Penticton  (The 'Peach City') is a beautiful spot in the south Okanagan nestled between two lakes: The 155km long Okanagan Lake to the north, and the smaller Skaha Lake to the south. Tourism in Penticton is largely seasonal. In the summer tourists double Penticton's population to 60,000. Historically, in the winter things were very quiet, but now that World Cup Freestyle Skiing stops at local Apex Mountain every winter, the winter scene is picking up.
A view of Penticton from the south
This area has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Salish group of First Nations people. They called their settlement in this area Snpinkten which translates as 'a place to stay forever' and gives Penticton its name. The first non-native settler Thomas Ellis preempted land in Penticton in 1869 and started a very successful cattle ranch. The arrival of steamboat service in 1892 with the C.P.R. paddlewheeler S.S. Aberdeen started the growth of Penticton, bringing settlers and immigrants, supplies for the mining community of Fairview south of Penticton and the area's cattle ranches and orchards.
With the arrival of engineering marvel Kettle Valley Railway the boom in Penticton had begun. Penticton was officially given life as a municipality in 1908, and received 'city' status in 1948.
Since the beginning Penticton's climate was well suited for agriculture, and thousands of fruit trees were planted all along the west and east bench areas overlooking Okanagan Lake. From cherries in early July to apples and pears in early September, Penticton has always been a large producer and exporter of non-citrus tree fruit. Many local oldtimers decry the trend of ripping out perfectly healthy and productive orchards for the more lucrative vineyards which supply grapes for the regions more than thirty boutique wineries. Today Penticton's two largest industries are tourism and the growing wine industry, which threatens to eclipse the fruit production industry.
Penticton's climate and geography is a northern, four-seasons version of what some call mediterranean. Large clay banks, benches, and scrubland skirt the mid-level mountains that frame the valley on the east and west sides. Summers are hot with an average temperature of 27C, and peaks of 35-40C are not unheard of. The large size of Okanagan Lake tempers the climate in winter which sees an average high of 0.9C in January. It can and does snow occasionally, but generally only during December and January will it accumulate in modest quantities. You can check the snow level with a quick glance to the mountains, which will have a white apron about half to three-quarters of the way up. Penticton sees about 2000 hours of sun per year, which is a higher average than Rio de Janeiro.
Most travelers will arrive in Penticton by automobile. Highway 97 is the major north-south route through the city. Travel times are about 4 hours from Vancouver, 8 hours from Calgary and 5 hours from Seattle or Spokane. Penticton is a 40 minute drive south from Kelowna. The US/Canada border crossing to the south on Highway 97 is open 24 hours a day; other border crossings in this region are closed overnight.
Penticton has a small airport  with domestic flights from Vancouver. US and some international flights will land in Kelowna, 60 kilometers to the north. Most international flights will land in Vancouver where an alternate mode of transportation will be needed to make it to Penticton. There are no scheduled commercial flights between Kelowna and Penticton, however, you may charter a flight with Carson Air or Southern Skies.
- Air Canada's Jazz provides air service to Vancouver. .
- Southern Skies Aviation provides aircraft charters for transportation and sightseeing. Penticton Airport, +1 250 492-0074, .
Greyhound operates coach service with connections from all other British Columbia cities. The local depot is at 307 Ellis St, +1 250 493-4101.
This is your best bet if you wish to visit the area's many wineries, which are generally out of town a ways. Car rentals:
- Best Choice Car Rentals, 249 Westminster Ave, +1 250 490-3339, .
- Budget Car and Truck Rentals, two locations: 188 Westminster Ave West, Penticton Airport, +1 250 493-0212, .
BC Transit  operates a local bus service in Penticton with five regular routes and a night route. Service ends at 7PM for regular routes and 10PM for the night route. There is no service on Sundays except for the Lake-to-lake shuttle. Fares are $2.00 which includes a 90 minute transfer. Ask the operator, as they generally will not offer one.
Penticton has two cab companies, Courtesy ( 250-492-7777) and Klassic Taxi ( 250-492-6666), who run computerized dispatch. Both companies provide luxury cars and six passenger vans. They also recently introduced the wheelchair vans.
On foot and bike
Penticton's compact size lends itself to biking or even just walking around. It will take about 15 minutes to bike from lake to lake, and just over an hour for the same journey on foot. There are walking/biking trails on both sides of the River Channel, and a painted bike lane on a major north-south corridor of the city.
- Freedom the Bike Shop, 533 Main Street, +1 250 493-0686, . $30/day.
- Bike Barn, 300 Westminster Ave, +1 250 492-4140, . $35/day.
