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32 BEST Things to do in Vernon, BC

32 BEST Things to do in Vernon, BC

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Vernon, BC is the ultimate holiday destination in the Okanagan Valley. Although a relatively small city, Vernon is packed full of fun things to do in British Columbia. Less than an hour’s drive from the famous wineries in Kelowna, you’re surrounded by incredible vineyards, beautiful blue lakes, and so much more!

My grandma and cousins call Vernon home, so we visit a couple of times every year. It’s safe to say we’ve explored Vernon well – which is why we’ve written this blog!

Here, you’ll find the 32 best things to do in Vernon! We’ve included everything from the most popular tourist attractions to off-the-beaten-path activities you’ve probably never heard of.

The BEST Things to do in Vernon, BC

1. Visit Davison Orchards

Bailey stands out the front of Davison Orchards in Vernon, Canada
The orchard and little village are so cute!

Looking for the perfect family-friendly activity to try here in Vernon? Davison Orchards is a large, family-owned farm that produces delicious fruit to make their very own products. There are also lots of attractions to explore on the farm, including a café, shop, antique cars, petting zoo, special events, and more. Besides all of that, the place is so cute!

Davison Orchards is also my favorite place to try local baked goods here in Vernon. The Orchard is home to a bakery and other shops that sell jams, juices, fresh fruit, cakes, pies, and so much more.

There is also a café on-site, and they sell delicious sandwiches, cakes, and one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had. The food at Davison Orchards is all top quality and homemade using local products.

We also love that there’s no admission price to enter, making this a fun and cheap way to spend half a day. The products that are sold here are really well-priced, and they provide a huge range of free samples, so you’re bound to leave with a full belly regardless of whether you buy something or not!

After you’ve tried all the food you can stomach, head to the back of the property to walk through the animal barn. Here you can feed sheep, chickens, and goats! There is also a tractor tour around the orchard, which is a real hit with kids.

A final tip from us – we definitely recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds!

2. Learn what’s abuzz at Planet Bee

Planet B honey in Vernon BC, Canada
Planet Bee Honey in Vernon BC, Canada

Located only a short walk from Davison Orchards is the deliciously sweet Planet Bee Honey Farm. This place is all about fresh Okanagan honey, and they sell a huge range of products made from that honey. These range from creams, supplements, and even alcohol!

In the shop, they have a live beehive on display and lots of information on bees in general. It’s honestly very interesting, and reading up on the bees really gave me a whole new level of respect for them.

Another fun thing you can do here is take part in a Mead Tasting, which is on offer daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. If you didn’t know, mead is a delicious fermented drink made with honey, water, and yeast.

So while you’re in the area visiting Davison Orchards, we recommend adding this on as a quick stop to stock up on delicious Vernon honey, and pick up a cool fact or two about bees!

3. Go on a wine tour

Daniel leans on the railing at the Arrowleaf Winery in Lake Country near Vernon, BC
At Arrowleaf Winery, one of our favorites!

Wine is arguably what the Okanagan Valley is most famous for, so it’s no surprise that we go on a wine tour every time we visit! There are over 100 wineries in the valley, so there are always plenty of new vineyards to explore and delicious wines to taste only minutes from Vernon.

We always prefer going on an organized tour instead of driving ourselves – in part because we can never agree on who will be the designated driver! We also love having an expert on hand (although, if we keep doing wine tours, we might just have to start running them ourselves).

There are a few different regions near Vernon that you can choose to tour. Here are three of our favorite local wine tours that all include pickup from Vernon:

Lake Country

The Lake Country is home to some of the most incredible lakeside views you could ask for – most wineries here enjoy awesome views, such as Arrowleaf Cellars (the winery from the photo above!).

This 5 winery tour of the Lake Country was such a joy to experience. Not only was our driver Roy amazing (and so funny!) but we really got to learn a lot about what makes the Lake Country so special. It’s not just the wines (although these were SO good), but all the staff we met along the way were so friendly and helpful.

We think this tour is the perfect introduction to these fantastic Lake Country wineries, and the fact that transport including pick-up and drop-off is included is just the icing on the cake. For just $209 CAD per person, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Kelowna (East Kelowna)

No wine tasting trip to the Okanagan Valley would be complete without visiting the wineries of Kelowna. This laid-back city is surrounded by some incredibly unique spots, so much so that we decided to recommend not one but two tours – one for Kelowna (AKA East Kelowna) and West Kelowna!

The sunny valley of East Kelowna gets around 2,000 hours of sun annually, making it ideal for some serious grape growing. This 5-hour wine tour of East Kelowna visits 4 very special wineries, and along the way you’ll keep your pallet fresh with chocolate and cheese pairings. For lunchtime, you’ll be served a gourmet charcuterie picnic (GF, vegan, vegetarian, and LF requests will be honored)!

