This is an exploration of time — Our history of First Nations, farming, ranching, fruit growing and wine making! From museums to art galleries, heritage sites to natural history tours, the region’s display of diverse experiences is one to never forget.
Day 1 — Vancouver to Kamloops (6 hours)
Depart Vancouver and travel along Trans Canada Highway #1 and the Fraser Canyon and watch the scenery change from luscious greenery to a dry, arid desert. You have reached the Gold Country and Kamloops regions. The community of Ashcroft lies five minutes off of Highway #1. Take this little detour and experience the history and charm of this ranching community. Take time to visit the Ashcroft Museum and take a stroll through the Heritage Park and gardens.
Continue west along Highway #1 and then north along Highway #97 to Historic Hat Creek Ranch. The ranch offers a rare opportunity to explore the original buildings of a key location in the transportation history of the Cariboo. The site also presents the story of the early use of the Bonaparte Valley by people of the Shuswap Nation and their more recent contribution to the growth of the ranching industry. Tour Hat Creek House, learn about blacksmithing at the BX Barn, take a stagecoach ride and visit the recreated Shuswap village complete with a kekuli (winter home) and many displays showing the First Nations way of life!
Travel to Kamloops on Highway #1. This portion of the Trans-Canada Highway provides interesting views of the dynamic land formations that have evolved over centuries. Five kilometres past Savona, take time to stop at a breathtaking lookout above Kamloops Lake and a view of the Tobiano Golf Resort. Continue east to Kamloops.
A popular attraction in downtown Kamloops during select evenings and on weekend days is a ride on the Kamloops Heritage Railway’s ‘Spirit of Kamloops’ railtour powered by the 1912 steam locomotive 2141. Departing from the restored 1927 CN station, the tour will travel over the South Thompson River, and by a First Nations’ cemetery dating back to the late 1800’s and past St. Josephs Historic Church before returning to witness a re-enactment of the 1906 train robbery near Kamloops by the infamous robber Bill Miner, the ‘Gentleman Bandit’ and his gang on horseback!
Part of a former government health institution for 150 years, Tranquille Farm Fresh is Kamloops’ newest destination for travelers. Situated between Kamloops Lake and the Lac Du Bois Grasslands, the restored buildings, fields and pastures have turned Tranquille in to a leading edge urban farm. There are guided gold panning, photography, nature, bird watching and historical tours and produce available from June to October. Tranquille Creek was the location for a mini gold rush in the middle of the 18th century where prospectors arrived from all over North America and parts of China trying to seek fame and fortune.
You may want to end your day by taking a self-guided walking tour through the downtown core highlighting many of the historic buildings and homes. Enjoy dinner in a downtown restaurant and take an evening stroll in Riverside Park. Every night during the summer months, visitors can enjoy free live music at the bandshell and be sure to get an ice cream cone too!
Overnight in Kamloops.
Day 2 — Kamloops to Vernon (1.5 hours)
Start your day with a visit to the Kamloops Art Gallery. The Gallery is the principle public art gallery in the B.C. interior with a changing exhibition program of regional, national and international art.
Located on Highway #5 north is the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. This is the ultimate place to gain insight on the rich history of the Shuswap people. Have you ever wondered how a birch bark canoe could possibly be one of the main forms of transportation up and down the river? Storytelling is a significant aspect to the Shuswap people’s way of life. Immerse yourself in legends and tales passed down from generation to generation. Visit the Heritage Park and go through the incredible 2,000-year old Shuswap winter village and the summer pit houses. The village features a tule mat lodge, a hunting lean-to, rack for fish-drying, ancient smoke-houses and an all-natural fish trap with secret baiting techniques!
Traveling along Highway #1 to the east and Vernon, stop by the British Columbia Wildlife Park. Located approximately 15 minutes east of Kamloops, it is home to over 65 local and endangered species, including grizzlies, moose, cougars, snakes, birds of prey and others. The new Discovery Centre includes the Eco-Discovery gallery with fun interactive displays, wildlife encounters and interpretive presentations. The Amphitheater presents daily falconry demonstrations in July and August.