View from Munson Mountain
- The S.S. Sicamous Inland Marine Museum, 1099 Lakeshore Drive West (the west end of Lakeshore Drive), +1 250 492-0403, [email protected], . 11AM-9PM in high summer, shorter hours at other seasons. This steam sternwheeler was the last commercial passenger vessel to operate on Okanagan Lake. Built in 1914 and retired in 1935, the large ship now spends its days dry-docked on the southern edge of Okanagan Lake, along with it's sister ship, the ice-breaker tug, S.S. Naramata. The ships are open daily for tours in the summer, and includes a large HO scale model railway on the main deck, depicting the local Kettle Valley Railway. A third vessel, the C.N. Tug No. 6, is presently undergoing restoration. The sole remaining part of the historic S.S. Okanagan also can be seen at the Museum along with other vintage vessels and restoration projects. The Museum exhibits feature the artifacts and stories of ca. 1900 people, lifestyles and communities on Okanagan Lake. Adults $6.50, children 6 - 14 $4.00, children 5 and under free.
- The Peach is a concession stand located at the foot of Winnipeg Street on Okanagan Lake shaped and painted as a giant peach. While it isn't that interesting in and of itself, it has an interesting history and is one of the most photographed spots in town. Film buffs may recognize it from the movie My American Cousin which was filmed in the Penticton Area. Note that this is actually the second Peach, as the first was pushed into the lake during the 1990 Peachfest riot (Note: The riot was an isolated incident, Penticton is really quite safe).
- Munson Mountain Park is home to the large 'Penticton' sign (a la 'Hollywood') that greets travelers coming in to town from the north. The sign was created with thousands of small white stones. The original stones have since been replaced with letters made of concrete. The park itself affords visitors with stunning 360 degree panoramas of the South Okanagan valley. To get there head east on Vancouver Ave. and follow the signs.
- Challenge Canada, . The last Sunday in August sees Penticton pretty much shutdown as everyone moves to Lakeshore and Main Street to watch the thousands of competitors in the triathlon. The triathlon includes a 3.86km (2.4mi) swim, 180km (112mi) bike, and finally, a full marathon of 42.2km (26.2mi). The professionals complete this in 8-10 hours. The event is often chosen as the Canadian championship for this sport.
- Art Gallery of the South Okanagan, 199 Marina Way, +1 250 493-2928. Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su noon-5PM . Contains a modest permanent collection of work by local and area artists as well as bone carvings by traditional Inuit artists. Also features moving exhibits and other special events. Admission Tu-F $2, Sa-Su free.
- The Penticton Roundabout (junction of Front Street, Ellis Street, Marina Way, and Vancouver Hill) features changing art installations. A work nicknamed Frank (actually called The Baggage Handler) was moved because of vandalism and controversy with local puritans due to the anatomical correctness of the piece. Today you can see Frank at his permanent home at Red Rooster Winery, and the roundabout has a less contentious piece.
- Penticton Museum & Archives, 785 Main Street, +1 250 490-2451. Features over 8000 artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of Penticton's pioneers days, as well as local First Nations pieces. Located in the same building as the Penticton Public Library. There is a gift shop on site. Suggested donation $2.
- Leir House Cultural Centre, 220 Manor Park Avenue, +1 250 492-7997. This beautiful 1927 house was once a nurses residence but now serves as the home of the Penticton Arts Council. Open to the public year round. Worth a visit just to see the grounds, with vintage stone walls and a relaxing gazebo. Free.
Wineries and Viticulture
Lake Okanagan and benchland
The immediate Penticton area has many wineries, and indeed more seem to spring up everyday. The terroir of the Naramata Bench  is considered the premier wine growing region of British Columbia for its climate and geography (though growers in the Golden Mile region of Oliver to the south may disagree). The popularity of this relatively new industry has driven the price of local products well over the price of a comparable French or Italian bottle. Most wineries offer free tastings and tours, and will almost certainly sell their products directly. To be sure of the best quality look for bottles that sport the VQA  designation, which ensures authenticity of origin, and a minimum standard of quality during grape growth, harvest, and production.
- Bonitas Winery, 20623 McDougald Road, ☎ +1 250-494-5208, . Bonitas Winery offers a Mediterranean style winery with award winning wines and sun-drenched patios on Okanagan Lake. Additionally, unique heli-wine tours offer views from above. edit
- D'Angelo Estate Winery, 979 Lochore Rd, +1 250 493-1364 . Also has production in the Niagara wine region of Ontario, this winery has won over 60 awards since the first harvest in 1989. Bistro and bed-and-breakfast onsite.
