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Vernon, BC, Canada holds a special place in our hearts. In fact, we have family who call this small-town home, and as such, we visit the area all the time!
Vernon, Canada sits only a 40-minute drive from the hugely touristic city of Kelowna in the province of British Columbia. Both places share many great activities but Vernon has a few of its own things to do that make it worth the visit!
On every visit we make to Vernon, we love to get out and see the sights. This last time we were there during the beautiful Okanagan summer!
But regardless of when you visit there’s always plenty of things to do in Vernon. From visiting the ski fields to cooling off in the stunning lakes, here’s our list of all the best things to do in Vernon, BC.
1. Go on a wine tour
2. Visit Davison Orchards
3. Learn about bees at Planet Bee
4. Drink local craft beer at Marten Brewing Co
5. Cruise Okanagan Lake on a pontoon boat
6. Visit Ellison Provincial Park
7. Tour Okanagan Spirits Distillery
8. Go on a food tour
9. Spend a day at Kalamalka Beach
10. Visit SilverStar Mountain Resort
11. Walk at Polson Park
12. Visit O’Keefe Ranch
13. Taste Local Cider
14. Go tubing or wakeboarding
15. Pick fresh berries
16. Wander downtown
17. Go ice skating
18. Eat and drink at Ratio
18 BEST Things to do in Vernon, BC
1. Go on a Wine Tour
Wine is what the Okanagan is famous for. So, it’s no surprise we always take a tour of the region every time we visit. There are over 100 wineries in the Okanagan Valley so there’s always plenty of vineyards to explore and new wines to taste only minutes from Vernon!
We prefer to join an organized wine tour as opposed to self-driving ourselves. In all honesty, we can never agree on who will be the designated driver and we love having an expert of the area on hand – although, if we keep doing them I’d say we’ll be the experts soon!
There are a few regions within the Okanagan that tours base themselves around. They are Lake Country, East, and West Kelowna and you can book wine tours to these regions that depart right from Vernon!
A tour to any region is great and I’ve personally toured them all. With that said though, Arrowleaf is my favorite winery in the region and it’s located in Lake Country!
Regardless of which region you tour, joining a wine tour in Vernon is a must!
2. Visit Davison Orchards
Davison Orchards is my favorite place to try amazing food in Vernon. The Orchard is home to a bakery and other shops that include the sale of jams, juices, fresh fruit, cakes, pies, and so much more!
There is also a cafe 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. Davison’s is also family-owned and the products are really well priced. They also 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 paid tractor ride around the orchard which kids typically love!
A visit to Davison Orchards can quickly turn into a half-day event so get there early and also to avoid the crowds!
3. Learn About Bees at Planet Bee
Located only a short walk from Davison Orchards is 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 newfound respect for them!
A visit to Planet Bee isn’t the number one thing to do in Vernon but it’s just down the road from Davison Orchards so I still recommend visiting!
4. Enjoy Local Craft Beer at Marten Brewing Co.
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 is was Martens Brewing which we visited on a very hot summer day in Vernon.
The brewery was really good and we must have tried around 6 different beers. If you love craft beer then you’ll love their selection, however, if you like your classics you may not find something you like as most of the beers are very unique!
Be sure to go at happy hour which runs from 3 pm to 6 pm Monday to Saturday. During this time you can get a sleeve of beer for only $5 and also lots of food specials which include their amazing beef burger!
For beer lovers, a visit to Marten Brewing will be one of your highlights in Vernon!
5. Cruise Okanagan Lake on a Pontoon
In the summer months, the Okanagan sees temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius. And during our visit, those temperatures led us to the many lakes in the area. One of my favorite days on the lake was spent on a pontoon boat.
A pontoon boat is a flat deck boat that can hold lots of people and are great for relaxing on the water. In Vernon, you can hire a pontoon boat for an hourly rate with a captain – so that’s just what we did!
We loaded up our coolers and brought some snacks and headed off to Okanagan Lake for a day on the water. We anchored up at secluded beaches and headed to the middle of the lake for a refreshing swim! It was a day well spent!
Tours on the lake cost around $215 CAD per hour but can hold up to 10 people! This tour here is a really good option too and is $109 CAD per person and includes fuel, wine tasting, and lunch at a vineyard!
6. Spend the Day at Ellison Provincial Park
The locals are going to hate me for this, but, one of the best-kept secrets in Vernon is Ellison Provincial Park.
Ellison Provincial Park is located on Okanagan Lake and from Vernon you can get to the park in under 20 minutes. The park is small however with its lakeside location, large number of tables and fire pits, and the fact it remains much less crowded than other beaches in the area, a visit is a must-do while in 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 a campground in the park too 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. I personally went on a busy long weekend and enjoyed Ellison for around 2 hours with almost no people from 10 am until 12 pm!
7. Okanagan Spirits Distillery Tour
Wine is not for everyone and many people much prefer to sample fine whiskey instead. Well, in Vernon you can do that at the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery.
The distillery is open for sales to anyone but if you want a unique experience then joining their Craft Whisky Experience is a must! It includes tastings of whiskey and finger foods to cleanse your pallet. They will teach you what craft whiskey is and you’ll get to taste a fair few fine whiskeys!
The Whisky Tour costs $40 CAD and they recommend you book in advance to secure your time and day.