Tickets for this tour start from a very reasonable $301 CAD per group of 3 or more, with pick-up and drop-off included too.

West Kelowna

Hopping across the Okanagan Lake, the rolling hills of West Kelowna are also home to some unmissable wineries. This small-group wine tasting experience visits no less than 5 local wineries, each of which boasts their very own signature wine!

Lasting between 3 and 6 hours, there’s plenty of time to enjoy each winery – we love it when tours design their itinerary around enjoying the experience rather than cramming in as much as humanly possible. Hotel pick-up/drop-off from Vernon is included, and the cost is $209 CAD per person. That’s awesome value!

4. Okanagan Spirits Distillery Tour

tasting spirits at the Okanagan Distillery in Vernon, BC
Just trying a few spirits on a tasting tour at Okanagan Distillery.

We may be in the heart of wine country, but I totally understand that wine isn’t for everyone! In fact, if you’d much prefer to sample fine whiskey, herein Vernon you can do that at the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery.

The distillery is open for sale to anyone, but if you want a unique experience then joining their Craft Whiskey Experience is a must! It includes tastings of whiskey and finger foods to cleanse your pallet. The Whiskey Tour costs $50 CAD, and they recommend you book in advance to secure your time and day.

For those who aren’t huge fans of whiskey (like myself), Okanagan Distillery also offers a Farm-to-Flask Tasting for only $25 CAD. This is the tour we tried, and our guide taught us about how they make spirits, as well as some interesting stories about the history of the distillery! We then tried four different samples from across the different categories.

Of course, there are whiskies but also vodkas, gins, natural fruit liqueurs, and brandies (Eau de Vie), and even the more exotic Aquavit, and Canada’s first genuine Absinthe (Taboo) which is also made here. The tour only lasted for about 45 minutes, but let me tell you, these guys make some really tasty spirits! For such a low price, joining this tour will definitely be well worth it.

5. Spend the day at Ellison Provincial Park

Daniel paddle boarding at Ellison Provincial Park, Vernon
Ellison Provincial Park, Vernon is the best place to swim on Okanagan Lake!

The locals are going to hate me for this, but one of the best-kept secrets in Vernon is Ellison Provincial Park.

Located on the beautiful Okanagan Lake, you can get to the park from Vernon in under 20 minutes. While the park is pretty small, there are plenty of picnic tables and even fire pits too. The swimming area is also stunning, tucked away in a small sheltered cove surrounded by mountain views.

But what takes this spot to the next level is that it’s typically much less crowded than the other well-known beaches around Vernon!

Some of the best things to do at Ellison Provincial Park include hiking some of the short trails, just relaxing at the beach, having a wood-fired BBQ, and paddleboarding. There is also the Ellison Provincial Park campground for those who want to spend the night in this little slice of paradise.

If you want to beat the crowds, be sure to arrive before lunchtime. We went on a long weekend in the middle of summer and enjoyed Ellison for around 2 hours with almost no people from 10 am until 12 pm!

6. Visit the Historic O’Keefe Ranch

the outside of the general store at the Historic O'Keefe Ranch
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

Less than a 15-minute drive from Vernon, O’Keefe Ranch is easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vernon, BC. This historic ranch was founded in 1867 and was a small self-contained community complete with a blacksmith, church, and post office.

These days, it’s a place for tourists to step back in time and learn about the simple days of the 1800s. There are several events at the ranch as well as attractions such as the blacksmith’s workshop, the pottery shop, St Anne’s Church, and much more. They also do lots of dinner shows throughout the summer.

The Ranch isn’t open all year round and instead opens from May until September. From July to September, you can also enter the corn maze for an additional fee. Entrance fees to the ranch start at $10 CAD for adults, and you can check all pricing information on their website.

7. Go tubing or wakesurfing

Tubing on Okanagan Lake, Vernon
So much fun!

Tubing and wakesurfing on the lake is something I’ve always enjoyed. So, during our visit to Vernon, we decided to head out to Okanagan Lake for some adrenaline-filled fun! For 3 hours, we sped around the lake, holding onto the tube for dear life.

Less than a 15-minute drive from the city center, Kal Lake Wakesurf is one of the most popular places near Vernon to learn to wakesurf. Dallas and Jennifer offer lessons to all abilities, from beginners to pros and everyone in between!

Hopping aboard their legendary Super Air Nautique G23 tow boat, you’ll be joined by your knowledgeable instructor who will adapt the lessons to your experience level. Before you know it, you’ll be out surfing on the water like a pro (or at least getting one step closer to being one!).

A 1-hour training session costs $375 CAD for a group of up to 6, so if your friends or family want to get involved, they can! Check out their booking page here to learn how to book your next epic lake adventure.

8. Spend a day at Kalamalka Beach

The jetty at Kalamalka Beach, Vernon BC
The jetty at Kalamalka Beach, Vernon, BC

Speaking of lakes, Kalamalka Lake is easily the most beautiful lake in the Okanagan. It shines many shades of green, and Kal Beach is the perfect place to enjoy the cool water on a hot summer day.

For Bailey, a visit to Kal Beach was a childhood memory and something she did a lot while she lived in the Okanagan. For that reason, we simply had to take a trip down memory lane, and well, it was an amazing place to cool down under the Okanagan sun!

Kal Beach is located on the north side of Kalamalka Lake in Vernon, less than a 10-minute drive from the center of the city. At the lake, there is a large sandy beach area as well as toilets and a small shop. There’s also a jetty at the lake, and on a hot day expect the place to be very busy. Arrive early to ensure that you can get a parking space.

9. Golf at Predator Ridge

Bailey watches the golfers from the restuarant at Preditor Ridge Golf Course
I don’t golf, but I don’t mind a drink while Daniel is off with his friends!

Predator Ridge is one of the premier golf courses in the Okanagan region. There are two courses, 36 holes total, in an absolutely beautiful setting. They offer unlimited golfing, where you can play a round on either course and get unlimited access all day long.

Predator Ridge has an award-winning practice facility with high-quality instructors, so it is a good option for new and first-time golfers. There are also three on-site restaurants to relax and enjoy a meal at after a day on the greens.

The price for a day at Predator Ridge does depend on which season you’re visiting in. For the high season (May – October) a day pass costs $235 CAD per person, while the early spring season (April) costs $185 CAD per person.

Even if you don’t golf, go up and check out this fantastic course and enjoy lunch at the Range Lounge & Grill at Predator Ridge. They serve some fantastic food, and they have a beautiful outdoor patio with epic views of the golf course.

10. Grab brunch at Eatology

Daniel at EATology, Vernon, BC
Look at that smile!
Eggs benedict at EATology, Vernon
Doesn’t it just look so delicious?

You can probably tell by now that Vernon is full of so many amazing things to do, but it’s no good exploring them all on an empty stomach! Whenever we stop by town to visit my grandma, we always make a reservation at Eatology, our favorite authentic café here in Vernon.

This downtown corner café in Vernon is the place to visit for traditional home-style food with a personal creative twist. The owner is passionate about food that follows the philosophy of “Food is Fuel, but dining is an experience” which we loved.

They’re open from 7 am to 3 pm on Wednesday and Thursday (as well as the weekend), and the last time we were here, I had the most incredible, fluffy pancakes, while Dan enjoyed a refreshing twist on the traditional eggs benedict.

With super friendly staff and amazing food, what’s not to love? The tasteful interior has a “diner” feel with cozy cubicles so you can enjoy your meal with sunbeams streaming through the window.

As this popular café is only open on select weekdays, I HIGHLY recommend calling up and booking a reservation ahead of time. It does get super busy, especially in the summertime!

11. Visit Silver Star Mountain Resort

two snowboarders at SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon, BC
Going snowboarding at SilverStar is one of the best things to do in Vernon in the winter.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re visiting Vernon in summer or winter, a trip up to the Silver Star Mountain Resort is a must. In the winter it’s all about the snow, but in the summer months, the mountain becomes a place to take in stunning views and go downhill mountain biking.

The last time we visited Vernon, we decided to take the gondola to the top of the mountain to get even better views and wow, it was so worth it!

Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon, BC
SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon, BC in the summer.

The gondola only costs $25 CAD per person and travels high above the valley floor. From the top, you can even see Vernon and Kalamalka Lake!

Both the ski and downhill mountain biking passes come in day, multi-day, and season pass options. For the bikers out there, the Silver Star bike trails currently have a tentative opening date of June 21st, 2024, but you can check out their page here for the latest updates. The 2024 season actually marks 30 years since the resort opened, so you can bet that there will be lots of special events this summer!

It takes about 20 minutes to drive to the resort from Vernon, but if you don’t have a car or don’t want to worry about parking at the resort, you can alternatively book a taxi, bus, or shuttle.

The North Okanagan Ski Bus is the most popular (and cheapest) way to get to the resort, offering several pick-up spots. This costs $25 CAD one way per person or $40 CAD round-trip.

For a seamless and premium experience, you can also book this private SilverStar shuttle which can pick you up from your exact Vernon or Kelowna hotel or even straight from the airport if you are staying at the resort (they will even let you make a grocery stop!).

This private shuttle costs $130 CAD per person and, while it is expensive, it is a luxury service. So if price isn’t an issue, this is a hassle-free method of getting to and from the resort.

Related Read: Be sure to head to Banff for skiing too, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Banff National Park!

12. Cycle the Okanagan Rail Trail

a viewpoint along the Okanagan Rail Trail in Vernon, BC
One of the many beautiful viewpoints along the Rail Trail. Photo Credit: Okanagan Rail Trail

The stats for this walking and biking trail are pretty impressive: 52 km long (32 miles), connecting 212,000 people in communities along the way, 43 points of cultural or recreational interest, and an estimated 588,000 annual users!