- Hillside Estate Winery, 1350 Naramata Road, +1 250 493-6274 . It was the original owners of this winery that lobbied the British Columbia government to allow boutique wineries to sell their products to the public, spurring this huge growth industry. Bistro and gift shop on site.
- La Frenz Winery , 740 Naramata Rd, +1 250 492-6690 . Winner of numerous awards in Vancouver, California, and Ontario, this winery's products were also selected to be served at a gala dinner for Queen Elizabeth II.
- Laughing Stock Vineyards, 1548 Naramata Road, +1 250 493-VINO . A new player in the area, this light hearted winery was started by a pair of "MBA type, business consultant(s)" following their passion despite common sense. They have received favorable reviews so far.
- Mistral Estate Winery, 170 Upper Bench Rd, +1 250 770-1733, toll free +1 800-610-3794 . A very small three person operation, Mistral Estate produces only four varieties: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zweigelt.
- Poplar Grove, 1060 Poplar Grove Road, +1 250 492-9463 . This whimsical winery produces cheese to match their wines, and lives by the credo "find the best in the world and learn from them". Started in a garage, they now have 10 acres of grapes and their wines can be found in British Columbia's most exclusive restaurants.
- Red Rooster Winery, 891 Naramata Road, +1 250 492-2424 . Since arriving in Penticton from Basel in 1990, Red Rooster's two founders have created a huge success, winning the gold for three of their seven varieties at the All Canadian Championships. This winery is the permanent home of the aforementioned Frank, as well as other permanent and transient art exhibits.
- Spiller Estate Winery , 475 Upper Bench Road, +1 250 490-4162, toll free +1 800 610-3794 . This winery, that is just as famous for their onsite bed and breakfast, produces top-notch fruit infused dessert wines.
Perhaps the best thing to do in Penticton is to join the locals at the beach, and enjoy the blisteringly hot summer sun. Okanagan Beach follows pretty much the entirety of Lakeshore Drive on Okanagan Lake, and is generally the more family oriented beach. Skaha Beach to the south on Skaha Lake is where Penticton's younger crowd go to see and be seen. Sudbury Beach and Airport Beach are also on Skaha Lake, located west of Skaha Beach on the south side of Highway 97 (Caution: Sudbury is used as a kitesurf launch during the off-season.). Three Mile Beach is a good bet when the crowds at the other beaches are getting you down. Located just north of town, follow Naramata Road north, turn left at Three Mile Road, and follow down to the lake. If you walk along the beach to the north you will find an unofficial nudist area.
Golfers will find themselves at home, with four golf courses in the city limits, and several more just beyond:
- Pine Hills/Sage Mesa, 3610 Pine Hill Drive, +1 250 492-5731. Two different 18 hole courses set high on a plateau overlooking Penticton and the lakes.
- Penticton Golf and Country Club, 600 Comox St, +1 250 492-5626, . Don't let the name fool you, the public is welcome. $27 for 9 holes; $50 for 18.
- Skaha Meadows, Highway 97 South (just past the airport), +1 250 492-7274. Penticton's newest course is a 9 hole par 35.
- Mini Golf, 75 Riverside (just steps from the S.S. Sicamous), . Family-friendly outdoor mini golf course. Adults $8, children $6.
Rock climbers will want to check out the renowned Skaha Climbing Bluffs  located adjacent to Skaha Lake on the southern edge of the city. Access is controlled and a daily access fee is charged to hike into the bluffs, see  for maps and details. "Skaha" as it is known among climbers, has over four hundred established routes with a near equal split of traditional (gear) and sport (fixed bolt) lines that range between 5.6 and 5.13b. An excellent guide book  is available locally and provides a map, directions, and grades (Yosemite).
Cyclists and hikers will want to visit the stunning Kettle Valley Trail which follows the old railway grade from Penticton through Naramata's bench wineries, and farther along, a system of tunnels and trestles leading all the way to Castlegar and beyond, some several hundreds of kilometers. Part of the Trans-Canada Trail  which bills itself as the longest recreational trail in the world. You can also travel the railway grade on the opposite side of the lake 10km to Summerland which is gatewayed by the dramatic Trout Creek Railway Trestle, the highest in British Columbia.
