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Armstrong, British Columbia is a small town nestled in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. But for its size, there’s a surprising amount of things to do here!
When you think of visiting British Columbia, Armstong probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind. But in all seriousness, don’t write it off just yet. Sometimes, all you need is a local’s perspective – and I’m here to provide it!
I was born just down the road in Salmon Arm and spent the majority of my childhood in the area. My aunt and uncle actually live in Armstrong, and I still visit a few times a year. My aunt takes great pride in showing me new things to see and do around Armstrong every time I come here.
From a cidery and boutique shops to outdoor adventures, there’s more to Armstrong than what first meets the eye (trust me on this). Whether you’re staying for a few days or just passing through, you’re sure to enjoy your visit.
To help you, I’ve written this complete guide to visiting Armstrong, BC. It includes everything you need to know about Armstrong, including the best things to do and where to stay, eat, shop…and so much more. My hope is that you enjoy this quaint little farm town as much as I always do. So if you’re heading to Armstrong, keep reading for all the insider info!
- Getting to Armstrong, BC
- 12 Things to do in Armstrong, BC
- 1. Visit Armstrong Village Cheese
- 2. Go hiking
- 3. Buy local honey
- 4. Sample wine at Edge of the Earth
- 5. Enjoy a few lazy lake days
- 6. Go ice skating
- 7. Float down the Enderby River
- 8. Venture into Vernon
- 9. Pick some fruit
- 10. Visit a local farm and stock up on self-serve produce
- 11. Visit Farmstrong Cider Company
- 12. Attend the IPE
- Where to Stay in Armstrong, BC
- Thanks for reading!
- Renting a Car in British Columbia
Getting to Armstrong, BC
Armstrong is located in the interior region of British Columbia. It’s in the northern part of the Okanagan Valley, surrounded by the Township of Spallumcheen.
There is no commercial airport in Armstrong, and as such, the only way to get there is to drive yourself.
You’ll find this small town along Highway 97A between Vernon and Enderby. Most people end up in Armstrong on any road trip through the Okanagan since the highway passes right through this little town. When driving from Kelowna to Edmonton, I always make a stop in Armstrong! It also makes a fun detour on the route from Vancouver to Calgary.
So if you’re heading toward Armstrong, check out my list of things to do below. I hope you find some you like and add them to your road trip itinerary in BC!
12 Things to do in Armstrong, BC
1. Visit Armstrong Village Cheese
First and foremost – cheese! Anybody who knows me knows that I have a weakness for cheese. Favorite snack? A cheese platter (paired with wine), of course! So, it’s only natural that every single time I visit Armstrong, I head to their local cheese shop.
Armstrong Village Cheese is a large store and cafe serving dozens and dozens of different kinds of locally-made cheese. You really can’t go wrong with the squeaky cheese curds (a local favorite) or the Merlot cheese.
Blocks of cheese are all individually wrapped and priced based on weight. They’re surprisingly cheap, and you can find small blocks for less than $4 CAD. When I go, I generally pick out 3 or 4 (or 8…) different flavors to take back home and try.
There is also a cafe within the shop serving up coffee, soups and sandwiches, baked treats, and even ice cream! The homemade soups are made fresh daily, and the sandwiches feature their own cheeses. The boutique sells lots of artisan goods, so it’s a great place to pick up local souvenirs or gifts. There is also a small indoor seating area. I love coming here with family or friends to relax, drink coffee, and sample the yummy cheese.
Armstrong Village Cheese is located on Smith Drive just off the main freeway. It’s open weekdays from 8 am – 5 pm, Saturdays from 9 am – 5 pm, and Sundays from 10 am – 4 pm.
2. Go hiking
Some of my fondest memories about growing up in BC involve hiking some of the stunning trails. Armstrong really is in the thick of it all with plenty of beautiful trails in every direction. As a local, I have some favorite trails, which I’ve highlighted below!
