The small town of Osoyoos in British Columbia is synonymous with heat. Classified as Canada’s only desert, Osoyoos has the warmest annual temperature, lower annual precipitation and also the warmest fresh water lake!
Osoyoos is also absolutely gorgeous to look at, from the rugged hills and surrounding mountains all the way to the rolling vineyards and sandy lakeshore. There’s plenty of fun things to do in Osoyoos, too, whether you want to be active or prefer to relax and enjoy the scenery.
In this post, I’ll be sharing 50+ of our favourite things to do in Osoyoos, BC. We live about an hour’s drive away and visit the area reasonably often. Despite the short distance, a trip to Osoyoos always feels like a holiday to me!
Please note – at the time of writing (June 2020), some of the mentioned businesses are temporarily closed. Look for the * mark for confirmed closures. Check online for opening times before visiting to avoid disappointment.
How to get to Osoyoos
Osoyoos is a small town (year round population of 5,000) located in the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia’s interior. Situated just above the USA border, Osoyoos is accessed via major highways to the north, east and west.
The fastest and most straightforward route to Osoyoos from Vancouver is along the Crowsnest Highway (3). The 400km journey takes around 4h 30 to drive. An ideal place to stop is E.C. Manning Park, about half way along the route.
Osoyoos is 125km (1h 45) south of Kelowna, the biggest city in the region. Highway 97 connects Osoyoos and Kelowna, travelling through other Okanagan communities including Summerland, Penticton, Okanagan Falls and Oliver.
The Crowsnest Highway (3) continues to the east, heading towards Midway, Grand Forks, Castlegar and, eventually, the Alberta border.
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If you like summer, you will LOVE visiting Osoyoos! Make the most of the hot, dry weather with the following activities:
- Swim, float, sunbathe and picnic at Osoyoos Lake, Canada’s warmest lake
- Camp at sẁiẁs (Haynes Point) in the middle of Osoyoos Lake (reservations necessary)
- Take in the views of Osoyoos from the Anarchist Mountain Lookout on Highway 3
- Enjoy the tranquility of a walk along the Osoyoos Lake Oxbows
- Cool down at the Splash Park in Jack Shaw Gardens
- Let the kids run wild on the Osyoos Wibit, a floating obstacle course on the lake (*currently closed)
- Explore the Pioneer Walkway, an easy paved (bike friendly) trail along Osoyoos Lake
- Walk or cycle the International Hike and Bike trail along the Okanagan River channel
- Play a game of golf in the desert at Sonora Dunes, Nk’Mip or Osoyoos Golf Club
- Have a go at climbing, boating, karting, mini golf and more at Rattlesnake Canyon amusement park
From the lake to the hills and mountains beyond, there are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors in Osoyoos. Here are some ideas:
- Paddle a kayak or stand up paddleboard on Osoyoos Lake – rentals available from WakePilot
- Have a go at wakeboarding with ATB Watersports
- Get your thrills on the mountain biking trails west of town
- Hike the scenic Golden Mile Stamp Mill Trail from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards (2km)
- Cruise Osoyoos Lake in style with a rented boat from Osoyoos Marine
- Fish for salmon on Osoyoos Lake (seasonal, restrictions apply, fishing licence required)
- Enjoy a rustic camping experience at Ripley, Madden and Burnell Lake Recreational Sites near Oliver
- Drive the 19km long bumpy gravel road to Mount Kobau (1873m) for stunning views and beautiful wildflowers
- Join a horseback trail ride through the desert at Indian Grove Riding Stables (*currently closed)
- Ski, snowboard and snowshoe at laid back Baldy Mountain Resort (winter only)
Taste local produce
Being the hottest spot in Canada, Osoyoos is also one of the best places to grow fruit. Cherries are first to ripen, in mid to late June. Peaches and apricots come next around mid July, early August. Pears and plums follow on in August/September with some apple varieties. Wine grapes are usually harvested in late September, early October.
- Tour some of the 40+ wineries in Osoyoos Oliver Wine Country
- Pick up some fresh fruit at one of the many roadside fruit stands and markets
- Taste locally made gin, vodka, brandy and whiskey at Tumbleweed Spirits distillery
- Enjoy the satisfaction of picking your own fruit – look for the signs along Highway 97
- Choose between over a dozen delicious hand made gelato and sorbetto flavours at Roberto’s Gelato (so good!)