Another traditional pastime in Penticton is floating down the River Channel, which is a small shallow river that flows south from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake. This leisurely trip takes from 2 to 3.5 hours depending on water levels in the channel. Be sure to bring sunscreen or you will burn up! Coyote Cruises (215 Riverside, +1 250 492-2115) operates a shuttle bus service to transport you back to the parking area on the north side of town. $2 for them to inflate your tube or they also provide tube rentals if you don't have your own. $10 for tire inter-tube and transportation. If you have your flotation device and can work out the logistics of getting a ride and keeping your valuables dry you can do the full channel for free. Otherwise Coyote Cruises is a convenient way to go but only covers about half the channel length.
Penticton is also a city of events and festivals. Indeed, in the summer there is rarely a time when there isn't some sort of festival going on. Dates and venues can change from year to year, check the websites for current information. A brief survey of the major festivals includes:
- Okanagan Fest-of-Ale (early April). This two day festival pairs local breweries with local restaurants to show off their wares alongside live entertainment. Hundreds of locals volunteer for the free beer.
- Penticton Elvis Festival  (Late June). Despised by some of the locals, and criticized due to prohibitive costs, this festival brings the best of the best of Elvis impersonators to town. Some free events.
- Peach City Beach Cruise  (late June). This crowd favorite brings over 400 hot-rods and classic cars from all over North America to Lakeshore Drive. The road is closed to normal traffic allowing close up views of the cars. At night some of the drivers put on a smoke show to the delight of the crowd, though police seem to be cracking down on this lately. Lasts three days.
- Penticton Highland Games  (early July). Come watch the caber toss and other heavy events accompanied by traditional Scottish pipes, drumming, and dancing. If you have what it takes you can register and compete.
- Beach Blanket Film Festival  (late July). This unique festival invites people to lay down a blanket on the beach, bring a picnic and watch films on a floating screen in Okanagan Lake.
- Peachfest  (August). Long since stripped of its 'party get drunk' image of the past, Peachfest is now an event to be enjoyed by the entire family. Includes arts/crafts exhibits, food and drink, live entertainment, parades, fireworks and much more.
- Pentastic Hot Jazz Festival  (mid September). Various venues host live Dixieland, Jive, Swing, and other forms of Jazz music.
- Okanagan Fall Wine Festival  (September-October). More of an 'Okanagan' festival than a Penticton one. Many wine-diner pairings featuring local wineries and restaurants, stretching from Osoyoos (at the US/Canada border) to Vernon at the northern end of Lake Okanagan. Several of these take place in Penticton.
Mr Muscle and Miss Bikini  - Hundreds of spectators crowd the beach at Skaha Lake to catch a glimpse of the competitors for the coveted title of Mr Muscle and Miss Bikini, not to mention the feats of strength and wet t-shirt competition!
Sailboats on Okanagan Lake
Boating, sailing and watersports
With two lakes ten minutes apart, Penticton is a great place to bring your boat if you have one. While you cannot boat from lake to lake, they both have launches and marinas for fuel and supplies.
- Penticton Marina, 293 Marina Way, +1 250 770-2000, gas dock: +1 250 770-2286. Services Okanagan Lake.
- Penticton Yamaha and Marina, 124 South Beach, +1 250 492-8300. Services Skaha Lake.
- Castaways, beside the Lakeside Resort, +1 250 90-2033. Rents seadoos.
- Penticton Yacht & Tennis Club, Marina Way, +1 250 492-2853. Organizes sailboat races, has a twenty foot sailboat available for rental, and provides moorage for boaters.
- The Casabella Princess, 293 Marina Way, +1 250 492-4090, . Offers leisurely one hour morning, afternoon, and evening cruises around Okanagan Lake on a 48 passenger paddle wheeler. The boat is fully licensed and snacks are available. Charters for special events available. Special wine cruises. Reservations recommended. $15 adult, $8 under 12, free under 3.
- Pier Water Sports, +1 250 493-8864, . They have 11 years of experience on the water and feature boat and seadoo rentals, wakeboard and waterski lessons, Parasailing, Banana boat rides and a 42 foot party barge you can rent daily. Take it for a tour down the lake during the day or have a party on it in the evening. It has an onboard barbeque and bathroom.
- WAKEBOARD SCHOOL - Wake Up Water Sports, +1 250 488-0386, . Penticton's only dedicated wakeboard and wakesurf school. All instructors are NCCP Certified and receive formal training through the Provincial and National Wakeboard Associations.
In winter, your best bet is to spend some time up at the local ski hill Apex Alpine. Apex is about a 45 minute drive from town west on Green Mountain Road. You can also come cheer on the Penticton Vees BCHL hockey team at the South Okanagen Events Centre , go for a skate or play some pick-up at the indoor McLaren Park Arena, or if the weather is cooperative, play a round of golf right through the year.
