Sip and Savour in BC's Okanagan: An Accessible Getaway

5-7 days, 340 km (211.27 mi)

A food and wine road trip for travellers with mobility challenges.

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Explore the heart of BC’s Okanagan wine region, where hot spots include Kelowna, Vernon, and Osoyoos. In addition to its 185 licensed wineries, this fertile valley is a celebrated foodie destination and an ideal spot for lakeside fun.

Accessible Kelowna has travel information for Kelowna and the surrounding areas, while the Online Accessibility Guide, compiled by People in Motion, offers a comprehensive look at travel in the central Okanagan, highlighting accommodations, attractions, things to do, and more.

Please Note: The information below is based on research and conversations with businesses at the time of writing. For current information—and to ensure that your particular needs can be met—we strongly recommend that you contact each business directly.

 

Part 1

Fly into Kelowna

Getting Here & Getting Around:

Fly to Kelowna, where major car rental companies, including Enterprise and Budget Car & Truck Rental, provide adaptive driving devices. Kelowna Cabs, West Cabs, and Checkmate Cabs each offer wheelchair-accessible vans. All transportation services require a reservation a minimum of three days in advance.

If you need assistance when in Kelowna, companies such as West Kelowna Wine Tours, Cheers Okanagan Tours, and Ogopogo Tours provide wheelchair-accessible private charter services that can pick you up from the Kelowna airport.

From Kelowna, make the short drive north to overnight in Vernon to start your north-to-south journey.

Part 2

Vernon

Accessible Vernon Accommodation Suggestions:

When you arrive in Vernon, several major hotels and resorts have accessible rooms, including Predator Ridge Resort, Best Western Pacific Inn & Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Sparkling Hill Resort, and Prestige Hotel Vernon. For more accommodation details, contact the Vernon Visitor Centre.

Okanagan Lake from Vernon | Andrew Strain

Okanagan Lake from Vernon | Andrew Strain

Along the Way:

Enroute to Vernon, consider a stop at Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa, a Swarovski crystal-bedecked retreat that houses the 40,000-square-foot KurSpa, one of Canada’s top health and wellness destinations. Bonus: Predator Ridge Golf Course is just a golf swing away. For golfers who use wheelchairs, Stand Up & Play BC may be able to provide Paragolfers if reservations are made well in advance.

Sparkling Hill | Destination Canada

Sparkling Hill | Destination Canada

Accessible Vernon Activity Suggestions:

Get artsy in downtown Vernon, where 28 outdoor works showcase the history, culture, scenery, and folklore of the city. Tip: View Vernon’s mural walking map to learn the stories behind each piece. Continue along the Vernon Tasting Trail to uncover the city’s hidden culinary gems; check with individual businesses about accessibility.

From May to October, make your way to Davison Orchards Country Village, an 80-year-old family-run, sustainable farm. The folks at nearby Planet Bee Honey Farm, open year round, will teach you about honeybees and honey-making while you sample mead alongside their golden nectar.

 

Davison Orchards | Andrew Strain

Davison Orchards | Andrew Strain

For a spot of culture, visit the Vernon Public Art Gallery, the largest public gallery in north Okanagan and an important cultural hub for exhibitions, artists’ talks, film screenings, workshops, and signature events.

If time permits, head north towards O’Keefe Ranch for a glimpse into the area’s early cattle-ranching history. From May to September, see the original residences, farmhouses, blacksmith shop, general store, church, farm animals, and more. The ranch grounds are wheelchair accessible; not all the historic buildings are. Continue to Armstrong and visit the sprawling Farmstrong Cider Company (open May-October) before stopping by the Village Cheese Company to nibble on artisanal cheeses. Other notable lunch stops in Armstrong include The Anchor Inn and The Wild Oak Cafe.

Part 3

Kelowna

Accessible Kelowna Accommodation Suggestions:

Accessible accommodations can be found on People in Motion’s online accessibility guide. Hotels with roll-in showers include the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort, Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites, Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna AirportManteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas, and Prestige Beach House Kelowna.