One of the best hiking areas is the Thomas Hayes Ecological Reserve, which is just a 10-minute drive from Armstrong. Here, I like doing the Thomas Hayes Coyote Loop. It’s an easy, relatively flat trail and is 4.5 km (2.8 miles) long. It takes just over an hour and can be done any time of year – you can even go snowshoeing here in winter!
This Mount Rose Swanson Loop is another local favorite. At 5.6 km (3.5 miles) long, this loop track traverses through a beautiful forest before climbing up to a viewpoint. It takes roughly 2 hours and is considered a moderately difficult trail.
If you don’t mind venturing a little further, the Enderby Cliffs are my personal fave! This trail takes most people around 4.5 hours to complete but offers a spectacular view from the top. It’s 12.6 km (7.8 miles) long so requires a decent fitness level. Plus, the trailhead is just a 20-minute drive from Armstrong.
SilverStar Mountain Resort
You can also head to the SilverStar Mountain Resort, which is a 40-minute drive from Armstrong. You can hike up the mountain which is beautiful but a bit challenging. So if you’re don’t feel like the climb, pay to take the gondola up to the top and hike from there – no uphill hiking for you!
If you just want a one-time gondola ride in the summer, prices are around $25 CAD. You can also get a SilverStar Mountain Resort gondola and hiking pass which gives you access to both for the entire season. It costs $55 CAD per adult and $25 CAD for kids (ages 6-12). If you’re feeling energetic, you can buy the hiking-only pass for $25 CAD a person.
All gondola and hiking tickets can be purchased online here. Both at the top and bottom of the gondola you’ll find plenty of well-marked trails with a variety of difficulties.
The SilverStar Mountain Resort opens for summer activities around the end of June. You can visit this area outside this time, but the gondola and other facilities might not be open. You can check out the other summer activities and opening dates on their website here.
Related Read: British Columbia is known for its amazing hiking trails. If you’re also visiting Vancouver, read about the best hiking trails in Vancouver here!
3. Buy local honey
Did you even visit the Okanagan if you didn’t purchase some locally-made honey to take home with you? No, you didn’t. So I’m here to recommend some!
The Armstrong area is full of honey farms. The Okanagan Honey Co. is a family-owned operation based in town that makes delicious jars of honey. They don’t currently have a storefront in Armstrong (hopefully that will change soon!). However, you can often find them at the Armstrong Farmer’s Market.
The market is usually open on a weekend day, but the schedule changes depending on the season. You can check their website for more info.
If you want a closer view into the honey-making world, head to Planet Bee. This farm located in Vernon is just a 22-minute drive away and is a must-visit for any budding beekeeper (or those that simply love honey!). Here, you can see beehives up close, stroll through bee-friendly gardens, and shop at the on-site store. One of my favorite parts about this farm is they let you taste the honey and mead for free – I really felt like a kid in a candy shop!
The farm is open to visitors on weekdays from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, Saturdays from 9 am – 5:30 pm, and Sundays from 9 am – 5 pm. And if you’re heading there to buy souvenirs, I highly recommend their lemon ginger honey as well as their skincare products.
4. Sample wine at Edge of the Earth
Okay, time for another BC staple – wine! Arguably, the only thing I like better than cheese is wine.
There is one very small winery located in Armstrong called Edge of the Earth Vineyard. This family-run winery and vineyard is located on a farm about a 10-minute drive from Armstrong. Although it’s not that far, it feels quite removed from normal city life. As you head down the last stretch of dirt road, you’ll understand the name “Edge of the Earth.”
Now, I must warn you. This isn’t one of those prestigious wineries you’ll find in Kelowna. You won’t find cell phone reception here or any fancy cellar door, but it has all the charm and the most relaxed vibes. The owners Marni and Russ are so down-to-earth you feel like you’re tasting wine with friends (ones that are knowledgeable about wine, of course!).
They will welcome you into their tasting room (part of their home) and offer a free wine tasting. Afterward, you can choose to buy a bottle or two. Prices are really affordable, and you can expect to pay around $12-15 CAD per bottle.
Related Read: If you want even more wine, there are many more vineyards in the surrounding towns. Kelowna is just an hour’s drive away – and you can read about our favorite wine tours in Kelowna here!
