The Okanagan Valley is very famous for its vineyards.
The Okanagan Valley has some of the best wineries in the country, and some of the oldest. The Valley claims 86% of British Columbia’s vineyard acreage and has an ideal climate for growing the grapes.
Each of the Valley’s four regions has unique characteristics that come out in the wine. It is worth the road trip to each to try the variety.
Carved out by the glaciers thousands of years ago, the valley covers an area of approximately 200 km x 20 km. Mountains surround the Okanagan Valley like a perfect scenic backdrop.
Volcanic activity from millions of years ago has left behind large rock formations which dot the valley. Movement by the glaciers left behind the White Cliffs- huge, jagged formations on the south side of the Valley.
The massive Okanagan Lake is fed in by many streams in all directions. The natural beauty of the valley is breathtaking.
What Is Considered the Okanagan Valley?
The Okanagan Valley stretches from the tip of Okanagan Lake to the Okanagan River. The valley continues right up to the US border.
This long, narrow region wraps around the lake. The largest community in this region is Kelowna.
Getting to the Okanagan Valley
The journey to the Okanagan Valley can be made in a few different ways. If you aren’t interested in a road trip, Kelowna has an airport and a bus stop available. Continue reading for more information.
How Far Is the Okanagan Valley from Vancouver?
The Okanagan Valley is a great road trip from Vancouver. You can make the drive in less than 6 hours (452 km). Just take the 97C to the 5A, then change over to the BC-3.
If a long drive isn’t ideal for you, you’re in luck! Both WestJet and Air Canada offer direct flights between Vancouver and Kelowna. These flights are only an hour long and can get you to the valley with ease.
Another route that lets you skip the airport hassle is the bus. Ebus offers a direct route between Vancouver and Kelowna daily. The bus takes about the same time as driving with none of the hassle and is only about $80 per person.
Getting Around the Okanagan Valley
To see everything the Okanagan Valley has to offer, it is best to travel by car. Part of the fun on this trip is enjoying the scenic drives through the country, and it is worthwhile to drive it.
If you chose to fly or take the bus, consider renting a car locally in Kelowna.
Municipalities in the Okanagan to Visit
The Okanagan Valley has so many things to see and do! Be sure to take a drive and see them all.
Relaxing against the Eastern short of Okanagan Lake, in the heart of Okanagan Valley, is the city of Kelowna. The largest town in the Okanagan Valley, this town offers many different things to try year-round.
Kelowna has amazing beach access. Rent kayaks or paddleboards from Okanagan Beach Rentals for the best view of the scenes from the water. Kids will love the paddle boats and swimming in the lake.
For an extra fun night on the water, try the Kelowna sunset dinner cruise. This cruise is a great way to see the sunset from the water and enjoy a great dinner, complete with views of the vineyards and William R. Bennett Bridge.
Hiking and biking are also extremely popular in the area.
In winter, the lightweight snow creates a great blanket for all manner of winter activities! Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating are all popular.
If you love to downhill ski or snowboard, Big White Ski Resort and Silverstar Mountain Resort are both within an hour’s drive of Kelowna.
Warm-up at the end of the day with a glass of local wine. Kelowna has more than 40 different wineries to choose from, after all!
Located nearer to the Southern end of the Okanagan Valley, Penticton is sandwiched between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake. Penticton is one of only two cities in the entire world to be situated between two lakes like this. This town is the definition of scenic, with lakes on the North and South sides and mountains on the East and West.
Penticton strongly encourages its visitors to go as fuel-free as they can. The town is packed with outdoor activities and is designed to be as walkable as possible. Biking and paddling are both popular means of transport.
Stop by Skaha Lake Park for clear, warm waters and soft sands. Boating and kayaking are popular and the park offers lots of outdoor games and courts. This town is also home to a famous farmer’s market, which is a must-see while in the area.
A 7-kilometre channel connects Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake through the town. Visitors can float down the channel lazy river-style and take in the views of the city. This one-of-a-kind experience can’t be missed!
