Wintering in BC’s Okanagan? Check Out Things To Do Oliver to Osoyoos
The towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, located on the southern end of British Columbia’s Highway 97, are popular with outdoor enthusiasts year-round and attract thousands of snowbirds and RVers in the winter months.
With its rich agricultural industry, Oliver currently produces half of the wine grapes for British Columbia and, with over 40 wineries, is known as Canada’s wine capital.
Local bistros and winter wine tasting are a must-do as are the distilleries, cideries and breweries for tours and sampling. Firehall Brewery, with the fun tagline of the ‘Beer of Wine Country’, is located in an old firehall that dates to 1948. In and around town try out the food trucks and year-round fruit markets such as family owned and operated Nature’s Basket and visit Big Al’s Baker and Deli, a local favourite.
Shop the boutiques featuring local artists around Main Street and take in a show or play at the Venables Theatre, or a movie at the classic one-room Oliver Theatre. For some history, there’s the Oliver and District Heritage Society, which offers educational programs, heritage walks and more. The museum has exhibits and artifacts, while the archives (at a separate location) houses a research library. Indoor and outdoor activities and lessons, including overall wellness, arts and culture and sports and leisure, can be booked with the Oliver Parks and Recreation Society.
Hikers and walkers enjoy the view from the (7.7 km; moderate) Golden Mile Trail, which starts at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. Closer to town, explore Rotary Beach at Tuc-el-Nuit Lake or visit Lion’s Park where you can access the Oliver hiking and biking trail at the east boundary. There is an off-leash dog park here. Other great hiking spots are Burwell Lake Recreation Site, northwest of Oliver, and Inkaneep Provincial Park and Ny-lin-tn (previously called McIntyre Bluff), both north of the town.
Winter sports enthusiasts love Baldy Mountain Resort, 40 minutes east of Oliver, which has a fantastic snowshoe rental and events program, including a moon candle-lit outing. The McKinney Nordic Ski Club, around 30 km southeast of Oliver, has 14 km of cross-country trails with a variety of difficulty and 5 kms of snowshoe trails. There is no lodge, but an outhouse is on-site.
For something unique visit Sunkeya Farm Alpacas, located northwest of Oliver. Its farm store sells yarn and alpaca fibre socks, hats, scarves, blankets and more. Be sure to call before you visit. There’s also the Oliver Indoor Flea Market on Station Street where you can be sure to find a few bargains and hidden gems to enhance your RV living.
Located on Osoyoos Lake, amongst grasslands and highlands, Osoyoos has a dry winter climate, generally with mild temperatures from October through April and a low average annual snowfall of only 5.4 cm. The US border is a mere 5 km from town.
Osoyoos is home to one of Canada’s few true desert environments. The region caters to its many snowbirds, is very pet friendly and has a multitude of boutiques to explore and fitness and art courses to try.
Its restaurateurs and chefs are passionate about promoting local, fresh food that’s been sustainably raised. Choose from casual cafés (such as Lake Village Bakery, known for its traditional artisan sourdough and fresh pastries), wine bistros and upscale dining experiences. During winter the Osoyoos Farmers Market heads indoors. The Oliver and Osoyoos Winery Association puts together a December event with special promotions called Winter With Country.
A memorable experience is a visit to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre (pronounced in-ka-meep). At this 1,600-acre desert conservation area you can learn about the Osoyoos Indian Band and take in local food and wine tastings, dinner evenings and special events.
More culture can be had at Osoyoos Performing Arts and the Art Gallery Osoyoos; the gallery offers works by local and non-local art and artisans. For winter festivals and events visit the Destination Osoyoos event calendar for performances at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Junior B hockey games (Osoyoos Coyotes at the Sunbowl Arena) and more.
Skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing aren’t far with Baldy Mountain Resort only 40 minutes northeast of Osoyoos.
Walks include the 1.5 km boardwalk at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, a 67-acre nature interpretive facility, where you can explore and learn about one of the world’s rarest ecosystems (the semi-arid, antelope-brush); Pioneer Walkway, a paved path on the strip of land that separates the north and south ends of Osoyoos Lake; Legion Beach Park, a 10-minute walk from Main Street; and Osoyoos Oxbows Trailhead, located at the north end of Osoyoos Lake, a protected wetland popular with bird watchers. For dog walking areas and off-leash park info visit the city of Osoyoos webpage on dogs in parks.