There is no shortage of stands along the beaches to sell tourists swimwear, sunglasses and other assorted knick-knacks. Main Street features a wide variety of shops and galleries. Cherry Lane Mall has pretty much everything tourists and locals need for their day to day; national upscale retailer The Bay is here. Penticton also has a few big-block stores such as Walmart, London Drugs, Staples, etc. These can all be found by driving along Main Street. If you reach the other lake, you've gone too far!
For the literary crowd, Penticton features the 5000 square foot Book Shop (242 Main Street, 492-6661 ). This massive store stocks new, used and out of print/rare books on any conceivable topic, including a large section on local interest.
For traditional local gifts/souvenirs you can visit:
- Pennyfarthing, 310 Main Street, +1 250 493-2622.
- Terwilligar's and We R Unique Two for one! 675 Main Street.
- Dragon's Den,12 Front Street, +1 250 492-3011.
For a more meaningful, intoxicating, or just plain tastier souvenir visit one of the area's many wineries, and one of the many fruit stands dotted along the highway and backroads that sell local products.
There are over one-hundred places to eat in Penticton, servicing pretty much any taste or budget. In the summer you will do well to ensure reservations, or else you may have to wait until well after 10:00PM to get your dinner when restaurants start to slow down. Many places cut back hours or close entirely in the winter.
- Dream Cafe, 67 Front Street, +1 250 490-9012. Tu-Su 8AM-9PM. Multicultural menu. Vegetarian dishes.
- Front Street Bar and Bistro, 151 Front Street, +1 250 770-1949. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 11AM-11PM. Comfortable and casual dining.
- Ginza, 74 Front Street, +1 250 493-0303. Su-Th 11AM-2PM & 5PM-9PM, Sa 11AM-9PM. Fine Japanese cuisine. Closed on Sundays.
- Granny Bogners, 302 Eckhardt Ave, +1 250 493-2711. Tu-Su 5:30PM-9:30PM. Fine dining, German and continental cuisine.
- Hooded Merganzer, 21 Lakeshore, +1 250 487-HOOD. A unique restaurant/lounge which is built on piles some several meters out in Okanagan Lake. Menu includes chicken, steak, fish and seafood. Great selection of fancy spirits and local wine. Semi-formal. Be sure to make a reservation in summer. $15-35.
- Il Vecchio delicatessen, 317 Robinson, +1 250 492-7610, For a delicious, quick, and inexpensive lunch where delightful ladies will lovingly prepare you a fresh sandwich with your choice of bread and toppings. About $3-4 depending on how many toppings you want. Best sandwiches in town. Take-out only.
- La Casa Ouzeria, 1090 Main Street, +1 250 492-9144, . Greek and Italian. Famous for fast lunches.
- Lost Moose Lodge, 2301 Beaverdell Road, +1 250 490-0526. Open 11:30AM Daily for lunch, 5PM for Dinner. Perched high atop Carmi Mountain, this steak and BBQ house will impress with views of the valley by day, and the lights of Penticton at night.
- Mon Thong, 2985 Skaha Lake Road, +1 250 770-9791. Authentic Thai cuisine. Good prices, great food. Try an authentic Phad Thai.
- Navratan, 413 Main Street, +1 250 490-4740. Authentic Indian cuisine. Popular with locals since it opened a short while ago.
- Pasta Factory, 236 Martin Street, +1 250 492-6088. Good Italian food for when you can't afford Villa Rosa.
- Porta Vallarta Grill, 1000 block Lakeshore Drive. Good Mexican food, with friendly service (en Espanol if you prefer) and free salsa dancing lessons. (For better Mexican food you have to cross the border to Oroville, Washington, which has a high percentage of Mexican immigrants.)
