The Thompson Okanagan Valley shines bright in spring and summer. With more blue skies and sunny days than anywhere else in British Columbia, it is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventures and the perfect place for escaping the day-to-day grind.
Lying between the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Monashees to the east, the region offers up great lengths of sandy beaches, warm-water lakes, aromatic forests and world-renowned wineries. It is also home to an array of friendly towns and lively cities, each with their own unique feel, and each offering a variety of memorable experiences.
Versatile Adventures in Vernon
A hot spot for visitors all year long, Vernon has an uninhibited vibe that truly comes alive in the warmer seasons, when outdoor enthusiasts and nature-lovers embrace the promise of sunshine.
One of the best ways to take in the full beauty of Vernon’s surroundings is by using the area’s well-established network of trails, perfect for all levels of walking, hiking and biking. Whether you’re exploring in a group or solo, by foot or bike, you’ll enjoy views of the Monashee Mountains, the lower grassy slopes, and the turquoise-hued Kalamalka Lake from the flower-dotted pathways.
Visiting cyclists who feel particularly energized can pedal the entire length of Kalamalka Lake and beyond on the recently completed Okanagan Rail Trail, which spans 50 kilometres in total and ends in Kelowna. And true-blue mountain bikers *must* visit the SilverStar Mountain Resort’s Downhill Bike Park, which boasts 1,600 vertical feet of riding and more than 18 trails down its slopes.
Should you be curious about local fauna, a springtime walk along the Swan Lake Nature Reserve trail will reward you with fascinating glimpses of local marsh birds and ducks, and, if you’re lucky, American white pelicans and trumpeter swans.
You can also pay a visit to Planet Bee Honey Farm, just outside of Vernon, and take a guided tour — or wander on your own in their observatory room — to learn about the honey bee’s vital role in the Okanagan environment. More than an education centre and farm, Planet Bee also sells 23 varieties of honey produced on-site, as well as honey-infused natural beauty products. And the Honeymoon Meadery hosts daily tastings of their hand-crafted honey wine, with bottles available for purchase to enjoy at home.
For more flavours of the area, visit the bi-weekly Vernon Farmers’ Market in town, where open-air stalls, run by more than 100 local farmers and artisans, allow you to taste the flavours of the season, including juicy local cherries and strawberries.
Amid Vernon’s natural paradise, high-energy days can be paired with mindful moments. Try one of Predator Ridge Resort’s outdoor yoga classes, where a lovely studio — consisting of a mounted cedar platform on the ridge of the resort’s property — gives participants unparalleled views of Lake Okanagan and the surrounding mountain peaks while they practice.
Sink further into relaxation by visiting the visually stunning Sparkling Hill Resort, perched atop a rocky bluff overlooking Lake Okanagan. The spa offers full-body experiences and beauty treatments sure to melt away any lingering stress.
Kick Back in Kelowna
South of Vernon, Kelowna sits amid a colourful landscape of lush greens and sparkling blues. In the spring and summer months, this gem of a city faces beauty in all directions, in the form of serene vineyards, blooming orchards, pine forests, and lovely Okanagan Lake.
In addition to Kelowna’s abundant natural charms are its equally exciting urban offerings. With a thriving nightlife, rich cultural scene and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit, the city offers it all to its visitors and long-term residents.
Embracing a lifestyle that balances work, play and natural beauty is easy here, which is why, more than ever, an increasing number of people are choosing to relocate to Kelowna. Among the best places to make a new home is the top-selling One Water Street, a resort-inspired condominium in the heart of the city’s downtown.
Set for completion in 2021, the condominium offers those seeking to relocate from larger urban areas the ideal space to enjoy the best of the Okanagan lifestyle. With a range of living spaces to choose from, One Water Street can meet all kinds of needs and preferences — even in the convenient form of street-level live-work spaces.
A perfect day at One Water Street could include a morning coffee on your spacious balcony (complete with a Lake Okanagan view), a swim in one of the outdoor pools on the elevated green space (exclusive to owners), a game of pickleball with your neighbours, or lively conversation while lingering over evening cocktails at the on-site wine bistro. And, because of the property’s prime location, which is mere steps from both the shores of the lake and from downtown, additional pastimes and activities are just moments away.
