10 Things to Do in Osoyoos This Summer

Here's everything you need to know to make your next summer trip to Osoyoos an unforgettable experience

Credit: Nikki Bayley

With lush orchards, exceptional dining, outdoor activities and tons of fun for the whole family, Osoyoos is an unforgettable summer destination

Driving up to the Okanagan is always a fun adventure. The city falls away as you head east on the TransCanada Highway passing through endless flat farmland with those mountains soaring in the distance. Just after Hope, the road splits and you follow the serpentine Crowsnest Highway, climbing high through the mountains, through near-deserted ex-gold mining towns till you reach the start of this lush fruit-growing region.

Drive down between the sandy bluffs dotted with scrubby Ponderosa pines towards the lake for a few days of wine, sunshine, superb food and total relaxation. From winery tours and cider houses, to award-winning restaurants and First Nations culture, here’s everything you need to know for a fantastic break in Osoyoos. 

Click through for 10 things to do in Osoyoos…

Credit: Nikki Bayley

Jojo’s Cafe

Like coffee? You will be coming here. This is the best in town and everyone knows it so embrace the line and chat to people as you wait. Along with killer caffeinated drinks, Jojo’s also serve superb eggs benedict served on foccacia each day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and their lunch sandwiches and salads are pleasingly large and tasty.

To try and make leaving Osoyoos less sad, I head to Jojo’s on my way out of town each time for a latte and one of their brilliant breakfast sandwiches to go (possibly the best bargain ever at just $5, pictured). I’ll eat it in my car parked up on the city limits overlooking that beautiful view. Then I’m all set up for the drive back to VanCity.

Credit: Nikki Bayley

Dolci Social House

On sunny days, could there be anything more lovely than lunch or dinner at Dolci in their gorgeous back garden? Swiss-German culinary skills meet farm-fresh local ingredients here to create wonderful things.

Check out their mouth-watering charcuterie and cheese boards featuring their house-cured meats. The menu changes regularly, but if they have spätzle, have the spätzle: fluffy puffs of delicious dough, this is the best I’ve ever tried. Scoop up wild-smoked salmon tartare with owner Annina’s incredible buttery sesame cookies, and discover your new favourite flavour combo.

Licensed and open till around 9 p.m., make sure you don’t miss out on their bourbon-bacon brownies for dessert which come with a scoop of locally-made Medici’s gelato.

Lake Village Bakery

How often have you ever been to a bakery with a queue out of the door on a regular, non-holiday weekend? And what’s more, everyone coming out has armloads of goodies.

Yup, Lake Village Bakery is that good. Warning: it’s hard to decide what to have when you’re confronted with so many tempting options. My advice would be to take friends and share, because you obviously have to have the sourdough croissants, and the pain au chocolat, ohand the butter tarts with the crumbly buttery pastry, and their divine sourdough cinnamon buns loaded with cream cheese icing (pictured). OK, so basically just follow the lead of the locals and have as much as you can possibly carry.

Credit: Nikki Bayley

C.C Jentsch 2013 Syrah

Because when you’re in wine country and you’re told that one of the world’s best bottles of Syrah is made just a few minutes out of town, you get in the car and drive.

Along the road to Oliver is C.C Jentsch’s winery and tasting room where you’ll be able to pick up their 2013 Syrah which came first last year in a tasting (which pitted six of B.C.’s best against six international benchmarks for the wine). The tasting was inspired by the Judgement of Paris, shown in the movie Bottle Shock. The British wine critic Steven Spurrier, who was responsible for the original Judgment of Paris, scored the wines along with 16 expert Canadian wine judges.

Made with 100% Syrah, the wine has bold amber notes with a complex spicy taste that finishes with a delicious dryness on the palate. Taste for yourself a world class wine for just $30 a bottle.

Credit: Nikki Bayley

Spirit Ridge

Head across the bridge away from town and up the winding driveway to Spirit Ridge at the Nk’Mip (in-ka-meep) Resort for one of my absolute favourite places in the Okanagan.

Pet-friendly with a small off-leash park overlooking the vines, it’s the best place to stay if you have a dog. For humans, there’s plenty to recommend too. The suites have everything you could want, from a balcony barbecue and a fully equipped kitchen to a cosy fireplace for those chilly desert nights.

