With three gorgeous lakes, an impressive network of trails and an abundance of natural beauty, Vernon is a delight for nature lovers.
After visiting in spring and summer last year, we fell in love with this North Okanagan city.
But what about Vernon in fall?
After some hands on research, I’m happy to report that Vernon continues to deliver in fall too. I may go as far to say that I am convinced it may be one of the best places to experience fall in British Columbia!
Not only do the cooler autumn temperatures make exploring the trails easy, but Vernon also hosts a myriad of fall-themed activities.
This is particularly true if you like fall events on the spooky side as there are two excellent large scale Halloween attractions located in the local area.
We may live in Penticton, just down the road from Vernon, but we certainly can’t replicate any of these fall-specific activities here!
Read on to discover why Vernon should be on your radar for a fall visit, with all our recommendations for seasonal things to do, places to eat and also where to stay.
We visited Vernon in late October 2021 in partnership with Tourism Vernon. This post includes affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase via one of these links, I may receive a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
The best things to do in fall in Vernon, BC
Vernon is a small city (40k pop) located on the traditional territory of the Syilx people of the Okanagan Nation. The first name given to this location was Nintle–Moos–Chin, which refers to “jumping over place where the creek narrows.
Though our recent visit was our first in fall, we’re no strangers to Vernon. Even before this trip, we had already uncovered more than 35 things to do in Vernon and the surrounding area.
Wondering how much more could there be to do in fall in Vernon? Yes, I was too! (Spoiler: a lot!)
Here are our top picks for things to do in Vernon in fall – you can skip to your desired suggestion or just keep scrolling down to read them all.
You’ll also find a link to a custom Google Map below, featuring the location of each activity mentioned in this post.
- Best things to do in fall in Vernon
- Where to stay in Vernon
- Where to eat in Vernon
Visit the pumpkin patch at Davison Orchards
If fall was a place, it would be Davison Orchards. This family run farm features a produce market brimming with pumpkins, squash, gourds and apples as well as freshly baked pies, preserves and other harvest delights.
The on-site café, located in the family’s original farmhouse, serves up hot apple cider, healthy soups and pumpkin muffins (all made with ingredients from the farm!)
The icing on the cake (or the pastry on the top of the Thanksgiving pie?) is the pumpkin patch, accessed via a tractor pulled wagon ride through the farm. Visitors can choose one pumpkin, of any size, to take home.
With such a large choice, it can be difficult to pick just one. I think JR just went for the biggest he could carry back to the tractor!
See the fall colours on Vernon’s hiking trails
Fall is the perfect time to explore Vernon’s excellent network of well signed hiking trails.
With temperatures being on the cooler (but not cold) side, the weather is ideal for hiking. The trails are also quiet. And, of course, the fall colours make everything a little bit more beautiful too.
I’ve written a dedicated post all about our favourite Vernon hiking trails, but here are some season specific recommendations:
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
With over 14km of trails, you can really choose your own adventure in this expansive park.
In fall, make a beeline for Cosens Bay, where the sandy shoreline is lined by golden trees. They contrast beautifully with the turquoise water of Kalamalka Lake. We hiked down to the beach from the Red Gate parking lot but you can also reach it from the Cosens Bay parking lot as well.
Grey Canal Trail
This family friendly, mostly flat walking path follows the old Grey Canal irrigation system around the city.
You really can’t go wrong whichever section you choose, but we particularly love:
- The Turtle Mountain section (Blue Jay Road to Rocky Ridge Park, 8.5km)
- The short stroll above Davidson Orchards (park at Sierra Road, 1.7km)
- The loop in the Silver Star Foothills (Blackcomb Way to Rugg Road, 2.3km)
Escape the corn mazes at Field of Screams
Come October, the huge corn fields of Vernon’s Historic O’Keefe Ranch are transformed into multiple haunted mazes, featuring live actors, props and fantastical themed sets.
This is the Field of Screams, one of the largest Halloween events in the Okanagan. Aimed primarily at older teenagers and young adults, the theme and number of mazes changes from year to year.