Travel to Vernon along Highway #97. Located approximately 10 minutes north of Vernon is Historic O’Keefe Ranch. This attraction demonstrates some of the original lifestyles of the early North Okanagan pioneers. Take the time to walk through the O’Keefe Mansion and St. Anne’s Church and stroll through the General Store and Blacksmith Shop. The ranch’s restaurant is also a great place to grab a hearty western meal.
Overnight in Vernon.
Day 3 — Vernon to Kelowna (45 minutes)
Before departing Vernon, take time to visit Davison Orchards. Davison Orchards, family owned and operated since 1933, is a visitor’s delight! Visit the orchards and farm market and experience firsthand the unforgettable taste of fresh picked fruits and vegetables. Pick a bouquet in their flower-cutting garden, relax on a tractor-wagon ride, and take in their great seasonal festivities. Located next door is Planet Bee Honey Farm. During your visit to Planet Bee you can watch live honeybees busily working behind glass in a live bee display, performing their amazing Bee Dance and producing their numerous nutritional health food products available in the “Treasures of the Hive” gift store.
Another great stop is the Allan Brooks Nature Centre. The Nature Centre, located high atop a hill overlooking Vernon, is know for its birds of prey and other birdlife, wildlife, and wildflowers. The easily accessible site is ideally located to view and interpret the natural environment of the North Okanagan and to inspire environmental stewardship.
Depart Vernon for Lake Country. Nestled on a hillside among forty acres of lush vineyards, Gray Monk Estate Winery invites you to capture the warm Okanagan sun and a breathtaking, panoramic view of Okanagan Lake. One of the Okanagan’s first estate wineries, their boutique store features a complete selection of their award winning VQA wines as well as wine accessories, clothing, and souvenirs. Unique to Gray Monk is their wine library displaying every vintage the winery has ever produced. A large open patio draws visitors outside to sit and relax – this also a great opportunity to enjoy lunch! Be sure to do a tour and do a little wine tasting.
Located approximately 10 minutes north of Kelowna is the Jammery. Watch and learn how fruit grown in the Okanagan is changed into mouth-watering jams. A view window located in the building allows visitors to actually see the jam making process. Browse through their gift shop and taste some of their homemade delicacies!
Continue along Hwy #97 south to Kelowna and proceed to the heartland of orchards in the central Okanagan. Amidst this overlooking the city, the Okanagan Lavender Farm is one of Kelowna’s most unique and popular attractions. Visitors take self-guided tours to pick lavender, shop the country store for handcrafted essential oils, culinary and home products. Learn how to user lavender to enhance their lives and their recipes. Sample lavender tea, lavender shortbread and much more!
Not far away, you may want to discover Arlo’s Honey Farm. Here you see and hear about the dance of the honey bee and how this orchestrates the pollination of our flowers, fruits, berries and vegetables. Com for a short tour or to taste award winning honey and tour their gift shop and market for pollen, bees wax, fresh fruit, berries and vegetables in season. Arlo’s honey products are sold at the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market. A visit to Summerhill Pyramid Winery located nearby is a must!
Overnight in Kelowna.
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Day 4 — Kelowna to Penticton (1 hour)
Spend the morning touring Kelowna’s Downtown Cultural District. The Cultural District is home to the BC Orchard Industry Museum, the Wine Museum, the Kelowna Museum, the Kelowna Art Gallery, private artisan shops and galleries, as well as Kasugai Japanese Gardens. All of these places are great to get acquainted with the history of Kelowna as well as experience the works of their various local artisans. You may even want to do a wine tour — check out the many wineries in the area. Nestled between the historic Knox Mountain and Kelowna’s trendy downtown area, the oldest winery in B.C. invites you to taste their award winning VQA wines. Also experience the marrying of fine wine with palatable food selections in their cozy cellar-like tasting room. There are also many restaurants located in the Cultural District that will be sure to appease your appetite.