5. Enjoy a few lazy lake days
Armstrong has the perfect location for those looking to spend a few lazy days at the lake. Every way you go, there are big beautiful lakes just waiting to be explored. I personally love lakes because they’re calmer and you don’t need to worry about as much wind or saltwater! You can soak up the sun, swim, or have a picnic in the sand.
If you’re heading south towards Vernon, you have two options for lakes: Kalamalka Lake and Okanagan Lake. Both of these are about a 30-minute drive from Armstrong. If you head north for about 35 minutes, you’ll reach Salmon Arm, home to the stunning Shuswap Lake. And below, I’ll describe the highlights of each!
Beaches near Vernon
In Vernon, my favorite lake is Kalamalka Lake. It’s home to one of the most popular beaches in Vernon, the stunning and colorful Kal Beach. Here, you’ll find a long stretch of sandy beachfront with kayak and paddleboard rentals, a corner store, and a lakefront pub (the perfect combo for a fantastic beach day!).
In the summer months, Innerspace Watersports sets up shop here. They rent SUPs and kayaks starting at $25 CAD per hour and canoes for $45 an hour. The longer you rent one, the cheaper it is per hour.
Right beside this lake is Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. Here, there are many hiking and biking trails, beaches, and stunning views of the lake. Hiking to Rattlesnake Point delivers all the best views of the stunning turquoise lake water. The out-and-back hike is just 2.6 km (1.6 miles) and takes roughly 40 minutes – which is worth it for the scenery!
The other lake in Vernon, Okanagan Lake, is home to the famous Ogopogo, a mythical creature similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster. This large lake stretches all the way down to the beautiful town of Penticton, so you have your pick of beaches!
When we want a nice sandy beach close to Vernon’s downtown, we head to Kin Beach. We also love Ellison Provincial Park, which is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s perfect for those looking to do some hiking and experience a good mix of sandy beaches and forested trails.
Beaches near Salmon Arm
Alternatively, you could head towards the smaller town of Salmon Arm. From Armstrong, it’s just a 40-minute drive north to the stunning Canoe Beach. Here, you’ll find everything you need for the ideal beach day: a sandy beach, dog park, forested walking trails, and large grassy areas with volleyball courts. If you’re traveling with family, you’ll be happy to know there’s also a lakefront kids’ playground and watersports rentals here.
6. Go ice skating
If you’re visiting in wintertime and have your own skates, enjoy the Canadian sport of lake skating! Swan Lake in Vernon is a popular place to go ice skating in the winter months since the small lake freezes over (see photo above!). It’s also just a 15-km (9.3-mile) drive south of Armstrong.
Another great lake to go ice skating near Armstrong is Monte Lake. Located about 60 km (37 miles) east of Armstrong, this lake is arguably more popular in the winter than in the summer. Ice fishers flock to this lake and even drive their vehicles out into the middle to do some winter fishing. This is a popular spot to do some ice skating while taking in the gorgeous forest and mountain views.
When skating on frozen lakes, it’s important to always practice safety. Make sure there has been a consistent cold stretch prior to going out onto the ice. You should always test that the ice is thick enough by stepping on it before you commit to going further. Both of these lakes are fairly popular and will likely have others out on the lake (which is a good indication of the thickness).
If you want to go ice skating but would rather do so on a designated skating rink, you have a couple of options. The Centennial Outdoor Rink is located in central Vernon and is a popular choice for families. You’ll need to bring your own gear since they don’t offer rentals.
The second option is Silverstar Mountain Resort. The resort offers ice skating on its 2.5-acre (1-hectare) outdoor rink. They open seasonally and do offer equipment rental. You can check their schedule and rental prices on the resort’s website.
7. Float down the Enderby River
By far one of the best summer activities near Armstrong is to take a leisurely float down the Shuswap River. And luckily, my favorite access point is in Enderby, just a 15-minute drive from Armstrong.
Enderby is a small town located about 14 km (8.7 miles) north of Armstrong towards Salmon Arm. It’s super accessible since it’s right off the highway between Armstrong and the beautiful town of Sicamous.
