Unlock the Charm of Penticton: A Local’s Guide to the Ultimate Vacation Experience!

A Penticton vacation has always been a great way to unwind, and with COVID-19 making international travel less appealing, Penticton is one of the #1 local travel destinations! I grew up in Penticton, and still return year after year to enjoy the warm summers and beautiful beaches. Here are my insider tips for a great Penticton vacation:

Read on for 5 of the Best Things to do While on a Penticton Vacation- Plus one Bonus Tip!

1. Float the Penticton River Channel

The Penticton river channel has been a favourite activity for over 50 years for locals and tourists alike!

How long it take to float the Penticton River Channel?

Flowing through from Okanagan through to Skaha Lake, the Penticton river channel varies in speed depending on the season. In the spring the channel sometimes runs too fast to be safe to ride, so you should check with Coyote Cruises or check with local authorities like the Penticton Fire Department (+1 250-490-2300) before riding.

In the early summer the channel usually takes 1-2 hours to complete, and in the late summer it can take up to 4 hours or more if the water is running slow. The starting point is near Okanagan lake at the Coyote Cruises HQ, and the stop off points are at halfway at Green Mountain Road (at the Snow Mountain Market), or at the end of the river, before the channel flows into Skaha lake.

The first half of the channel winds through wooded fields and scenic landscapes, while the second half is a straight shot along the side of the highway (a little more noisy and less relaxing, but still fun!).

How much does it cost to float the Penticton Channel?

The river channel is free admission! You can bring your own floaties and pump, and if your group drops one car at the stop-off point (either the end or the half-way point) and then takes another car up to the starting point, you can car pool for free. You can also have one member taxi up to the starting point from the end to fetch the car for about $15.

Services offered at Coyote Cruises include – floaty pump services for $2-$15, Floaty rentals, and shuttle tickets.

2. Visit Penticton Beach Vendors

Penticton’s beaches are dotted with some excellent local vendors selling high-quality wares and offering fun activities like Henna Tattoos and Paddle Boarding! You can support local and enjoy their unique and locally crafted services while on your Penticton Vacation! Check out these exceptional Beach Vendors:

The Henna Hut Body Art Co.

The Henna Hut’s talented local artists hand-draw temporary body art for all ages! The Henna Hut has vendor booths on both Okanagan Beach by the Giant Peach Ice Cream Shop, and another booth on Skaha Beach beside Tickleberries Ice Cream. They have signs with hundreds of designs to choose from, and they also can create any custom design just for you! Their prices are very reasonable, from $4 and up to $44, with an average of about $12. Their henna tattoos last 1-3 weeks, and they also offer instantly dry and waterproof glitter tattoos and DarkMark Black Ink (The Henna Hut’s website explains the different types of tattoos they offer). This is the perfect family activity for a Penticton vacation!

Penticton Glo SUP Adventures

Penticton Glo SUP Adventures is a super unique vendor located at Sudbury Beach on Skaha Lake. They rent Stand Up Paddle Boards, offer lessons and camps, and even offer SUP yoga classes! The thing that makes this rental company super unique is their night tours with glowing boards that light up the lake beneath you. Ask them about their Glo SUPS and night adventures!

Okanagan Valley Collective – Hats & Sunglasses Shop

This innovative local business sells Okanagan Designed hats, sunglasses, jewelry, and accessories right on the beach at Lakawana Beach Park! Their logos perfectly represent the rugged Canadian valley feel of the area. Everything they sell is top quality and designed with the Okanagan in mind. Their sunglasses are even sport-quality and polarized, for just $20-$25 a pair ! Plus, after you’re done shopping, their beachfront booth is directly next door to a hot and fresh Mini Donuts Booth and across the street from Patio Burger, serving the best burgers in town!

Penticton E-Kruise

Penticton E-Kruise is a new vendor rents electric scooters, e-bikes, and paddle boards right from their beachfront booth at Penticton Beach because the Giant Peach Ice Cream Shop (and right near The Henna Hut). These bikes are a great way to tour along the river channel path and continue along the beautiful KVR trail hugging the west side of Skaha Lake!

3. Check out local Penticton Markets and Festivals

Penticton is the top destination for markets and events! Before COVID-19, Penticton’s community street market was the largest in Western Canada, and their Peach Fest has hosted free concerts of world-class bands like Pearl Jam, 54/40, and Journey.

  • Penticton Saturday Community Market
  • Penticton Peach Fest
  • Penticton Canada Day & BC Day
  • *more info coming as COVID-19 updates come in!

4. Day-trip the Naramata Bench

To the North East of Penticton lies a beautiful lakeside community, Naramata. The road from Penticton to Naramata is a lush, winding drive through vineyards, orchards, and distilleries. Most wineries offer drop-in tasting and many have a $5-$15 tasting fee that is refund with bottle purchase.

If you’re on a family vacation and don’t wish to wine tasting, this Naramata Bench day trip is still an exciting activity! You can stop at the giant PENTICTON sign at Munson Mountain for a small hike through the wildflowers, with breathtaking views of the City of Penticton and Okanagan Lake. Then you can continue along to Naramata Beach and Manitu Park, or check out the views from the Naramata Community Pier.

5. Visit the Best Beaches in Penticton

There are quite a few beautiful beaches in and around Penticton in the clear, cool waters of their two lakes. Below are a list of the best beaches in the area! All offer free parking and admission.

  1. Okanagan Beach – this long stretch of golden sand is lined with shading trees and features the huge historic paddleboat, the SS Sicamous, to the West.
  2. Skaha Beach – This beach is usually a little quieter than Okanagan beach, with slightly courser sand and lots of slides and floating wharfs. It also features the city’s largest green space park, with a playground, pavilion, and tennis courts.
  3. Sudbury Beach – Sunoka beach is a quieter beach in town. It’s a great place to finish your day after floating the channel as it’s located right at the end point of the float.
  4. Sunoka Beach – this beach is in trout creek and is favoured my boaters as it has a large section open to motor-craft. It has fire pits, picnic tables, and lots of shading trees.
  5. Kickininee Beach Park A great picnic spot! This is tiny beach on the side of the highway. A hill separates the noise of traffic from the beach, so it’s serene.
  6. Three Mile Beach – this is a local nude beach!
  7. Kaledon Beach – Kaledon is a sleepy lakeside community 15 minutes from Penticton. This beach has lots of grass, a playground, and peaceful vibes.

Bonus Tip: Visit Penticton in the Winter!

Penticton is veritable winter wonderland from December-January. Plus, there are usually great discounts on local hotels and Airbnbs!

The lakes sometimes freeze over for skating, and if not there are now two outdoor skating rinks. At the Penticton Pier, icicles line the railings, and the mountain tops are frosted with sparkling snow. The local ski hill, Apex Mountain Resort, is only 40 minutes drive away from town and offers some unique terrain and low wait times for lifts. Apex also boasts a free skating loop, with its manicured ice path winding through the secluded evergreen forest.

If you love British Columbia, check out these other articles about the best BC Vacationing spots and activities!

If you have questions about vacationing in Penticton, or are looking for other specific recommendations about the beautiful area, please comment below and I’ll get back to you!

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