As many as four mazes were on offer for 2021’s Zombie Apocalypse edition. The scare factor, as we found out, does vary between each maze. Jump scares were always a given, however, but often happened without any actor involvement!
Despite trying all four mazes, we actually only escaped three. We were beaten by the so-called ‘Dark Maze,’ which had no actors or lights. The scare factor in this maze was of a different kind, especially when O’Keefe’s ghostly past is taken into account…
In 2021, Field of Screams ran Wednesday-Saturday all October. Tickets were available online (with a discount) and also at the gate
Experience the Walk of Terror
For a more subtle, yet still terrifying, Halloween experience, consider the Walk of Terror by Caravan Farm Theatre.
This unique outdoor event takes place on an 80 acre farm in Armstrong (about 20 minutes drive north of Vernon) and features a troupe of professional performers.
Though the concept of the Walk of Terror is simple, the results are surprisingly spooky. Groups of guests walk through a darkened forest with headphone narration, which is perfectly timed to accompany the scenes and actors discovered along the 40 minute journey.
Immersion is the name of the game here, with the setting, soundtrack and images all combining to produce a prolonged sense of unease and horror.
There are some jump scares too, but the Walk of Terror does not rely on that. It’s the definitely kind of experience you think about long after returning home!
In 2021, the Walk of Terror ran from 13th-30th October. Tickets had to be purchased in advance
Go wild mushroom hunting with Elements Adventure Company
Fall is prime wild mushroom season in British Columbia.
But, if you’re anything like me, the idea of wild mushroom foraging can be pretty intimidating. And even with an identification book, it’s hard to know where to start. After all, there are over 10,000 types of fungi in BC!
The solution is to go out with someone who knows what they’re doing. Enter Elements Adventures! This Vernon based company runs fall mushroom tours, sharing basics of wild mushroom identification.
We first met tour guide Charles at his family farm before travelling into the surrounding interior rainforest.
Having never hiked with the purpose of finding mushrooms before, I was amazed how many different varieties we were able to spot in such a small area.
Charles exuded patience as he explained the most distinctive features of each type of mushroom and the most effective methods for identification.
When I first realised we wouldn’t actually be picking any mushrooms to take home on this tour, I wondered how we’d fill the full day.
By 4pm, however, I was amazed at how much we had covered and came away feeling a lot more confident to forage independently (with an identification book!)
Paddle Kalamalka Lake
Vernon sits at the meeting point of three spectacular lakes. The most striking is cyan-coloured Kalamalka Lake, which stretches towards Lake Country. The dazzling hue, a result of glacial limestone deposits, is best seen on sunny days.
Okanagan Lake is found to the west of downtown and is both long and incredibly deep. The smallest is Swan Lake, a protected wetland area with over 200 species of birds
We love to paddle all three lakes when visiting Vernon, but Kalamalka is my top pick for autumn paddling. The turquoise colour of the water is just stunning next to the golden fall foliage.
Follow Vernon’s Tasting Trail
The Okanagan Valley is a bountiful place, with Vernon being no exception. The city’s Tasting Trail highlights local food and drinks producers and retailers, enticing visitors to sip, sample and savour.
Not only is the Tasting Trail a great activity for the occasional rainy fall day, but it’s also an ideal way to find tasty ingredients for a picnic or charcuterie board. We also took the opportunity to source some local Christmas presents.
Many of the Tasting Trail locations are found in and around downtown Vernon, making it easy to visit multiple locations in the same morning or afternoon.
- Consider starting at the Farmers Market (held on Mondays and Thursdays), where all products are made, baked or grown locally
- Head to Olive Us next to taste premium and infused olive oils, with paired balsamic vinegars (yes, they offer samples!)
