Penticton, located in British Columbia’s South Okanagan, is ripe for rediscovery this summer. Boasting a scenic locale, nestled between Okanagan and Skaha lakes, this beautiful town welcomes visitors (when the time is right) with an array of thrilling outdoor adventures, delicious culinary offerings and family-friendly activities.
Even better, Penticton was added to Pacific Coastal Airlines’ many BC destinations earlier this year, and now travellers can fly direct from Vancouver to this Okanagan hot spot.
Where to stay
Penticton offers a variety of accommodation options, from the Penticton Lakeside Resort (situated on the shores of Okanagan Lake) to charming motels, which line both Okanagan Lake, Skaha Lake and Main Street, and quaint B&Bs. Or, visit nearby Naramata and stay at the historic Naramata Inn which reopened under new ownership in 2020.
Eat & Drink
Whether you’re looking for a sumptuous wine-paired meal or more casual fare, Penticton brings a lot to the table.
Notable local spots include: Elma Restaurant, offering traditional Turkish cuisine in an upscale lakeside setting; the Hooded Merganser at Penticton Lakeside Resort, which grows some of its own food in its garden and incorporates that produce into the menu; The Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery with its farm-fresh menu and incredible views overlooking the city; and, for amazing coffee and breakfast, The Bench Market and Wayne & Freda are both popular choices. In addition, branching out from its farmers’-market start, local favourite Joy Road Catering has opened a pop-up bake shop downtown.
Wine aficionados can explore more than 80 wineries within a 20-minute drive of Penticton. Many are accepting reservations for tastings this year, so make sure you plan ahead. Local companies offering tours include: Grape Escapes Wine Tours, with six unique tour options all over the South Okanagan; Sagebrush Tours (wine and nature excursions); and Grape Friends Lounge and Tours.
Beer fans can enjoy seven local craft breweries (soon to be eight!), including Bad Tattoo, Barley Mill Brew Pub, Cannery Brewing, Highway 97, Neighbourhood Brewing, Slackwater Brewing and Tin Whistle Brewing.
Check out the Penticton Ale Trail for full details.
Plus, don’t miss out on great cideries, featuring cider made with delicious Okanagan fruit, such as La Petite Abeille and Creek & Gully.
Bonus: In Penticton, it’s legal to have open alcohol at designated local beaches (from mid-May to mid-October), so grab a meal-to-go from your favourite restaurant, pick up a bottle of wine or craft beer and raise a glass with your bubble at Skaha or Okanagan Lake.
On Saturdays, the weekly downtown farmers’ market is a must-do. Here you’ll find fresh local fruits and vegetables, baked goods and more. This year, to adhere to social distancing protocols, entry to the market is restricted to 50 customers at a time, with pedestrian traffic flowing one-way.
Epic “fuel-free” adventures await, including hiking and biking on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, or exploring an additional 350+ kilometres of trail networks (for challenging yourself or simply soaking up stunning views), floating a river channel, or partaking in water sports on the two lakes with kayak and paddleboard rentals.
To help facilitate a day of floating the channel (during summer months), local business Coyote Cruises offers inner-tube rentals and shuttle transport back to the starting point, so you can enjoy a leisurely ride down the seven-kilometre-long channel connecting Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Recreation businesses offer a plethora of outdoor activity options, including Hoodoo Adventures, which recently launched a new outpost, Hoodoo By The Lake, for watercraft rentals. It also started offering ebike rentals, in addition to paddle boarding, kayaking and mountain biking experiences. Freedom Bike Shop also offers ebike rentals, or check out Epic Cycling for a tailored experience involving custom-guided rides and hikes, along with ebiking rentals and tours.
For rock climbing enthusiasts, Skaha Rock Adventures offers local climbing tours to all levels of skill. The climbing season typically runs from mid-March to mid-October.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, rent a paddleboard or book a lesson with Sun N’ Sup in Naramata.
LocoLanding Adventure Park (open May to September) offers the ultimate in family fun and entertainment, with activities for all ages (as young as 18 months). Make a day of it on the go-karts, mini-golf, high-level ropes course, water-spraying bumper boats, monkey motion, spider mountain, rock climbing and more.
Enjoy a splashy afternoon at the Penticton Wibit (operated by Splash BC), a floating water park geared to kids, located on the west end of Okanagan Beach, near downtown.
And people of all ages can beat the heat with the best ice cream in town: check out The Peach (on the beach, with 28 different milkshake flavours!), Lickity Splitz or Tickleberry’s (with several locations, including two at Skaha Lake Park Beach, as well as a brand-new shop downtown).
For more trip planning inspiration, check out visitpenticton.com and follow on Instagram and Facebook.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the May / June issue of SOAR Magazine, a publication of Pacific Coastal Airlines.
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