Penticton

Destination Location

Penticton, BC

Overview

Looking for a fresh vacation option? Between the grapes draping the surrounding vineyards and the timeless apple, pear and cherry orchards planted in the 1860s, Penticton has a rich history as a great spot to gather, allowing visitors to harvest an exceptional experience with friends and family.

This youthful summer-resort town has ripened into a mature community that more than 33,000 people call home, all year round. Theories on the name of the city draw from local Okanagan and Salish words referring to an ideal meeting place, a place to stay forever or a place that water passes by. Penticton's population temporarily doubles during the summer months when visitors from around the country and beyond visit to take in the bounty of the Okanagan Valley.

Wine tours convoying through the more than 88 local wineries in the region allow visitors to sample the wide range of excellent wine and culminates in the Okanagan Wine Festival which happens three times a year in May, July and October for respective spring, summer and autumn sessions. The festival also features fresh, local food and musical performances.

Penticton has a range of other festivals over the course of the year including the Beach Blanket Film Festival, Rock the Peach Music Fest, the Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival, the Okanagan International Children's Festival and the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival. Colourful Front Street has grown from the single, wood-lined street in town to a lush main street. It is a great place to start exploring the galleries, studios and shops that exhibit Penticton's artistic side.

Visitors will find water fun just outside of Penticton on Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake and their surrounding beaches. House boats rentals, leisurely cruises and sailing are all available. Dryer outdoor activities include golf, hiking and biking. The Kettle Valley Steam trail, in nearby Summerland, offers a throwback for locomotive enthusiasts and also makes up part of the Trans Canada Trail.

Visiting athletes can grab some local fruit (pick it yourself at one of the local U-Pick orchards) to recharge after taking one of the endurance races in Penticton including triathlons, or a cup of hot cider made from local apples after skiing on Apex Alpine mountain in the winter time.

Airport served by: YYF

Destination basics

Lake Okanagan acts as a giant radiator (and home to the elusive Ogopogo) and tempers the valley during the winter. Heat waves during the summer can reach between 25 and 30 Celsius but the nearby lakes are a handy way to cool off.


Weather chart

Centered around the historic downtown, Penticton is a city of natural splendor. In between lie residential areas, each with a character of its own. From the scenic mansions of the Uplands to the wartime homes of the K Streets, Penticton is a city of varied beauty, infused with the charm of a small town.

Downtown and Main North
Some of the city’s earliest buildings were built in downtown along Front Street. Although most of the original wooden structures are long gone, the neighborhood still retains an alluring small-town charm that harkens to its humble origins. Along Front and Main Streets, you will find a pleasing mix of restaurants, and specialty shops like Sirius Science & Nature, the Book Shop, and the Hat Hideaway. At the Dream Cafe, enjoy a delicious meal as you groove along to live music or sample organic cuisine at the Wild Scallion. For a taste of local beer, head to Bad Tattoo, and the Cannery, or shop for wine at the Wine Country Information Centre. Nearby are some of the city’s most popular attractions including the Penticton Golf Club, LocoLanding Adventure Park, SS Sicamous, the launch site for the River Channel, and the sandy beaches of Okanagan Lake. Main North’s entertainment offer is helmed by fabulous venues like the Penticton Community Centre, the South Okanagan Events Centre, and Cleland Community Theatre.

Uplands / Redlands
As you venture to the north, along the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, you will find yourself surrounded by sprawling vineyards and orchards that testify to the bountiful beauty of the valley. Savor fine wine at homegrown wineries like Hillside Estate, Red Rooster, and La Frenz, or sample craft spirits at Maple Leaf. Interspersed in between are scenic homes that overlook the lake and downtown Penticton.

Main South
To the south, along the shores of Skaha Lake, bathe in the golden sunshine at lakeside beaches, or scale the Skaha Bluffs. You can also indulge in water sports at the Skaha Lake Park, or enjoy a round of golf at the Skaha Meadows Golf Club nearby.
While Penticton’s sprawling outdoors are its main attraction, the city has much to offer besides. Spend the day exploring the specialty shops of downtown, browse art galleries, enjoy the thrill of a live performance at the Cleland Community Theatre. Sporting events, gaming, and golf are also on the cards in Penticton.

Museums and Galleries
With its picturesque forests, scenic lakes, and dramatic bluffs, Penticton inspires art. Downtown Penticton is the heart of the city’s cultural scene and is home to the city’s top art galleries. The Penticton Art Gallery is the crown jewel of the city’s artistic offer, with a varied program of exhibitions that showcase contemporary and historic artwork by emerging and established artists. Nearby, the Front Street Gallery is another popular choice for landscapes, portraits and photographic artwork created by local artists. Also in downtown are the Martin Street Gallery and Tumbleweed Gallery. Further away, Terry Isaac’s enchanting depictions of nature are displayed at the eponymous gallery on Upper Bench Road.

