Sandwiched between lakes Skaha and Okanagan, Penticton is an unpretentious city where old and new collide, offering a heady mix of recreational offerings all year round. A playground filled with watersports, wine tasting forays and winding trails that test the mettle of the most avid hikers and bikers, Penticton also has plenty to offer in the off-season, when the crowds have dispersed and you can have the place all to yourself. Here are our top picks for year-round recreation.
FAT TIRES, NO FATIGUE:
The Kettle Valley Railroad Trail is the longest railroad trail in the province, stretching 650 kilometers from Castlegar to Hope. Some of its most popular pedaled terrain lies between Penticton and Kelowna, a segment that includes the Myra Canyon trestles and the most spectacular scenery. Donít be deterred from venturing this way if youíre not a long-distance endurance biker with calves of steel. Rent a fat-tire electric bike and most of the work is done for you, giving you the freedom to enjoy the view and climb the hills without concern for breathless exhaustion. Freedom Bike shop on Pentictonís main drag, is a quick ride from the trailhead.
ITíS ABOUT TIME
Closing the gap between old Penticton and new is TIME Winery, newly opened in what was previously the cityís movie theatre. Harry McWatters, who has been integral to Pentictonís wine scene since its inception, is at the helm of this venture, a full-fledged winery using grapes from all over the Okanagan valley. The old cinema theatres retired in 2012 and reopened in 2018 in their new incarnation, with a state of the art fermentation room and barrel room and a full restaurant and wine tasting area in the front of house. McWatters will be heading up wine education seminars on Saturday mornings and has serious plans for TIME Winery to become a center for wine education in the region.
For a night away in a truly historic setting, head to Chute Lake Lodge, 30 kilometers from Penticton. Newly restored, the eight cabins surrounding this picturesque lodge date back to the construction of the Kettle Valley Railroad in the early 1900s. This is a great venue for a back-to-nature family retreat, with a plethora of recreational possibilities that include trout fishing, paddling, hiking, climbing, a sweat lodge, yoga classes and biking to the Myra Canyon trestles, just a few kilometers away. In winter come for ice fishing, snowshoeing and the kind of serenity that only comes with a remote mountain lodge steeped in snow, solitude and timeless charm.
THE PERFECT PAIRING
If you donít have a libation in your hand at least once a day, youíre missing out on Pentictonís biggest industry: viticulture. To gain a deeper appreciation of the complex flavours of the region visit Great Escapes Okanagan, a downtown wine experience centre and store that specializes in pairing the valleyís best wines with local cheese and chocolate. Wine lovers will appreciate how carefully selected foods can complement and reveal the complex flavours of their wine. And if you just want to taste-and-buy, this is a tempting one-stop-shop for those who want to sniff, swirl and sip their way through a portfolio of Okanagan wineries without visiting each one individually.
MOUNTAINS OF PLEASURE
Apex Mountain Resort, a playground for downhill skiers since 1961, has a good selection of alternatives for those who want winter adventures in a softer format. Rent skates and take to the Adventure Ice Loop, one kilometer of groomed skating terrain thatís floodlit at night and open until 11pm. Rent a tube and slip down a gentle slope at the tube park, or strap snowshoes on your feet and venture into the valley and down by the creek. The still beauty of the wintry outdoors is mesmerizing and thereís a good chance the only tracks will be yours.
IF YOU GO:
Wine Tasting: greatestatesokanagan.com ; timewinery.com
PHOTOS: Credit: Travel Penticton.
1. Chute Lake: Chute Lake Resort is a small, family-oriented resort where the great outdoors is your playground, year round.
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