Golfing in the winter and early spring is possible in Osoyoos. Contact Osoyoos Golf Club and Sonora Dunes Golf Course direct as season opening and tee times are dependent on the weather. Popular indoor activities are five-pin bowling at Kobau Lanes, curling at Osoyoos Curling Club and pickleball at the Sonora Community Centre.
Pamper yourself at Solterra Desert Spa at Spirit Ridge Resort or Levia Wellness Spa, a farm-to-table spa experience. Another ‘getaway’ option is booking a hotel or motel. Several Osoyoos accommodations offer special weekly winter rates for snowbirds looking for a little break from their campgrounds. Check with Destination Osoyoos for updated information and deals.
For information when in the area:
Oliver Visitor Centre: 6431 Station Street
Osoyoos Visitor Centre: 9912 BC Highway 3
Want to read more on Winter Activities check out https://www.campingrvbc.com/category/activities/winter-activities/
Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #CampInBC and #ExploreBC
For places to camp in BC in the winter go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/winter/
Spring Activities Abound in the Okanagan
In the mountains there is still plenty of white stuff, but in the valleys, once the snow melts, the trees start to bloom and the leaves turn green.
There are a variety of activities available in early spring, especially because the temperate climate of the Okanagan is so warm early in the season. Consider indulging in some of the following if you’re looking to get camping this spring:
If you’re a fan of wines and brews, consider taking one of the area’s many wine tours. In Kelowna, you can take the Lakeshore Wine Route, starting at Sperling Vineyards to CedarCreek Estate Winery. Home of the award-winning restaurant, Home Block, CedarCreek is a popular way to enjoy the valley and the views of Okanagan Lake. As your day winds down, you can head back to Apple Valley Orchard and RV Park for a good night’s rest. The next day, you’ll be geared up to head down to Penticton to explore one of the province’s mighty Ale Trail destinations. In fact, Penticton was recently named Canada’s Craft Beer Capital!
You’re wise to spend several days using Kelowna as your home base, especially in spring. The flowers are out and the birds are singing, so it’s a great time to visit. Plan to spend a day visiting the Kettle Valley Railway in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, where you can enjoy biking, hiking and walking across the 18 trestles that still exist from the decommissioned railway line.
Of course, spring skiing is still an option if you’re so inclined, with Big White Resort, located just 60 kilometres east of Kelowna, a short day trip away. Other great accommodations in the Kelowna area include Okanagan RV Park, West Eagle Campground and Holiday Park RV & Condo Resort.
It’s a great time of year to visit the South Okanagan, as the fruit trees are in bloom in early April. Their heady scent permeates the air. In Penticton, you can enjoy time at a variety of different campgrounds and resorts, including Oxbow RV Resort, South Beach Gardens Campground or Barefoot Beach Resort. While in Penticton, you can enjoy all kinds of different activities and events. In fact, Visit Penticton has a great events calendar you can enjoy year round. Some favourite activities around the Penticton area include a day trip on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland (and don’t forget to swing by Summerland Sweets while you’re in town, or to indulge the adults’ sweet tooth, consider a visit to Bottleneck Drive. You’ll have a chance to enjoy breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries, all in close proximity to each other).
As you wind your way south, golf, swimming, boating and hiking are top activities to enjoy. Outside the busy summer season, there are many places to see and things to do that are just waiting to enjoy. Book a spot at Gallagher Lake, where you’ll enjoy amazing views among the ponderosa pines any time of year. If you plan on staying in sleepy Oliver, consider booking at Lakeside Resort, a full-service year-round resort that’s budget friendly. It’s also near Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course, if you’re looking to practice your swing. Also in Oliver is Fairview Mountain golf course, which is known to be open (weather permitting, of course) 11 months of the year! While you’re in town, swing by the Oliver Visitor’s Centre, as there are events going on all year round in Canada’s Wine Capital.
Closer to the border is Osoyoos, known as Canada’s Warmest Welcome, where – if you’re not careful – you could drift across the American border, which bisects Osoyoos Lake. In town, you have a variety of options for accommodations, including Brookvale Holiday Resort and Cabana Beach Resort.
