Vernon: Year-round centre of festivals, fun and fresh food

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Predator Ridge is considered one of the top 25 courses in Canada. 
Photo courtesy, Tourism Vernon

JOANNE ELVES

VERNON, B.C. - “Smell these!” said my daughter as she shoved a bunch of carrots at my nose. “They smell like carrots!”

I couldn’t figure out what she was getting at.

“At home they don’t smell and they taste like orange coloured sticks.”

She had a point.

We were cruising the Vernon Farmers Market, strolling the rows of fresh produce found this time of year in the Okanagan. Everything smelled fresh. The bunch of carrots were bought and instantly reduced to ferns.

Vernon sits comfortably on the north shore of Lake Okanagan in the interior of B.C. surrounded by three lakes, mountains and rolling valleys where summer are meant to be savoured by land-locked Albertans and anyone else lacking beaches and lakes and really hot days.

Festivals, beaches, scenic tours, mountain trails to hike, bike, or run and big lakes for frolicking in keep the days packed. And the food is so fresh - it came from the vine, tree, garden or farm only hours ago.

From now until the first sign of snow, there are activities to keep you exploring and eating healthy foods that taste like - like carrots.

Entertain me

Long evenings are meant for music. Thursday evenings during August expect to find an outdoor concert at the Civic Plaza in downtown Vernon. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs to hear headliners including, The Mumble Bees, The Legendary Lake Monsters, The Shawn Lightfoot Band, Cheaper than a Porsche, The Younguns, Kath & The Tom Kats, The Goods and Cod Gone Wild.

Friday nights expect to find free music played by local musicians in downtown Vernon. You are invited to stroll the shops, watch local artist work magic on their canvas and enjoy the music until the end of August.

Eat fresh

Farmers markets in Vernon, Armstrong, Lumby and Cherryville offer table after table of fresh produce, fruit and delicious baked goods like cookies and cinnamon buns.

The farmers market at Wesbild Centre is open every day while Friday nights there is a farmers market at the Village Green Mall in Vernon.

In Armstrong – less than 30 minutes north – there is a market every Saturday offering a vast array of organically grown produce.

The extra time it takes to get to Cherryville is worth it. There is usually live entertainment to keep you entertained.

Water, water everywhere

There are three lakes to choose from touching the city limits north, east and south. The delightfully large Okanagan Lake, cozy Kalamalka and the intimate Swan lakes are hosts to every water activity imaginable.

Swim, fish, waterski, SUP and play on any of these top beaches: Kalamalka Lake, Kal Lake, Juniper Bay, Jade Bay, Kaloya Regional Park, Cosens Bay, and Kekuli Bay.

Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park offers hiking, cycling and horseback riding trails if you are tired of splashing in the water. 

On the Okanagan Lake look for signs leading to: Kin Beach, Paddewheel Park, Ellison Point Beach, and Lakeshore Beach

Can you SUP?

Stand up paddle boarding is taking everyone back to the water. If you can balance and paddle at the
same time maybe it’s time to enter the 4th annual Kalavida Classic SUP festival from Aug. 31 - Sept. 1. Every level of experience can enter the races from short sprints to relays, or if you are seriously good – the 18-km Kal Lake Crossing.

Did you say FORE?

Before your go-mug of coffee is cool enough to drink, there are six seriously sweet golf courses to line up on.

Check out the new Hillview course on the east side of town or my favourite, Spallumcheen northwest of Swan Lake. The old O’Keefe Ranch across the highway always has fresh pie to savour after a good game.

Don’t forget prestigious Predator Ridge Resort near Kal Lake with its 36 holes to play. It continues to be ranked as one of Canada’s top 25 golf courses.

Mountain bike festival or fun

The rolling mountains around Vernon are fantastic for mountain biking. If you are visiting for the SUP competition, why not stop in at Silver Star Mountain Resort with your bike and ride the trails. The Silver Star Freeride Festival is the same weekend.

 Silver Star's Mountain Resort's bike park hosts the Silver Star Freeride Festival 
in late August.
Photo courtesy, Silver Star 

Countdown to winter

When summer is over, pack away the water toys and bring out the skis and snowboards. Silver Star Mountain Resort only 30 minutes from downtown is home to fresh soft powder draping 115 beginner to holy-crap-that’s-steep trails. It’s a village setting with shops, restaurants, rinks for playing pick-up shinny or the tubing park to slip down with the kids.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre near Silver Star has  more than 50 kilometres of groomed cross country trails with more than 100 km of interconnected trails to explore and another 14 km designated as snowshoe trails. If you’re a gearhead or adrenaline junky don’t despair. Some serious backcountry awaits in Silver Star Provincial Park with that steep and deep terrain you love.

Vernon is easily a place to visit anytime of the year, but if you want those carrots that taste like carrots be there anytime between July and October.

Story links:

Kalavida Classic SUP Festival

Tourism Vernon

Silver Star

Sovereign Lake

Take a look at our picture slideshow showcasing the prestige destinations shared on FestivalSeekers.com. Each picture has a story attached to it, so click on the picture to make sure you don't miss out on all the great summer destination ideas.