History buffs should visit the SS Sicamous Museum and Heritage Park for a tour of the historic sternwheeler that contributed so much to the growth of Penticton into the thriving city that it is today. Besides a tour of the sternwheeler’s original steam engine and cabins, visitors can also marvel at a working model of the Kettle Valley Railroad and take charge of the captain’s wheel.

Performing Arts
Experience the magic of live theater at the Cleland Community Theatre of Penticton. Located at the Penticton Community Centre, the theater hosts concerts, live theater, and comedy, featuring national and international performers. The Cannery Stage at the Cannery Trade Centre also hosts live performances by local and touring theater groups, like the Many Hats Theatre Company of Penticton. The South Okanagan Events Centre forms the heart of the city’s musical offers, with a program featuring major concerts that attract an audience of thousands. For live music in a more casual setting, head to the Dream Cafe. Here, the live music line-up features everything from jazz, rock, and folk, to spoken word and world music.

Sports
Penticton’s many sports arenas offer a jam-packed schedule of sporting events for all to enjoy. The South Okanagan Events Centre forms the core of the city’s sports world as the home of the Penticton Vees hockey team. Together with the McLaren Arena and the Penticton Memorial Arena, the city’s sports venues host a varied program of curling, ice hockey, and other ice sports.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to drive a race car, sign up for the Racing Experience at the Penticton Speedway, or cheer on professional drift racers as they zip around the oval race track. You can also enjoy kart racing at the speedway.

Golf
Tee off at the Penticton Golf & Country Club. This picturesque, 18-hole course promises a challenging round of golf, with narrow fairways, well-placed bunkers, and sparkling ponds. Nearby, the Wow Golf Club is a fine choice for a rewarding day on the green. The course boasts an Arizona-style dessert layout that challenges even the most seasoned golfers with dramatic changes in elevation. Overlooking Okanagan Lake and the city of Penticton, the golf club marries the perks of a scenic location with the rewards of a challenging course. Other golf courses in the area include the Sage Mesa Golf Club, the Ponderosa Golf Club, and the Pine Hills Golf Club. To the south, the Skaha Meadows Golf Club invites you to enjoy a round of golf just minutes away from the sandy beaches of Skaha Lake.

Casino
The Cascades Casino offers over 400 slot machines, alongside electronic and live table games. The expansive gaming floor features slots of every kind, from the classic reels to the latest titles, and a spacious poker room for fans of Texas Hold’em. Feeling peckish? Enjoy a delicious meal at the Match or the Buffet, and stay for an evening of live entertainment every weekend.

Outdoors
Nestled amidst the rough-hewn cliffs, rocky bluffs and tranquil lakes of the Okanagan Valley, Penticton rewards adventurers with countless opportunities to explore the outdoors. From water sports like kayaking, wakeboarding, and parasailing, to cycling along the Kettle Valley Trail, Penticton offers a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy. Bask in the sunshine at the beaches of Okanagan and Skaha Lakes, and scale the Skaha Bluffs at the eponymous provincial park. In winter, head to the Apex Mountain Resort and explore its many excellent ski runs and cross-country trails. 

Spanning a distance of 7 kilometers (4 miles) between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, the River Channel is one of the city’s top outdoor attractions. Float down the channel on your own floaty, or hire one from Coyote Cruises at the launch site at Riverside Drive. From here float down the entire length of the channel or disembark at the breakpoint at Green Mountain Road, from where you can catch a shuttle back to the launch site.

Shopping
Downtown Penticton boasts dozens of specialty shops selling everything from musical instruments and books, to accessories and toys. Shop for hats of every kind at the Hat Hideaway, or be amazed by a vast selection of binoculars, telescopes and educational toys at Sirius Science & Nature. If you enjoy reading, a stop by the Book Shop is a must. With floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stocked with used books of every genre, this local store is a wonderland for bibliophiles. For brand name retailers, the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre is a delight with over 60 shops and services to its credit. The weekly Farmers’ Market at Main Street is a great place to shop for farm-fresh produce, honey, baked goods, jams, and more. This outdoor market runs from April through October every Saturday and is replaced by the Winter Market from November through December. Nearby, the Downtown Community market is also held on Saturdays, featuring a plethora of vendors selling antiques, handmade crafts, clothing, jewelry, and clothing. The market runs from May through September.

Festivals
Penticton comes alive in summer in a celebration of food, music, and classic cars. The Penticton Peach Festival is the grandest of them all, with five full days of parades, live music, cultural events, and so much more. For lovers of classic cars, the Peach City Beach Cruise is the ultimate event. A dazzling variety of classic cars and trucks transform the beachfront at Okanagan Lake into a spectacular display, while the parade down Main Street lets you see these marvelous mechanical beauties in action. The Penticton Elvis Festival, on the other hand, attracts Elvis impersonators and cover artists from all over the world to celebrate the music of the King of Rock and Roll. Other popular festivals are the Pentastic Hot Jazz festival, the Okanagan Fest of Ale, and a variety of wine festivals.
Nestled amidst a land of plenty, Penticton boasts a vibrant culinary offer that is centered around downtown. Surrounded by the teeming orchards, vineyards, and farms of Okanagan Valley, the city’s restaurants showcase locally-sourced, seasonal produce, alongside local wine, spirits, and beer. 