- Just down the street is the wonderful Wedge Cheesery, with dairy delights from across the world
- For something less savoury, check out Sweet Hoopla‘s range of treats as well as locally made gelato
- Handcrafted pastries (with a different specialty highlighted each day) are on offer at Ratio, as well as quality coffee
- Blink and you may miss the Hot Bread Shoppe, a small batch artisan bakery, where everything is made from scratch without preservatives
- Complete your charcuterie board with artisan meats from Helmut’s Sausage Kitchen, a short drive uptown
Read Next: Complete Guide to Vernon’s Tasting Trail
Go wine tasting on the Scenic Sip
The Scenic Sip Wine Trail encompasses eight wineries in Lake Country, just a short drive south of Vernon.
Fall isn’t the only season to go wine tasting in this region (best known for aromatic whites), but it’s a particularly good one for a number of reasons.
For one, the wineries are a lot quieter. This enabled us to enjoy longer and more in depth tastings.
Second, the vineyards look absolutely gorgeous at this time of year, with the fully grown vines slowly changing from green to yellow and even to red.
We visited five Scenic Sip wineries with Wine Boss Tours, guided by owner Gerry. As Okanagan locals, JR and I have partaken in a fair few wine tours over the years. I won’t hesitate for a second, however, to say that Gerry was the best guide we have ever had.
Not only incredibly passionate and personable, Gerry is incredibly well respected at each and every winery, a factor that enhanced our experience.
Where to stay in Vernon
As well as a huge choice of B&Bs, hotels and motels, Vernon is also home to some of the most unique accommodation options in the Okanagan.
While the Prestige Vernon Lodge may just look like a regular hotel on the outside, it’s a completely different story inside.
This unassuming building houses a three story tropical atrium, with indoor pool, hot tub and restaurant. A natural creek runs through the building as well.
Sparkling Hill Resort is a luxurious adults-only spa resort overlooking Okanagan Lake. The open plan guest rooms feature floor to ceiling windows and two person bathtubs.
All guests have complimentary access to the KurSpa and its eight themed steam and sauna rooms, two relaxation rooms and three pools (check out our full Sparkling Hill Resort review for more details!)
On our recent fall trip to Vernon, we stayed at Predator Ridge Resort for the first time. Our spacious one bedroom suite looked right out onto the legendary Predator Golf Course.
Hiking trails start right from the front door of the building, making Predator Ridge Resort the ideal destination for an active vacation.
If you’re interested in golf, keep in mind that Predator Ridge’s two 18 hole championship courses close for the season after Thanksgiving weekend (mid October).
Where to eat in Vernon
We discover new places to eat in Vernon on every visit. This time, we definitely found some of the best places to dine in Vernon.
- The Lookout Restaurant at Gray Monk – The view isn’t the only impressive feature of the Lookout Restaurant; the food is impeccable too. The menu changes seasonally to reflect the bounty of local farms. The elegant setting is the ideal lunch stop while touring the wineries of the Scenic Sip
- Intermezzo – Looking to celebrate? Don’t hesitate, make a booking for Intermezzo, where the food is as elegant as the intimate setting. All dishes are made in house, from scratch, with local ingredients where possible. The wine list is also excellent
- EATology – We didn’t eat here on our recent trip but it still ranks as my favourite breakfast/brunch place in Vernon. Expect creative dishes, made with local ingredients, served in a modern yet quirky setting
- Okanagan Eatery – New on Vernon’s dining scene, this hip spot specialises in tasty comfort food. Breakfast is served all day, alongside lunch dishes too. I loved my Vegetarian Portobello Smash Burger, which was unusually stuffed with falafel
- Midtown Bistro – The menu may be simple, but the flavours are not. Part of the Tasting Trail, Midtown Bistro sources local ingredients to make fresh, innovative dishes. For us, it was an ideal healthier (but still filling!) option for lunch
- Pallino’s – This casual pizza place at Predator Ridge Resort provided an ideal dinner after a day of wine touring. We loved the chewy thin crust bases with fresh, innovative toppings
Read Next: Where to Eat in Vernon – Tasting Trail Guide
Check out these other Vernon posts next:
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One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada