The city of Vernon, located in British Columbia, is widely known as the commercial hub of the Northern Okanagan. But many fail to notice that it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the province, including many lakes, mountains, and agriculture.
Vernon is the place to go if you enjoy taking a seat and soaking in the beauty of nature, and even though it’s just a small town, Vernon is jam-packed with exciting and entertaining things to do.
It offers activities like wine tasting, but you can also go cycling, hiking, and picnics in parks with stunning views.
11 Things to Do in Vernon, British Columbia
1. Tour the Swan Lake Nature Reserve
Swan Lake is relatively tranquil despite being only a short drive from downtown Vernon. It is a protected wildlife management area home to many mammals, birds, and amphibians.
Although kayaking is one way to explore the reserve, there is also an easy hiking trail that is informative and is located to the south of the lake. The walk is 1.8 kilometers long. This lake is also fantastic for paddling.
1.1 Why Is Swan Lake Reserve Nature a Must-Visit?
Some of the most intriguing wildlife in British Columbia can be found around Swan Lake, an important wetlands environment.
Many waterfowl, including ducks, geese, swans, and grebes, breed in the area, home to over 200 bird species.
2. Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, a stunning area of nature ideal for beach lounging, quick walks, and picnics, is located on the east side of Kalamalka Lake.
The park and lake there, home to numerous animals, trees, birds, and reptiles, provide a wonderful view.
Kal Beach is the most popular beach on Kalamalca Lake so it may get pretty crowded on those hot summer days.
The Kalamalka Lookout Trail, a well-liked up to 2.5-kilometre paved trail, can be reached by pulling off Highway 97 at a picturesque viewpoint or hiking parts. The Okanagan Rail Trail is a separate trail that meets up with the Kalamalka Lookout Trail.
Furthermore, the park is open all year long.
2.1 What Is Kalamalka Lake Known For?
Kalamalka Lake is known for its crystal-clear blue water, and you may spend the entire day there relaxing with loved ones and friends or by yourself.
As a rare “marl” lake, Kalamalka is mainly composed of calcium carbonate deposits, which are a component of limestone and change color in response to temperature. It’s just science, yet it appears to be magic.
The colors are green and turquoise when sunshine reflects off limestone crystals in the summer. In the winter, the crystals melt, the temperature decreases, and the color shifts to blue.
3. Discover the Okanagan Rail Trail
The Okanagan Rail Trail runs along the edge of Kalamalca Lake.
The Okanagan Rail Trail is a 50 km long pathway that begins north of Kalamalka Lake and finishes in the middle of Okanagan Lake.
The trail is presently simple, flat, and incredibly beautiful.
3.1 What are the Best Things to do Here?
The most popular things to do in this area include hiking, biking, and strolling along this lovely trail.
Coldstream is a small village located close to Kalamalka Lake (just beside Vernon), and the official beginning of the Okanagan Rail Trail’s northern terminus is there.
The trail then continues immediately alongside the lake for more than 24 kilometers!
This highly scenic trail tries to be fairly accessible for all levels of hiking and bike-ability. Gravel makes up most of the path’s flat, extremely wide base.
It’s fantastic for jogging, biking, and walking; virtually anyone can use it.
4. Explore the Beauty of Ellison Provincial Park
Those who enjoy lakes and fish feeding should visit Ellison Provincial Park. One of the most breathtaking views imaginable is offered there.
You cannot overlook the view of Vernon’s pure sky reflecting magnificently on the lake, especially during the summer.
Compared to other beaches in the area of Vernon, it’s usually less busy, but it’s still a terrific site for beach relaxation, paddleboarding, and so much more. Even those wishing to stay the night can do so in the nearby campground.
A popular destination for locals, this provincial park offers fantastic opportunities for trekking across the park and great hilltop views of the lake.
You can find a dozen geocaches buried across the park if you want to explore the region’s tough and rocky environment. Hunting for catches is a lot of fun while taking in the beautiful scenery.
Ellison Provincial Park is near Okanagan Lake, only a 20-minute drive from Vernon. Although there are few picnic tables and fire pits, the park is large enough.
The swimming area is beautiful, situated in a little sheltered bay surrounded by views of the mountains.
5. Davison Orchard Country Village
Davison Orchards is a fantastic destination for the whole family to enjoy interesting things to see and do. It is near downtown Vernon but high enough to offer breathtaking valley views.
The farm also has a lot to offer, including a café, a shop, vintage automobiles, a petting zoo, special events, and more. In addition to all of that, the location is quite adorable.
All the food served at Davison Orchards is prepared with premium ingredients from the area.
The place is a nice spot to go whether you’re looking for a quick meal, a playground for the kids, or a place to get locally produced goods like jams and apple juice.
So, if your children believe that apples come from the grocery store, Davison Orchards and Country Village is your chance to have fun with them while teaching them about food production on a real farm.
Hop on the Johnny Popper Train, comprised of apple boxes and hauled by an old John Deere tractor.
The location depends on the season and what is being collected; it is a favorite with children. For instance, you’ll visit the orchard in September and discover everything there is to know about apples, including how to choose one expertly.
You won’t be able to avoid the pumpkin patch once October rolls around. You might not realize that real people labor on this farm, preparing food from their cultivated produce, because it is so amusing and laid-back.
For instance, apples are used to make non-alcoholic cider, pies, and apple cider doughnuts.
6. Historic O’Keefe Ranch
The historic O’Keefe Ranch is a great place to visit in Vernon, even in the winter.
O’Keefe Ranch, a living history museum with more than a dozen ancient buildings and workers dressed in period attire, is a terrific location to go if you’re interested in the history of Vernon and the valley of Okanagan.
6.1. Where is it Located?
The goal of building the ranch was to pass down to future generations the rich history and culture of the early days of ranching.
The ranch is not frozen in time and actively participates in local community life, offering heritage tours, ghost tours, blacksmithing lessons, and goat yoga.
6.2. Its History
One of the original cattle empires in the Okanagan, O’Keefe Ranch was founded in 1867 during the Cariboo Gold Rush (the same year Canada became a nation). In 1872, the ranch served as the location of the Okanagan Post Office.
The O’Keefe family lived and worked on the ranch for a century before deciding to turn it into a historic landmark in the 1960s. Since then, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.
7. Wine Tour
Since the Okanagan is known for wine, it should be no surprise that we always go on a wine tour in the area.
There are over 100 wineries in the Okanagan Valley, and going on a tour in a group is always preferable to driving independently.
You have the option of visiting a few different wine districts close to Vernon. High-rated tours that can all leave from Vernon include the ones listed below:
7.1. West Kelowna –
On this specific trip, you’ll stop at four outstanding wineries in West Kelowna. It lasts for around 5 hours and includes lunch and hotel pickup and drop-off.
7.2. East Kelowna –
On this specific trip, four wineries in East Kelowna are visited.
In addition to providing pick-up and drop-off services, it also includes lunch and visits to some of the region’s most well-known and noteworthy vineyards.
7.3. Lake Country —
The Lake Country is the go-to recommendation for wine regions close to Vernon. The vineyards in this area are gorgeous, and many have lake vistas.
The trip stops at five vineyards and includes pick-up and drop-off at specific Vernon locations. Whatever location you visit, taking a wine tour in Vernon is essential!
8. Planet Bee Farm
The Planet Bee Farm in the Okanagan Valley seeks to provide clients with the highest quality packaged products sourced from local beekeepers while also providing tourists with a rare opportunity to discover intriguing things about honey bees.
So Planet Bee is a terrific place to go whether you want to see bees making honey or are seeking a range of honey products. They offer a fantastic interactive learning space where you can watch the bees make honey.
The worker bees can be seen flying around the honeycombs, and if you have sharp eyes, you may be able to detect the queen bee as well.
You must stop by for a visit since it is conveniently close to Davison Orchards.
8.1 Why Should You Go There?
The honey, candles, soap, mead, and other goods are all available at Planet Bee. The variety of flavors that Planet Bee produces, including Blackberry, Dandelion, Maple, Cinnamon, Lemon Ginger, and others, is what makes it such a great site to buy honey.
You may watch bees frantically constructing honey at Planet Bee because it is a functioning honey farm.
To have a first-hand feel for how the company operates, visitors are allowed to sample unpasteurized honey from all over the world, which is kept in a large assortment.
9. Explore the Beautiful Allan Brooks Nature Center
The Allan Brooks Nature Centre must be your first stop to get outside and experience nature.
This nature center, located south of Vernon, is a well-known destination that draws many visitors each year.
9.1. Where Is It Located?
It is located on top of the grasslands and reaches from the Great Basin into the forest of south-central British Columbia.
The North Okanagan’s natural environment can be fully understood by visiting the Allan Brooks Nature Centre.
9.2. What Services Does the Allan Brooks Nature Center Provide?
Allan Brooks was an exceptional naturalist, illustrator, and educator throughout his lifetime. Through the numerous displays, information, and programs of the natural regions, the center provides visitors with a first-hand opportunity to learn about the distinctive history of Okanagan.
They offer guided tours of the Grasslands Trail led by volunteers and educators who are enthusiastic about the area. The trail is generally flat and easy to follow for around 40 minutes.
In addition to the guided tour, they offer Nature Talks that instruct guests on various subjects. These talks include a variety of props and taxidermy, are free, and are quite entertaining.
Here, you will discover the significance of preserving the ecosystem that is still present from the lofty vantage point that was originally the Vernon Upper Air Weather Station.
10. Polson Park
Polson Park is the ideal location in Vernon to take a stroll and take in the crisp air.
A little brook and numerous bridges may be seen in the park, which is also very lovely.
You can also get to know some of the hundreds of Canadian Geese who make this park their home by mingling with them.
10.1 What Are the Top Things to Do?
The two most popular activities are grabbing a coffee at the Tim Hortons (a Canadian classic) across from the park and strolling around the paths.
In addition, they will occasionally hold events right here in the outdoor theatre. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with local business owners, purchase things, listen to live music, and even fill your stomach with food from various food trucks.
However, Polson Park is lovely to visit, even if the night market isn’t your thing. There are many different kinds of plants, trees, and flowers in the center of Vernon.
There are additional ponds, tennis courts, a lawn bowling alley, a skateboard park, and waterparks for youngsters. There are also areas for playing football and soccer.
A skateboard park, tennis courts, a football and soccer field, and lawn bowling are available for tourists who like to be active.
Polson Park also hosts many weddings and concerts, which is the cultural aspect.
11. Explore the Vernon Farmers Market
Why buy food from a grocery store when you can buy it fresh from the Vernon Farmers’ Market when the Okanagan Valley is known for its lush soil and several farms in the surrounding area?
At the Vernon Farmers’ Market, you can talk to farmers selling their vegetables, craftsmen selling their crafts, and chefs running concession stands.
Locals and tourists alike who have a taste for the tastiest food grown in the rich, fertile Okanagan Valley may get it at markets such as this one, which offers a festive alternative to shopping at traditional grocery stores.
The Okanagan Valley’s oldest farmer’s market offers more than simply fresh produce.
There is a flower shop, a bakery, and a craft fair there as well. It serves as a hub for gatherings and tradition.
A decent framer’s market is a pleasure to explore while admiring the handmade crafts and meeting the locals.
Since 1979, the Vernon Farmer’s Market has provided community members with a venue to socialize, connect, and support the efforts of local farmers, artists, and business owners.
Vernon is a sweet little city with many exciting things to see and do. This above-given list of things to Do in Vernon mixes the spirit of exploration with historical legacy through its museums, recreation areas, and antique stores.
There are numerous wineries and orchards in the city, which have moderate temperatures. We advise you to visit each of the locations listed above while visiting to get the most out of this location.