(This story is sponsored by Travel Penticton.)
If the prospect of the impending fall and winter seasons is already giving you the shivers, a trip to Penticton, the hub of the South Okanagan, could be just what you need. The popular tourist destination is one of only two cities in the world that is situated between two lakes and offers something for everyone, year-round.
By visiting during between now and November, tourists can score great deals on accommodation and a more intimate experience at many of the local vineyards, wineries, and orchards, as the teams prepare for fall harvest. There’s also the opportunity to hold on to that summer feeling a little longer since Penticton sees above-seasonal temperatures, right through September. There’s still time to take out a stand-up paddleboard, canoe, kayak, fish, or drift on an inner tube down the channel.
Penticton and the Naramata Bench is also home to more than 80 local wineries, six craft breweries, a cidery, three distilleries, and more than 30 annual festivals—all surrounded by pristine lakes, stunning beaches, an extensive trail network, and rugged mountain terrain.
Only a four-hour drive along the scenic Highway 3 (Hope-Princeton) through Manning Park or 45-minute flight from Vancouver, Penticton is easily accessible for a mini break or even just a weekend. But for those who want to make the most of the journey, a road trip along Highway 97 is a perfect way to get a taste of everything the South Okanagan Corridor has to offer. From Summerland to Osoyoos, foodies can indulge in the area’s culinary and cultural delights against a backdrop of sun-soaked lakes and mountains.
If food is what you’re after, there have been for new restaurant openings this summer, plus more slated to open soon. And don’t miss the Penticton Farmers’ Market that takes place every Saturday (until the end of October) from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the 100 block of Main Street. Visitors at the market will find farm-fresh veggies and fruits, eggs, honey, baking, preserves, and handmade crafts—all grown or produced in the South Okanagan. There is also a selection of local liquor vendors each week.
Many tourists visit the area to sample some of the area’s fabulous wines. Penticton and Naramata share the Naramata Bench wine-growing region. The Naramata Bench is a geological feature that spans from the southern base of Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park to the base of Campbell Mountain, minutes from downtown Penticton. The wineries are situated above sand cliffs that rise from Okanagan Lake, with vineyards that gently slope up to the mountains behind, like a plateau or “Bench”.
The Naramata Bench Winery Association has a group of 24 award-winning wineries nestled along a 14-kilometre winding country road overlooking Okanagan Lake. A highlight of the season is always the renowned annual Tailgate Party, which takes place in September. By visiting the tasting rooms of the Naramata Bench, visitors—no matter their level of wine knowledge—will find friendly staff, who are often the winemakers themselves and are committed to ensuring an unforgettable experience. The vineyards of Naramata Bench boast ideal conditions for full-flavoured white varietals, as well as earlier-ripening, elegant reds.
The Okanagan Falls Winery Association includes a collection of 14 premier wineries, stretching from the Penticton wineries along the Skaha Bench overlooking Skaha Lake, to Vaseux Lake to the South. Each has its own unique approach to maximizing the incredible terroir of the South Okanagan, so visitors will have the opportunity to taste everything from award-winning bubbles to aromatic Rieslings and Gewürztraminers through to bold Syrahs and juicy Cabernet Sauvignons.
Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive, with its sweeping vineyards and lush orchards, is full of boutique wineries and craft beverage creators.
And even if wine isn’t your drink of choice, there are plenty of breweries to choose from, since there are currently six craft breweries in Penticton with another two set to open next year. The city has been a leader of the Okanagan craft beer scene for more than 20 years and is home to the annual Okanagan Fest of Ale, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in April 2020. Beer lovers should be sure to pick up a copy of the Penticton Ale Trail passport at the Visitor Centre or any of the breweries to be stamped at each brewery for their chance to win great prizes.
For the more adventurous visitors, Penticton is a four-season playground that offers cycling, hiking, and rock climbing in some of B.C.’s most beautiful settings. From March to November, Skaha Bluffs is a must-do for climbing enthusiasts.
The area is also well known for its vibrant biking community. In fact, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation recently declared the City of Penticton’s official status as a biking precinct. Cyclists come from all over the world to enjoy the variety of trails for riders at every level.
In addition to numerous events and cycle attractions, there are beginner and professional routes for road cyclists, mountain bikers, off-roaders, and families. Take part in a leisurely bike tour between wineries or check out the stunning scenery and spectacular views from The Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail. The tracks of the now decommissioned railroad system offer almost 650 kilometres of connected pathways throughout the region that’s open year-round.
Although locals have been riding single-track trails through the mountains around Penticton since the ‘70s, a recent boom has seen a number of trail and bridge upgrades, signage, and extensive mapping. The growing clubs and guiding services also mean that experienced bikers and novices alike can go it alone or join a local for a personalized tour.
The word “Penticton” means “a place to stay forever” and with its year-round activities, breathtaking scenery, and cultural delights, the hardest part of your next trip to this special hub of the South Okanagan will be leaving.
For more information, visit the website or call the visitor information centre at 1-800-663-5052. Follow Travel Penticton on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and share your adventures using hashtag #visitpenticton.