Salmon Arm, Shuswap Lake

3-Day , , ,

Route 97 Sophisticated and Rustic — Merritt, Kamloops, Chase, Salmon Arm, Armstrong, Vernon, Kelowna

“Sophisticated rustic” — Kamloops, Kelowna, and Vernon combine country charm with urban style.

This tour takes in the ‘big three’ of Thompson-Okanagan cities — starting in Kamloops, then shifting to Vernon and Kelowna. There’s plenty of time for taking in the sights and smells of the countryside, too, with side trips to ranches, historic hotels, an artisan cheese shop, and of course the region’s wineries. Urban delights include art galleries, cultural districts, historic walking tours, and a whole variety of restaurants serving dishes made from the freshest of local ingredients.

Day 1 — Vancouver — Merritt — Kamloops to Chase (5 hours)

Your journey takes you east of Vancouver on the Yellowhead Highway #5. As you move away from the coast mountains, grasslands begin to appear. You’ve arrived in Merritt, the Country Music Capital of Canada.

Scenic Highway #5A explores the heart of ranching country. Rolling grasslands and shimmering lakes remain almost unchanged from a century ago. First stop: Nicola Ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in Canada, in the heart of the historic Nicola Valley. Almost all the buildings that the ranch now occupies date from between 1876 and 1913, when the town of Nicola was the largest and most important settlement in the area. Experience the full range of activities of a working ranch — livestock, hay production, and irrigation.

Set against the backdrop of gently rolling range country and overlooking Nicola Lake, Quilchena Hotel offers a unique experience to people who appreciate fine food, a variety of leisure activities, and even a round of golf in a tranquil setting. Enjoy a cup of tea in this Victorian-styled paradise.

Continue on to Kamloops for a tour of the historic downtown. A self-guided heritage walking tour is available from the Kamloops Museum and Archives and leads to many historic commercial buildings and residences. Visit the Kamloops Art Gallery which is the principal public art gallery in the B.C. interior with a changing exhibition program of regional, national and international art. A must visit only four blocks away is beautiful Riverside Park. There is also great shopping in the area and, when you’ve had enough, stop into one of the many restaurants for a bite to eat.

From Kamloops, drive east along the Highway #1 to Chase. Quaaout Lodge Resort offers a unique setting on the shore of Little Shuswap Lake. Rich in native tradition and history, you are treated to an abundance of natural beauty and comfort. Amenities include 2400 feet of sandy beach, an indoor swimming pool and whirlpool, and large meeting facilities. Enjoy authentic First Nations gourmet meals and interpretive exhibits which include teepees, a kekuli, and a sweat lodge.

Overnight at Chase.

Travel Trade Partners:
Quaaout Lodge and Talking Rock Golf Resort

Kekuli Experience, Quaaout Lodge and Talking Rock Resort, Chase

Kekuli Experience, Quaaout Lodge and Talking Rock Resort, Chase

Day 2 — Chase to Salmon Arm to Armstrong to Vernon (1.25 hours)

Travel east along Highway #1 to Salmon Arm. Spend the morning browsing through Salmon Arm for crafts by local artisans and strolling along the waterfront, where you will see the largest freshwater pier in North America.

Salmon Arm’s pride in its past is evident in the careful restoration of heritage buildings located the RJ Haney Heritage Park. The park consists of a 2,000 square foot museum, a turn-of-the-century farmhouse, the relocated Mt. Ida Church and North Broadview School, as well as replicas of the original Salmon Arm Firehall, Newnes Blacksmith Shop, and the restored A.D. Meek Filling Station. Enjoy the informative Haney House tour and satisfy your sweet tooth cravings at Holliday’s Confectionery and Fine Goods gift shop.

While in the area, visit a Shuswap winery, including BC’s most northerly vineyard.

Travel along Highway #97B to Armstrong. Stop by the Village Cheese Company. Their farmstead artisan cheeses are widely considered some of the finest in BC. To ensure quality, their cheese is hand crafted in small batches, using the only the best ingredients and fresh milk from local farmers. The result is truly distinctive — 100% natural cheese that captures the essence of the Okanagan Valley. Upon arrival plan a visit to Planet Bee Honey Farm and Meadery located next to Davison Orchards Country Village.

Travel Trade Partners:
Planet Bee Honey Farm and Honeymoon Meadery
SilverStar Mountain Resort

Overnight in Vernon.

Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon

Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon

Day 3 — Vernon to Kelowna (1 hour)

This morning starts with the full country experience at Davison Orchards. Three generations of Davisons still run the farm that has been in their family since 1933. Take in their market, tour the flower gardens, learn some history in the orchard museum, and browse through Auntie May’s Gift Shop. Before you leave, follow your nose to the bakery and pick up a homemade pie.

Continue on to Kelowna and take in all the sights and smell of this Okanagan paradise. Start your tour off with a visit to Elysium Garden Nursery. Three acres of perennial gardens are located in a serene orchard setting. The gardens are surrounded by unobstructed mountain views and pastoral countryside. Guided and self-guided tours are available. Or, take in the beautiful sights and fragrances at the Okanagan Lavender Farm. 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. The fragrant fields overlook Okanagan Lake and the hustle and bustle of Kelowna far below. Spend the afternoon exploring Kelowna’s Cultural District. Once the centre of the Okanagan’s fruit packing industry, this six-block area has been revitalized into a creative hub of musicians, artists, and performers. Visit the Kelowna Museum, the BC Orchard Industry Museum, the BC Wine Museum, and the Kelowna Art Gallery. The Kelowna Art Gallery is located in the heart of Kelowna’s Cultural District. One of Canada’s most respected public art galleries, this expansive facility offers exciting touring exhibitions as well as interesting permanent local collections. Two blocks away, Discover Kasugai Gardens, a peaceful harmony with nature in traditional Japanese style.

Travel Trade Partners:
Grizzli Winery

Overnight in Kelowna.


Kelowna Harbour, Kelowna, photo credit: Tourism Kelowna

Destination Information:
Tourism Vernon
Tourism Shuswap
Tourism Kelowna