Travel: Holidaying in Okanagan wine country

Sandwiched between lakes Skaha and Okanagan, Penticton is an unpretentious city where old and new collide.

It offers a heady mix of recreational offerings all year round.

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A playground filled with watersports, wine tasting forays and winding trails that test the mettle of the most avid hikers and bikers, Penticton has plenty to offer during the off-season. When crowds have dispersed, you have the place to yourself.

Here are some top picks for year-round recreation.

The Kettle Valley Railroad Trail is the longest trail in the province, stretching 650 kilometres from Castlegar to Hope.

Some of its most popular pedalled terrain lies between Penticton and Kelowna, a segment that includes the Myra Canyon trestles and spectacular scenery.

Don’t be deterred from venturing this way if you’re not a long-distance endurance biker with calves of steel.

Rent a fat-tire electric bike and most of the work is done for you, giving you the freedom to enjoy the view and climb hills without concern for breathless exhaustion.

Freedom Bike shop on Penticton’s main drag, is a quick ride from the trailhead.

For a night away in a truly historic setting, head to Chute Lake Lodge, 30 kilometres from Penticton.

Newly restored, the eight cabins surrounding this picturesque lodge date back to the construction of the Kettle Valley Railroad in the early 1900s.

This is a great venue for a back-to-nature family retreat. It boasts a plethora of recreational possibilities, which include: trout fishing, paddling, hiking, climbing, a sweat lodge, yoga classes and biking to Myra Canyon trestles, just a few kilometres away.

In winter, ice fishing and snowshoeing provide the serenity that only occurs by staying in a remote mountain lodge — steeped in snow, solitude and timeless charm.

If you don’t have a libation in your hand at least once a day, you’re missing out on Penticton’s biggest industry — viticulture.

To gain a deeper appreciation of the complex flavours of the region, visit Great Escapes Okanagan, a downtown wine centre and store that specializes in pairing the valley’s best wines with local cheeses and chocolates.

Wine-lovers will appreciate how carefully selected foods can complement and reveal the complex flavours of wine.

If you are inclined to simply taste-and-buy, this is a tempting one-stop-shop for those who want to sniff, swirl and sip their way through a portfolio of Okanagan wineries, without

visiting each one individually.

Apex Mountain Resort — a playground for downhill skiers since 1961 — has a good selection of alternatives for those who seek winter adventures in a softer format.

Rent skates and take to the Adventure Ice Loop, a one-kilometre groomed skating terrain that’s floodlit at night and open until 11 p.m.

Rent a tube and slip down a gentle slope at the tube park, or strap snowshoes on your feet and venture into the valley or creek bottom.

The still beauty of the wintry outdoors is mesmerizing. There’s a very good chance the only tracks you’ll find will be your own.

Travel Writers’ Tales is an independent newspaper syndicate. For more information, go online to

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