While in Penticton, be sure to ride the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. This bike trail is 660 km long in total, and the best-developed areas are along the Penticton areas.
Bikes are available for rent in the town and are well worth the journey. The trail takes you through the mountains and vineyards of the valley and showcases some of the most beautiful areas in the Okanagan Valley.
Located directly against the United States border, the town of Osoyoos straddles two sides of the middle of Osoyoos Lake.
Be sure to visit sẁiẁs Provincial Park for amazing camping and waterfront fun. The park offers canoeing, fishing, biking, and hiking. The lake itself is considered one of the warmest in Canada, which everyone will love after a long hike. The views from the park are amazing to take in.
sẁiẁs Provincial Park is also a Cultural Heritage site, managed by the Osoyoos Indian Band. The Osoyoos Indian Band offers lots of information about the history of the park.
Directly in the opposite direction of Osoyoos is the district of Coldstream. Nestled against the tip of Kalamalka Lake, Coldstream is home to several beaches.
Kal Beach is one of the largest in the area and is well known for its super soft sand. For a less popular option, a great day trip is Juniper and Jade Bays. The beaches require a bit of a hike, but the water is crystal clear and the views are unbelievable.
In the winter, try hiking Cosen’s Bay for incredible views of the lake with fewer tourists.
Just to the North of Coldstream, you will find the town of Vernon. Vernon is home to Ellison Provincial Park, which is popular for its beach, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and scuba diving. Onshore, the park has hiking, biking, and climbing, so there is something for everyone!
In the winter, be sure to visit SilverStar Mountain Resort for downhill skiing and the iconic colourful village. The mountain has 760 meters of vertical drop and is 100% natural powder. SilverStar is also well known for its terrain park, which is sure to give you that extra pump of adrenaline.
For an extra sweet pit stop, visit the Planet Bee Honey Farm and sample all of their different types of honey! Kids will love learning about how honey is made, and will even be able to see through the glass into a beehive.
Just South of Kelowna is the town of Peachland, on the West Bank of the Okanagan Lake.
Take a hike along the 7-kilometre beach trail, and enjoy the quiet beaches this town offers. The town itself has an interesting history in the fur and gold traces, and where vineyards now stand peaches used to grow. The Okanagan First Nations also have a rich history in the area and will tell you about the Ogopogo lake monster that supposedly lives in the lake.
For fun for the whole family, visit ZipZone Adventure Park! ZipZone’s zip line gives you a bird’s eye view of the Deep Creek gorge. Both beautiful and exhilarating, this zip line is a great family activity.
What to Do in the Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan Valley is home to award winning wineries, breathtaking landscapes, unforgettable cycling paths, postcard-like sprawling landscapes, farmer market hopping and laid back boat rides. In this section, we discuss our favourite 'what-to-do's' in one of Canada's most memorable tourist destinations.
As the motherland of vineyards in British Columbia, there are a plethora of wineries to try. A wine tour is the perfect way to hit them all!
Okanagan Wine Country Tours offers 6 different wine tours around the valley, each ranging in length and variety. Each includes tastings, transport, and reservations for meals. Try multiple tours to get a taste of the different wine regions in the Okanagan Valley!
Do you have specific wineries in mind you want to stop at? For a custom wine tour around Kelowna, the Kelowna tourism board offers a create-your-own tour guide on their website. Perfect for your interests and budget, this style of tour will check all your boxes.
Big White Ski Resort
Boasting multiple terrain parks and a full halfpipe, Big White Ski Resort is perfect for avid skiers and snowboarders. The mountain has 777 meters of vertical drop and receives 750 cm of snow annually. The mountain even has a daycare if you’d like some adult time on the harder hills.
For a great ski trip, be sure to stop by Big White Ski Resort.
Myra Canyon Trestles
Just a scenic 40-minute drive from downtown Kelowna, the Myra Canyon Trestles are a section of the Kettle Valley Railway. Bike or hike over the 18 old railway bridges, build into the edge of the cliffs. The trail will also take you through tunnels directly through the side of the mountain.
