Undertake a quick 5-day trip through the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia's premier wine region. A five-hour drive away from the dynamic west coast city of Vancouver, you'll weave your way alongside the Similkameen River and through the forested parkland's of the Crowsnest Highway to reach the "Napa of the North." You'll have one night in Kelowna, the perfect jumping-off point for the surrounding vineyards, restaurants, and outdoor adventures.

Highlights

  • Catch a sunset over the Strait of Georgia from the Vancouver Lookout
  • Taste your way through Kelowna's excellent food and wine scene
  • Bike one of the most popular sections of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail from Kelowna
  • Discover the Othello-Quintette Tunnels, carved out of solid granite, near Hope

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver, Drive to E.C. Manning Park (2 h 30 min) E.C. Manning Park
Day 2 E.C. Manning Provincial Park to Kelowna (3 hours) Keremeos
Day 3 Explore around Kelowna Kelowna
Day 4 Kelowna to Vancouver (5 h 30 min) Vancouver
Day 5 Depart Vancouver  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, Drive to E.C. Manning Provincial Park (2 h 30 min)

Scenic roads to explore near E.C. Manning Provincial Park
Scenic roads to explore near E.C. Manning Provincial Park

Leave Vancouver International Airport and follow the Trans-Canada Highway east toward Hope, stopping for a bite at Blue Moose Coffee House. From Hope, it's just under an hour's drive to E.C. Manning Provincial Park. With over 205,000 acres of alpine meadows, thick forest, and vistas of the Cascade Mountains, this park is a great stop for outdoor activities and a nice way to break up the drive between Vancouver and the Okanagan Valley. In the summer, the trails are open for hiking and interpretive nature walks, while come winter, the local Manning Park Resort offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding.

Driving time (Vancouver International Airport to E.C. Manning Park): 2 hours, 30 minutes (140 miles / 230 km)

Day 2: E.C. Manning Provincial Park to Kelowna (3 hours)

Similkameen Valley, near Cawston
Similkameen Valley, near Cawston

Leaving Manning Park, your next stop is the Similkameen Valley and the historic town of Princeton. Before the arrival of fur traders, loggers, and gold miners the area was occupied by the Smelqmix (Similkameen) First Nations, who still occupy the region, today. If you have time, hike or bike through the valley of the Tulameen River on a portion of the historic Kettle Valley Rail Trail

From Princeton, make your way to Hedley. A popular summertime activity is to go floating down the Similkameen River (you can grab a rubber tube from Hedley Country Market if needed). The drive takes you through thickly forested parkland alongside the river until you reach the turn off for Highway 3A at Keremeos, "the fruit stand capital of Canada." Stop here for a little sustenance and purchase freshly picked Okanagan fruit, jams, and honey, as well as filling Indian curries and samosas. You can even wash it down with a glass of wine from a nearby winery, like Clos du Soleil. 

Connect with Highway 97 for your first sighting of the Okanagan Valley lakes and pull over in Penticton about an hour south of Kelowna to pick up information on the region's wineries and wine tours from the visitor's center. Continue north along Okanagan Lake, stopping to take a dip before reaching today's final destination and unofficial capital of the valley, Kelowna. 

Driving time (E.C. Manning Provincial Park to Kelowna): 3 hours (150 miles / 240 km)

Day 3: Explore around Kelowna: Vineyards & Railways

A historic trestle bridge over the Myra Canyon, part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail
A historic trestle bridge over the Myra Canyon, part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Set on the eastern shore of the Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is surrounded by provincial parks, pine forest, and mountains, offering travelers a variety of activities, including boating and cycling the reclaimed Kettle Valley Railway. Its long and sunny summers and short, mild winters—as well as its location amid vineyards and orchards in the middle of the Okanagan Valley—has helped create an excellent food and wine scene.

If you're here for the wine, take half a day to hit up a selection of wineries, booking yourself in for a tasting and tour (best to call ahead, no matter the season). Choose to visit a variety of wineries, from the large established estates like Cedar Creek Estate Winery to the family-run House of Rose or Tantalus Vineyards, one of British Columbia's oldest. Then there are those wineries that are newer and overshadowed by the more established ones, like the always-interesting, the hatch

Take a break from winetasting for some outdoor activities. Rent a bike or join a guided tour of one of the most popular sections of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Drive the 25 minutes from downtown to the Myra Station parking area to gear up and begin the 7.5-mile (12-km) ride through Myra Canyon, where you'll cross 18 historic wooden trestle bridges high above the canyon as well as pedal through two tunnels in the rock cliffs. 

For the evening, we recommend making a reservation at Krafty Kitchen + Bar. Meanwhile, before the sun sets over the Okanagan Valley, find your way up to the summit of the cacti-covered Knox Mountain for views over Kelowna and Okanagan Lake (perhaps with a bottle of local wine). 

Day 4: Kelowna to Vancouver (5 h 30 min)

A vineyard in Penticton
A vineyard in Penticton

Following Highway 97 south out of Kelowna toward Keremeos, you'll have the opportunity to explore more of the Okanagan before zigzagging your way across southern British Columbia back to Vancouver. En route, tour the lakeside hamlet of Summerland and pick up a bottle of wine from one of the valley's finest, Sumac Ridge Estate, before having breakfast at the Bench Artisan Food Market in Penticton.

In Keremeos, check out the historic grist mill where you can purchase fresh-picked fruit from any of the roadside stands (the perfect snack to take on a short alpine hike). If you have a few hours to spare, hike the Heather Trail (12 miles / 20 km) to Three Brothers Mountain in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. For something less ambitious, pick up any number of self-guided nature trails directly off Highway 3.

At Hope, check out the Hope Museum and its exhibits, like the comprehensive collection of pioneer artifacts, local First Nations crafts, as well as artifacts from the original Fort Hope and gold rush days. Beyond Hope's downtown lies spectacular wilderness and recreational attractions. Stroll through the popular Othello-Quintette Tunnels, carved out of solid granite of the Coquihalla Canyon, and admire the views below from the vantage of a wooden bridge on the other side. 

Approaching the Pacific Coast, the scenery dramatically transforms from the bright sunlit rock faces of the Coast Mountains to misty coastal cedars and tall firs, drawing you in toward dynamic Vancouver. Have dinner in the suburb of Richmond for some of the best Chinese cuisine outside of China.

Driving time (Kelowna to Vancouver): 5.5 hours (283 miles / 456 km)

Day 5: Depart Vancouver

False Creek in Downtown Vancouver
False Creek in Downtown Vancouver

Head to The Naam (open 24/7) for an early morning breakfast before making your way to the airport. If you're feeling indulgent, splurge on a seaplane harbor tour to take in the magnificent scenery of the mountain-and-sea-dominated city from a new perspective. Alternatively, enjoy some more time at Stanley Park, paying a visit to Klahowya Village via the Spirit Catcher miniature train to watch cultural performances. Here you can also purchase souvenirs and gifts of traditional First Nations arts and crafts from the Artisan Marketplace and Métis Trading Post.

It usually takes 30 minutes to travel from downtown Vancouver to Vancouver International Airport but allow extra time in case of traffic. Best to arrive at least two hours prior to your international departure while allowing extra time to drop off your rental car.

Map

Map of Okanagan Valley Road Trip: Wine & Outdoors - 5 Days
Map of Okanagan Valley Road Trip: Wine & Outdoors - 5 Days