The trail goes along Kalamalka Lake and is the perfect biking trail. You could bring your own bikes, or you could also rent one in town, like we did. We had such a fun time stopping off at the viewpoints along the way and taking in the scenery!

The Okanagan Rail Trail begins at the north end of Kalamalka Lake in Vernon and ends in downtown Kelowna, beside Okanagan Lake. The trail can undergo maintenance, so check out the current updates for which sections are currently open.

13. Walk to BX Falls

BX Falls, Vernon in winter
In winter be sure to bring crampons or spikes!

For a nice outdoor activity in Vernon, the walk to BX Falls is perfect. This short 400-meter (1,312 feet) trail took us through the forest and down some stairs to a viewpoint over a gorgeous waterfall. It is an easy trail and suitable for families and most fitness levels, but not ideal for dogs.

This walk is open all year round and in the winter months, the waterfall freezes, creating a gorgeous winter paradise! Just be warned, in the winter it can be very slippery, so I’d recommend bringing ice cleats.

There is a small parking lot at the start of the trail, which you can find on Google Maps.

14. Join a guided tour at Allan Brooks Nature Centre

two gophers coming out of their hole at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre
You’re pretty much guaranteed to see gophers during the summer months.

The Okanagan Valley is full of amazing wildlife, and while you’re visiting Vernon, the Allan Brooks Nature Centre is well worth a look! It is located just outside of Vernon City and is committed to increasing awareness of habitat conservation and promoting recreation in nature.

They offer guided trail tours which are $5 CAD per person (or free for under 16’s) along the Grasslands Trail by passionate educators and volunteers. The trail is about 40 minutes long and is a relatively easy, flat trail to follow. Along the way, we learned all about grassland plants and animals in the area (and saw plenty of super cute gophers!).

For a more personal experience, they also offer private guided tours, which last for 1.5 hours. These also include a guided trail walk, as well as an indoor tour through their Interpretive Center. With a maximum of 15 guests per private tour, the entire tour costs $150 CAD, which works out as pretty good value if you have a larger group!

In addition to the guided tours, they have Nature Talks which educate visitors on different topics. These talks are free and very entertaining as they use a variety of props and taxidermy.

15. Eat at Station BBQ

Bailey with a sandwich at Station BBQ Smokehouse in Vernon, BC
It is so yum!
Brisket sandwich at Station BBQ Smokehouse in Vernon, BC
The brisket sandwich is our favorite.

Perhaps you’ve been out hiking, swimming on the lake, or are just really hungry – Station BBQ is waiting for you! They serve the most amazing slow-smoked BBQ, authentic and delicious.

You can get your meals as “sammiches” (served on a bun) or as plates with side dishes. They offer brisket, pulled pork, Andouille sausage, and more. Side dishes include gumbo, smoked beans, and slaw. They are the “best BBQ north of the South” and I believe it! Just make sure you go hungry!

If you have room to squeeze in dessert, you must try a slice of their incredible Pecan Pie, it’s soooo good.

Station BBQ is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 7 pm, except for Friday and Saturday when they are open an hour later until 8 pm.

16. Walk around Polson Park

Daniel enjoys a Tim Hortons coffee in Polson Park
Polson Park with a coffee in hand!

Daniel and I are early risers. We love the cool crisp air in the mornings – especially during summer in the Okanagan. The best place to enjoy a walk and that cool air in Vernon is at Polson Park!

The park is really beautiful and filled with small walking trails, bridges, and even a small creek. We also got to know a few of the hundreds of Canadian Geese that call the park home.

My favorite thing to do is grab a coffee from the Tim Hortons (a Canadian favorite) across the street from the park and take a relaxing walk along the trails. Sometimes, they also host events here at the outdoor theater. So if you’re looking for a fun little activity to try, why not visit Polson Park?

17. Go hiking

Hiking in Vernon, BC
Get out amongst the mountains!

Looking to stretch your legs a little more? We’ve got you covered!

Vernon and the surrounding area are truly beautiful, and hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy getting out into nature. There are a lot of good options, depending on your skill level and time. You can try something peaceful and relax on the 1.9 km (1.2 mile) Swan Lake Loop Trail, or brave the incline and catch a view on the Kalamalka Lookout Trail.

Rattlesnake Point is one of my favorite hikes in the area. It’s a pretty easy one and good for all skill levels. You can reach the viewpoint from a few different connecting trails, but the best place to start is at the Jade and Juniper parking lots, off Kidston Road, leaving Vernon.

This took us on a 4 km (2.5 mi) trail, climbing just 70 meters (230 feet) to reach the view from Rattlesnake Point at the tip of Kalamalka Lake – absolutely stunning! It’s worth bringing a picnic lunch or some snacks to sit up here and take it all in.

