Vernon (population: 33,494) lies in the northern end of the Okanagan Valley, by Okanagan, Kalamalka and Swan Lakes. A four-season vacation
destination, it's surrounded by orchards, golf courses and mountains, whose upper reaches are blanketed in deep, fluffy powder in winter.
Vernon was incorporated in 1892 and is an old city by Okanagan Valley standards. Its older residential streets are lined with graceful heritage homes and leafy, mature trees. Vernon is best known for the many heritage-themed murals on its downtown buildings, its rich agricultural heritage, laid-back lake culture and winter carnival.
Vernon overlooks three lakes, so summertime here is very water-oriented. You can fish, kayak, swim and scuba dive. You can even rent a houseboat and have all your supplies delivered to you on Kalamalka, Okanagan or Mabel Lake. Other things to do in summer include hiking, golfing on one of 15 nearby courses, rock climbing, canoeing, Heritage Walking Tours, winery tours, boat cruises, sports tournaments and relaxing on one of the many local beaches.
In winter, the city holds one of Canada's largest winter carnivals. It's also just 30 minutes away from Silver Star Mountain, a major ski resort that offers snowmobiling, skating, snowshoeing and dogsledding in addition to superb downhill skiing and snowboarding. And you can always shop or tour local museums, galleries and heritage sites.
Vernon sits in a beautiful spot at the northern end of the Okanagan Valley. Highlights of the surrounding landscape include freshwater lakes; rich farmland; rolling, forested hills; and the Monashee Mountain Range.
There are many hiking trails, cycling paths, beaches and
golf courses within easy reach of the city. One local course, Predator Ridge, has been ranked among the top three courses in the country. Other nearby courses include Spallumcheen, York, Hillview and the Vernon Golf & Country Club. Other popular outdoor pursuits include rock climbing at Cougar Canyon, sky diving at the Vernon Airport as well as parasailing and diving at Okanagan Lake.
Vernon has many terrific attractions that will appeal to every member of your family. Davison Orchards is a wonderful place to tour, pick fruit and flowers, have lunch or attend events that include Art in the Orchard, Apple Fest, Canada Day Gospel Music and the Family Pumpkin Festival. You can tour Planet Bee, the largest honeybee observatory in Western Canada, take a day trip to dig for Okanagan wildfire opal, mix fun and learning at the Science Centre or spend an afternoon sluicing through waterslides.
Vernon has a well-deserved reputation as a city of serene, natural beauty.
Polson Park, located in the heart of the city, has large shade trees, a rose garden, water park, playing fields and a fountain. The rookery, also in the city, is home to a large group of nesting great blue herons. There are three provincial parks near Vernon: Ellison, Kalamalka and Kekuli. The area's only underwater dive park is located in Ellison Provincial Park, which, along with Kekuli Provincial Park, allows overnight camping. All three parks have well-marked hiking trails, while Ellison and Kalamalka Lakes lay claim to beautiful beaches.
Visit the Allan Brooks Nature Centre for information, displays and programs that will improve your knowledge and awareness of the Northern Okanagan's natural environment. Situated on a grassland knoll at the confluence of the Okanagan and Coldstream Valleys, the centre is a wonderful vantage point for appreciating the exceptional ecological diversity of the area - the countryside within view supports no less than five ecosystems! A walking trail around the centre provides a first-hand look at indigenous plants and wildlife. It's also a perfect picnic setting.
Vernon overlooks three lakes. All of them have pristine, sandy beaches, so there is no shortage of exquisite settings for a little escape from it all. Kalamalka Lake is particularly beautiful because of its unusual turquoise hue. Its three main beaches are Cosens Bay, Jade and Juniper Bay. While there are many wonderful beaches around Okanagan Lake, Paddlewheel and Kin Beaches are closest to the city. For those looking to indulge in a spa experience, a number of businesses in the city offer spa services. There is also a full-service luxury resort and spa in a neighbouring village.
Water-oriented recreation is very popular with both locals and visitors in Vernon. The main beach at Kalamalka Lake, in the southwest, is well equipped with a swimming pier, beach volleyball courts as well as kayak and boat rentals. Okanagan Lake, to the west, boasts the only underwater dive park in the area and is also a popular spot for scanning the water for signs of the legendary lake monster,
Ogopogo. Kin Beach and Paddlewheel Park, also on Okanagan Lake, feature grassy, shaded picnic areas and playgrounds. Cruise Okanagan offers licensed cruises of Okanagan Lake. Houseboating is popular in Vernon, where you can rent everything you need for a floating vacation on Kalamalka, Okanagan or Mabel Lakes. Finally, if you like to fish, there are many smaller lakes in the area to choose among.
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