Downtown and Main North
North Penticton offers a diverse culinary offer that is centered around the historic downtown. For a sumptuous Sunday brunch, head to the Bench Artisan Market. Paired with a breakfast and lunch menu of sandwiches, paninis, salads, soups and pastries prepared using the finest local ingredients, this casual eatery serves up a true taste of local flavor. You can also shop for gourmet food items like infused oils and organic honey at the Bench Artisan Market. Il Vecchio is another popular choice for deli sandwiches. For New Canadian cuisine try Angus chili and elk chorizo sandwiches at the Brodo Kitchen. The menu at this rustic eatery also offers a few exotic options like Korean BBQ Ramen and Pho.

At the Wild Scallion, treat yourself to a healthy meal packed with fresh flavor and wholesome goodness. The restaurant offers global vegan and vegetarian cuisine, inspired by Southeast Asian flavors. For Greek and Italian, Theo’s Restaurant and La Casa Ouzeria are the top picks, while Lachi is the favored choice for Indian cuisine. At Bad Tattoo Brewing sample craft beer and gourmet pizzas like the Thai Pizza with Phanaeng shrimp curry, and the Forager with mushrooms and truffle oil. Set along the shores of Okanagan Lake is Salty’s Beach House, Penticton’s favorite seafood restaurant with a varied menu of fresh fish, oysters and more. These and numerous other options make for a thriving culinary scene with everything from Japanese sushi and Italian pasta, to Thai curries and elevated pub fare.

Uplands / Redlands
To the east of Okanagan Lake lie some of the city’s best wineries. Make your way along the lakeshore and enjoy wine tastings at popular wineries like Red Rooster, La Frenz, and Poplar Grove. Here you will also find the Maple Leaf distillery, serving craft wines prepared using local ingredients. The Bistro at the Hillside Estate is one of the neighborhood’s best restaurants, with a menu packed with delicious Canadian eats like spiced carrot soup and Caesar Salad with fried herbs. Prepared using locally-sourced, fresh ingredients, the food served at the Hillside Estate is the perfect complement to the winery’s exceptional wines.

Main South
Although the best of the city’s culinary offer is concentrated around North Penticton and the Uplands, South Penticton boasts a set of wineries that warrant attention. Popular wineries like Crescent Hill, Pentage, and Painted Rock Estate offer wine tastings and tours of their vineyards.

Breweries and Distilleries
While Penticton is renowned for its wineries, the city boasts some truly amazing breweries and distilleries as well. For a taste of local brews head to the Cannery, Bad Tattoo, and Barley Mill, while Maple Leaf and Old Order are the top choices for locally-distilled craft spirits.

Bars and Pubs
You’ll find the city’s best bars and pubs in and around downtown Penticton. Savor local brews at the Bad Tattoo, and Barley Mill, while the Dream Cafe is the top choice for creative cocktails and live music. The Kettle Valley Station Pub is a warm and friendly place, with the cheerful vibe of a traditional pub and a menu offering Canadian fare and local wine. For craft spirits and delicious cocktails, try the Old Order Distilling Co. Other options include Tugs Taphouse and the Cellar Wine Bar.
Penticton

Province: British Columbia

Country: Canada

Penticton by the Numbers
Population: 33,854
Elevation: 385 meters / 1,263 feet
Average Annual Precipitation: 34.6 centimeters / 13.62 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 58.7 centimeters / 23.11 inches
Average January Temperature: -0.6°C / 30.9°F 
Average July Temperature: 21°C / 69.86°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-8 (GMT-7 Daylight Saving Time); Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 250; 778

Did You Know?
Penticton derives its name from an Okanagan word that translates to “a place to stay forever” or more specifically as “a place to live year-round”. This name refers to the year-round flow of water from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake via a stream that flows through the city.

Orientation
The city is nestled between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley of south-central British Columbia. Penticton is 62 kilometers (38.53 miles) to the south of Kelowna and 416 kilometers (258.49 miles) to the east of Vancouver.
The site of modern-day Penticton was originally populated by the Salish Native Americans of the Okanagan Valley. The city’s name is derived from a Salish word meaning “a place to live forever”. European settlers did not arrive until 1865 when Tom Ellis moved here with his family and established a booming cattle empire.

The community of Penticton continued to grow and by 1892 the city had begun to take shape around Smith Street (modern-day Front Street) in the form of humble wooden structures built on skids, ready to be moved to a new location if the need arose. That same year, the sternwheeler S.S. Aberdeen began to serve the communities along the shore of Okanagan Lake.

In 1907, Penticton was granted the official status and privileges of a municipal district. In the following years, the establishment of the Kettle Valley Railroad sparked further growth and Penticton was finally recognized as a city in 1921. The 1920s saw the establishment of a network of roadways, making the city more accessible to its surroundings. Today, Penticton is a thriving city that has nonetheless retained its small town charm.

Points of interest in Penticton

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