If you want epic views without the effort, head to Silver Star in the summer months. We’ve ridden the chairlift up to the top of the mountain and walked the trails from here before!

18. Explore Downtown

Bailey walks downtown Vernon
Downtown Vernon in summer.

Downtown Vernon is actually a really trendy place to explore! 30th Ave is the main street in town, and it is full of unique shops, cafés, and many of the best restaurants in Vernon.

Head to Vernon Teach & Learn for some children’s toys and books, stop in at high-end consignment stores, visit The Lobster Pot Vernon for some delicious seafood, or stop at the pub for a drink. A couple of my personal favorite places in downtown Vernon are mentioned next in this blog (the local brewery and a cute café!).

Even just wandering the streets of downtown, we found plenty of street art and unique places. In the summer months, there are often buskers, and you might even stumble upon an outdoor market.

Spend a couple of hours downtown, and you’ll quickly understand Vernon’s small-town charm, even if it is technically a city!

19. Enjoy Local Craft Beer at Marten Brewing Co.

Bailey holding a berr at Marten Brew Pub, Vernon
The beer selection is so good!

If there’s a brewery in the area, Bailey and I will find it! In fact, one of the first things we look for when we visit a city or town is where the closest craft brewery is. In Vernon, it was Marten Brewing, which we visited on a very hot summer day.

The brewery was really good, and we must have tried around 6 different beers between our group. If you love craft beer, then you’ll love their selection. They have all different kinds of lager, IPA, you name it!

They also often run all kinds of different special events, from karaoke nights to special themed nights, making this brewery a pretty fun place to hang out in the evenings. For beer lovers, a visit to Marten Brewing will be one of your highlights in Vernon!

20. Day trip to Kelowna

Bailey and I take a photo together at a winery in Kelowna on our wine tour
Just outside of beautiful Kelowna!

Vernon is located within Lake Country, which encompasses Kalamalka, Okanagan, and Wood Lakes. This area of the Okanagan is perfect for a road trip – lake views, rolling hills, and plenty of little towns and cities to stop in and explore.

Kelowna is located 50 km (31 mi) south of Vernon, and the drive from Vernon to Kelowna will take you alongside both Kalamalka Lake and Okanagan Lake. It’s just a 45-minute drive, but I definitely recommend slowing down and taking in all the sites. You can stop off at orchards along the way to sample fresh fruit or snap some pics from various lookouts along the lake.

Once in Kelowna, you’ll find lots to do, from checking out the best craft breweries to relaxing on the pristine sandy beaches to exploring countless shops and restaurants as well as the beautiful waterfront marina but one of the main highlights has to be joining a wine tour, like the ones we mentioned above!

Flyboarding is also a super unique summer activity in Kelowna that takes place on Okanagan Lake. Once you get your feet fastened into the boots on the flyboard you will quickly get lifted from the water by a water-propelled jet system. This 30-minute flyboarding experience is the perfect way to get started, where you’ll be guided by a pro through how it works and getting comfortable with it.

Before long, you’ll be enjoying flying above the lake taking in the views while experiencing the thrill that comes with being around 1.5-3.7 meters (5-12 feet) in the air and zipping around at high speeds!

While it seems intimidating, it is actually extremely easy for beginners, and it usually doesn’t take more than 10 minutes for most people to catch on! Flyboarding starts from $127 CAD so make sure to book it in advance so you don’t miss out on the fun!

Views of the Myra Canyon in Kelowna BC while enjoying a summer bike ride
Views of the Myra Canyon in Kelowna BC while enjoying a summer bike ride

Bike riding the Kettle Valley Trail around the Myra Canyon is one of the most popular activities for outdoor adventurers and view seekers! What was once a railway for trains is now a beautiful trail for cyclists or walkers.

You can either rent bikes for around $39 CAD from the start of the trail or join this guided bike tour for $289 CAD that includes learning about the history as you go, lunch at Meadow Vista Honey Wines (at your own cost), and a complimentary tasting at 3 to 4 wineries once you finish the 24-kilometer (15 miles) ride in Pemberton (don’t stress about the length, the trail is at a gradual decline).

The Okanagan Valley is all about fresh produce and all of the treats made with it. With that in mind, it’s no surprise a food tour is one of the best things to do in Kelowna. This highly rated food tour costs about $104 CAD per person and includes 7-8 different tastings around downtown Kelowna. You’re guaranteed to be stuffed!

As you can see, there are lots of options in Kelowna to keep you busy, so if you have time, I recommend spending a night or two in Kelowna to really get to know the city. Check out my blog about where to stay in Kelowna for the best areas to stay in as well as top hotel choices!