Enderby is the ideal place to enjoy a good tubing session! There are many tubing options here and the float times will vary depending on which section of the river you float down, the level of the river, and how fast it is flowing. You can check out the estimated float times here.
There are no lifeguards along this river so be sure you are a strong swimmer and are alert for the entire float. You can check any river conditions and warnings on the Shuswap River Ambassador’s Facebook page.
This is one of the most beautiful river floats in BC and one of my favorite things to do in the Okanagan. The water typically moves at a good pace, and you will be weaving along large fields and farms along the way enjoying mountain views. You’ll feel a million miles away from the world around you.
I suggest making a day out of it. If you do, make sure to pack a cooler, snacks, and sunscreen. The float can be around 5 hours depending on the time of year you go.
If you aren’t traveling with tubes (not everyone does obviously!), you can easily rent one. Q’s Float Shop is conveniently located in Enderby right by the river. They rent tubes by the hour, half-day, and full-day with the best rate being $30 CAD for the full-day. They’re open from 10 am – 6 pm but are often closed Wednesdays and Fridays, so call or message ahead at +1 (250) 838-9422.
Starting points for the Shuswap River float
There are multiple starting points to this float. The best starting point if you’re wanting to do a long float is just before the Trinity Bridge. If you’re coming from Enderby town, you’ll see a parking lot just before the bridge. You can park your car and start your adventure. If you like cliff jumping, I’ve even seen people jumping off this bridge into the water.
If you’re wanting a shorter float, you can start a little closer at the Eby Hand Launch Point along Enderby Mabel Lake Road. There is plenty of parking along the roadway here.
Regardless of where you choose, a popular ending point for the float is to park your second vehicle just before the Cliff Avenue bridge in Enderby at Belvidere Park. The bridge acts as a perfect indicator to start paddling yourself to the side to get out of the river.
Related Read: If you’re visiting during colder months but still love water, check out the best hot springs in British Columbia here!
8. Venture into Vernon
Vernon is a great little city full of small-town vibes and hospitality. And you’ll find no shortage of great things to do in Vernon.
Their picturesque downtown is located along 30th Avenue. This area is home to many of Vernon’s delicious restaurants and quaint boutique-style shops. They specifically have a lot of great antique shops so if that’s your thing, set aside some time and stock up on awesome finds! And if you need a coffee break between all that shopping, Vernon also has some cute cafes!
There are a couple of great parks in the area including the beautifully manicured Polson Park. It’s located near downtown so makes a great stop after some shopping. This park has great walking trails, a pond, and a kid’s playground.
One of the best things to do in the summer months (especially if traveling with kids) is to visit the Historic O’Keefe Ranch. Dating back to 1867, this is the perfect place to step back in time and explore what life was like over a century ago. This self-contained village contains many different craftsman workshops, churches, post offices, and more.
The Ranch costs $10 CAD for adults, $5 CAD for kids and seniors, and the family rate is $25 (including 2 adults and up to 4 kids). Their regular season runs from May to October, and you can check their schedule online here. There are also lots of events that happen at the ranch throughout the year, including my favorite: a Halloween corn maze called the Field of Screams.
Visiting this ranch is really like stepping back in time! If you love interactive museums, I would definitely stop here. Plus, it’s located just a 15-minute drive from Armstrong so can be visited on your way in or out.
If you’re looking for a great way to cool off, head to Splashdown Vernon. This waterpark is fun no matter how old you are and has a lot of different slides to keep you entertained, my favorite being the River Riot. The park is open annually from late June to early September.
We’ve mentioned this one before, but Silverstar Mountain Resort in Vernon is worth visiting any time of year. In the summertime, there are great hiking and mountain biking trails. You can also ride the gondola to the top of the mountain for some epic city and country views for only $25 CAD. In wintertime, this becomes one of the best ski mountains in the area and has a great tube park as well.