Add to that, the excellent Nk’Mp winery and tasting room where you can stock up on their wines. Definitely try the rosé, Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay and their terrific Meritage before heading to the on-site Mica restaurant. I adore chef Lee Humphries (pictured), and he’s creating his signature style of delicately balanced and deceptively simple dishes here which are as breathtaking as the view over the lake and the vines.

Finally, carve out time for a trip to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre to learn more about this fascinating desert landscape and the living culture of the Osoyoos First Nation. There are excellent short films, some very cool art and a great 2 km trail through the scented sage, Ponderosa pine forest with early summer lilies.

Credit: Nikki Bayley

Home Hardware

OK, totally not joking, the Home Hardware in Osoyoos could possibly be one of Canada’s best stores. I’m serious! Set aside an hour to go explore. Part town museum, part amazing repository of ‘pretty much everything you never knew you wanted to buy until you saw it,’ and part essential holiday town general store, this welcoming emporium is run by Frances, who’s been in charge for over 30 years.

From socks decorated with pink flamingos, and cake-pop makers to molecular mixology sets and 10-frame bee hives, there is pretty much nothing that these guys don’t carryand kids will adore the model railway that speeds overhead on an elevated track as you browse.  Search upstairs and in the huge basement and you’ll find gems like the very first pair of skis that went down Mt. Baldy, the circular saw which built the town’s first motel, and even the original jail cell door from Camp McKinney.

OK Wine Shuttle

You’re in wine country, so obviously you need to visit some wineriesand if I know you, you won’t be spitting any time soon at a wine tasting. Behold your Okanagan heroes in a van! The OK wine shuttle operates a hop-on, hop-off service from five different Osoyoos pick-up points on Saturdays from May long weekend till the end of June, then a Wednesday to Sunday service from July 2 till Thanksgiving long weekend. $65 buys you all-day riding rights to visit more than a dozen or so wineries along the Osoyoos–Oliver route and a good number even waive fees for OK Shuttle guests. Road-safe, fun and friendly, this is how to see wine country.

Credit: Nikki Bayley

Faustino Cider

For an area that’s bursting with apple trees, it’s a shame that the Okanagan isn’t a hotbed of cider houses. After all, look across to Europeyou don’t necessarily need to make cider from cider apples. In fact, you can use regular dessert apples and they taste great, which is exactly what cider makers Faustino is doing just a few miles out of downtown Osoyoos.

Blink and you’ll miss their cheery scarlet-painted tasting house that’s the size of a small potting shed. But make the effort as their ciders pressed from Granny Smith, Gala and Golden Delicious apples are something special. Never a fan of sweet anything, I adored their semi-sweet cider aged in oak barrels. I can’t wait to try their fruit cider blends later this summer with pear, quince and plum.

Fruit Stands

It’s a tradition for all Vancouverites to come home with their cars smelling wonderfully of sun-ripened Okanagan fruit, and who wants to break with a tradition like that?

Fruit harvests begin in late June with cherries, July brings peaches and apricots till early-August, just in time for juicy plums and pears, and lastly come the apples which can run till mid-October.

Pick your own or pick them up at one of the many fruit stands that line the roads. Keep an eye out for orchard blossom-flavoured honey from Keremeos, which, as well as being perfect on toast, is the perfect sweetener for all your summery fruity cocktails, punches and iced teas: I love their peach variety, but the cherry and Saskatoon berry ones are pretty great too.

Watermark Beach Resort

Right on the lake in the heart of the town, the Watermark Beach Resort is the spot if you want to a one-stop-shop for a laid-back beach vacation.

The suites here are top-notch with family-friendly washer/dryers, balconies and other mod cons, but consider splurging on a split-level beachfront villa for a seriously luxe break.

On-site, tap into the resort’s health and wellness program which offers classes in yoga, pilates, TRX and spinning, along with meditation workshops, wellness retreats and a selection of speakers on holistic issues from aromatherapy to chakras. Stretch out on the beach for sunrise yoga, head to the lake for some Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) or bike, hike and golf.

There’s also a brand new Levia spa on-site offering a farm-to-therapy table array of natural treatments in a gorgeous sunny space with a living wall.

There are fun dining events all summer long, from barbecues to beach salmon bakes, and the menu at the Watermark’s restaurant shines with sustainable, seasonal gems from local growers and makers. Definitely check out Chef Adair Scott’s salmon pâte made with fish caught by the Okanagan Nation Alliance, and then canned on the banks of the Columbia River.