21. Cruise Okanagan Lake on a pontoon

Hanging out on Lake Okanagan on our boat tour in Vernon
Hanging out on Lake Okanagan on our boat tour in Vernon

In the summer months, the Okanagan sees temperatures over 30 °C (86 °F). And during our last summer visit, we decided to escape the heat by heading to the local lakes! One of my favorite days on the lake was spent at Lake Okanagan on a pontoon boat.

A pontoon boat is a flat-deck boat that can hold lots of people. It’s perfect for relaxing on the water and socializing. In Vernon, you can hire a pontoon boat with a captain for 2-hours – so that’s just what we did.

This pontoon experience is completely private for your entire group and can hold up to 11 passengers – that’s enough for family, friends, or even a bachelorette party. Pricing does depend on how many people will be traveling, costing $400 CAD for 2 people for 2 hours, all the way through to $650 CAD for up to 11 people for 3 hours. If you’ve got a big group, this can work out to be even better value!

It includes your captain, safety, gear, and a cooler which you can stock up with your own snacks and drinks! The pontoon boat also anchors at a private bay so you can enjoy a beach without the crowds.

22. Pick fresh berries

Bailey picks berries in Vernon, BC
Bailey picks berries in Vernon, BC

If you want to try the freshest produce the Okanagan has to offer, then you’re going to need to head off and pick your own! Straight from the tree to your mouth, you can pick up a large number of fresh berries and fruit for next to nothing.

U-Pick farms are what we Canadians call farms where you can pick your own produce. Although a little work is involved, it’s a fun experience, and you’ll get to keep the produce that you pick for a really cheap price.

We personally picked up over 3 pounds (1.36 kg) of raspberries for around $7 CAD (not to mention the ones we ate as we picked them!) There are plenty of U-pick farms around Vernon and you can see them all here on Tourism Vernon’s website!

23. Shop at the Farmer’s Market

aerial view of the Vernon Farmers Market
There are so many vendors! Photo Credit: Vernon Farmers Market

It’s so fun to walk around a good farmer’s market, looking at all of the artisan goods and getting to know the locals. The Vernon Farmer’s Market has been around since 1979, serving as a place to connect with neighbors and support local farmers, artists, and businesses for 45 years!

The Vernon Farmer’s Market has a wide variety of products, including in-season produce, bread, pastries, and meat, in addition to fresh-cut bouquets, homemade pottery, and other expert handicrafts.

Whenever Bailey is visiting her grandma, we always go to the Farmer’s Market (she loves to shop!).

You can check it out at the Kal Tire Place parking lot (downtown Vernon) every Monday and Thursday from 8 am to 1 pm during the months of April through October.

24. Eat and Drink at Ratio Coffee & Pastry

Sitting outside Ratio cafe in Vernon
There’s some outdoor seating at Ratio, perfect for enjoying a coffee and snack.

Ratio Coffee & Pastry is a popular local coffee shop in Vernon that serves freshly baked goods and even pizzas in the evenings. It’s a popular local hangout spot right downtown with plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors.

The outdoor patio is really inviting right next to the train tracks and makes for a nice place to have a beer in the evening or coffee in the morning.

They are also famous for their delicious homemade donuts available every Friday! In fact, the donuts are so popular that you should pre-order some if you want to try them – they often sell out the day before. Visit Ratio’s website for updated info on days donuts are available as well as opening hours and daily specials.

25. Taste locally-made cider

Trying cider at BX Ciders in Vernon, BC
Trying cider at BX Ciders in Vernon, BC

Apples! They’ve been growing in the Okanagan since the beginning and for the most part, used for eating or juicing. However, cider has made a comeback around the world, and now it’s one of the most popular summer drinks of choice.

That demand means that many of the orchards that once grew apples to eat have now switched their focus to this delicious drink.

The best cidery near Vernon, in my opinion, is Cambium Cider Co (formerly BX Press Ciders). Cambium Cider is located just outside of Vernon towards SilverStar Mountain. The cidery is on their orchard farm, and they offer a tasting by donation which they actually donate to charity!

Now, I know I’ve been talking about apples. but their ciders don’t stop there, in fact, my favorite is their cherry cider!

Bailey and her mum at Farmstrong Cider Company near Vernon, BC
Cold cider on a warm Okanagan day? Yes, please!

Another good cidery worth checking out is Farmstrong Cider Company. It is located about 30 km (19 mi) north of Vernon, near the town of Armstrong, BC (Armstrong… Farmstrong… get it?).

Farmstrong Cider Company is such a fun, community destination. They have live music periodically with local musicians, and they also host events and festivals on their large property, such as the Harvest Festival or the Annual Pickle Festival (yes, pickles!).

This cidery produces all-natural and additive-free ciders from the neighboring orchards. So why not order a flight and pick out some unique options like Rhubarb, Black Currant, or Hopped Apple cider?

