Known by the Syilx Okanagan people as snpintktn, meaning “a place where people have always been all year long,” the qualities that made Penticton, B.C. a hospitable home for its Indigenous people continue to attract visitors today.
snpintktn fittingly describes the year-round appeal of the small, picturesque city, set between Okanagan and Skaha lakes on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, that’s becoming known for its commitment to protecting the lands and waters that make it special. With easy-to-explore lakes, sandy beaches and low rolling mountains as well as an abundance of boutique vineyards, heritage orchards and lovely farms, Penticton is well suited for active vacationers who enjoy responsible travel – no matter the time of year.
Foot, pedal or paddle
While summer is an obvious time to visit, with 304 sunny days per year, Penticton is also an ideal destination during the quieter spring months, says Paige Schulz, member services and marketing manager of Visit Penticton. As a flourishing agricultural region, spring means blooming flowers and ripening crops. Opening for the season in mid-April, the Saturday Penticton Farmers’ Market features up to 80 vendors who fill the 100 Block of Main Street, attracting chefs and foodies. Beginning in May, the Downtown Penticton Community Market draws “shop local” fans of handmade goods, clothing and collectibles on Saturdays, too.
“Once you arrive, you can park your car and start exploring by foot, pedal or paddle,” Schulz says. Pull on a comfortable pair of shoes and walk the pretty pathways that wind through town or stop into one of Penticton’s numerous businesses that offer tours or rentals of bikes, electric bikes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards (SUPs)
– and head out on one of the region’s scenic trails.
It’s this focus on activities that can be done without fuel that gave rise to their sustainability initiative: Fuel Free…Almost. “We understand that unless you drive an EV, most ways of getting here will require fuel,” whether driving from Vancouver, taking a direct flight right into Penticton Airport from Calgary or Vancouver, or flying nonstop to Kelowna International Airport from Toronto or Montreal, Schulz says. “But our goal is that when you’re here, you take time to focus on your health and wellness by being kind to yourself and the environment and leaving your car parked.”
Exploring on two wheels
One of the first things visitors notice when they arrive in Penticton is the charming promenade that runs along the sandy shore of Okanagan Lake. Featuring public art, flowers and lush trees, and a kilometre of premium sandy beach, the path is just one example of the community’s commitment to helping reduce carbon footprints by offering easy-to-access outdoor adventure.
“Cars are off limits on some of our best trails with the nicest views of the lakes and surrounding areas,” says Aaron Sanders, owner of the e-bike rental company Pedego Penticton. “It’s a lot easier to get to those memorable locations by e-bike.”
With trails branching out in all directions from Penticton’s city centre, Sanders says the toughest decision can be choosing where to go. “You can explore the wineries along the historic Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail, ride to the 18-hole Three Blind Mice disc golf course or get your adrenalin pumping on a singletrack downhill mountain bike trail.”
He says other options within pedal distance include exploring the seasonal flavours of local restaurants along the Daily Special culinary trails or checking out Penticton’s craft beer scene – which offers among the most craft breweries per capita of any Canadian city. Sanders says the biggest surprise for customers when they rent e-bikes is how easy it is to explore. “They can’t believe how far they get and how effortless the hills were to pedal up.”
Watching wildlife from the water
While many trails offer incredible views of the lakes, Eileen Meehan, owner of Sun n’ Sup Paddleboard Shop in nearby Naramata, says some of her favourite views are seen from the water itself. “Rarely do I paddle without seeing an eagle, hawk, osprey or heron,” she says. It’s also easier to get to quiet beaches or even local restaurants by water. “We park our SUPs right on the dock,” Meehan says. “The only fuel we burn is the burger and fries we consume.”
While SUP is an accessible activity for all skill levels, it’s not the only way to enjoy the water – kayak rentals are also readily available. And one of the city’s most unique attractions takes no skill: All you need to float down the slow-moving, seven-kilometre lake-to-lake channel is an inner tube (which you can rent locally at Coyote Cruises) and a couple of hours of leisure time.
Penticton, with its beautiful location and abundant amenities, offers unique opportunities for exploration while reducing the carbon footprint of your travels. Whether you visit in the spring or summer (or beyond!), there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors, indulge in local food and drink, and support sustainable tourism.
Come see why Penticton is a place where people have always been all year long. For more information, check out visitpenticton.com.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Visit Penticton. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.