For many Canadians, winter can feel like an eternity. Once the sun comes out, we don’t waste any time heading to the beach for a chance to soak in the sun. On the West Coast in particular, we endure approximately 68 cm of rain from November to March, and during this five-month period, we rarely see the sun.
Thankfully, when summer arrives in Canada, it’s not necessary to board a long flight to find a dreamy, sunny vacation destination. Glorious sunshine, heavenly beaches, abundant fruit orchards, rolling vineyards, excellent wineries and clean swimming water await us in our very own backyard. Osoyoos, located in British Columbia’s celebrated Okanagan Valley, provides all that and more! The following are our top 4 reasons to keep visiting this sunny mountainside town year after year.
1. DRIVING INTO THE SUNSHINE
There’s nothing better than bidding goodbye to the rain!
When driving out to Osoyoos from the West, you soon discover the first clue that summer is significantly hotter and sunnier in Osoyoos than in the average Canadian hometown. The endless orchards of the Similkameen Valley line the highway to Osoyoos, and depending on the month, you can find large displays of juicy peaches and apricots, nectarines, apples, choice plums, cherries and pears.
Unable to wait to arrive in Osoyoos for a fresh fruit fix? Break up the journey with a stop at our two favourite fruit stands: Blush Lane Organics in Keremeos and Harker’s Organics in Cawston. Nothing is more satisfying than the luscious goodness of a freshly-picked peach dripping down your face and your hands!
From here, it just keeps getting better and better. When arriving in Osoyoos, a wave of blissful heat greets visitors the moment you step out of your car. The average temperature in July and August is about 30°C, and it’s not uncommon for summer days here to reach up to 35°C!
2. AN OSOYOOS VACATION IS Perfect FOR FAMILIES
Osoyoos is an ideal vacation spot for couples and groups of friends – but is especially attractive to families with their kids in tow.
Family road trips from the city are a great excuse to keep the kids entertained while the adults enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery.In the summer, Osoyoos Lake is a blissful average temperature of 24°C. This sparkling blue lake is buzzing with activity. All summer, you can find locals and tourists swimming, boating, jet skiing, tubing, water skiing, wake boarding, kayaking, canoeing and enjoying every other water activity imaginable.
In the evening after a day at the beach or touring wineries, you can enjoy a glass of award-winning local wine on the private deck of our Osoyoos accommodation, while savouring the magnificent view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Osoyoos is also home to some incredible beachfront resorts, many featuring an impressive array of family amenities. If you’re planning on taking an Osoyoos vacation, the Spirit Ridge Resort, Walnut Beach Resort and Watermark Beach Resort are some of our top picks.
For an afternoon away from the resort, Lion’s Park beach is beautiful and also conveniently located in downtown Osoyoos. In addition to Lion’s Park, Osoyoos boasts at least four other accessible, sandy beaches, including Gyro Park, Cottonwood Park, Haynes Point Provincial Park and Legion Beach. With its Mediterranean-like climate and divine beaches, Osoyoos is an unbeatable family destination for summer!
3. THE ROMANTIC VINEYARDS ARE SECOND TO NONE
It’s not only the warm weather and gorgeous beaches that are responsible for Osoyoo’s wide acclaim. Row upon row of grape-bearing vines stretch for miles, reaching nearly down to the shores of Osoyoos Lake itself.
Abounding vineyards of Osoyoos are reminiscent of the stunning European country, and produce just as delicious wines. The Okanagan Valley is the only rural place in Canada where there is a relatively large Portuguese community, and they are said to have originally settled in the Osoyoos area because the climate and geography of the area reminded them of home.
The first Portuguese immigrants came to the region to work as fruit pickers in the 1950s. In the 1960s, this hard-working group began to purchase their own orchards. Since this time, the Portuguese community has played a major part in the success of the fruit industry of the Osoyoos.
And of course – where there are vineyards, there is wine! With 20 wineries located within 21km, make your Osoyoos Vacation a wine-ful event. Some of the best wines in the country are produced in Osoyoos and the neighbouring community of Oliver. Burrowing Owl, Tinhorn Creek, Jackson-Triggs, Inniskillin, and many more have their wineries, restaurants and vineyards in this area.
4. THE EXOTIC FEEL OF THE DESERT LANDSCAPE
Osoyoos is often referred to as “Canada’s only semi-arid desert,” as the region is home to the unique antelope-brush ecosystem. Prickly-pear cactus, dark antelope brush, silky lupine, rabbitbrush and tufts of sage brush cover the hillside. The sweet smell of sage grasslands and pine forests fill the air.
Rocky and semi-barren mountains surround the town. Northern scorpions, rattlesnakes and canyon wrens are local inhabitants of this sunshine city. Don’t be surprised to see “snakes crossing” signs on the roads or to hear a sudden rattling sound if you’re out walking or hiking!
One of our favourite activities is walking the self-guided nature trails at the Nk’mip Desert Cultural Centre, which is connected with Spirit Ridge Osoyoos. These walking trails offer you an incredible opportunity to explore the fascinating ecology and native history of this area. Operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band and located on 50 acres of remarkable terrain, this new cultural centre features interpretive galleries, educational movies and live presentations.
With all the town has to offer, there’s no doubt that an Osoyoos vacation will be a hit with the entire family. Although the region’s abundance of vineyards, orchards and beaches make you feel like you’re far from home, for many Western Canadian sun-seekers, it’s only a short drive away!