Along the Way:

Heading south to Kelowna via Highway 97, enjoy the scenic drive that cruises by gorgeous lakes: Kalamalka, Wood, and Duck. Access points to the Okanagan Rail Trail can be found near these bodies of water, particularly at the Kickwillie Loop, Kekuli Bay, and the Wood Lake/Oyama Boat Launch.

Accessible Kelowna Activity Suggestions:

To ensure no one draws the short straw as the designated driver, book a tour to explore the region’s wineries. Cheers Okanagan Tours offers nine accessible, top-tier wine tours, including the popular High Spirits Tour, where guests enjoy beer, cider, and spirits alongside wine. The company also provides shuttle services to Kelowna Airport. West Kelowna Wine Tours takes guests on half- and full-day winery tours paired with activities such as lake cruises and helicopter sightseeing. Ogopogo Tours provides wine tours and sightseeing as well as charter services in the South Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

Lake Country, 15-20 minutes north of Kelowna, is home to wineries and cideries: hot spots include 50th Parallel BLOCK ONE restaurant, Ex Nihilio Estate Winery CHAOS BistroO’Rourke’s Peak Cellars Garden Bistro, and Gray Monk Estate Winery & Restaurant, home of BC’s first Pinot Gris. For a picnic and wine experience, Arrowleaf Cellars and Intrigue fit the bill. Near Kelowna Airport, toast the view at Ancient Hill Winery.

Hiking is a favourite pastime here. Be sure to check out the paved and surfaced pathways, including the Waterfront Boardwalk downtown and a 10.5-km stretch along the new Okanagan Rail Trail from Downtown Kelowna to Bulman Road.

Paul’s Tomb Trail at Knox Mountain | Matt Ferguson

Paul’s Tomb Trail at Knox Mountain | Matt Ferguson

 

Downtown Kelowna | Kari Medig

Downtown Kelowna | Kari Medig

In the city, explore Kelowna’s past and present at a cluster of museums showcasing agricultural heritage and history: the Okanagan Heritage Museum, the Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum, the Laurel Packing House, and the Okanagan Military Museum.

Or catch the breeze from Okanagan Lake at Rotary or Gyro beach. Okanagan Beach Rentals provides free, specially designed beach wheelchairs at both sandy locales; one wheelchair is available at each beach, so it’s best to call ahead so that they can reserve/assemble.

Accessible Kelowna Food & Drink Suggestions:

Dining options abound in Kelowna. For inspiration, visit Tourism Kelowna and select “Wheelchair accessible” under “Amenity.” Don’t miss the huge outdoor patio at 19 Okanagan Grill + Bar located at Two Eagles Golf Course, the farm-to-table menu at Lakeside Dining at Hotel Eldorado, and craft beers, local wines, and historic ambience at The Train Station Pub.

Mission Hill | Tanya Goehring

Mission Hill | Tanya Goehring

Curious about Icewine? Visit Grizzli Winery to learn how grapes are plucked from the vine at just the right temperature to produce this sweet pour. And for stellar wine paired with equally stellar views, visit Mission Hill Family Estate‘s Terrace Restaurant, Indigenous World Winery‘s Red Fox Restaurant, Quails’ Gate Winery‘s Old Vine Restaurant, or Summerhill Pyramid Winery‘s Summerhill Organic Restaurant. Tip: Make your reservations in advance.

While Kelowna is famed for its orchards, vineyards, and wineries, craft beers and cideries are making their mark too. CRAFT Beer Market, for example, offers notable brews paired with homegrown lunch menus. For more options, visit the BC Ale Trail and search under Kelowna for local watering holes.

Part 4

Summerland and Penticton

Accessible Penticton Accommodation Suggestions:

Stay in Penticton and explore Summerland and the Naramata Bench. Here, the Sandman Hotel Penticton, Ramada by Wyndham Penticton Hotel & Suites, and Penticton Lakeside Resort & Conference Centre all have wheelchair-accessible rooms.