26. Visit the outdoor waterslides

people riding in tubes at Splashdown Vernon waterpark
The tube ride is my absolute favorite! Photo Credit: Splashdown Vernon

Unleash your children (or your inner child) and have some good ol’ fashioned fun! It can get pretty hot in the summer in Vernon, and a day at the waterslides is just the thing to stay cool while having a blast. Splashdown has slides for the whole family, from kid-friendly ones, to ramp slides, to race a friend down, to “river riot” tube slides.

Splashdown has a hot tub, concession stand, and lockers available to rent. The cost for a full day of sliding is $30 CAD per person. If you want to upgrade your experience, they have VIP cabanas for a luxury, relaxing experience! There is an additional cost of $55 CAD for the cabana (fits 2-6 people).

27. Visit Canada’s only Opal producing mine

opal in a rock
Ready to go look for some opal?

If you’re looking for a beautiful souvenir or gift, you must visit Canada’s only Opal mine! Canadian Opals is the name of the Opal Mine and gift shop located 10 km (6.2 miles) from Vernon, BC.

Opal is the October birthstone and is a green-blue gem that makes for gorgeous, unique jewelry and other accessories.

To get your hands on some Opal, you can shop at the store and pick out some treasures. However, I definitely recommend that you participate in the “You Dig” experience, get your hands dirty, and mine some yourself!

The cost is $50 CAD per person and includes transportation via an SUV on a rough road out to the mine. You can dig up your own opal from the property and keep what you find (within 2.5 kg/5.5 lbs of material).

When Bailey was a kid, she actually grew up in Salmon Arm (just 30 minutes from Vernon) and one year her school did a field trip here. She remembers searching for Opal with the assistance of the guides and actually finding a very small piece to keep!

This is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Vernon, a must for any rock or gemstone lover out there.

28. Go cross-country skiing

Cross country skiing during winter in Canada
It’s a really easy sport to pick up on the groomed runs!

If you are in Vernon for the winter, you’re in for a treat! Come the winter months, the city transforms into a wintery wonderland with a ton of fun outdoor activities to participate in. Cross-country skiing is one of my favorite activities in Vernon, and it’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the scenery.

Every winter, Sovereign Lake Nordic Club grooms over 105 km (65 mi) of trails for cross-country skiers to enjoy. Because of the climate and dry snowfall, the conditions are ideal, and it is a great place to try this sport if you’ve never been before.

It costs $24 CAD per person for a daily ski ticket. There’s also a ski rental shop available, and the total package (skis, boots, poles) only costs $15 CAD for the day.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club is located about 20 km (12 mi) from Vernon and is close to the popular downhill ski resort, SilverStar.

29. Spoil yourself at Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa

view of Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa from Above
This place is stunning! Photo Credit: Sparkling Hills Resort & Spa

If you’re looking for a real treat-yourself experience, you’ve got to visit Sparkling Hill Resort! Their luxurious spa offers treatments to in-house guests, so why not spend the night and wash all of that stress away?

The resort itself is luxurious and truly sparkling – it has over 3.5 million Swarovski crystals integrated into the resort’s architecture and design! It’s outfitted with the best amenities, including an infinity pool, the KurSpa, a Serenity room, complimentary breakfast, and much more.

three girls inside Sparkling Hills  Resort & Spa
My sister, my mom, and I at Sparkling Hills Resort & Spa a few years ago. Yes, those are all crystals behind us!

The views over the lake from anywhere in the resort are absolutely stunning. Believe me, I’ve been before. Although it was a few years ago (check out those baby checks in the photo above), I remember how luxurious the building felt and the lake views from every window.

If you choose to go for a spa day, KurSpa has a lot to offer – over 100 services to be exact! You can choose from a variety of massages like a Lavender Fields Massage or Hot Stone Massage, or get a facial, mud bath, or manicure. Prices for massages begin at $99 CAD and vary depending on your treatment, but they are worth a splurge for this luxurious experience!

During your stay, you’ll also gain access to the spa’s indoor/outdoor pools, 3 different saunas, and 4 different steam rooms. There is also the Igloo room to cool off in and stimulate your senses with the peppermint aroma and sound of crackling ice after enjoying the warm rooms and pools.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic way even with a loved one or fancy a girl’s trip away, spending the night at Sparkling Hills is easily one of the best things to do in Vernon, you won’t regret it! You can expect to pay around $430 CAD per night for a king-size room with a mountain view.

30. Go camping at Kekuli Bay Provincial Park

view of Kalamalka Lake
Kalamalka Lake is seriously stunning!

Vernon enjoys awesome, sunny weather throughout the summer months, so camping is a great option to choose! Kekuli Bay Provincial Park is located in a bay in Kalamalka Lake, 11 km (6.8 mi) south of the city of Vernon. It is absolutely stunning, with views of the lake from all around. There are also large landscaped grassy areas with trees for shade!

