Penticton and Kelowna – Okanagan Valley

by mom


I had to laugh, we were sitting in a restaurant in Penticton, and our daughter, 18 at the time, was trying to train her I-phone to call her “Master Jenavieve.”   The robotic voice on the other end seemed reluctant, resentful even, to go along with Jen’s joke.  It was as if the voice itself had a mind and a body.  I even heard Jen call it “Stupid,” at which point the voice responded, “Now, Now.”  Finally, Jen got what she wanted.  The voice answered, “Master,” followed by “Jenabebe.”  We broke out into hysterics.

My mind took me back to the 20 plus years we’ve spent vacationing in the Okanagan.  The Okanagan has always been for us a retreat away from the busyness and structure of raising three children in a big city.  It offered us a chance to simplify our lives, relax, and spend time doing fun activities with our kids.  When our kids were young we were never stuck for ideas on what to do next.  There was always the beach, the beach, and, when all else failed, the beach.  Having said that, I have to be honest, not all the activities our kids loved ten years ago, do they love now.   Fishing in Oliver, hiking in the Osoyoos desert, and walking along the Kettle Valley Railway trestles have all fallen to the wayside.  In fact, this year our 21-year-old’s response to joining us for a summer holiday in Penticton and Kelowna was a flat, “Rather not.”

I guess the predictability of going to the lake every day with his family had gotten the best of Nathe.  The rest of us however still piled into our car, and made the 5 hour drive (6 with pit-stops) to Penticton.  Stayed there for 3 nights and then drove over to Kelowna for the remaining 4 nights.  It was a great trip.  But don’t take my word for it, here’s our 12-year-old son’s account of our summer holidays in Penticton and Kelowna.

Our Summer Holidays in Penticton and Kelowna

Notes by Coleman

We’ve been going to the Okanagan for our summer vacation for it seems like forever.  Every time I go I’m blown away by how everything always looks the same, especially in Penticton.  A few restaurants have come and gone, like the Jamaican one on Main Street, but mostly it’s the same old same old.  I figured out that’s why my parents like it so much.  Mom knows there’s a coffee shop that can make her favorite Chai Tea Latte; Jen knows the ice-cream cones at Tickleberrys are five times larger than anywhere else, so she better not have one right before dinner; I know I’ll be having at least two rounds of mini golf, one at Loco Landing and one at the Okanagan Fun Centre.  This year I even talked Mom, Dad, and Jen, into having a car race with me while we were at the Fun Centre.  It was kind of a rainy day, so we got the whole track to ourselves.  I, of course, had the lead for the whole race, until at the very end I spun out on the hairpin turn.  Jen tried to say I didn’t win; she did.  Nice try. 

The other thing I’ll bet my last dollar on is that every day we’ll be swimming in either Lake Okanagan or Skaha Lake.  Usually it is hot and sunny, except for one year we had a thunder storm; but that didn’t stop us from swimming.  It was actually quite fun until a lady told us we could be electrocuted if lightning struck the water close by us.  I’ve never seen Dad move so fast.

My sister and I can spend a lot of time in the water, so long I don’t do anything to bug her.  We just goof around:  diving for rocks, doing hand stands in the water, seeing how many underwater somersaults we can do before coming up for air.  If I see a fish, I’ll try to catch it with my bare hands, unless it’s really big.  Speaking of big fish, this summer Mom said she saw a huge Carp swimming around a foot off the shoreline at Skaha Lake.  All the little kids were chasing it.  Mom usually doesn’t like swimming in lake water, so she spends most of her time paddling around on an air mattress…until I sneak up behind her and flip her into the water.  I used to like building moats along the water’s edge.  I’d pretend I was protecting the king and queen who lived in my imaginary castle.   One time Mom and Dad buried all three of us in the sand, only our heads were showing.  That made such a funny picture.  Once every trip we take a lazy ride down the river on our air mattresses.  Dad always picks us up at the end.  This year, for some reason, he couldn’t grab Jen and I fast enough and we ended up floating all the way into the lake.  Boy did Jen ever let him have it, when he and Mom caught up with us.

We also like to go bike riding.  What’s popular in Penticton is riding along the KVR route.  It takes you into orchards and vineyards along Okanagan Lake.  It goes by wineries too.  One year we stopped in at the Hillside Winery to get a Coke of all things.  That was one of the best Cokes I ever had; boy was I thirsty.  If you like wineries, the Naramata Bench is only about a 15-minute drive from Penticton.  One of Mom’s favorites, the Kettle Valley Winery, is there.  I had to laugh when we went there.  Mom got out of our car and asked a man standing inside a garagey-looking building where the winery was.  He said, “You’re in it.”  Don’t worry, there are bigger wineries than Kettle Valley; you should see the Mission Hill Winery outside of Kelowna.

I should also mention Mom and Dad like to go for walks, luckily in the morning while we’re still asleep so we don’t have to go.  I have to admit some of the places they go sound pretty neat, like the Skaha Bluffs where people go rock climbing.  This time Mom brought home some apricots she picked from an abandoned tree.  Once, Dad had a funny picture of two crows sitting on the arms of a scarecrow perched high in a cherry tree.  I think that farmer needs to build a scarier scarecrow.  They’ve seen deer as well, sometimes a whole family of them.  Apparently deer like cherries too.  That’s why some farmers put up huge chain-link fences--to keep the deer out.

Half-way through our trip we usually go someplace else.  This year it was Kelowna.  Believe it or not it takes less than an hour to get there by car.  The drive is quite pretty, because it goes alongside Okanagan Lake.  My families’ all-time must in Kelowna is Gyro Beach.  It reminds me of Spanish Banks.  You can walk out really far and never be over your head.  Plus, you wouldn’t believe how sandy it is.  I like the water there too; sometimes it’s so warm you never want to get out.

My favorite spot in Kelowna is Scandia.  It’s a gigantic fun centre with arcade games, mini-golf, batting cages and racecars.  Trust me, kids will like it; although I don’t know about their parents.  This year I almost beat Jen in mini-golf.  She’s the reigning champ.  I started off with a couple of hole-in-ones, but then I think the stardom got to my head, and I lost my edge.  After my second five, it was all over.

Kelowna has a cool city park with all kinds of fun stuff to do.  It has a water park, which I’m way too big for now; although I have to admit, I which I wasn’t.  You can play basketball, tennis, ride your bike, or go swimming at the beach.  Mom likes all the trees, because she can escape from the sun if it gets too hot.  Sometimes artists set up along the walkway.  Once Mom got a picture of Jen and I painted by a lady.  It turned out pretty good.  I don’t know why Mom never got it framed.  I remember Dad said we looked better in the picture than in real life.  I’m not sure what he meant by that.  This year we saw a flame-thrower, who came all the way from Europe.  I don’t know how he juggled those torches without getting burnt.

What Jen likes about Kelowna are the shops.  Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t a lot, just more than Penticton.  The one thing you should know about my sister is that she likes to shop.  It’s like if she doesn’t go in at least one store every day, she gets grumpy.

That’s about it.  I expect we’ll go back to the Okanagan next year, and do it all over again.  Who knows what’ll happen.        


Both Penticton and Kelowna are a 4 - 5 hour drive from Vancouver.  For more information:, and


Okanagan Valley (Interior Southern British Columbia)