Continue south along Highway #97 via West Kelowna and plan a visit to Grizzli Winery and the many other wineries along the Westside Wine Trail then continue on to Penticton. Along the way, visit Summerland Ornamental Gardens. Established in 1916, this 15-acre public garden overlooking Okanagan Lake contains an English Style Garden, The Superintendent’s Residence (1920) housing a museum of Agriculture, the Xeriscape and Meadow Garden and the Canyon Walk with views of Brent Mountain and the KVR Trestle Bridge, 72 metres over Trout Creek. A great way to stretch your legs and take in some of the Okanagan’s most breathtaking views!
While in Summerland, you may also choose to take a ride on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. Enjoy a nostalgic ninety-minute journey along a preserved section of the original Kettle Valley Railway constructed between 1910 and 1915. Take in the beauty of the lush acres of Summerland’s orchards and vineyards and the Okanagan’s natural landscapes. Hear the history of the railway that helped develop southern British Columbia. View the famous Trout Creek Bridge, the highest bridge built on the original line.
Travel south on Highway #97 to Penticton. The downtown area of Penticton is a great place to have dinner and then a stroll. The S.S. Sicamous, located on the shores of Okanagan Lake, is the largest remaining steel-hulled sternwheeler in Canada. Built in 1914 at Okanagan Landing for Canadian Pacific Railway and British Columbia Lake and River Service, she plied the waters of Okanagan Lake until 1936, from her Penticton homeport. She was the epitome of luxury and utility as she had exceptional passenger, mail and freight service. You are invited to step into the world of transportation in the early 1900’s. The Wine Information Centre, located in the Penticton & Wine Country Visitor Information Centre, is also a worthwhile stop. All of the VQA wineries in B.C. have their products for sale here.
Overnight in Penticton.
Day 5 — Penticton to Osoyoos (1 hour)
Continue along Highway #97 south to Osoyoos. You have reached Desert Country. Plan a stop at the Desert Centre in Osoyoos. Take the 1-mile boardwalk guided tour and learn about Canada’s only desert. Just across the valley is the Nk’Mip Heritage Cultural Centre. This beautiful site is built into a hillside, but incredibly also features terrific views of the southern Okanagan Valley. Here you will be immersed in the Okanagan First Nation’s habitation with on-site tours of a traditional village, performing arts theatre, water gardens and interactive displays. You can walk through the interpretive desert ecological zone located close by. To minimize impacts on this fragile ecosystem, you can view this conservation area on specially designed trails, bridges and viewing spots.
Be sure not to miss Nk’mip Cellars located next door to the Desert & Heritage Centre. Nk’mip Cellars is North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery. You can take a tour, enjoy a tasting or just relax on their patio and enjoy the view. Enjoy your evening in Osoyoos. Have dinner in downtown Osoyoos and then soak in the late evening sun on a stroll along the Pioneer Walkway located along Osoyoos Lake.
Overnight in Osoyoos.
Day 6 — Osoyoos to Vancouver (5 hours)
Follow Highway #3 west to Keremeos. Discover an oasis of peace, beauty, and history at The Grist Mill and Gardens. They feature one of the most interesting heritage gardens in Canada with spectacular heirloom flowers in colourful flowerbeds beside the clear waters of Keremeos Creek. 125-year-old chestnut trees, a living museum of wheat and giant Zucca Melons all help to tell the valley fascinating history of agriculture. This historic site comes to life as costumed staff joins with visitors in old-fashioned homestead activities that are fun for everyone!
Depart Osoyoos for your return to Vancouver. Travel along Highway #3 west through Keremeos, Princeton, and Manning Park to Hope. At Hope, following Highway #1 west to Vancouver.