Fall in Osoyoos: Where to Eat, Stay and Play

Experience all the family fun Osoyoos has to offer this autumn

Experience all the family fun Osoyoos has to offer this autumn

Cue up Don Henley’s Boys of Summer.

The inflatable waterpark on Osoyoos Lake is gone. Scoopsies ice cream parlour is shuttered for the season. Rattle Snake Canyon amusement park is closed until April.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton to do in Osoyoos come autumn.

In fact, going to Osoyoos in the fall is a great way to extend your summer. With temperatures hitting the high 20s and even creeping into the low 30s, you can still enjoy pool and lake time, while also embracing the comfort of the cozy season.

My family (my husband, 10-year-old daughter and I) recently visited Osoyoos and got to take part in some incredible cultural and outdoor adventures that we’ve never experienced when visiting during the summer.

Here are some of our favourite ways to make the most of your trip to Osoyoos in fall…

Where to stay


Spirit Ridge Resort Hotel Osoyoos OkanaganSpirit Ridge ResortThis was our first time staying at Spirit Ridge Resort, which is located on the desert hillside overlooking the vineyards and Osoyoos Lake, about a 10-minute drive east from downtown Osoyoos. This 4-star Hyatt hotel “embraces the local Osoyoos Indian Band culture through art, language, food and stories.”

Spirit Ridge offers suites, condos and villas, which include full kitchens as well as barbecues. There is an adult pool as well as a family pool, complete with a waterslide. The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre and winery, Solterra Desert Spa, and The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry restaurant are all located right on the resort property. You could truly have a full vacation experience without ever leaving the resort, as it offers a wonderful mix of modern luxuries, amenities and local culture. However, as comfortable as we were here, we wanted to also get out and explore as much of Osoyoos as possible.

Where to play

SUN HILLS RIDING CENTREsun hills riding centreJanine Verreault

Want to feel like your favourite Yellowstone cowboy? Book yourself a horseback trail ride through the desert at Sun Hills Riding Centre, which specializes in small groups of one to six riders. We were fortunate enough to be guided by Sherry, one of the owners of Sun Hills, who has a wealth of knowledge about the local area and, of course, horses.

We started the approximately 90-minute tour with a quick riding lesson (basic turning and stopping commands), before heading out for a scenic ride through the sagebrush, past the orchards and vineyards, then climbing high up on the hills overlooking Osoyoos Lake. From the peak, we could see the US boundary, and also passed by an old goldmine and coyote den.

But what’s truly special about Sun Hills is the horses. Most of the horses are from rescue situations and have come to the centre in various stages of neglect, where Sherry and her partner Dave rehabilitate them. I got to ride Jack, a 20-year-old Quarter Horse who was surrendered to The Humanity for Horses Rescue; my husband rode Mick, an 18-year-old Appaloosa who was purchased at an auction and saved from slaughter; and my daughter rode Roy, a 19-year-old Quarter Horse, who Sherry purchased from a situation where he was roughly handled and used to be fearful of people. All of our horses were extremely gentle and easy to ride, and at the end, we got to feed them carrots, which was a thrill (for us and for them).

Expert tips: Wear long pants (we recommend dark-coloured) and dress for the weather. Your helmet will be provided.


This was not our first visit to Covert Farms Family Estate in nearby Oliver (about a 30-minute drive from Osoyoos), and we were eager to return. This gorgeous regenerative organic farm is a destination that’s worth adding to your itinerary whenever you visit the area.

We started our day around noon with a kid’s mini private farm tour, which is available from Wednesdays to Sundays, July 31st to October 31st ($20 for 20 minutes). My daughter got to hand-feed the heritage chickens (and a particularly vocal Silkie rooster), and also had the chance to feed Mr. Pickles the pig a bucket full of cucumbers, watermelon rinds and corn husks. She pet the super-soft short-haired sheep, saw a chicken lay an egg in the coop, and played on the massive yellow jumping pillow in the field.

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After the tour, we got to enjoy a private campfire cookout, which included a ready-to-grill kit with Two Rivers organic hot dogs and smokies, fresh buns, house-made condiments, a s’mores kit for dessert, and our very own fire pit. And, of course, our meal came with a glass of wine for my husband and me (it is a winery, after all), and a juice tasting (apple and cherry) for my daughter. The campfire cookout experience is $37.50 per adult and $15 for kids ages 18 and under, and available until the end of October.


While definitely a more sombre activity than the others, our visit to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre was impactful and meaningful. We visited the day after the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and are always eager to teach our daughter more about her aboriginal ancestry (her paternal great-grandmother was Métis).

First, we watched a 30-minute documentary called Survivors of the Red Brick School, which was produced by the Osoyoos Indian Band, and shares the experiences of residential school survivors from the St. Eugene Mission Residential School in Cranbrook, B.C. It was a vital reminder of the importance of truth and reconciliation, and how much still needs to be done. 

After the film, we explored the state-of-the-art interpretive centre, which is built into the desert hillside. There are extensive indoor and outdoor exhibit galleries that reveal the rich culture of the Okanagan people and provide an interactive experience for adults and kids alike. We enjoyed the historical photos, cultural artifacts, as well as learning about the animals in the area, including coyotes and rattlesnakes. My daughter left with a book of three legends from the Okanagan people, which I know she will treasure for years to come.

Where to eat


Coincidentally, one of the legends in my daughter’s new book told the story of how food was given to the People-To-Be, introducing the characters of Black Bear, Spring Salmon, Bitterroot and Saskatoon Berry, so we had an extra appreciation for the name of this restaurant, located in the Spirit Ridge Resort hotel where we had a very special dinner out. The restaurant features a gorgeous view overlooking Osoyoos Lake and serves up chef Murray McDonald’s modern vineyard cuisine inspired by indigenous roots.

