May 30, 2019

Okanagan OK

Think you know B.C.'s Penticton and Osoyoos? Think again! —Noa Nichol

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stay. To Penticton, take a 30-minute flight from Vancouver via Air Canada or opt for a longer (four- or five-hour) scenic drive. Once arrived, settle at God's Mountain Estate—an eclectic inn offering a handful of rooms (including a roofless suite that's completely exposed, tub and all, to the heavens) with no electronics; the point is to truly unplug and unwind (don't worry, you can connect to the Internet). Say hello to the resident dogs, admire the owner's collection of antiques and prep to do nothing … and rest after that. Don't miss the bountiful breakfast cooked with heart by Lilo. Photo by Melissa Gidney.

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stroll. Start your day in Penticton right with a walk (or cycle) along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, discovering maps, interpretive signage and gorgeous views of Okanagan Lake along the way. The trail passes through a bevy of local orchards and vineyards, so you can veer off for fruit and drink whenever you feel the pull (don't miss new-to-the-scene Little Engine, though advanced reservations are highly recommended).

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savour. Come breakfast or brunch time, the Bench Market can't be beat thanks to a menu created around ingredients produced by neighbour farmers and artisans (the avocado toast with tomato "jam" and sunny eggs is killer). For lunch, sneak in some patio time at Upper Bench Winery and Creamery, where hand-tossed pizza boasts on-site-made fromage and water misters are on when the weather is hot. Enjoy a glass of this winery's own vino with your pie—or save it for an eye-opening session at the Great Estates Wine Experience Centre, where a pro will teach you how various eats (including quirky dishes like popcorn and diner fare) pair with South Okanagan wines.

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shop. Grab a sustainable and locally, lovingly roasted cuppa at Seis Cielo before hitting the city's downtown core, where retailers like Mi Amor (clothing), BeeLong Gallery (art) and So Sweet (candy) make browsing a beautiful thing. Feeling peckish? Duck into newly opened Gratify for a raw vegan snack (the date squares are the bomb, and you wouldn't guess the "cheezecake" contains zero dairy).

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sup. Whet your appetite—and your whistle—at Time. Housed in Penticton's historic movie theatre, this working winery and kitchen offers a tasting bar, lounge and lively patio where patrons can build their own charcuterie boards, sip on more than a dozen wines and be very merry (coming soon: wine-thief barrel tastings). Photo by Chris Stenberg.

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sleep. Off to Osoyoos, where your best lakeside bet is Watermark Beach Resort—particularly if you snag a townhouse with multiple bedrooms, a full kitchen (plus barbecue) and a patio that opens right to the sand.

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sojourn. An on-foot trek that starts and ends at Covert Farms is a good one in our books. The guided pre-dawn Sunrise Bluff hike will take you past colourful wildflowers, native plants and, perhaps, a bighorn sheep or two, to the top of McIntyre Bluff for sweeping valley views. Then, back to the family farm for an organic wine tasting (and a llama nuzzle, too).

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snack. Early risers luck out when it comes to Lake Village Bakery, where the loaves fly off the shelves (we recommend the multigrain, multi-seeded Anarchist) and the pantry is stocked with B.C.-made sweets and savouries. Or drive 20 minutes north to Oliver Eats for stuffed croissants, stacked sammies and peanut-buttery Baldy Balls, named after the local ski hill.

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spend. Whether you've got time or money (or both) to burn, Osoyoos' downtown core doesn't disappoint. Two must-shop stops: 85th Street Boutique, offering beach-inspired dress and décor in a lovely heritage home and (trust us on this) Home Hardware, crammed with so much good stuff you'll want to set aside a good chunk of your day to properly peruse.

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sip. There's much to discover at Nk'Mip Cellars—starting with the wine. Enter the Qwam Qwmt Tasting Gallery for to sample premium selections from Riedel varietal-specific glassware, then wander out to the outdoor Patio Restaurant to feast on fresh farm-to-table fare and fantastic views. Next sippy stop: Blue Mountain Vineyard, which has been family run for decades and is world famous for its often-sell-out wines (don't leave without a bottle—or two). Photo by Jon Adrian.

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swoon. A full day's activities later, it's time to end on a high note—hillside, at Spirit Ridge Resort's renewed The Bear, The Root, The Fish and The Berry resto. Helmed by star exec chef Murray McDonald, this eatery is named after and inspired by a Chaptik tale around the four food chiefs and the fare—from the Three Sisters salad to the Cheeky Corn soup to the rabbit pasta—honours the rich, local indigenous history. No matter how stuffed you are after dinner, don't dare depart without dessert. The aptly named Life is Just a Peach dish features local fruit, thyme fry-bread and ice cream, and will have you wishing you could literally lick your plate clean (in fact, go ahead and do it). Photo by David Mcilvride.


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