9. Pick some fruit
Nothing compares to the sweetness of fresh Okanagan fruit. Okanagan cherries, berries, and peaches have quite the reputation, and for good reason. The Okanagan Valley is the perfect climate for growing sweet fresh fruit, and Armstrong is home to a lot of great U-pick farms.
You-pick (or U-pick) farms are just like they sound! Bring your own containers and head out to one of the many farms in Armstrong to gather your own produce.
Picking fruit is a great way to support locals and see where your food is coming from. You can also ensure the freshness of your food, and the prices are much cheaper than in shops! But make sure to bring cash since U-picking is a cash-based experience. And if you’re wondering where to go, below are my favorite farms in Armstrong and Vernon!
Armstrong’s U-pick farms
Pilgrim’s Produce is a great organic family-run farm where you can pick strawberries, blackcurrants, saskatoon berries, cherries, raspberries, and more. The farm is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am – 8 pm. However, U-picking is only available during the harvest season (logically!) which usually starts in May. You can check their website for updates.
Good “N” Plenty Produce is another great place to go for delicious U-pick strawberries. You can come here Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7 am – 10 am during the strawberry-picking season (generally in June and July. You can call them at +1 (250) 546-6862 to check availability.
Both of these family-operated farms also grow and sell farm-fresh veggies to buy while you’re there. However, Pilgrim’s Produce prefers you preorder your veggies a day or so ahead of time.
What’s also awesome is these farms are just a 5-minute drive from one another – so you can make a day out of it. Start with early morning strawberry picking at Good”N”Plenty and then head to Pilgrim’s for even more berries!
Vernon’s U-pick farm
If you head into Vernon, Bright Angel Farm is another great U-pick farm to check out. The u-picking season starts in early July, and you’ll need to reserve a booking date and time. The cherries here are absolutely delicious and also super affordable! The setting is stunning and there are also many animals that call this farm home. If you’re visiting in October, they even have a pumpkin patch.
Bear in mind that you can’t bring pets to most farms, and u-picking is weather-dependent, so check the forecast ahead of time! I’d also bring a good sun hat and water since it can get hot during harvest season.
Related Read: Another hot spot for tasty produce and outdoor activities in British Columbia is Salt Spring Island. You can read more about the top things to do on Salt Spring Island here!
10. Visit a local farm and stock up on self-serve produce
Take advantage of Armstrong’s farming communities by shopping locally. Not only will you support local businesses, but you’ll have delicious produce to enjoy!
In the summer months, you’ll find many roadside stands selling a lot of farm-fresh food. These stands will sell everything from local fresh fruit and vegetables to locally harvested honey. Armstrong asparagus is one of my favorite veggies to stock up on!
Be sure to bring cash along as many of the farms use a cash-only honor system. You’ll typically find free-range eggs, flowers, and more sold this way. There are also pop-up style markets that will sell homemade goodies including pies, honey, soaps, and other homemade crafts. This is a great way to try some fresh and tasty creations while supporting local farmers.
11. Visit Farmstrong Cider Company
No matter what time of year you’re visiting Armstrong, no trip is complete without a visit to the Farmstrong Cider Company.
You may have seen them at different event shows around the Thompson-Okanagan region showing off their delicious craft ciders. But I’d highly recommend checking out their farm location as well. The converted barn is absolutely gorgeous and sets the perfect farm-style setting with large barn doors to create that indoor/outdoor feel (which I love!).
Similar to a brewery, you can do cider tastings with their flights of 4-5 oz tasters. They have 10 different cider flavors, my favorite two flavors being the rhubarb and pear. They have a restaurant on site too where you can pair your ciders with some delicious brunch, lunch, or dinner. Their large menu has everything from burgers to wood-fired pizzas with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options available – even their ciders are gluten-free!
If you’re visiting in the summertime, I highly recommend a scenic seat on their outdoor patio. Their patio is pet-friendly so feel free to bring your dogs along. There are also heaters and blankets provided to keep you comfortable. Overall, I found this spot to have super homey and caring service which adds to the great vibe.
Not only do they have amazing ciders, but the farm setting delivers stunning views from every corner. So come here to try local cider and marvel at the Armstrong countryside and mountains.
