Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.
Vernon Itinerary – Five Days in Vernon, British Columbia
Many Canadian cities have a similar look when you first arrive, with the main road lined with motels, fast food joints and large Department Stores. Don’t let this put you off.
The centre of Vernon may look bland, but you will discover special places which you will remember for a long time to come. The Vernon itinerary is packed with ideas of things to do and places to go in Vernon B.C.
Five hours drive from Vancouver takes you to this delightful North Okanagan city surrounded by Kalamalka Lake, Okanagan Lake and Swan Lake. Several beautiful beaches are waiting for you on a smoking hot Okanagan summer’s day, some with full amenities, others tucked away in a quiet cove. There is a lot to see and do around Vernon, British Columbia; you can easily spend a few days in town and never get bored.
Vernon is spread out and with its limited public transport, it is recommended to have your own vehicle for visiting the area. If you’re planning to rent a car in Canada, find out what you should know.
When you arrive in town, stop at the Vernon Visitor Centre at 3005 39th Ave to pick up maps and brochures about the region and a FREE downtown parking pass if you’re driving. Free WIFI and handicap washrooms are available at the Visitor Centre.
Highlights of Vernon BC
- Great climate, mountains, lakes with beautiful beaches
- Vernon Downtown with shops and cafes
- Silver Star Mountain Resort
- Ellison Provincial Park and Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
- Lake City Casino for the gaming traveller
- Davison Orchards for fresh farm food and family fun
- Historic O’Keefe Ranch and the Cattlemen’s Restaurant
- Historical Downtown Movie Theatre
Morning: Have your morning coffee and a bite to eat if it’s offered at the place you’re staying at. Otherwise, hop in your vehicle, grab a fresh-roasted coffee-to-go and some delicious baked goodies from Bean to Cup at 3903 27th Street. Heading north, take the Kamloops turnoff and drive to Historic O’Keefe Ranch, the 1867 homestead of Western settler Cornelius O’Keefe. Today the ranch is a family attraction in the Wild West style for the whole family. Have lunch at the Cattlemen’s Club Restaurant located next door and enjoy the best Cowboy grub in town.
Afternoon: After the morning’s lesson about pioneering and farming, you’re ready to head out to Cowboys Choice’s, the Western Store where the local cowboys buy their gear. Whether you need a pair of new Boulet boots, another cowboy hat, new Wrangler jeans, a new piece of Montana silver jewellery, or just an authentic western souvenir, this is the place to shop. Head back towards Vernon after the shopping spree and park near downtown a 30th Ave. Walk down 30th avenue, the downtown shopping core and check out the big variety of stores. Stop at the little Tex Mex Restaurant, tucked away on 29th Street.
Evening: End the evening with more Okanagan nostalgia at the wonderful historic Vernon Towne Cinema. Get yourself a pop and a bag of buttered popcorn, settle into the seat and enjoy the movie.
Morning: Pack a picnic lunch and get an early start for Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park to walk the trails before the sun burns at its peak. An easy two-kilometre hike from Twin Bay parking lot takes you to Turtles Head Point (also known as rattlesnake point) where you get an impressive view of the lake. Continue around the bay to Jade Bay and stop for lunch at one of the picnic tables. The deep, clear colour of the water gives the bay its name.
Afternoon: It’s a short way back to Kal Beach on Kalamalka Lake Road. At the beachside outfitter Innerspace Watersports you can rent single or double kayaks and paddle on the clear flat surface of the lake to hidden beaches along the shore.
Evening: After an active day on the shores and paddling on Kalamalka Lake walk down the beach to Alexander’s Beach Pub and grab a table on the lakeside patio. Try their appies and cocktails and enjoy the great atmosphere.
Morning: You don’t want to visit Vernon without a side-trip to the Silver Star Mountain Resort, located 20 minutes from Vernon. If you’re an early riser have breakfast at the Bugaboos’ Bakery Cafe on the mountain before renting a mountain bike for some adrenaline fun. If biking is not your thing go for a hike instead, take in the fresh mountain air and the view over the beautiful valley and shoot some pictures. Silver Star has a selection of Bistros and pubs to choose from if you need a snack before heading back to city life.
Afternoon: Opt for an easy afternoon and visit Davison Orchard Country Village, a short drive from downtown Vernon on Bella Vista Road. Take a tour of the orchard, say hi to the farm animals, browse through the beautiful gift shop and farm market and stop for a delicious ice-cream cone on the way out. Your next stop is Planet Bee Honey Farm where you learn about the amazing world of the honeybee and you get to sample their selection of pure honey.