Stationed in Osoyoos also allows you to head east into Boundary Country or west to the Similkameen on day trips. Each are wonderful (consider visiting the Rock Creek Fall Fair, and don’t forget Keremeos is known as Canada’s Fruit Stand Capital) and are close enough to stay in Osoyoos, the only true desert in Canada, while exploring all the Okanagan has to offer.
For campgrounds in the Okanagan and elsewher in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.
Share your BC camping photos using hashtag #campinbc
Tofino, BC – A Bucket List Trip
When planning a trip to a place as unique as Tofino on Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim, be prepared to get busy and enjoy everything it has to offer. With only 4 days and 7 of us in our group, we had a jam packed but amazing visit. Relive our stay in one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see.
Day 1 – Travel and Arrival
After a scenic ferry ride from the Vancouver mainland we took a pit stop in Nanaimo, then hit the road for the 3.5-hour trek to Tofino. If you haven’t done the drive before, the beaches of Parksville, goats on the roof at Coombs, Cameron Lake and Cathedral Grove are all worth while stops along the way. Our first stop in the Tofino area however was Long Beach. And they weren’t kidding – it’s huge! The tide was out, the breeze was blowing and all we could think about was flying kites. The kids could run while we took in the view, felt the sand between our toes and then dipped those toes in the Pacific Ocean. Ahhhhh… any stress washes away and you can’t help but feel inspired with the beauty.
We carried on to check-in at our campsite, Crystal Cove Beach Resort. It was a top-notch resort and campground with everything you could need to make you feel at home. Check out their website to see for yourself! We also had firewood delivered to our site each day and we were permitted to have fires on the beach.
Crystal Cove connects right on to MacKenzie beach, which is a premiere location for taking in a sunset. You feel as if you’re on the edge of the earth as the sun sinks below the horizon. This became our nightly routine.
Day 2 – Divide and Conquer
The boys were out early to the dock for a chartered salmon fishing excursion. An experience like none-other, they caught Chinook and Coho and created memories that our 7-year-old son will remember for a lifetime.
The girls explored the downtown shopping and walked to the Tonquin Beach trailhead. This well-maintained, easy trail took us down to a secluded beach. The tide was out just enough to spot a bright orange starfish and of course draw pictures in the sand.
Once the group was back together, we knew we wanted to visit the Eagle Aerie Gallery of local artist (and our friend!) Roy Henry Vickers.
Our day capped off with sunset family photos at Middle Beach with local photographer Danielle of Rooted By Love Photography.
Day 3 – Touch Pools and Surfs Up!
We had heard such great things about the Ucluelet Aquarium so off we went! Did you know everything in the aquarium is from the local bays and is Canada’s first catch and release aquarium? Lucky for us, one of the knowledgeable staff offered to guide us through all the touch tanks and tell us about each of the amazing creatures – very cool!
Now for my absolute highlight of our Tofino adventure… surfing lessons! We arranged a private lesson for 5 of us (3 adults and 2 kids) through Tofino Surf School at Cox Bay. After an intro and some dry land training we hit the waves. I have to say, wetsuits are an amazing thing. Not only do you not feel cold at all, but they are extremely buoyant. Surfing is hard, but it is so much fun. There is a reason Tofino is known around the world as a surf town and it’s certainly worth taking the plunge to give it a go.
Day 4 – The Final Countdown
We were pulling out that afternoon but still had some attractions to cross off our list. We’re a golfing family, so our first stop was the Long Beach Golf Course for a quick round of mini golf. Every one of us managed to rack up a hole in one! To celebrate, we had lunch at the famous Tacofino food truck followed by ice cream at Chocolate Tofino.
A true hidden gem is the Tofino Botanical Garden and a perfect final stop to walk off lunch. We spent way longer here than we anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed the walk through the rain forest and along the shoreline. The kids especially loved the Children’s Garden where “adults must be supervised”.
This was a bucket list trip for me and it did not disappoint! The area is so beautiful and unique, it’s no wonder that people travel from around the world to visit this tiny surf town.
If this area interest you, check out our drive:
From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island: Vancouver to Tofino
For more campgrounds in Tofino and other areas of British Columbia check out the Camping Map.
Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc.
Published: April 25th, 2019
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