Sometimes residents of the PNW forget just how close they are to Canada. I know I do.
It’s just a short jaunt to all the attractions and scenery that British Columbia has to offer. (and there are several parts of the province that are worth spending some vacation time).
One of those is Okanagan Lake, a true playground for residents from throughout British Columbia. It ranks as one of the most beautiful vacation spots in the entire Pacific Northwest.
Okanagan Lake is in the central part of the province, near the border with Washington. If you were to start your vacation drive in Wenatchee, Washington, it’s just a four-hour trip north from there.
So let’s talk about a few places to go and what to see while you’re there!
Okanagan Lake is 83 miles long — about 30 miles longer than Lake Chelan — and it has three impressive larger cities with excellent tourist accommodations. The first of those cities, coming from the south, is Penticton, which is located right at the southern end of Okanagan Lake.
Penticton has a population of about 33,000 and is at the center of the burgeoning Okanagan wine industry. It’s been around for a long time as a summer resort with its beaches and marinas, but in recent years the wine industry has begun to transform Penticton by attracting new sophisticated restaurants and modern accommodations.
The city has lots of galleries and museums, adding to its appeal as a destination for urban residents. And of course, there are the usual water activities such as swimming, boating, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. The mountains are nearby so there are lots of trails and opportunities for mountain biking as well.
Where To Stay In Penticton
When visiting Okanagan Lake in Penticton, the Penticton Lakeside Resort is arguably the best place to stay, offering a perfect blend of luxury, comfort, and unrivaled access to the lake. Situated on the shores of Okanagan Lake, this resort boasts a private beach and marina, allowing guests to effortlessly enjoy the crystal-clear waters and the various recreational activities available.
The Penticton Lakeside Resort offers a variety of well-appointed rooms and suites, many of which feature balconies with breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The on-site amenities, including a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, and spa, ensure a relaxing and indulgent stay for all guests.
Dining options at the resort are aplenty, with the Hooded Merganser Bar & Grill, the Bufflehead Cappuccino Bar, and the Barking Parrot Bar offering diverse culinary experiences that cater to a range of tastes. With its prime location, the resort is also within walking distance to the vibrant downtown area, where you can explore local wineries, boutique shops, and farm-to-table restaurants.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Okanagan Lake, the Penticton Lakeside Resort offers an unparalleled experience, combining luxurious accommodations with unbeatable access to the area’s natural splendor.
Kelowna is about halfway up Okanagan Lake. The city’s restaurants and wineries beckon visitors from Vancouver B.C. as well as other parts of the Northwest. Kelowna is the largest city in the region with about 127,000 residents and has an excellent tourism infrastructure that offers lots of choices for lodging and a host of activities.
Kelowna is almost as if you took Chelan and its beautiful lakefront location and made it a much larger city, but still not so large that it feels like a big city. There are beaches and marinas right in Kelowna, as well as nearby, so the lake and its summer recreation are always a huge draw when the weather is good.
And when the weather turns colder, Kelowna is home to Big White Ski Resort, which has on-mountain accommodations and a ski village and is just a short drive from the city.
Where To Stay In Kelowna
When visiting Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort stands out as the premier place to stay, offering guests a luxurious and comfortable experience with unbeatable access to the lake. Nestled on the picturesque waterfront, the resort provides stunning views and direct access to the lake’s shoreline, allowing you to easily enjoy the pristine waters and abundant recreational activities available.
The Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort features a variety of elegantly designed rooms and suites, many of which boast private balconies overlooking the lake or surrounding mountains. Guests can take advantage of the resort’s top-notch amenities, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, a full-service spa, and both indoor and outdoor pools for year-round relaxation.
Dining at the resort is a delightful experience, with the OAK + CRU Social Kitchen & Wine Bar offering locally sourced cuisine, craft cocktails, and an extensive selection of Okanagan wines. The resort’s prime location also places you within easy reach of Kelowna’s vibrant downtown area, where you can discover boutique shops, art galleries, and additional dining options.
For those seeking an exceptional stay in Kelowna while exploring the enchanting Okanagan Lake, the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort provides an unparalleled combination of luxury, comfort, and convenient access to the area’s natural beauty and attractions.
At the north end of Okanagan Lake is Vernon, a city of about 39,000 people living in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by rolling grasslands with rocky outcrops and stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.
There are three lakes in the area, including Okanagan Lake. And it’s all about the outdoors in Vernon B.C. Not only is this city right on Okanagan Lake, but it has lots of hiking and biking trails nearby, as well as provincial parks for camping. The mountain views are spectacular.
Fresh vegetables and fruit are every place you look with farmers’ markets offering the freshest local produce. There are also 20 beaches where, in summer, sun lovers soak up the sun. There are also boutique wineries, a craft cidery, a craft brewery, and an award-winning distillery.
Where To Stay In Vernon
When visiting Okanagan Lake in Vernon, the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre stands out as an exceptional place to stay, offering guests a comfortable and inviting atmosphere with convenient access to the lake. Situated just a short drive from the shores of Okanagan Lake, this charming hotel provides a tranquil retreat while still allowing you to easily enjoy the pristine waters and the wide array of recreational activities available.
The Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre features tastefully designed rooms and suites, ensuring a restful stay for all guests. The hotel’s unique indoor atrium, complete with a tropical garden, waterfall, and fish pond, creates a serene ambiance that sets it apart from other accommodations in the area. Guests can also take advantage of the hotel’s amenities, including an indoor pool, hot tub, and fitness center.
For dining, the on-site BX Creek Bar & Grill offers a delightful menu of classic dishes with a contemporary twist, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. The hotel’s location also places you within easy reach of Vernon’s downtown area, where you can explore boutique shops, art galleries, and a variety of dining options.
For travelers seeking a memorable stay in Vernon while exploring the captivating Okanagan Lake, the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre provides a perfect blend of comfort, convenience, and unique charm, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all visitors.
Conclusion (Any My Recommendation)
In my opinion, if you’re visiting Okanagan Lake and looking for the best overall experience, I would recommend staying in Kelowna. As the largest city in the Okanagan Valley, it offers a perfect blend of urban amenities and natural beauty, making it a versatile choice for travelers with diverse interests.
Kelowna’s vibrant downtown area, filled with shops, art galleries, and restaurants, provides plenty of entertainment and leisure options. The city also boasts a lively cultural scene, with various festivals and events taking place throughout the year, ensuring there’s always something happening.
In addition to its urban appeal, Kelowna offers unparalleled access to Okanagan Lake, with several beaches and marinas located nearby. This makes it easy for visitors to take advantage of water sports, boating, and swimming without having to travel far.
While Penticton and Vernon each have their unique charm and attractions, I believe Kelowna stands out as the most well-rounded option for visitors to Okanagan Lake. Its balance of urban amenities and natural beauty, along with its central location in the Okanagan Valley, make it the ideal base for exploring the region and enjoying everything it has to offer.
Of course, you can always take your time and spend a day or two in each city. You’ll be glad you did!