Sandwiched between two large lakes and surrounded by mountains, Penticton brims with stunning photo opportunities. Originally the homeland of the Okanagan people, the region experienced its first influx of Europeans in the 1860s. Penticton’s climate proved to be ideal for growing fruit trees, and agriculture continues to play a role in the area’s economy today. Vineyards and wineries are now scattered throughout the region and serve as major tourist attractions for Penticton. The proximity to abundant farmland has also helped boost Penticton’s reputation as a top-notch dining destination.
During summer, the Okanagan and Skaha lakes are the place to be. Okanagan Lake Provincial Park, 26 kilometres north of Penticton, features long, sand-and-pebble beaches that are ideal for sunbathers and swimmers alike. Ponderosa pines tower over the beaches, and the opposite side of the lake is covered in heavily forested mountains. The lake’s south shore lies on the north side of the city and is lined with more pristine beaches and some of Penticton’s best hotels.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Penticton, Skaha Lake Park sits on the city’s southern border. The 8-hectare park has a soft-sand beach, sand volleyball courts, beach slides and a children’s water park.
In winter, Penticton still bustles with activity. Only 30 kilometres west of Penticton, Apex Mountain Resort has 67 trails and four lifts on a mountain with a 600-metre vertical drop. The resort also offers a mogul course, a night skiing area, two terrain parks and a skating rink. Apex Mountain Village includes an equipment rental shop with a wide variety of skis and snowboards. The on-site general store sells snacks and drinks, and also has DVDs for rent.
For those traveling without kids, the area’s wineries offer excellent day trips. With more than 130 to choose from, it may be a good idea to get a little planning assistance at the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor Centre just south of Downtown. The staff can provide all the tips, maps and brochures needed for a stress-free wine country tour, and the adjoining shop sells an extensive selection of locally produced wines. The centre is also close to many of Penticton’s best hotels and restaurants.
About 2 kilometres southeast of the centre, La Casa Ouzeria Restaurant earns high praise from locals and tourists alike for its classic Greek and Italian cuisine. Order one of the three family-style platters to get a taste of several of the restaurant’s specialties. Less than 1 kilometre north of La Casa Ouzeria, Theo's Restaurant also serves Greek fare in a relaxed, homey atmosphere. The family-operated eatery is known for its excellent appetizers and lamb dishes.
For a more kid-friendly menu, head 2 kilometres northwest to Salty's Beach House. The restaurant offers everything from burgers to fresh fish along with a breath-taking view of the lake.
The whole family can enjoy an after-dinner walk at nearby Penticton Rose Garden or take a stroll on the beach along Lakeshore Drive.