- Salty's Beach House,1000 Lakeshore, +1 250 493-5001, . Penticton's hot spot. Licenced till midnight. Open year 'round. A favorite for tourists and locals. Salty's has two floors; Downstairs is the main dining area where you can watch the cooks work in the open kitchen, or watch the world pass by on one of the best patios in the Okanagan. Upstairs is the Black Pearl lounge and oyster bar, featuring signature martinis and a variety of fresh raw oysters. Worth seeing is the collection of 'pirate' paintings hanging on the walls. The owner likes to crank reggae music. Menu includes salads, outstanding appetizers, pasta, pizza, chicken, steak , fresh fish, and for the indulgent, crab & lobster. Make sure you have reservations, as the lineup can queue well down the block at peak times in the summer. Most times a short wait will reward you with a seat. Menu available online. $12-$30
- Theo's, 687 Main St., +1 250 492-4019, . Opened in 1977, this is one of Penticton's oldest restaurants. Theo's features Greek cuisine in a beautiful interior courtyard setting with great food and great wine. Menu available online. $13-$40
- Villa Rosa, 795 Westminster Ave W, +1 250 490-9595. Open 7 Days a Week. Some of the best authentic Italian cuisine this side of Napoli. Also, a very respectable wine cellar to complement your meal, including the Best BC/Italian wine and local products. Has a beautiful patio sheltered from the street with grape vines. $15-$40
Penticton also has all day breakfast chains: The Pantry, Denny's, and Rickys; large chain restaurants Boston Pizza, Earls, and Joeys Only; and every fast-food place you could ever want McDonald's x2, Burger King, Wendys, A&W x2, Subway x3, Taco Time, Quiznos Subs, Canada's favorite: Tim Hortons x3!
- Ten Thousand Villages, 25 Front Street, ☎ 250-493-3161, . 9:30-5:50. Fair Trade handicrafts and food from around the world. Located in the most unique and beautiful heritage building in Penticton. edit
- Wouda's Bakery, Apple Plaza 1848 Main St #146, ☎ 250 490 3050, . 8-5.30. Traditional European Bakery. Vast selection of breads and pastries and fresh, made from scratch soups, salads, paninis and sandwiches for lunch as well as Dutch lunch specialties like Kroket and bitterballen edit
- Bellevue Cafe, 245 Main Street (Downtown), ☎ 250-492-6675, . 8-4. In the heart of Downtown Penticton. Delicious gourmet burgers & hand-cut fries. Breakfast featuring Classic Bacon & Eggs, house-made Sausage & Eggs, spicy Huevos Rancheros and Waffles with strawberries & whipped cream. Comfortable art-filled restaurant with two patios. Licensed. Kid's menu. Wheat-free menu. $8-$15. edit
Legal drinking age in British Columbia is 19. The government store (Penticton Plaza, 1301 Main Street) sells beer, wine and spirits until 9:00pm. Cold beer and wine stores (6 in town) are open until 11:00pm, with modest selection of spirits. Nightclubs serve until 2:00am, but won't kick you out until 3:00am.
- Elite Restaurant, 340 Mainstreet, ☎ 250-492-3051. The Elite serves up hearty breakfasts, delicious milkshakes, and great homecut fries and gravy! Also home to the Elite After 6, great food, live entertainment and an awesome retro vibe. edit
Pubs and lounges
- Barking Parrot bar and lounge in the Penticton Lakeside Resort (21 Lakeshore). Featuring one of the largest lakeside patios in the Okanagan and stunning views up Okanagan Lake, this is the only watering hole right on the lake in Penticton. Good selection of wine/beer/spirits, and also has a decent pub menu. Try a Bellini, a frozen drink to chase away the oppressive heat. Quite busy in the summer from 2:00 in the afternoon till Midnight, when people start heading for the nightclubs. Plays top 40 music with the occasional live show.
- Decoy's, 300 block Martin. Not much on decor or atmosphere, but has the cheapest and biggest (20oz) pints in town. Great for refreshing yourself on the way to the beach. Cheap food too. $3.50 pints (cash only).
- Voodoos, 67 E. Nanaimo, +1 250 770-8867. About the only place in Penticton that caters to a more alternative crowd. Food and drink specials, live music, and a weekly open-mic jam night. $4.50 pints/highballs.
- Best Damn Sports Bar, 260 Martin, +1 250 490-0304. Open daily at 11:30am with good selection of food and drinks. A different food and drink special every day, and "Sunday Fun Day" where pool, Buck Hunt and basketball games are free. This is one of the best damn places to watch your favorite game on the big screen.
- Black Pearl Oyster Bar & Martini Lounge, upstairs 1000 Lakeshore, +1 250 493-5001. Martinis, beer, wine, port, oysters and appetizers of course, and the world famous boat drink. Some of the best views in Penticton. $5 pints/bottles, $6 wine, $7 martinis.
- Kettle Valley Station Pub, 1070 Eckhardt, +1 250 493-3388. Good food and good drink in this friendly railway themed pub. $5 pints/highballs.
- Barley Mill Brewpub, 2460 Skaha Lake Road, +1 250 493-8000, . Try a sampler: Three types of beer brewed on premises, as well as a fourth seasonal brew. English style decor, pub menu. $5 pints/highballs.