This section of the trail is 12 kilometres in each direction, so bring lots of water and sunscreen!
For hiking in the Penticton area, the Skaha Bluffs should be the top of your list. This Provincial Park offers rock climbing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. The bluffs wrap around the lake and provide a scenic backdrop on your hike.
Rock climbing is extremely popular on the bluffs. The park also has caves and coves to explore along the way.
Penticton Farmers’ Market
While in Penticton, make sure to make time to visit the farmers’ market. This market has 112 vendors, all with locally grown, baked, or homemade products to sell. The market is open every Saturday downtown.
The freshest produce and the most unique homemade crafts are available at the market. Stop by on your way to the beach to get yourself picnic supplies or a souvenir!
Camping Experiences in the Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan Valley is known for its exceptional camping. There are a few campgrounds we recommend.
Okanagan Lake Provincial Park
This campground showcases the beautiful mountains and the clear waters. The park provides lots of amenities, such as hot showers, concessions, and picnic areas, and at just $35 a night, this is a great way to experience the outdoors.
In the summer, take advantage of the lake and enjoy boating and swimming in the clear waters. The Okanagan Valley is well known for its sunny days and warm weather, and the beaches are sure to provide anything you could want.
Located on the West side of Okanagan Lake, this campground is 100% first-come, first-serve. Most of the campsites are directly against the water and have a small private access space included for the night.
This is more of a rustic camping experience, so remember to bring lots of water and supplies!
Bear Creek Campground
In the summer, this campground offers 400 meters of sandy lakefront. The hiking at Bear Creek is phenomenal, and the canyon is one-of-a-kind.
In the winter, Bear Creek Provincial Park features frozen waterfalls and amazing winter hiking. Bear Creek is a great place to stop any time of year.
Where to Stay (If Camping Is Not Your Thing)
Not interested in camping? No problem! The Okanagan Valley offers lots of alternative options.
Sparkling Hills Resort
Located in Vernon, Sparkling Hills makes for the perfect romantic getaway. The hotel has views of the lake and the mountains, and the spa and dining are the cherry on top. Meticulously designed, the resort and spa have 3.5 million crystals in the walls to help you glow.
The restaurant at the resort features a farm-to-table menu and some of the best fine dining available. All of the food on your plate will have been produced locally.
The spa features a couples package for the ultimate relaxation. The resort also offers a girls' getaway package for the ultimate bridal party.
Also in Vernon, this resort offers full vacation rentals- kitchens, patios, and pet-friendly options are all available. If you are looking for a home away from home, look no further.
Predator Ridge has amenities galore- outdoor yoga, tennis, and access to all of the valley’s outdoor areas.
Golf at Predator Ridge is some of the best golf in Okanagan Valley. There are two 18-hole courses and an award-winning golf school. If you are looking to get away, Predator Ridge may be right for you!
Walnut Beach Resort
Walnut Beach Resort is perfect for those looking to maximize their time on the beaches. Walnut Beach is situated right up against the lake in Osoyoos and has a private section of beach for guests. There is even a wine bar on-site for your convenience.
The resort also features two whirlpools that overlook the lake. The large pool is open all year and is just meters away from the shores.
For the best of the beaches, Walnut Beach is a great fit for you.
When Is the Best Time to Visit?
Any time of year! If you prefer warm beaches and relaxing on the boat, the summer is your best bet. If you are looking for a downhill skiing and winter hiking adventure, plan for the cooler months.
The famous wineries are open year-round, so no matter when you choose to go you will have a chance to try the incredible Okanagan Valley wine.
Pack Your Bags and Get Road Tripping to the Okanagan Valley Today
The wineries and lakes are calling your name! With so much to see and do, the Okanagan Valley is a great place for your next vacation.
Now that you have your trip to the Okanagan Valley planned, protect your trip with insurance. Contact Insurdinary for a free quote today and our experts would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.