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!
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.
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.
Here’s what to expect in this post:
- Oliver and Okanagan Falls
- Summerland and Peachland
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Planning an Okanagan Valley road trip? Consider extending your trip by exploring Boundary Country too
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