- Sip locally made ciders at Faustino Estate Cidery, Orchard Hill Estate Cidery and Maverick Cider Co.
- Browse local fruit and vegetables, artisan crafts and baked goods at the Market on Main (Saturdays June to September, 9am-1pm)
Discover Osoyoos culture and geography
There’s more to Osoyoos than the lake! Go beyond the surface and discover the stories and ecology that have shaped Osoyoos as we know it today.
- Walk the 4.3km paved Canal Walkway loop and take a closer look at Osoyoos’ unique desert biome
- Observe the wonder of Spotted Lake from the viewpoint on Highway 3
- Discover the legends of Sen’klip (Coyote) at the Nk’mip Desert Cultural Centre
- Explore the 1.5km elevated boardwalk (wheelchair friendly) at the famed Osoyoos Desert
- Learn more about the origins of Osoyoos and its early inhabitants at the Museum
- Be transported into a world of miniatures at the Desert Model Railroad
- Discover the creative side of Osoyoos at the Art Gallery and Summer Artisan Market
- Browse, shop and stop for coffee on Osoyoos’ Main Street
Osoyoos’ annual events calendar features a number of unique celebrations and races. Here are just a few of my favourites for inspiration!
- Run the Half Corked Marathon, a joyous ‘race’ (more akin to a party!) through vineyards with wine tasting along the way (May, postponed to September in 2020)
- Watch the Canada Day fireworks – Osoyoos has the biggest display in Canada outside of Ottawa! (*postponed to 2021)
- Enjoy parades, water fights and pit spitting contests at the Cherry Fiesta (July long weekend, *postponed to 2021)
- Celebrate all things wine at the Festival of the Grape in nearby Oliver (October, *postponed to 2021)
- Kick off the holiday season with Osoyoos’ Christmas Lite Up featuring carols, late night shopping, breakfast with Santa and a parade (late November)
Other things to do around Osoyoos (40km radius)
The fun doesn’t stop in Osoyoos – there’s plenty more on offer within just a short drive. Here are my top picks!
- Take in a movie at the historical Oliver Theatre (*limited opening)
- Go camping at tiny 16 hectare Inkaneep Provincial Park
- Try heritage ciders at Howling Moon Cider House
- Learn more about the origins of Oliver at the District Museum
- Sip local beers at the Firehall Brewery in Oliver
- Join a guided tour of the beautiful 650 acre Covert Farms estate (*temporarily suspended)
- Browse the Oliver Flea Market (Saturdays 8-3 and Sundays 9-3)
- Take a hike up Peach Cliff or McIntyre Bluff (*currently closed) for spectacular views
- Visit the Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary – a boardwalk leads to a three story bird hide
- Tour even more wineries in Cawston, a scenic 30 minute drive from Osoyoos
- Marvel at the peculiar and beautiful alkaline White Lake near Okanagan Falls
- Go on a guided tour of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (*currently closed)
Still looking for things to do in Osoyoos? Read this post next:
73 Things to Do in Penticton and the Southern Okanagan, British Columbia
Where to stay in Osoyoos
The Watermark Beach Resort is my top pick for where to stay in Osoyoos, BC. Located right beside the lake, the hotel is also only 5 minutes walk from a choice of restaurants and shops.
Guests can choose to swim in the lake or the on-site swimming pool. All suites have a full kitchen as well as separate dining and living rooms.
If budget isn’t an issue, consider booking one of the fabulous beachfront townhomes.
Spirit Ridge is a close second choice, with its spectacular position overlooking vineyards and Osoyoos Lake. There is a heated outdoor pool, hot tub and highly rated restaurant.
Budget conscious travellers would do well to check out Westridge Motor Inn. The clean, well decorated rooms have everything you need for a few days in Osoyoos and provide excellent value for money. There’s an outdoor pool too.
For something a little different, check out Shiraz Villa. Set into a vineyard about five minutes drive from Osoyoos, the rooms are spacious and the views fabulous.
Check out these other Okanagan Valley posts next:
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