- Copper Mug, Penticton Plaza, 1301 Main Street. Local haunt of Penticton's working class. Incredibly cheap food and drink specials change daily. $4 pints/bottles/highballs.
- Anthony's Pub and Lounge, 3502 Skaha Lake Road, +1 250 492-5710. This two story pub features a very nice rooftop patio. $5 pints/highballs.
There are only two in town and they are both pretty much the same. Loud top-40 music and the occasional live show. Covers are reasonable: $2-$7, more if there is a special event. Smoking is prohibited in all bars, but The Mule has a separate outdoor smoking room. The clubs start to get busy between 11PM and midnight in the summer. You may want to show up early to avoid the queue. If one is empty, try another, as they are within walking distance of each other, and business generally depends on the nightly drink special. This doesn't apply as much in the summer when they are both generally packed. At 2:30AM hundreds of drunken revelers pour out into the streets, causing a large police presence to keep the peace. Do not taunt the police unless you want to spend a night in the drunk tank! (Hint: you don't).
- The Mule, 218 Martin. The Mule used to be a country bar, but they changed the format to get more business several years ago. You may still hear a few country songs throughout the night however. The Mule seems to be the most popular these days. Wednesday nights feature $2 highballs, the locals buy triples in a mini-jug to avoid long bar lineups. Three bars plus table service. This is one of the best clubs in town. It is famous for its smiles and music of all styles. The service is great and the bar is clean. Anyone from 19-99 will feel very welcome there. Usually a $2 dollar cover charge at the door. The best security team in town mixed with the hottest and fastest servers and bartenders all to the beat of the D.J. makes for the perfect place to go and have a night to memember.
- Opal, 535 Main Street. One of the oldest in town, the Opal changed it's name from Tiffany's years ago, and the Element and 535 just recently. Sometimes has special events such as live shows, ladies night, and foam parties. Two bars plus table service. Lots of chrome and leather. This club has changed owners and has been closed down a couple times in the past few years, but now has been re-opened with new owners, name and drink menu.
- for the best music venue in Canada visit the Dream Cafe on nights when musicians are playing
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As with restaurants, the amount of accommodations available in Penticton is disproportionate compared to the size of the city. Still, Penticton is very popular in the summer and the area hotels can and will be fully booked, especially on long weekends and Ironman weekend. Prices listed here are high season, as this is when most visitors come. Low and shoulder season rates may be drastically lower depending on the facility. The listings here are but a mere smattering of what's available.
- Oxbow RV Resort, 198 Skaha Place, +1 250 770-8147, Fax: +1 250 770-8145, . Directly across the road from Skaha lake and the beach. Showers, laundry, power.
- Parkroyal R.V. Resort, 240 Riverside Drive, +1 250 492-7051, Fax: +1 250 492-2592, [email protected], . Full hook-ups, laundry, recreation hall, showers.
- Penticton Hostel, 464 Ellis St, +1 250 492-3992, toll free +1-866-782-9736. Located steps from downtown, and minutes from Okanagan Beach. Laundry, internet, and kitchens. Guests receive discounts at many local attractions. $21-$24 dorm, $17-$20 HI members.
- Shade Tree Resort RV and Family Campground, 3901 Skaha Lake Rd, +1 250 492-5210. Across from Skaha lake, arcade, full and partial hook ups. $25 per person per night
- South Beach Gardens RV Park, 3815 Skaha Lake Road, +1 250 492-0628, . Washrooms, showers, laundry. $28-$33.
Bed and Breakfast
- Arta Bed & Breakfast And Vineyard, 1120 Sutherland Road, +1 250 487-1247. Theme rooms, great views of Okanagan Lake. Internet access and library. $105-$135.
- Vanilla Tree House, 1185 Spiller Road, +1 250 493-7745. Exercise room, internet access, hot tub. Vegetarian breakfast available. $140-$200.
- Breeze Inn, 104 Lower Bench Road, +1 250 493-7782, +1 250 493-5409, . Large suites near Okanagan beach, Front Street shops and restaurants, and the marina. $99-$200.
- Cormiers Studio, 497 Vancouver Ave, +1 250 493-3273, [email protected], . Close to downtown. Features art and sculpture gallery on site. $135.
- Gibson Heritage House B&B, 112 Eckhardt Ave, +1 250 492-2705, Fax: +1 250 492-2835, . Penticton's first designated Heritage House, built in 1906. Right downtown close to everything. Internet access. $135-$160.
- Inn Paradise B&B, 1050 Churchill Ave, +1 250 486-0400, [email protected], . Steps to beach, restaurants and attractions. In the heart of Wine Country $120 -$135.
