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36 Hours in the South Okanagan

Known for beautiful lakes and landscapes, the South Okanagan has become a sought after tourist destination. Boasting Canada’s warmest lake in Osoyoos, this region draws people of all kinds to its lush rolling hills and gorgeous rocky cliff sides. Within these rolling hills and cliffs, there is a burgeoning wine and food scene that is capturing the world’s attention. Here are some suggestions for what you can do in a short amount of time to maximize your South Okanagan experience.

Friday

4 p.m. Wine & Wineries

Work is finished for a few days, so now is the time to relax. Most wineries and tasting rooms close between 5 to 6 pm, so we suggest visiting one or two before that happens. There is a plethora of high quality wines and wineries in this region, all of which would be more than happy to pour you samples of their delicious products.

6 – 9 p.m. Food & Drinks

Whether you are in Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos, or surrounding areas, good food is everywhere. From the delicious Italian and French dishes of Convivia, to the plentiful pastas of Campo Marina, there is no shortage of selections. Along with wine, many wineries have incredible restaurants that are open later than their tasting rooms. Try Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek or Terrafina at Hester Creek.

9 p.m. Drink with the Locals

No one would blame you if you decided to pack it in and head to bed after dinner, but if you’re not ready, then there are some options:

The Barking Parrot in Penticton is a great place to unwind with drinks, pool, giant television screens, and a patio with a stunning view of Okanagan Lake. If you are closer to Osoyoos and Oliver, you can find the locals at either the Owl Pub or The Sage Pub.

During the summer, you also have the option of taking an evening stroll along one of our many lakes thanks to our long summer days.

Saturday

9 a.m. Coffee & Breakfast

Grab a coffee at Jojo’s Cafe in Osoyoos or Oliver Eats in Oliver to start the day out right. Newly opened Wayne & Freda coffee shop and kitchen in Penticton is another great option.

10 a.m. Hiking & Water Sports

If you are an outdoor person, there are many options in the South Okanagan. For an easy hike, try the Golden Mile Stamp Mill Trail. Located behind Tinhorn Creek Winery, the Golden Mile Stamp Mill Trail takes you through the rolling hills, rocky cliff sides and vast, blue skies of the Okanagan. For something more challenging, try McIntyre Bluff or Skaha Bluffs. With incredible views, either hike is worth it. If rock climbing is your thing, Skaha Bluffs has climbing opportunities ranging from beginner to expert. And Painted Rock is not far away to relax with a glass of wine afterwards.

If you find it to be a little hot for a hike, rent a paddle board or kayak and explore the beautiful lakes. ATB Watersports in Osoyoos and Penticton Paddlesurf come highly recommended.

12 – 1 p.m. Lunch

On a hot day, nothing is better than a shaded seat on a patio overlooking the valley. Luckily, the South Okanagan is filled with establishments that offer just that. Liquidity Bistro boasts beautiful views and a weekend Brunch menu from 11 am to 4 pm.

If you’re looking for a quick bite, try one of the local taco stands. El Sabor de Marina offers Mexican and Latin American Food – Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, and Tamales. With quick and kind customer service, they always deliver the goods. Highly recommended.

2 – 5 p.m. Culture & Wine Tours

If you are interested in learning about history of the area, head over to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Center. This beautiful establishment offers various exhibitions, walking and hiking trails, as well as climbing adventures.

If wine-tasting is your thing, you came to the right place. The Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country website is a great resource for those interested in tasting some of the best wines made in Canada. To truly experience the best of what the South Okanagan offers, book a tour to eliminate to worry of driving. Experience Wine Tours comes highly recommended.

*Most wineries offer affordable shipping rates, inquire about this to avoid leaving wine in a hot car for extended periods of time

Contrary to popular belief, the South Okanagan isn’t just about wine. Distilleries and breweries have been popping up and offer delicious beverages that are a great option for those who want to try something different. Legends Distillery on the Naramata Bench and Tumbleweed Spirits Craft Distillery in Osoyoos come highly recommended, offering various gins, whiskeys, and, yes, even moonshine.

6 – 9 p.m. Beer, Wine, & Food

For food and drinks, the Cannery Brewery is a Penticton institution. Some say you haven’t lived until you’ve had their nachos. Bad Tattoo is another recommended brewery, they have a great selection of beer and unique pizzas. The Hooded Merganser, located on Okanagan Lake in Penticton, offers a diverse menu that ranges from sushi to BBQ Pork Ribs.

Sunday

9 a.m. Fresh Produce

Grab a coffee, breath in the fresh air, and head over to one of our many fruit and vegetable stands. You’ll be hard pressed to find better and fresher produce than is found in the South Okanagan. Many of the establishments also offer other homemade products such as jams and dried fruits.

11 a.m. Last Minute Tastings & Food

If there are any wineries you missed, stop by for a quick tasting before you hit the road for home. For a pre-drive or flight snack, head to Medici’s Gelateria & Coffee House for delicious gelato or Tickleberry’s for one (or more) of their 72 flavors.

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Bird-watching in the South Okanagan

The Osoyoos and Oliver region are known world-wide for bird watching. From Haynes Point to Vaseaux Lake, gorgeous species can be seen frequently. Peregrine Falcons, White-headed Woodpeckers, Northern Saw-whet Owls, Sage Thrashers, and Yellow-breasted Chats are just a few of the incredible birds found here. At Phantom Creek Estates, we see some of these beautiful birds flying about.

Adjacent to the Oxbows, the SORCO (South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre) is located. Here, they nurture and rehabilitate injured Raptors (birds of prey). There are multiple conservation projects aimed at protecting and preserving this unique and gorgeous area. We are grateful for to the many organizations determined to preserve these lands and protect the wildlife that call them home.

Below are some suggested bird-watching sites in the area:

Haynes Point Provincial Park

2 kms south of Osoyoos, Haynes Point Provincial Park is the home to Red-winged Blackbirds, Great-horned Owls, Canyon Wrens, White-throated Swifts, and many others. You can walk down the gravel trail for up to 45 minutes, where a “dog swimming area” awaits you and your furry companions at the end.

Osoyoos Desert Centre

A facility dedicated to preserving the natural Desert environment, visitors can walk along the boardwalk and read about the various elements that make up this unique and beautiful area. While visiting, keep an eye out for Golden Eagles, Mountain Bluebirds, Red-tailed Hawks, and Hummingbirds. As it can get very hot, during summer months it is recommended to visit earlier in the day.

Osoyoos Oxbows

An expansive wetland located along both sides the Okanagan River, the Oxbows are home to many species. When here, keep an eye out for Osprey, various species of Owls, Cinnamon Teal, the Yellow-breasted Chat, among many others.

NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre

At the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre, guided and self-guided walks are provided to anyone interested in experiencing the area in its natural state. The walks focus on how the Desert land was used by the First Nations people. Here, you can spot White-throated Swifts, Lark Sparrows, Brewer’s Sparrows, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to the see the elusive Black-throated Sparrow.

Vaseaux Lake Wildlife Centre

On Highway 97, between Oliver and Okanagan Falls, Vaseaux Lake Wildlife Centre boasts a 400-m boardwalk along the lakeshore. Here, you can see Bluebirds, Woodpeckers, Swallows, Western Meadowlarks, and Trumpeter Swans, among many others.

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