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Penticton Wows with Wellness and Local Offerings

By Tracey Rayson

Embrace a Holistic Getaway of Fresh Food, Outdoor Activities, and Wine & Craft Beer

A journey-based experience to somewhere that is grounded in nature at every turn, with outdoor recreation that puts you on the pathway (or waterway) to well-being in all four seasons – looks like this…

Neighboured by Okanagan Provincial Park, generously encased in ponderosa pine and pale grey sagebrush, the waters of Okanagan Lake are flanked by lush vineyards and fertile orchards, and border the north end of Penticton in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, while the nearly 12-kilometre-long Skaha Lake to the south, bookends the city like its own therapeutic elixir. Both home to sun-drenched stretches of sandy beaches, and both, deep blue refreshing spaces that serve as two welcome mats for exploration – to benefit your mind, body and soul.

The small community vibe is the ideal respite and perfect for making connections to health and wellness. In all its outdoorsy glory, opportunities to renew and recharge are its most favourable attributes – everything you desire is within reach.

“Penticton doesn’t stand out for just one unique thing, but rather for its proximity to all activities – everything is so easily accessible,” says Paige Schulz, marketing & member services manager, Travel Penticton. “You can do a lot more here in a day than you would be able to accomplish in a bigger city or a place more spread out.”

Central to your experiences, it’s easy to connect deeply with the outdoors. Consider activities on the water like, canoeing, kayaking, sailing or SUP (try SUP Glow evening paddle for the ultimate in serenity at Skaha’s Sudbury Beach), or let your cares float away, quite literally, down the seven-kilometre Penticton River Channel, a lulling interlude of relaxation.

Photo Credit: Visit Penticton

Stunning scenery unfolds on the (rail) trails whether you’re cycling or hiking, or tackling a vertical vantage, with rock climbing on dramatic Skaha Bluffs. Open yourself up to a creative outlet to stir your soul; think wine and paint nights (various wineries), and silk scarf workshops, à la Sip & Dip at Noble Ridge Winery. Perhaps you’re keen to downward dog with some goats. Yes, goat yoga helps lower your stress levels and blood pressure, and releases endorphins. No wonder. The cuteness and cuddle happenings are delightfully calming. Visit Bench 1775 (Summer) and GottaGoat Farm (Spring-Summer). When it’s time to refuel, you’ll be guided to some healthy nutrition, fresh and seasonal, where locals know all the best eats (there’s culinary trails, too). It’s always more advantageous to ask a local, “where do you eat,” rather than, “where should I eat?”

“Our connection to wellness is best shown through Fuel Free… Almost,” reveals Schulz. “Our initiative focuses on ways to explore Penticton without fuel, the active lifestyle, wide-open spaces, and fresh air; it’s a way to be accountable to yourself and the environment, while discovering everything that Penticton has to offer.”

Photo credit: Tracey Rayson

While you’re taking in all that fresh air – breathing, so too is the wine (well, the reds anyways). The South Okanagan wine regions, including Naramata, Okanagan Falls, and Summerland, have more than 170 wineries that beckon exploration. They produce over 75 grape varietals, with 80-plus wineries within a convenient 15–20 minute-drive of Penticton. You can enjoy intimate tasting experiences in every season.

Don’t be fooled by the copious vineyards; palate-pleasers aren’t limited to wine. Penticton is home to eight exceptional craft breweries, the kind of craft that earned them the 2019 moniker, “Canada’s Craft Beer Capital,” by Lonely Planet. Don’t miss their other beverage beauties, like craft distilleries and cideries, too.

Photo credit: Visit Penticton

Cycling, Hiking & Popular Pit Stops

The KVR Trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail, follows the route of the decommissioned Kettle Valley Railway along Okanagan Lake, repurposed as recreational trails for multi-use: walking, running, cycling, hiking, and horseback riding.

“The KVR Trail is our number one recreational recommendation, and when people arrive, they want to experience it,” reveals Schulz. “The KVR from Penticton to Naramata is really well-maintained, where you’ll pass through vineyards, orchards and cross over the McCulloch Trestle.”

Photo Credit: Visit Penticton

Our first-hand experience reinforces this buzz-worthy rating. We set out mid-morning on the Naramata Bench KVR Trail, outfitted with bikes from Monashee Adventure Tours. Ed Kruger is our expert guide, sharing local history and bemusing anecdotes, stopping occasionally to admire the inescapable beauty of Okanagan Lake, stretching out below.

The gentle 2.2% (maximum) grade made for an easy, leisurely peddle to take in the scenic splendour, and notable points of interest – wooden bridges, trestles and a cool but brief stretch through Little Tunnel, literally carved out of the mountain. Rather than complete the full 20 kilometres, we dip off trail and experience multiple detours.

Photo Credit: Tracey Rayson

Too many must-see wineries to name, but an easy exit off trail and you’ll land at the funky and boutique Ruby Blues, Red Rooster (pair your wine flight with sharable lite bites), and Hillside Winery (Naramata fruit-focused winery with bistro).