- Best Western Inn at Penticton, 3180 Skaha Lake Road, +1 250 493-0311, Fax: +1 250 493-5556, . Located in the south end of town near Skaha Lake. Restaurant and pool on premises. Pets allowed. Internet.
- Days Inn - Penticton, 152 Riverside Drive, +1 250 493-6616, Toll-free: +1 888 999-6616, Fax: +1 250 493-6615, [email protected], . Located near Okanagan Lake and Penticton Trade & Convention Center. Breakfast buffet. Exercise room.
- Ramada Inn and Suites, 1050 Eckhardt Avenue, +1 250 492-8926, Toll-free: +1 800 665-4966, Fax: +1 250 492-2778, . Outdoor pool and jacuzzi. Exercise facilities. High speed internet. Steps away from 18 hole golf course. Kettle Valley Station Pub on site. Regular rooms and one bedroom suites available (with gas fireplace). One of Penticton's nicer hotels with a relatively short hike to Okanagan Lake but a short drive to the shops and restaurants of downtown.
- Lakeside Villa Motel, 1402 Skaha Lake Rd. +1 250 492-7111, . One of a handful of motels located across the street from Skaha Lake and the public beach park. While an older motel it has been renovated by the new owners spring of 2007, Lakeside Villa offers easy access to one of the finer swimming/beach areas in the Okanagan. The motel is very clean and quite geared towards families. Rates range from $69-$139 in the summer months.
- Tiki Shores Beach Resort Motel, 914 Lakeshore Drive West, Toll-free +1 866 492-8769, local calls: +1 250 492-8769 . Right across from Penticton's Okanagan Beach in the popular 'Sunset Strip" tourist area, this motel offers some of the most popular accommodations in Penticton; from studio, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom suites to penthouse suites. Very clean and well-maintained. Many suites have private patios with gas BBQs. Families, groups and sports teams are welcomed. Heated outdoor pool, guest BBQ/picnic area, ample guest parking, restaurant on site. High speed Internet, cable TV with movies, coffee makers, kitchenettes or kitchens.
- Penticton Lakeside Resort, 21 Lakeshore Dr, +1 250 493-8221, Toll-free: +1 800 663-9400, Fax: +1 250 493-0607, [email protected], . Two restaurants, pub, and casino on site. Exercise room, indoor pool and conference facilities. Steps from downtown and the beach. $195-$285.
- 5000 Motel, 1742 Main Street, 250-493-5000, Toll-free: 877-378-9355 This motel is fairly inexpensive considering the average prices in town. It is modest, clean, and quiet. The rooms are in good shape and spotless, and the owners are friendly and quite helpful. There are laundry facilities and a Whole Foods Market next door.
Rattlesnake blending into Penticton's hills
There is not much to worry about in Penticton. The streets are generally safe after dark and the huge amount of tourists on the streets ensures you are never alone. The biggest safety issue may be the occasional bar brawl that occurs when the clubs close. Make sure you do not get involved or you will end up spending the night in jail.
If you are hiking or biking in the surrounding hills be aware the area is home to rattlesnakes and bears. The snakes, easily detected by their distinctive rattle, do not attack humans unless you enter their space and/or startle them -- such as abruptly walking into one along a trail. If you hear the rattle, understand it as a warning and keep your distance; the snake's bite can be fatal. Similarly, black bears inhabit the region surrounding Penticton and are happy to avoid humans unless surprised, cornered, and/or their cubs are threatened. Bear attacks are extremely rare but if you spot a bear in the area, it is best to steer clear. Cougars are being spotted by the locals more
- Go alpine skiing/boarding in the winter or mountain biking in the summer at Apex Alpine Mountain Resort. 33km (21 mi) west of Penticton. A small mountain with some of the best advanced terrain in the interior. From the Channel Parkway turn west on Green Mountain Road and follow 22km before turning right at the Apex Guest Ranch. Snow tires are recommended in the winter. Lifts run weekends in the summer for mountain biking (beginner to advanced) and hiking/sightseeing.
- Go rock climbing at the Skaha lake bluffs.
- Ride the Kettle Valley Steam Train or relax in the lush Ornamental Gardens in nearby Summerland. Fifteen minutes north of Penticton.
- If you haven't had enough sun and heat, head 45 minutes south to Osoyoos where the average temperature is even hotter, and wander through Canada's only true desert.
- Take in a great Farmers Market, Saturdays from June through September.
- Okanagan Beach (Sunset Strip) offers para-gliding, canoe, boat and bike rentals.
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