Evening: Head down to the Naked Pig Smoke House and Barbeque at 2933 30th Ave for happy hour between 3 – 6 pm and stay around for an artisan-style dinner. Finish your evening at the Lake City Casino and try your luck at a few slot machines or a game of Roulette and enjoy the glamour around you.
Morning: You may want to start the day later after yesterday’s busy program. Grab a cappuccino and a bagel at one of the Tim Horton’s in town. Stop in at Butcher Boys Grocery Store on Pleasant Valley Road to stock up for a picnic lunch at the lake. A 25-minute drive along Okanagan Landing Road will take you to Ellison Provincial Park, nestled on the northeastern shore of Okanagan Lake. The six kilometres of hiking trails are perfect to search for geocaches. The park has two amazing bays with beautiful beaches and a campground. Find yourself a good spot and have your picnic lunch.
Afternoon: A visit to an Okanagan winery is a must. Find your way to the Grey Monk Estate Winery at 1155 Camp Road, Lake Country. Grey Monk is BC’s oldest Family Estate Winery. Taste some Odyssey Merlot or Pinot Noir and join a complimentary tour at 4 pm if you’re visiting during summer.
Evening: After the wine tour treat yourself for exquisite fine dining at the Grapevine restaurant on its large outdoor patio and the spectacular view. Take Highway 97 north back to Vernon.
Morning: Start the day at the Bean Scene Coffee House, a funky friendly place downtown on 30th. Sit back, enjoy your dark roast coffee and get into the mood for the self-guided Mural walking tour this morning. The murals show off the history, culture, scenery, and folklore that made Vernon what it is today. Have a picnic lunch at Polson Park; if you’re travelling with kids they will enjoy the water park. Another option is to walk over to the old Vernon Railway Station and have a lunch combo special at the Station BBQ Smokehouse.
Afternoon: For a fun and exciting afternoon for the whole family head for the Atlantis Waterslides, located 5 km north of Vernon. Here you have slides, tubes, a hot tub, mini golf, arcade gift shop, ice cream parlour and a concession stand to keep you busy for an afternoon. After the water slide fun, continue on Highway 97A and stop at the Log Barn located 6.8 km after Armstrong. It’s kind of a cheesy roadside attraction but their apple pie (butter crust) is delicious.
Evening: Back on highway 97A driving towards Enderby, look out for the Starlight drive-in on the left. Enjoy an evening of a blast from the past and an ultimate movie-going experience; even the dog is welcome! (open May to September)
Rainy Day Option
Morning: Have a coffee and a muffin at the Cracked Pot Coffee Shop on 30th Ave before taking a walk down memory line at the Vernon Museum at 32nd Ave. The small museum provides a great summary of the local history; entry fee by donation. Your next stop is the Vernon Aquatic Centre on 37th Ave. In addition to the two pools for lap swimming, you have a steam room, sauna, whirlpool, waterslide, diving board, rope swing and lots of other fun things to enjoy. Take a drive to Dave’s Pizza for lunch at the Alpine Centre on Kalamalka Lake Road (insider tip) for a late lunch.
Afternoon: Drop in at the Rock Garden Indoor Climbing Centre on 14th Ave, off Kalamalka Lake Road when it opens at 3 pm. This is Vernon’s only indoor rock climbing facility and their walls have something for every level of climber. If you haven’t tried rock climbing before, this is the place to do it.
Evening: After a strenuous day of exercise, treat yourself to great food and drinks at Sir Winston’s pub on 32nd street.
Provincial Parks near Vernon
- Ellison Provincial Park – On the northeastern shore of Okanagan Lake, camping available
- Kekuli Bay Provincial Park – Situated on a beautiful bay on the west side of Kalamalka Lake, camping available
- Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park – Day use only
- Silver Star Mountain Provincial Park – Winter Wonderland and summer recreation fun
Other things to add to your Vernon Itinerary
- Top things to do in the North Okanagan Valley this summer
- 7 Spectacular North Okanagan Hikes
- Maps for the Backroads to never get lost
- Guided Tours in Kelowna and Okanagan
Have you been to any of the places from my suggested Vernon Itinerary? please leave a comment below and join my Backcountry Canada Travel Facebook Group to share your experience