The sun-drenched Okanagan valley beckons you with its rural charm and remarkable Tuscany-like experiences. On this trip, you’ll never be far from rambling orchards, lush vineyards, and flower-filled gardens.
Day 1 — Vancouver to Penticton (4.5 hours)
Arrive in Keremeos on Highway 1 and Highway 3. Known as the “Fruit stand capital of Canada”, the Similkameen Valley is the perfect place to begin your Okanagan experience! From June to October, the main road through town is filled with local fruits and vegetables bursting with a myriad of colours. Succulent fruit, fresh honey and crisp vegetables are everywhere to be found.
One of your first stops in the Similkameen Valley is the Grist Mill & Gardens. Founded in 1877, and lovingly restored to grind fresh flour daily with power from a giant water wheel, the historic mill is over 125 years old. Colourful heritage gardens take you back in time to the pioneer days of pack horses, gold miners, and wood stoves. You might even be invited to share in the daily homestead chores, offering a truly hands-on experience of history. Enjoy lunch in the Tea Room with vegetables right out of the heritage gardens and delightful baked goodies made with the freshest stone-ground flour in British Columbia.
Your first afternoon would not be complete without a taste of Okanagan wine. Not far away is your next stop at Crowsnest Vineyards, situated on an orchard and vineyard bench overlooking the beautiful Cascade Mountains. Established in 1995, Crowsnest Winery provides a perfect stop to taste their award winning VQA wines. They also feature a restaurant serving German lunch and dinner specialties as well as several guestrooms for overnight accommodation.
Upon arriving in Penticton, we suggest you make your way to Riverside Park. In a beautiful setting next to the SS Sicamous Paddlewheeler Museum and Marine Park, the City of Penticton has on display over 400 varieties of roses.
Rounding out your day, a “must visit” for any lover of Okanagan wine is a trip to the Penticton Wine Country Info Centre. Here, you can purchase many of the VQA wines in British Columbia, including all the VQA wineries in the Okanagan, in one location!
Overnight in Penticton.
Day 2 — Penticton to Kelowna (1 hour)
Travel from Penticton to Summerland north along Highway 97.
The day’s first visit is to the Summerland Federal Agricultural Research Station and Summerland Ornamental Gardens. Established in 1916, this 15-acre public garden overlooking Okanagan Lake contains an English-style Garden as well as Xeriscape and Meadow Gardens. The Superintendent’s Residence (1920) located in the centre of the property houses a museum of Agriculture. The Canyon Walk has incredible views of the surrounding area, including Trout Creek Canyon and the 70-meter-high Kettle Valley Railway trestle.
Continue north to Kelowna.
The next stop of the day is Grizzli Winery for a winery tour and tasting. Wineries along the Westside Wine Trail include those with outdoor patios overlooking Okanagan Lake and are great locations to relax and savour handcrafted wines paired with culinary creations filled with fresh local ingredients!
Next, it’s on to Kelowna’s bustling lakeside downtown and their cultural district. Two “must see” stops are the BC Orchard Industry Museum and the Wine Museum. The Orchard Museum offers reflective and interactive interpretations of the local orchard industry while artifacts and exhibits chronicle the history of the local wine industry.
A short walk away from the downtown is Kasugai Gardens, a traditional Japanese Garden created in honour of Kelowna’s Sister City, Kasugai, in Japan. Kasugai is a completely walled classic Japanese heritage style garden with free public access to an oasis of manicured shrubs, grasses, and trees set amongst koi-filled ponds, bridges, and waterfalls.
Overnight in Kelowna.
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Day 3 — Kelowna
This morning will take you to one of the most beautiful areas of Kelowna, a drive along the lakeshore to visit Carmeli’s Goat Cheese Farm. Carmeli’s goat milk contains no additives or preservatives and they use no stimulation processes in their production, making sure every type of cheese reaches its true maturity. You can sample any cheese and we suggest taking a little slice to go along with the wine you bought earlier this afternoon. The two will make a perfect pairing in your hotel room. Try their home made Gelato — unbelievable!
Take an afternoon tour of Elysium Garden Nursery. Discover three acres of perennial gardens carved out of a lovely old apple orchard surrounded by unobstructed mountain views and pastoral countryside. The gardens are both inspirational and instructional as native plants co-exist with their hybrid cousins. Maintained organically, it is a Shangri-La for birds, butterflies and lovebirds. The Japanese inspired garden, Hi Sho En, is a perfect place for serenity and meditation.
While you’re touring this beautiful area of Kelowna, we suggest a final stop of the day at Okanagan Lavender Farms. Originally planted as an orchard and for nursery stock in the 1950’s, the one acre property was re-planted in 1994 with lavender and now boasts over 18 varieties. You can pick your own lavender or browse their gift shop featuring many different types of lavender products. The fragrant fields overlook Okanagan Lake and the hustle and bustle of Kelowna far below. There are many wineries in this area to tour and taste at.
Tantalus winery located in this area is committed to sustainable business practices. As such, winery guests enter their LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) candidate winery, the first of its kind in British Columbia. Tantalus is situated on the eastern slopes of the Okanagan Valley overlooking the shores of Lake Okanagan and the city of Kelowna. Originally known as Pioneer Vineyards, the site was first planted to grapes in 1927 and is one of the oldest continuously producing vineyards in British Columbia.
The last stop of the day features organic wine-making at its best. Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Canada’s largest certified organic vineyard, may well be the most-visited winery in all of Canada. The property also features a four-story-high, 8% replica pyramid of Egypt used scientifically for aging their wines. This is a fitting end in a magical setting to your three day Okanagan Valley experience.
Overnight in Kelowna
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