“Our newest brewery, Abandoned Rail, is located on the KVR trail, just past the McCulloch Trestle,” notes Schulz. “Other easy options include Maple Leaf Spirits and Creek & Gully Cider, providing you a lot of options for drink stops along the way, and a nibble, too, like at Poplar Grove Cheese, just beyond Creek & Gully Cider.”

The KVR Trail is accessible year-round, with every season bringing a unique offering. Experience an entirely different scene under a blanket of tranquil white, where you can navigate through the dry crisp snow during winter with a fat-tire bike rental from Penticton’s Freedom Bike Shop.

“For a longer ride (a good stretch for an e-bike), stay on the KVR Trail and ride out to Little Tunnel above Naramata for panoramic views of Okanagan Lake, from Penticton up to Peachland,” recommends Schulz.

If you’re looking to explore on foot, the Naramata Creek Park hiking trail follows Naramata Creek up through a deep river canyon to a cascading waterfall. It’s 2.4 kilometres round trip, and its towering rock slabs, stands of trees and trickling creek keep the gully cool, even in the heat of summer. It’s pretty year-round, but can be hard to navigate late spring, cautions Schulz. “There’s big run off, so there’s a lot of water to walk through. The trail is packed dirt with some rocks and roots to navigate.” For more winter activities to keep you connected to the forest, Schulz suggests Nickel Plate Nordic Centre for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, which include some dog-friendly snowshoe trails.

Photo Credit: Visit Penticton

Fresh Local Food To Refuel

The Daily Special is our initiative to promote our culinary community,” explains Schulz. “We have various itineraries that you can follow mostly ‘Fuel Free,’ usually on foot or by bike, and the itineraries provide suggestions for activities and adventures along the way.”

Regardless of your choice of eatery, most are sourcing local whenever possible. Sustainability is a key pillar to many with a central focus to wellness, clearly communicated through their purposeful menus.

Photo Credit: Tracey Rayson

Farm-to-table is intentional here as culinary undertakings are deep-seated in the area’s uniquely distinct fertile terroir. There is a tightknit community in the food sector, with strong partnerships across all players to support sustainable growth and bolster the region’s food economy. You’ll see an active collaboration among Penticton chefs with producers, farmers and local business owners that encourage positive impacts on their plates while supporting local.

Tin Whistle Brewing, which is BC’s first carbon-neutral brewery, source local ingredients for their beer: using chocolate from Accent Cafe, oats from True Grain in Summerland, and local honey and fruits.
Cannery Brewing feature local cheeses from Upper Bench Winery & Creamery and Poplar Grove Cheese on their cheese board. And The Bench Market use all local or BC products, whether within their menu or in their market. Gratify Foods makes everything in-house, all gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and refined sugar-free.

Photo Credit: Visit Penticton

Penticton restaurants rely heavily on Plot Twist Farms on the Naramata Bench for their produce; however, there are restaurants that support their own produce needs, too, like the Hooded Merganser at the Penticton Lakeside Resort & Conference Centre.

“The Hooded Merganser is not just a restaurant,” reassures Elizabeth Cucnik, general manager, Penticton Lakeside Resort & Conference Centre. “It is a collective experience; one that conspires to thread together elements of the natural world through its intricate architecture of luxurious curves of wood and glass, its unique location situated directly atop Okanagan Lake, as well as its culinary program, directed by the restaurant’s very own, private natural farm.”

Cucnik adds, “Connected through earth, water and sky, Valley View Farm and the Hooded Merganser harmoniously draw together unique food and drink creations. While the fundamentals of agroecology endeavour to support crucial environmental principles, naturally produced food from Valley View Farm not only invites a richer flavour profile, but likewise incites a greater impact on our individual health.”

Bed Down Lakeside

The Penticton Lakeside Resort & Conference Centre curates a unique travel destination that endeavours to accommodate a wide spectrum of guest experiences for health and wellness. “One of the many things our guests come to love about the Resort is its embrace of contrast and dynamics,” says Cucnik. “Reflecting changing seasons and internal rhythms, whatever the mood or feeling, the Penticton Lakeside Resort finds a home for one’s reflections, wants and desires – comings and goings.”

Photo Credit: Penticton Lakeside Resort & Conference Centre

“Whether storm-watching at the Hooded Merganser Restaurant, basking in a sunny embrace on one of our three lakeside patios, or taking a quiet moment to look out over a symphony of colour across the lake and valley from any of our guestroom balconies – our home away from home truly harmonizes with all expressions of season and weather, activities, and expressions.”

When You Go

For more information, visit, call the Penticton Visitor Centre at 1-800-663-5052, or email

If you want to know what’s happening on the dates you plan to explore Penticton, check out their events calendar at

Then book your wellness getaway at Penticton Lakeside Resort at

Penticton is located along Hwy 97, expect about a 4.5-hour drive from Vancouver (416 kilometres), via Hwy 5 & 97C or Hwy 3 & 97, or a 50-minute flight from YVR to YYF.

Tracey Rayson is a freelance writer and editor who divides her time penning travel, business and lifestyle articles. Passionate about local travel, she’ll take the road less travelled, the direct route or busy ferry passage, as long as she ends up somewhere uniquely BC. Learn more at