The farm is also family-run and family-friendly meaning you are welcome to bring your kids with you. There are seasonal events throughout the year including summertime live music on Thursday nights. Supporting local, the farm even hosts local creator events which is a market-style event that occurs right on-site.
12. Attend the IPE
People from all over BC’s interior flock to Armstrong in late summer to enjoy the Armstrong IPE & Stampede. Fun for the whole family, the IPE (Interior Provincial Exhibition) is the picturesque farm town event with amusement park rides, lots of food options, a rodeo, and an artisan market where you can peruse all the local creations.
It’s typically held at the end of August/early September, so if you’re visiting during this time, I’d definitely add it to your Armstrong itinerary! With lots going on throughout the whole multi-day event, there will be lots of presentations, from agricultural to lumberjack shows. It really is the quintessential Canadian experience!
Adults will love the licensed beer gardens, live music shows, and the barn dance on Friday and Saturday nights between 9 pm and 1 am. There will also be lots to entertain the kids from the agriculture barns to mini golf. The rodeo is nightly at 8 pm with the professional bull riders (PBR) event typically happening on the Sunday.
You can choose between 1-day to 5-day admissions with adults costing $22 CAD each for the 1-day pass and $95 CAD each for all 5 days. It is important to note that this price is for general admission only. Rodeo, amusement park rides, barn dances, and PBR prices are not included. You can buy your gate admission, ride tickets, and event passes on their website here.
There is lots of on-site parking which costs $10 CAD a day. And if you want to camp overnight, campsites are $30 CAD a night. It functions on a first come first serve basis, so if you’re relying on this, get there earlier.
Where to Stay in Armstrong, BC
Armstrong is a beautiful place to visit, but since it’s a small town, there are limited places to stay! While there is one well-known motel in Armstrong itself, there are many more hotel options in nearby Vernon. There are also some incredible Airbnbs in Vernon if that’s more your style!
Vernon is just a 20-minute drive from Armstrong and has some beautiful beaches! So whether you stay in Armstrong or Vernon, you can enjoy all of the surrounding nature and activities. Below, I’ve listed my favorite accommodation options in the area for each price range.
Sparkling Hill Suites (luxury) – $$$
For the ultimate luxury, head to the Sparkling Hill Suites in Vernon! This adults-only, 5-star resort has everything you need to relax and pamper yourself. You can choose from over 100 treatments at the on-site spa, attend fitness classes, or go swimming in the outdoor infinity pool. The restaurant is absolutely amazing, and breakfast is included.
To top it off, the modern rooms have views of the surrounding hills and lake, with prices starting at $420 CAD per night. If you’re looking to treat yourself, book your room at the luxurious Sparkling Hill Suites here!
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Vernon (mid-range)
The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Vernon has everything you need for an awesome stay in Vernon. It has an indoor waterslide, hot tub, laundry services, a fitness center, and great breakfast options. Rooms are clean and comfy with well-stocked mini-fridges.
With prices starting at $159 CAD, this hotel is a great deal and my go-to option when visiting the area. For a quality hotel at an awesome price, book your stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites online here!
Armstrong Inn (budget) – $
For those that want to stay in Armstrong, the Armstrong Inn is the top choice. It’s located just off the highway in the center of Armstrong’s downtown – and right across from Village Cheese. This budget motel offers rooms with basic necessities like coffee/tea, TVs, and a desk.
Room prices start at $109 CAD. So if you’re traveling on a budget, check availability and book the Armstrong Inn here!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Thanks for reading!
Armstrong is such a cute town and a worthy stop on your BC road trip! From berry picking to wineries and ice skating, you won’t get bored here. However, it’s definitely under the radar, which is part of its charm and why I love it so much. So if you’re visiting, I hope this list has helped you find a few fun things to do in Armstrong!
If you’re exploring other parts of the country, check out my blog about Canada here. I’m a local and love sharing everything about my country. Below, I’ve selected a few articles that might be useful when traveling through British Columbia.