The campsite has amenities like a boat launch, campfire pits, drinking water, and electrical hookups, so it’s good for tents and RVs alike. The campsite intersects with the Okanagan Rail Trail (see #20), so has great access for walking and biking along the lake. You can easily reserve a site on the BC Parks website.

Plus, since it is on the lake, you can take full advantage of the area – swimming, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. Just get out there and enjoy!

31. Go snowshoeing

Snow shoewing in Vernon in Winter
Without snow shows some trails are almost impossible to hike!

Snowshoeing is really just winter hiking, so you can absolutely re-purpose all of the hiking trails mentioned above – Okanagan Rail Trail, Nordic Club cross-country ski trails, Rattlesnake Point trail – into a snowshoe adventure!

Another popular area to go snowshoeing in is the Silver Star Mountain Resort (a 25-minute drive from Vernon). They have 16 km (10 mi) of singletrack trails that weave in and out of the forested areas of the mountains. Here, trails are well-marked and easy to navigate!

If you don’t own your own snowshoes, there are a few places to rent them in town. You can pick some up at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club or Stussi Sport for around $15 CAD a day.

32. Kangaroo Creek Farm

A Kangaroo hops around at the The Kangaroo farm in Kelowna!
A Kangaroo hops around at Kangaroo Creek Farm in Kelowna.

Kangaroo Creek Farm is exactly what it sounds like… A farm filled with kangaroos!

I have to be honest, though, this isn’t something Dan was overly keen on doing. I mean, Dan is from Australia and has seen thousands of Kangaroos before. In fact, we try to avoid them when we’re driving on country roads back home.

However, having Canadian in-laws meant a visit to Kangaroo Creek Farm was certain. For anyone who hasn’t seen a kangaroo before, this is one of the best chances you’ll get outside of Australia.

The drive to the farm from Vernon is around 30 minutes south going towards Kelowna.

The entrance costs $20 CAD for adults and $10 CAD for kids, making it one of the cheapest things to do in Vernon. The farm is home to many types of kangaroos, including small joeys (baby kangaroos). In addition, they also have other types of animals here too, including but not limited to a sugar glider, a capybara, a pot-bellied pig, an emu, and a peacock!

Kangaroo Creek Farm is a really unique opportunity and the farm is run by lovely people who really love their kangaroos.

Where to Stay in Vernon, BC

The Castle at Swan Lake in Vernon, BC
Photo credit: The Castle at Swan Lake

If you’re visiting Vernon, you’ll need somewhere to stay! Below are some of our personal best recommendations for hotels in the area to suit all budgets.

The Castle at Swan Lake – $$$

The Castle at Swan Lake is easily one of the most luxurious hotels in Vernon. Well, it’s actually just outside Vernon (an 8-minute drive), making it the perfect place to relax and unwind in peace after a busy day. Many of the rooms here have a fireplace in the room too to warm yourself up if you’re traveling in winter.

Rates for The Castle in summer average around $340 CAD per night, but you can often find great deals if you book in advance. That’s pretty great value considering the 4-star service you can enjoy here.

Fairfield Inn Suites – $$

I would say the Fairfield Inn Suites is the best value hotel in Vernon! It has its own pool (with a waterslide!) and a hot tub, perfect for relaxing after a day spent hitting the trails. The rate here also includes breakfast, and the reviews are fantastic.

At around $231 CAD a night, this is the place Bailey and I like to stay when we’re in town. It can book up pretty quickly in the summer months, though, so don’t forget to check your dates and book your room online here.

Silver Star Motel – $

If you want a central location, then Silver Star Motel is a great value-for-money option. Their rooms are nothing fancy, but you’ll be saving by staying here and might have a little extra cash to spend on a wine tour or skiing!

For around $115 CAD per night, you can make the most of this great location, and their staff are so friendly and helpful. You can check their availability and book your stay online here.

Didn’t find what you’re after? Click here to view all available hotels in Vernon, BC.

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

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!

Bailey and Daniel take a photo together at another winery in Kelwona
Thanks for reading!

Vernon is really a special town. It is a great holiday destination and if you do even a fraction of the things I’ve listed here, you’re sure to have a good time (just like we did!)

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions, please leave them below. Also, if you loved this travel guide, jump over and check out all our Canada travel guides here or these related articles below:

33 BEST Things to do in Whistler, BC

26 Exciting Things to do in Saskatoon

How to Spend 1, 2, or 3 Days in Banff

Tracy

Sunday 27th of June 2021

Great tips, we just moved to Vernon and there’s a lot of really cool stuff we will be sure to explore! Thank you for taking the time to showcase everything the way you have - we have a lot to do! ☺️

Kasin

Friday 14th of August 2020

Thank you Dan and Bailey! This helped a lot!

destinationlesstravel

Friday 14th of August 2020

Hey Kasin!

Thas so great to hear. We hope you have an amazing time in Vernon!

Thanks Daniel