Wine, stand up paddle boarding, and tears of joy/ realization. What do these three things have in common? My recent trip to Vernon.
I’ve been telling so many people about it that I figured it might be useful to a few of you if I put all my tips and tricks into one long travel post. So here goes…
My mother moved to Vernon, BC a handful of years ago and the past three years I’ve gone on a road trip with a friend to soak up the summer. It’s becoming one of my most anticipated yearly traditions. Below are a few of my favourite things to do.
If you don’t like wine, then I feel sorry for you. Lake country, between Vernon and Kelowna, has some fantastic wineries and drinking, aka “tasting,” is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Here’s where we went this year.
Intrigue – The tasting room has tonnes of tacky “I love wine better than my cat” type knick-knacks that make it look like a bachelorette party threw up in there but their wine is VERY drinkable. I took their Pinot Gris to a party recently and it was a huge hit. If you like bubbles, they have a pink sparkling wine with the awful name I Do. I don’t like bubbles, but my friend has purchased it all three times we’ve visited.
Blind Tiger – This was the first time we had heard of Blind Tiger and I found their wines to be a bit pricier than others. To their credit they were the only winery that I bought a red wine from. (It makes me sleep funny). They are an organic winery if you’re into that and they also have a food truck where you can order wood fire pizza at a decent price.
Ex Nihilo – I find this winery to be a tad on the pricey side for the region, also I’m cheap and don’t want to spend more than $22/ bottle. They have beautiful art on the walls and a nice outdoor patio where you can grab lunch. I brought back their Riesling.
Arrowleaf – If you want to have lunch with an amazing view go to Arrowleaf. Get a cheese plate and a bottle and enjoy the afternoon pretending you’re fancy trophy wives. Their wine is also very affordable and goes down quick. I’m a fan of their Rosé.
50th Parallel – Our last stop on our wine tour is also my favorite overall winery. Their building is beautiful – big, cement, strong, and modern with this ridiculously huge lampshade over the main entrance. All their wines are fantastic but I love their Rosé the most – I bought two bottles this time. They are planning to open a large dining room in the future and I’m sure it will give Arrowleaf a run for its money.
BX Press – I don’t know if you’ve heard but craft cider is the latest booze to nerd out on. That’s why Vernon is lucky to have the BX Press. Their Alexandria Lavender Raspberry is ERMERGERD, SO GOOD! Also delicious are The Prospector and Ginny ciders. These are not the ciders you drank when you were 19 years old, these are proper, delicious, non-saccharine adult ciders.
Every small town thinks that people will visit for the murals, even Vernon, and they’re wrong. I’ve been here dozens of times and I’ve never wanted to see the murals, but if you’re into that kind of thing knock your socks off.
The best thing to do culture-wise is to take a trip 40 minutes on the highway to Armstrong and catch a show at the Caravan Farm Theatre. This summer they’re presenting Our Town (runs until Aug. 21 – go now!). I had only heard about this play and that it had a reputation of being “schmaltzy” but OMGF it’s amazing. If you’re emotionally open and prone to crying in public, like me, bring a box of tissues and get ready for a life affirming Act 3. It was a PERFECT evening of theatre. Perfect. I’ve teared up several times just telling people about this play.
“Let’s really look at one another!…It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed… Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute? – Emily – Thornton Wilder, Our Town
Let’s be honest, the real reason anyone goes to the Okanagan in the summer is for 30 degree weather and time in a bathingsuit by a lake. The prettiest one of the region with its stunning deep cyan hue is Kalamaka Lake. There are a several nice beaches around it for you to get your vitamin D. We went to the biggest dirt/sand patch, Kal beach, so that I could do a thing I’ve been making fun of for ages: stand-up paddle boarding. It’s actually pretty fun, especially if you’re a jerk like I am and you do yoga poses on it to show off your sick balance and flexibility. Here’s where we rented our boards. If you’re a baller you can probably rent a boat for the day from somewhere nearby too. Lucky you!
A trip to the Okanagan isn’t complete without bringing fresh fruit and veg back to the city, so you’re going to want to checkout the Vernon Farmer’s Market (Mondays and Thursday’s 8 AM-1 PM) or any of the numerous fruit stands along the highway. We always stop at Davidson’s Orchards right before we leave to bring back frozen pressed apple juice and frozen peach pies. If you have kids, or are young at heart, I highly recommend their petting zoo and play area. Just don’t try to live up to their body standards (see below). If you’re going to a Renaissance faire and need some mead you can pop next door to Planet Bee. They also have some decent lavender honey.
If you’re looking for places to eat out, sorry, I don’t have any recommendations. My mom is a great cook and she has a fridge full of booze. Yes, one normal sized fridge that is full of booze. It’s amazing.
Word on the street is Ratio and Triumph are the best places to get coffee. My inside scoop is that Ratio has the best pastries and Triumph has the best coffee, but why not try them both? You’re on vacation!
On your way back to Vancouver don’t forget to stop at a corn room in Chilliwak and pick up some peaches and cream.
Summer is coming to a close now, go out and enjoy as much of it as you can. Grab a friend, some sweet booty shaking tunes (ones that tell you to put your hands in the air are the best), and hit the road. Maybe you’ll make it an annual tradition.