Highly walkable and bikeable, Kelowna’s downtown area is easy to explore, and the atmosphere really livens up in the spring and summer, thanks to the many festivals and live performances that run throughout the warmer months. In addition, there are more than 20 local golf courses and 40 wineries dotting the area, perfect for visiting on the area’s famously hot days.
Visitors seeking to enjoy all the pleasures of Kelowna while still feeling right at home shouldn’t miss the chance to stay with the Okanagan Lodging Company. Settle into a premier vacation rental home in the location that best fits your desires. Will it be a deluxe cottage on the shores of the beach? Or perhaps a massive townhome with a private hot tub in the prestigious Mission neighbourhood?
You can’t make a wrong choice, as all properties by the Okanagan Lodging Company offer spacious first-class rooms, valley views and the chance to truly lean into the “out of office” mindset.
Outside-the-Box in Osoyoos
Don’t let the smaller size of the town of Osoyoos fool you: this southernmost BC destination, just north of the United States border, is well worth a visit.
Due to its geographical location, peaceful Osoyoos is hotter and drier than the rest of the Thompson Okanagan Valley. But its desert-like climate only enhances the unique features of the area. The sprawling Osoyoos Lake is notably warmer than others in BC, and the hot weather and sandier soil allow for abundant growth of delicious and distinctive grapes.
Indeed, the energy of the area belies Osoyoos’ size, as events like the May Cactus Jalopies — an annual antique car show with more than 500 museum-worthy automobiles — and June’s Osoyoos Ribfest set the area abuzz.
Spring and summer days fill up quickly in Osoyoos, as its beautiful landscape compels visitors to get out and play. Explore trails while on the lookout for local plants and critters like the prickly pear cactus and tiger salamander, or golf at Canada’s only desert-style course, Osoyoos Golf Club, which has two 18-hole championship courses.
Or, you could easily spend your entire visit exploring the exciting wine scenes of Osoyoos and nearly Oliver. Thirty-nine wineries, producing varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Chardonnay, are within a short distance, and most welcome drop-in tastings.
Of course, enjoying the sandy beaches and clean warm water of Lake Osoyoos is also a respectable way to while away any day.
While basking lakeside in the sun among the rolling hills, you may think Osoyoos’ idyllic location is unbelievable, but having a permanent spot here is very attainable. Those seeking a permanent summer residence can tour The Cottages on Osoyoos Lake and create that feeling of blissful escape year after year by owning their very own classic cottage on or near the water.
Long-lasting memories with loved ones are sure to be created amid the wonders of Osoyoos.
Kamloops Wild and Free
Kamloops is a place full of delightful contrasts. Sure, it’s the second-largest city in the BC Interior, but, while walking its downtown streets, you still get a quirky, downhome vibe. The area has gorgeous tracts of untouched wilderness, yet its buzzing craft beer and wine scenes give it a charmingly urban feel.
Truly, this northern Okanagan city, located at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, is full of good surprises. And, with a wild terrain of grasslands, forests, and awe-inspiring sandstone slot canyons — plus consistently hot weather — Kamloops is the perfect stage for a variety of outdoorsy pursuits.
Those visiting can test their mettle while rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding or hiking amid the breathtaking landscape. And swimming, fishing and kayaking are popular pastimes in the warmer months for both locals and those passing through, as there are more than 100 lakes within an hour’s drive. New to fishing? Beginners can hire one of the friendly local guides to take them out and practice angling for prizes like Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon to get a true BC experience.
Following your outdoor adventures, head to one of the local breweries, like Iron Road Brewing, to unwind. Or, if you seek an elevated dining experience, the cozy Brownstone Restaurant, which serves expertly prepared farm-to-table ingredients alongside hand-selected wines from the region, is the perfect option.
Whether you’re planning a short trip, a long family stay or a permanent relocation, the Thompson Okanagan Valley is bursting with spring and summer possibilities.