Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park
Waterways, not highways, were the primary mode of transportation for residents of Penticton and the Okanagan Valley in the first few decades of the 20th Century. Boats known as ‘sternwheelers’ transported everything from large cargo to passengers to mail up and down the Okanagan Valley on a daily basis. While those days are long gone, the Okanagan Inland Marine Park in Penticton has created a living museum aboard Canada’s largest remaining steel-hulled sternwheeler. The S.S. Sicamous, recognizable by its large revolving wheel at the stern, sits permanently docked on Lake Okanagan and welcomes aboard visitors for a trip through marine history. Photos, artifacts and interactive displays explain how the S.S. Sicamous served as a vital lifeline for residents of the Okanagan Valley between 1914 and 1936. There is no restaurant on board the Sicamous, however, the boat can be rented and catered to for special events and weddings. Today, residents of Penticton are more likely to be found floating like frogs down the Penticton River Channel on a warm Summer day. Two other tugboats and another sternwheeler, the S.S. Okanagan, also sit in Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park, which is only one of the Penticton area’s 16 parks.
BC Wine Information Centre
It’s worth stopping at the BC Wine Information Centre in Penticton before setting out to explore the many wineries along the wine route. Free winery maps with information about each are available at the centre; complimentary, daily wine tastings give visitors a taste of what to expect while touring the area's wineries. Courses on the basics of wine tasting, how to store wine and selecting the right wine to accompany a meal are also offered. The BC Wine Information Centre is conveniently located on the left-hand side of Highway 97 as one drives South along Lake Okanagan into Penticton. It is close to downtown Penticton and near several hotels and motels.
Penticton Rose Garden
The Penticton Rose Garden is nestled between Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park and Okanagan Beach on the shores of Lake Okanagan. Hundreds of roses decorate this park that is next to Lakeshore Drive which blossoms with hotels, motels and restaurants. Visitors may continue walking East through the garden along the lakeshore to the Penticton-Ikeda Japanese Garden and Penticton’s Art Gallery. Shoppers may instead decide to take a detour at Main Street and browse for bargains at the many boutique shops in downtown Penticton.
Penticton-Ikeda Japanese Garden
A vacation should be relaxing, and the Penticton-Ikeda Japanese Garden provides a peaceful setting in which to take a deep breath and contemplate life; it was created in honour of a relationship between Penticton and the city of Ikeda, Japan. Rocks, trees, water, and plants foster a serene rest-stop for visitors who wish to unwind after an active day of wine touring, golfing or water-sport activities. The garden is located at the East end of the Lake Okanagan waterfront, not far from the Yacht Club and Art Gallery. Strolling the lakeshore from Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park along the beach and to the gardens is an excellent way to relax before heading back to the hotel.
Nixdorf Classic Cars
Make a pit stop and fill up on nostalgia at the Nixdorf Classic Cars showroom located just outside of Penticton. Each one of the over 100 fully-restored vintage automobiles is like a time capsule for a bygone era: from the dirty thirties, through the postwar boom of the 50’s and into the gas guzzling age of the 1970’s. Nixdorf’s collection includes a powerful, super-charged 1970 Ford Mustang, sleek and sophisticated, 1964 Cadillac Coupe DeVille and a flashy 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe Convertible. Artifacts and a Juke Box cranking out oldies tunes help to further create a trip down memory lane through good times, hard times and times when life seemed so much simpler.
Mascot Gold Mine
Life on a narrow cliff would be dangerous enough, but it’s hard to imagine trying to mine that cliff if it were 1-kilometre off the Similkameen Valley floor. Driving the winding, mountain road to this mining site that operated from 1936 to 1949 is a dizzying experience. However, it pales in comparison to the stomach-turning descent into the mine down a flight of 589 wooden stairs that cling to the side of the cliff’s rock face. A mine tunnel sound and light show will provide a glimpse of what it was like trying to hammer gold from deep inside a narrow sliver of rock. Tours of the original mine cookhouse, bunkhouse and community buildings will give visitors a taste of the perils involved in living on the edge of a cliff. A visit to a Penticton beach or floating down the Penticton River Channel might be a better option for persons who are afraid of heights but not the water.
White Lake Observatory
Tired feet may have a rest and let the eyes take over at the White Lake Observatory that is located 15-minutes South of Penticton near Okanagan Falls. Visitors may tour the observatory to test and learn about the various telescopes used to map gases in the sky thousands or millions of miles away. One such telescope at the observatory helped to map the Milky Way galaxy that Earth sits at the edge of. The image of 200 billion or so stars that dot this spiral-shaped galaxy is perhaps the only one comparable to that of tubers floating like lily pads down the narrow Penticton River Channel. The White Lake Observatory is open year round and a convenient attraction for vacationing families who are staying in Penticton at a hotel, motel, resort, RV park, or campsite.