For those who aren’t huge fans of whisky (like myself) Okanagan Distillery also offers a basic tasting tour for $15 per person. This is the tour we did and we really enjoyed it. Our guide taught us about how they make spirits and the history of the distillery before we got to try four different samples for ourselves. The tour only lasted for about half an hour, but let me tell you, these guys make some really tasty spirits!
8. Join a Food Tour
By now you must be so full! But there’s still plenty more food and drinks to try in Vernon and a food tour is a great way to explore the best the city has to offer.
I actually did my food tour in Kelowna with Okanagan Foodie Tours but they actually run a tour in Vernon too.
Now I can’t say if the tour in Vernon is amazing because I haven’t been, but what I can tell you is that their tour in Kelowna was awesome! We ate so much food and tried some incredible dishes from cafes and restaurants with their own unique twists.
I have actually done several food tours around the world including a food tour in Vancouver as well as one in Hong Kong, Myanmar, and Puerto Vallarta, so I know what makes a good food tour – and these guys do it right!
9. Spend a day at Kalamalka Beach
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. 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!
10. Visit SilverStar Mountain Resort
It doesn’t matter whether you’re visiting Vernon in summer or winter, a trip up to the SilverStar Mountain Resort is a must. In the winter it’s all about the snow. The ski field is the closest to Vernon and the best place to hit the slopes in the area.
In the summer months, the mountain becomes a place to take in stunning views and go downhill mountain biking. We opted to take the gondola to the top of the mountain to get even better views and wow, it was so worth it!
The gondola only cost $25 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 a day, multi-day, and season pass options. You can book tickets here in advance as early bird specials are the cheapest way to get tickets!
Be sure to head to Banff for skiing too, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Banff National Park!
11. Enjoy a Walk at Polson Park
Bailey 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 Polson Park.
The park is actually really beautiful and filled with small walking trails, bridges, and a small creek! You can also mingle with some 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.
12. Visit O’Keefe Ranch
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 on 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 in 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 $13.50 for adults but you can check all pricing information on their website.
13. Taste Local Cider
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 BX Press Ciders. Bx Ciders 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!
If you love cider be sure to check out this place or one of the other cideries in the area!
14. Go Tubing or Wakeboarding
Tubing and wakeboarding on the lake is something I’ve always enjoyed. So, during our visit to Vernon, we decided to head out on Okanagan Lake for some adrenaline-filled fun!
For 3 hours we sped around the lake holding onto the tube for dear life.
On a calm day, the lake is perfect for water sports and you can actually rent boats per hour with a captain to drive. These rentals cost around $200 per hour but on most boats, you can fit 8+ people. Also, after an hour or so of wakeboarding and tubing you’re ready to call it a day!
This is a great activity for those wanting a little extra excitement on their holiday. You can book your hourly rental here in advance!
15. Go Berry Picking
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.
We personally picked up over 3 pounds of raspberries for around $7 (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!
16. Explore Downtown
Downtown Vernon is actually a really neat place to explore. 30th Ave is the main street in town and it is full of unique shops, cafes, and restaurants. Head to Vernon Teach & Learn for some children’s toys and books. Stop in at high-end consignment stores, visit the Fish and Chips shop, or stop at the pub for a drink.
Even just wandering the streets of downtown you’ll find plenty of street art and unique places to check out. In the summer months, there are often buskers and sometimes you’ll even stumble upon an outdoor market. Spend a couple of hours downtown and you’ll quickly understand Vernon’s small-town charm.
17. Eat and Drink at Ratio Coffee & Pastry
Ratio Coffee & Pastry is a popular local coffee shop that serves freshly baked goods and even pizzas in the evenings. It is 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 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.
18. Walk to BX Falls
For a nice outdoor activity in Vernon walk to BX Falls. Located in the area of BX, this short 400-meter long trail takes you 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.
This walk is open all year round and in the winter months, the waterfall freezes creating what looks like Winter Wonderland! Just be warned, in the winter it can be very slippery so ice cleats are recommended.
There is a small parking lot at the start of the trail which you can find on Google Maps.
Where to Stay in Vernon, BC
If you’re visiting Vernon you’ll need somewhere to stay! Below are some of our personal best recommendations of hotels in the area to suit all budgets!
Riviera Village Green – This is a comfortable hotel at a really affordable price. In fact, its the cheapest hotel in Vernon with a private bathroom but still has great reviews! Rooms are around $70 per night.
Canadas Best Value Inn – If you want a central location then Canadas Best Value in is a good option. Their rooms are nice but a little outdated. Still, for under $100 a night including breakfast, it’s good value!
Days Inn – Another mid-range hotel that’s a little nicer than Canadas Best. It’s superbly located with modern rooms and amenities.
Fairfield Inn Suites – I would say this is the best value hotel in Vernon! It has a pool and a hot tub. It also includes breakfast and the reviews are awesome. At around $150 a night, this is the place I’d stay!
Prestige Vernon Lodge – The Prestige Lodge is your most luxurious hotel in Vernon. It features a pool, hot tub, and glass-enclosed atrium! They have so many rooms but there’s usually only a few left so you know its good!
Didn’t find what you’re after? Click here to view all available hotels in Vernon, BC.
Before you go…
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!
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