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Vineyards in Penticton, overlooking the lake

Top 5 Places to Stop Between Vancouver and Kelowna

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A perfect summer getaway in the Okanagan is a mere four to six hours from Vancouver. The slower and arguably more scenic route is along Highway 3, known as the Crowsnest Highway. Along this meandering road that passes through thickly forested parkland, you can stock up on freshly picked BC fruit, enjoy wine tasting, take a dip in one of the province’s warmest lakes, experience Canada’s only desert, explore a First Nations interpretive centre, and catch a ride on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland. You may never make it to Kelowna!

We asked our Facebook fans for their favourite stops between Vancouver and Kelowna, and here are their top five choices:

5. Manning Provincial Park

The entrance to Manning Provincial Park, with a wooden sign, an RV driving down the road and thick forested hills in the background.

E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Photo: GoToVan via Flickr

Just after you leave Highway 1 from Vancouver and exit onto Highway 3, you encounter stunning E.C. Manning Provincial Park, a four-season destination offering fantastic hiking and lakeside fun in the summer, and downhill skiing and an extensive network of Nordic trails in the winter. Stop off for a meal at the park’s lodge, or opt for a picnic with a view. Enjoy a short walk to stretch your legs, or hike into the alpine to see gorgeous wildflower meadows in bloom. Spend a comfortable night in a cabin, or set up camp in one of the park’s many campgrounds. Regardless of your interests and schedule, Manning is a must-see.

4. Keremeos

The vineyards of the Similkameen Valley with desert hills in the background and blue skies above.

View of the Similkameen Valley from Herder Winery & Vineyards in Keremeos. Photo: Destination BC

Keremeos is known as the “fruit stand capital of Canada” for a reason. Here, family-run stands line the highway, offering the perfect incentive to get out of your car and explore. Grab a basket, tour the open-air markets, and load up on delicious, freshly picked Okanagan fruit to sustain you on your journey. Chat with local growers, who use organic growing methods. Locally made preserves, jams, and honey are a must, and lovers of Indian food can find some amazing curries and samosas. Yum! Need a beverage to accompany your purchases? Keremeos has you covered with several nearby wineries.

3. Penticton

The lake to the right and green vineyards with houses sprinkled on them, green hills in the background and blue skies with white fluffy clouds above.

Penticton vineyards. Photo: keepitsurreal via Flickr

Located about an hour south of Kelowna, Penticton is a popular summer destination nestled between two lakes—Okanagan and Skaha—which means tons of beachfront fun. Build a sandcastle, relax in the sun with with a favourite book, or head for the water. The lakes are ideal for swimming, boating, paddleboarding, and even windsurfing or kiteboarding. You are in close proximity to excellent hiking and cycling trails, championship golf courses, challenging rock climbing, and wineries, glorious wineries. Penticton restaurants pour primarily local offerings, and the renowned Naramata Bench is just a short drive along the east side of Okanagan Lake.

2. Osoyoos

8 women walking across a wooden bridge in the desert at the Osoyoos Desert Centre.

Osoyoos Desert Centre. Photo: Destination BC

The resort town of Osoyoos is situated on the shores of one of the warmest lakes in BC. Osoyoos Lake is the perfect spot for all types of water activities, and a dip in the lake is an excellent way to cool off in the summer heat. The community is located in Canada’s only desert, and it gets hot! Learn more about this fragile ecosystem at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, with it’s 1.5-km (1-mi) wooden boardwalk and hands-on interpretive centre, and at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, which tells the story of the desert, as well as the proud history of the Okanagan First Nation. Nk’Mip is also home to an award-winning winery, one of several around Osoyoos.

1. Skaha Lake

Skaha Lake with the sandy beach in the foreground and glass-like lake in the background and a pink sunset above.

Skaha Lake at sunset. Photo: keepitsurreal via Flickr

And our fans’ favourite stop along the route from Vancouver to Kelowna is beautiful Skaha Lake. The lake runs south to north from the small town of Okanagan Falls to the city of Penticton. No visit to Okanagan Falls is complete without a visit to local favourite Tickleberry’s, home to a delicious assortment of ice cream and other well-known treats. From there, as you drive along the shores of scenic Skaha, be sure to sample local wines from the gorgeous, sun-drenched vineyards overlooking the lake.

Featured image: Vineyard views from Naramata Bench near Penticton. Photo: Grant Harder

Note: Originally published: February 1, 2018


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