'being held.' This means that the fire is no longer likely to spread. Smoke conditions are still variable however - this week, the southern Okanagan has been receiving smoke from wildfires in Washington. The two main access routes to the Okanagan (Highway 3 and 97C) are both open and I believe are at lower risk of being closed again, with the wildfires along the Coquihalla and near Manning Park also 'being held' as well.

Meehong Cho

Friday 3rd of July 2020

Thanks for such a detailed and easy to read guide to Okanagan region. Absolutely loved your post.

Gemma

Monday 6th of July 2020

I'm glad you liked it Meehong!

Josy A

Saturday 1st of June 2019

Oh my goodness this post is amaaaazing! Thank you for being such stars and giving so much information! We are heading for a long weekend next week, so I will book mark as many of these as I can.

p.s. the lovely Lindz sent me a link to your blog, so you should know you have good fans. ;)

Gemma

Sunday 2nd of June 2019

Aww thanks Josy! I hope you have a fab time - funnily enough, I'll be in Penticton soon for a week too. Fingers crossed for both of us that we have fabulous weather!