At the center of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, which runs more than 150 kilometres north from the US border, this community of 43,000 makes a handy base for exploring one of Canada’s largest wine-producing regions. You can go wine-tasting right in the city center and along the Naramata Bench above Lake Okanagan, and drive (or cycle) to dozens more wineries. Swim, paddle, or go boating on the lakes, go biking on nearby rail trails, or just enjoy the sandy beaches. For campers, Okanagan Lake Provincial Park, between Penticton and Summerland, has terraced campgrounds with lake views. You’ll find RV parks on Skaha Lake on Penticton’s south side.
More than 40 wineries line the hills above Okanagan Lake in this small community bordering Penticton, where you’ll also find cheese makers, distillers, and a cidery. You can eat well in Naramata, too.
The Okanagan’s largest city, Kelowna sprawls out from the lakeshore, but there’s plenty of good wine to sample in and around town as well. If you need to buy or rent gear, you can find it here.
The South Okanagan communities of Oliver and Osoyoos are in the northernmost end of the Sonoran Desert. This hot, dry region is excellent for grape-growing, so you’ll find some of the Okanagan’s best wines here. Built around a scenic lake, Osoyoos is also home to Canada’s first Indigenous-owned winery.
Hunting for the next wine-making hotspot? Check out this emerging wine region along Highway 3 west of Osoyoos.
The Okanagan Valley has some of Canada’s mildest temperatures, drawing visitors from April through October, and even Canadian “snowbirds” who settle in for the winter. Spring is relatively mild, summers are hot, dry, and busy, while the autumn months of September and October, during the grape harvest, are an excellent time to tour this British Columbia region, particularly if you can travel mid-week. Book early for July and August and for fall weekends.
Several towns around Penticton, including Summerland, Peachland, Kaleden, and Okanagan Falls, have more options for campers, from family campgrounds to RV parks, many on either Okanagan or Skaha Lake.
To buy local produce and interesting prepared foods, visit Penticton’s excellent farmer’s market, which operates on Saturdays on the town’s main street.
Kelowna is the only Okanagan city with an extensive transit system. While central Penticton is compact and walkable, it’s easiest to explore the area by car or bike. Consider renting an e-bike if you’re heading to hilly Naramata.
For a unique wine-tasting adventure, book a wine tour by kayak with one of Penticton’s outfitters.