Along the Way:

As you drive south to Summerland, be sure to visit Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, Summergate Winery, Heaven’s Gate Estate Winery, Thornhaven Estates Winery, Lake Breeze Winery, and Dirty Laundry Vineyard enroute. Buy your designated driver a little something at Dirty Laundry’s general store.

Overlooking Summerland | Kari Medig

Overlooking Summerland | Kari Medig

For a novel way to see the sights in Summerland, board the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, which runs from mid-May to October; there are special schedules for the Easter Train, the Mother’s Day Ride, the Great Train Robbery, the Murder Mystery Train, the Halloween Terror Train, and the Summerland Christmas Express. Purchase tickets ahead of time and plan your winery visits around your rail adventure.

When you arrive in Penticton, enjoy a leisurely tour along the city’s waterfront path, or pick up the pace with your power-assist device or a hand cycle as you meander through wine country along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail.

Kettle Valley Rail Trail | Kari Medig

Kettle Valley Rail Trail | Kari Medig

Drive 20 minutes to the Naramata Bench and stop at some of the 30 wineries set along a 14-km (9-mi) stretch of country road that winds through the vineyards. Wheelchair-accessible Bench 1775, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, and Red Rooster Winery are popular options. At Red Rooster, check out art installations including “Frank the Baggage Handler,” a local celebrity.

Part 5

Oliver and Osoyoos

Accessible Osoyoos Accommodation Suggestions:

Spend the night in Osoyoos at one of several wheelchair-accessible accommodation providers, including Spirit Ridge Resort, Watermark Beach Resort & Conference CentreBest Western Plus Sunrise Inn, Avalon Inn, and Holiday Inn & Suites Osoyoos. Please call ahead to ensure that all of your requirements are being met in the accessible rooms that each hotel offers.

Spirit Ridge | Destination Canada

Spirit Ridge | Destination Canada

Along the Way:

The route from Penticton to the province’s southern reaches is dotted with wineries, lakes, orchards, and vineyards. And did we mention wineries?

Dining at Covert Farms | Joann Pai

Dining at Covert Farms | Joann Pai

Stop for a tipple at Tinhorn Creek Vineyard‘s Miradoro Restaurant, Hester Creek Estate Winery, Jackson Triggs Okanagan Estates, Black Hills Estate WineryBlasted Church Vineyards, Covert Farms Family Estate, and Liquidity Wines and Bistro. All are wheelchair accessible. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Oliver is another local favourite with fabulous food and excellent views; the restaurant is open from spring to mid-December. Note: Burrowing Owl offers a wheelchair-accessible suite with a roll-in shower.

Want something different? Pull out the binoculars at Vaseux Lake Wildlife Centre Nature Trail for a bit of birding. This trail is accessible, but some sections may require assistance. There is no accessible washroom available.

Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre | Andrew Strain

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre | Andrew Strain

Once in Osoyoos, visit Nk’Mip Cellars, North America’s first Indigenous-owned and -operated winery. The spectacular Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, located adjacent to the winery, showcases desert ecology and wildlife; here, you can learn about local Indigenous culture and heritage, and hear legends of Sen’klip (the Okanagan word for Coyote). The building is wheelchair accessible and nature trails are marked and are accessible for motorized wheelchairs or scooters.

Sip wine over a meal at The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry Restaurant in Canada’s only pocket desert. Watermark Beach Resort & Conference Centre, on the shore of Osoyoos Lake, offers a farm-to-table restaurant, and a culinary journey that has been designated a Canadian Signature Experience—“A Culinary Journey through Canada’s Desert.”

Part 6

Return to Kelowna

From Kelowna you can return your rental car and fly home, or keep exploring BC.

Please Note: The information above is based on research and conversations with businesses at the time of writing. For current information—and to ensure that your particular needs can be met—we strongly recommend that you contact each business directly.

Header image: Okanagan Lake and Naramata | Kari Medig

 

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