To start, we shared the Bannock (Indigenous fry bread) & Spreads, which included white bean sumac spread; roasted corn and hot pepper succotash; sunflower seed Romesco; and stewed tomatoes ($30). We also ordered the Salmon Platter with maple candied salmon (my daughter’s favourite); smoked salmon; beet-cured gravlax; capers; assorted pickles; grainy mustard and crackers ($38). Both platters were super-fresh, delicious and large enough that we brought leftovers back to our room for snacks the next day.

For mains, I thoroughly enjoyed the Pan-seared Pacific Lingcod with chestnut, peas and chorizo ($36), a rich and comforting dish that’s perfect for fall. My husband went all out with the 16-oz Slow-braised Cache Creek Natural Beef Back Ribs served with duck fat potatoes, mushrooms, desert sage-roasted carrots, creamed kale and spruce demi ($40). There was not a morsel of meat left on those bones. My daughter chose the AAA Flat-iron Steak from the impressive and extensive kids’ menu, which came with seasonal veggies and roasted potatoes ($16).

As full as we were, we couldn’t resist dessert, and indulged with the White Chocolate Lemon Meringue Tart with marshmallow fluff ($15) and the Honey and Stewed Pear Pavlova with spruce-tip lemon meringue, burnt honey and birch cheesecake ($15) before rolling ourselves back to the room.

CONVIVIA BISTROConvivia BistroJanine Verreault

As our itinerary was packed full and we needed a night in, the team at Convivia Bistro kindly offered us the option of takeout for dinner the next night. This charming restaurant in the heart of Osoyoos (just off Main Street), serves up Italian and French cuisine paired with local wines. We started with a Spring Mixed Salad ($9.50) and French Onion soup ($12), then shared a Margherita pizza ($21) as well as a Capriocciosa pizza with garlic cream, mozzarella, Parmesan, bacon, confit onions and egg yolk ($22). It was a satisfying meal that we enjoyed with Nk’Mip’s Talon red blend (40% Syrah, 23% Malbec, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Pinot Noir), which we picked up from the winery, located right at Spirit Ridge.

JOJO’S CAFÉ AND JUNCTION 3 COFFEEHOUSEJojos Cafe in OsoyoosJanine Verreault

When you’ve got a busy schedule, it’s important that breakfast is both quick and provides lots of fuel for the day ahead. Jojo’s Café and Junction 3 Coffeehouse are the perfect spots to grab fast, delicious, homemade meals to kick-start your morning.

Jojo’s offers made-from-scratch breakfast sandwiches and treats (try the oh-so-tasty Five Bite Breakfast, a combination of eggs, Swiss cheese, back bacon, and spinach, baked in a handheld package), as well as any hot or cold beverage you could want. Junction 3 serves up hearty breakfast wraps, baked goods and a huge coffee list, including an iced chocolate, which my daughter loved.

Heading home

We always like to take our time and enjoy the drive home as it feels like you get to add another day to your vacation, and there are so many special sites that you can easily visit right off Highway 3.

SPOTTED LAKESpotted LakeDestination Osoyoos

Just a 10-minute drive out of town, you’ll find a roadside pullout for Spotted Lake. When we first caught a glimpse of it, we thought it was frozen with its large white circles spread throughout. But Spotted Lake is actually a mineral lake that is “known to the First Nations People of the Osoyoos area as kłlilx’w, and it is a sacred site that has been considered a revered place of healing for centuries.” The First Nations people believe that each of the circles has its own medicinal and healing properties. In 2001, the federal government acquired the previously privately owned land so that the Okanagan Nation can once again benefit from it, and to allow visitors to view this natural phenomenon.

KEREMEOSKEREMEOS pumpkin patchJanine Verreault

If you’re looking for all the fall feels, look no further than Keremeos in the Similkameen Valley. On Highway 3, you’ll find approximately a dozen roadside produce stands, overflowing with autumn’s harvest: apples of every variety, stone fruit aplenty (plums, nectarines, peaches), pears, tomatoes, garlic, and, of course, pumpkins. Many of the farm-front shops have the pumpkins displayed in pretty patches, which makes for perfect photos opps.


Manning ParkJanine VerreaultOf course, Manning Park is en route home and a great place to get out of the car and get some fresh air. Lightning Lake is always stunning, but it is cold at this time of year, and you can forget about any gopher sightings, as these guys start hibernating as early as August. Just be careful not to slip and fall into their holes!

On the agenda for next time

While we hoped to fit two more visits into our itinerary, we simply ran out of time. But if you’re visiting Osoyoos in fall, here are two more great options to check out.

OSOYOOS DESERT CENTREOsoyoos Desert CentreOsoyoos Desert Centre

The Osoyoos Desert Centre was opened in 1998 as part of the Desert Society’s “effort to conserve the South Okanagan’s unique habitats.” The facility includes an interpretive centre with hands-on exhibits, and a 1.5 km-elevated boardwalk, which visitors can explore on a guided or self-guided tour. The Desert Centre is open annually from May through October. (The centre closes on October 10th for the 2022 season.)

FESTIVAL OF THE GRAPEFestival of the GrapeFestival of the Grape

Need yet another reason to visit the Osoyoos area in fall? Nearby Oliver is home to the Festival of the Grape, “the premier family-friendly event of the South Okanagan’s Fall Festival Weekend.” This end-of September/early-October festival attracts more than 4,500 guests each year, where attendees can sample local and regional wines, dance to live music, and cheer on the Grape Stomp Competition. There are also food trucks, fun activities for the kids, an artisan merchant market, plus a fall art show and sale.

While Osoyoos is traditionally known as a summer escape, there’s no arguing that you can discover an entirely different—yet equally wonderful—vacation destination in the fall.