October is one of my favourite months of the year in BC. All the beautiful rich colours against a blue sky and the crisp autumn air – I never want it to end! And while there’s no shortage of crimson leaves in my own backyard, getting out of the city and taking things a little slower can be the perfect way to really soak in the season. I’m sure you’re all on the same page, but I’ve pretty much exhausted all my staycation ideas and I’m feeling very ready to revisit one of my fave spots: the Okanagan. Gary, Pierce and I always have the best time in wine country, and I’ve planned ANOTHER trip up there with our whole fam. I can’t wait to revisit all the spots we love, and it’s just as beautiful (if not more) in the fall. Everything is a little more laid back, it’s super cozy, and the views are just as breathtaking. In case you’re thinking of planning your own little BC getaway I’m sharing all my must-visit spots. Napa of the North, here we come!!!
Where to Stay
I absolutely love the Walnut Beach Resort in Osoyoos. It’s a beautiful lakeside spot that feels super romantic while still being family friendly. When we last stayed there our suite had a balcony with a view overlooking the lake which gave us all the feels when the sun went down. It also had a washer/dryer, a big tub perfect for bathing Pierce, and a full kitchen! We were just about ready to move in. I love when my away-from-home accommodation has a kitchen because it gives you the option to cook-in… or have breakfast served to you in bed by your hubby 😉 Their restaurant downstairs, Point 49 Kitchen & Bar, also has the BEST (and I seriously mean the best) pina coladas. I’ve already told our whole family that everybody has to order their own because I won’t be sharing mine.
This is seriously the best location for exploring Penticton. So central and pretty much on top of the main beach promenade which is perfect for strolling at any time of day. I love staying in Penticton because it’s only a quick drive to all the wineries in Naramata but also has really great options for eating out within walking distance. This is also a perfect spot for those new mamas out there – they had a crib for Pierce and even offered babysitting so Gary and I could go on a date night! (Unfortunately The Lakeside Resort hasn’t been offering babysitting services this year, due to the pandemic.) The Hooded Merganser restaurant is right downstairs and has an amazing brunch for recharging after one too many glasses of wine. They have amazing plant-based options and use tons of local ingredients from their very own farm. YUM!
What to Eat + Drink
The last time we were in Osoyoos we became total regulars at this spot. I’m obsessed with the blended coconut vanilla latte (try saying that 5 times fast lol) and the vegan coconut milk muesli is such an easy grab-n-go option for brekkie.
CheckMate Winery in Oliver has some seriously insta-worthy views and a great tasting. The staff are super knowledgeable and will answer any and all questions you have about the wines. If you have any first-time winos with you this is a great stop to get them warmed up and in the know. Also not to be missed if you’re a fan of Chardonnay or Merlot. Oh, and did I mention the view!? CheckMate Artisanal Winery offers 45-minute sommelier-guided tastings by reservation you can find here: https://www.exploretock.com/checkmatewinery
Whenever we’re in Osoyoos we always make a stop to Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver. They use all the best locally sourced ingredients and have amazing wine pairings for everything. The restaurant has such a beautiful patio with a view and always 10/10 service. This place really has it all! Last time we were there they even had an area to play bocce ball which was such a fun way to finish off our lunch.
Spirit Ridge’s newest restaurant The Bear, the Fish, the Root, & the Berry in Osoyoos has such a unique menu that is built around Indigenous and First Nations traditions that have been passed down through generations. The food is vibrant and exciting, and the service is no different. You can really feel that each and every detail is thought out with so much care. Pierce was even given a little stuffed animal moose as a gift! Not to mention the amazing view (hello autumn sunset scenes). We actually loved it so much here that we decided to stay at Spirit Ridge with our whole fam for our upcoming trip this fall!!
Prepare yourself for absolute date night heaven: a wine and chocolate pairing at Great Estates in Penticton. Gary and I had such a great time here and we can’t wait to go back. It was actually Gary’s favourite tasting thanks to our super knowledgeable (and fun) guide Guillame. (Guillaume has moved to a different winery, from Great Estates since we visited). I loved that you could taste and learn about wines from different vineyards under one roof. And obviously the chocolate…which they had vegan options for as well! Why should February get all the romance? Unfortunately Great Estates is no longer offering its wine and food experiences (due to the pandemic).
No wine trip to the Okanagan is complete without a visit to Poplar Grove in Penticton. Mom doesn’t know it yet, but she’ll be looking after Pierce so that Gary and I can make our annual appearance for date night here 😉 The views are in my opinion the best in the valley and it makes for such a special setting. Its restaurant called The Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery, formerly Vanilla Pod, offers custom food and wine pairings and the dining room was made for romance with soft lighting and elegant interiors. Guaranteed to be a dinner to remember, I’m always gushing about it to my girlfriends after every visit.
Things to Do
I can’t WAIT to come back to Covert Family Farms in Oliver. This was a huge highlight of our last trip and such a memorable day. We got to ride around in their vintage 1952 red Mercury truck which had Pierce sooo excited and met a little baby llama named Tina who we seriously still talk about. So cute! We also got to pick some juicy organic nectarines and had a vegan charcuterie board that blew me away. Top it all off with some sulphate-free organic wine and I was one happy mama. They also do a pumpkin patch in October which is supposed to be amazing! Check covertfarms.ca for up-to-date information on this year’s fall happenings.
While I love wine tasting as much as the next wino, it’s also nice to take a breather from the vineyards and hit a brewery! Cannery Brewing in Penticton is a super easy, laid-back spot that has really great live music every Sunday. (Please note the live music is currently on hold at Cannery Brewing). I put it under the “Do” category because last time Gary and I were here we stayed for the whole afternoon into the evening! They have lots of locally produced, fresh bar snacks to pair with their beers, and despite it being a brewery, it’s super family-friendly and Pierce had a great time.
It’s no surprise that travelling looks a little different right now than it did this time last year. Just to be on the safe side I’d recommend checking in with each individual winery and restaurant before visiting as many of them are operating at reduced capacities. The bright side is that lots of places are now accepting reservations that didn’t before! If you need any more trip planning info these three websites are my top picks and will have EVERYTHING you need!
All vacation reccos aside, I can’t wait to carve out some quality time and spend it with our family in such a special place. I’m so excited to show our parents all our favourite spots, and it’s a huge relief knowing there’s something for everybody and we can all relax and have a great time. Sit me down with a big glass of wine, a fall sunset, and my favourite people — it doesn’t get much better than that. Let me know if you get the chance to try out any of these spots, or if you have any other must-see spots in the Valley for my next visit!
A few updates with COVID precautions in effect that I am listing here for you to be aware of, if you plan on visiting in the next few weeks:
> The live music is currently on hold at Cannery Brewing.
> The Lakeside Resort hasn’t been offering babysitting services this year.
> Great Estates is no longer offering its wine and food experiences.