Find your perfect vacation vibes in Osoyoos' desert wine country

Mar 7, 2023

Osoyoos, B.C.  boasts some of the driest and hottest weather in the country, and the diverse landscape — a desert oasis of mountains, beaches, fruit orchards and terraced vineyards — makes it an idyllic setting for sun seekers looking for a lakeside getaway.  

And despite its reputation as a summer holiday destination, this recreational town in the South Okanagan has evolved into an all-season leisure playground, with culinary experiences, outdoor adventures and cultural activities any time of year. 

Spring is a great time to catch some warm weather before the rush. Fall is best for experiencing the bounty of the grape harvest. Snow in the surrounding mountains attracts skiers and snowboarders for wintertime thrills. And, of course, the valley has offered a summer escape for generations of vacationers who come to bask in the sun and splash in the lake.  

No matter when you want to go, find your perfect vacation vibes in Osoyoos.  Read on for our favourite ways to relax and recharge in this desert wine country.

Live carefree by the lake 

For many visitors, hanging by the lake is the main attraction. Osoyoos Lake has long been a popular playground for swimmers, paddlers, boaters and sun worshippers.  

It’s typically among the warmest lakes in Canada, with beach-worthy weather that stretches from May-September. In the summer months, the sandy beaches offer a perfect place to lounge lazily on a beach chair under a parasol or cool off with a refreshing swim.  

There are so many ways to play in the water, including waterskiing and wakesurfing. In fall and spring, exploring still waters in a kayak is best for spotting wildlife and birds near the shoreline.  

Boat rentals, water skis and wakeboards, stand up paddleboards and more are available from various watersports outfitters around Osoyoos, including Wakepilot and Above the Board. 

Sip & savour in the sunshine

This is the land of big reds. With all the sunshine and dry desert climate, grape varieties that love the heat, like syrah, cabernet sauvignon and malbec, are happy in these parts.

But crafty winemakers produce something for every palate, including crisp whites, vibrant rosés and sparkling wines. In fact, Osoyoos and the surrounding area have emerged as one of North America’s best grape-growing regions and are home to around 50 wineries. The best way to experience them is on a guided wine tour for a behind-the-scenes perspective and personalized tastings. 

It’s not just award-winning wines that Osoyoos is known for — the town is brimming with culinary experiences including breezy lakeside cafes and upscale vineyard dining that serve deftly paired dishes.  

Dine on modern plates inspired by indigenous traditions at The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry. Come summer, stop by a roadside fruit stand or the Osoyoos Farmers’ Market and eat cherries and peaches so ripe the juices drip down your chin. 

Hiking & biking in the valley

Osoyoos is surrounded by hills, traversed with rugged desert trails and winding back roads that beckon hikers with vistas around every corner. At the north end of Osoyoos Lake, the Oxbows is a wetland habitat popular with both hikers and bird watchers. The Irrigation Canal Walkway is set along an old waterway that once provided water to the local orchards. Sweeping views of the Okanagan Valley and vineyards can be found from the top of the Golden Mile Trail, making the climb up worth the effort.  

Whether you are looking for a casual family ride, winery cruising or some serious downhill mountain biking, Osoyoos has a lot to offer cyclists of all levels. The International Hike and Bike trail is a great way to travel between orchards and wineries, learning and sampling as you go. The Mount Kobau Trail offers amazing views of the Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys as you pass through grassland and sub-alpine forests.  

Rent a bike and get advice at Double O Bikes or opt for cruising the town and vineyards on a guided e-bike tour with South Okanagan E-Bike Safaris.  

Activities & adventure for all

Beneath the surface of all of that playful fun and wine tasting is a deep-rooted history on the sacred land of the Osoyoos Indian Band. The name "Osoyoos" originates from the First Nation word "sw̓iw̓s" (pronounced "soo-yoos"), which means the "narrowing of the waters."  

The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is a state-of-the-art interpretative showcase with hands-on exhibits, a cultural living history of the Osoyoos Indian Band and a network of nature trails.   

Osoyoos lies in one of the only pocket deserts in Canada. Just a few minutes north of downtown, at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, visitors of all ages can learn about the desert ecology and wildlife at the small-but-fascinating interpretive centre and on a 1.5-kilometre boardwalk tour.  Younger kids love Rattlesnake Canyon’s bumper boats, giant trampolines and other attractions.  

Osoyoos is home to several golf courses that make the most of the spectacular natural surroundings and offer nearly year-round playing seasons. Tee off at one of the impressive courses, including the nine-hole Sonora Dunes and the Osoyoos Golf Club, which offers the challenging Desert Gold course and the more beginner-friendly Park Meadows course. From the greens, you can enjoy captivating views of Osoyoos, the lake and its surrounding orchards and vineyards.  

In winter, nearby McKinney Nordic Ski Club invites snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with marked and groomed trails. For skiers and snowboarders, Mount Baldy boasts some of the driest powder in the province with a backdrop of endless Okanagan peaks.  

Springtime in Osoyoos brings the smell of fruit blossoms and the return of the sounds of birds and other wildlife. Many endangered bird species call the area home, and Osoyoos is fortunate to have several protected areas for bird viewing.  

Start planning 

You will find a wide range of hotels and resorts from family-friendly to lakeside luxury, including bed and breakfasts, camping options and more. And no matter when you go, Osoyoos has a full calendar of festivals and events to keep you busy.  

For more information and to plan your next vacation in the South Okanagan, visit Destination Osoyooos.

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