Linden Gardens, Kaleden Photo: Kim Walker
By Kimberly Walker
The South Okanagan is full of rolling vineyards, steep cliffs, and small communities just waiting to be explored. While the larger Okanagan communities of Penticton, Kelowna, and Vernon offer all the amenities and conveniences of a city, there is something especially relaxing about escaping the crowds and finding your own little piece of paradise “out in the country.”
Between Oliver and Penticton lies the perfect stretch of countryside where the hustle and bustle of the Okanagan melts away – with the exception of Tickleberry’s in Okanagan Falls, which is always, for good reason, busy. This delectable sweet shop serves up the most outrageous ice cream – both in sheer number of flavours (72!) and the overall size of a “single” serving (3 scoops!).
Once you are well fed with ice cream, head south to Vaseux Lake Provincial Park. The real gem in this park is the Environment Canada Waterfowl Sanctuary day use area just north of the small campground. In this area, a boardwalk through the wetlands provides plenty of opportunity to soak in the scenery. At the end of the boardwalk, a multi-story viewing platform lets you get an elevated view of the lake and the diverse bird life for which it provides habitat. Looking to the south, McIntyre Bluff – towering over the community of Oliver – stands out prominently. To the north, wetland habitat stretches away from the viewing tower. The walk along the boardwalk is not long, but plan to spend some time simply sitting on the benches and enjoying the bird song.
If you are craving an even more unique South Okanagan destination, head to White Lake to visit the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. This one-of-a-kind destination is home to a number of telescopes that are nothing like you would probably expect. The John A. Galt Telescope is a dish 26 metres in diameter and the CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) Telescope has no moving parts and is made from what looks like four giant snowboarding half-pipes. There is also an enormous telescope from the 1960s consisting of 1700 cedar posts strung with wire in the shape of a T and extending for 1.3 kilometres! If all of this seems a little overwhelming, visit on a Sunday afternoon for a guided tour from observatory staff. The site is open to self-guided tours year round with extended weekend hours from Easter to Thanksgiving. Make sure you pop by the Visitor Centre at the site and test out the Whisper Dishes, where you can speak in a whisper into one dish and be heard loud and clear in the other dish despite the significant space between them.
After leaving the Radio Observatory, take a drive (or cycle!) through the rolling countryside along Fairview White Lake Road and Green Lake Road. With only the occasional agricultural property for company, this drive will allow you to loop the White Lake Grasslands Protected Area and will return you to Okanagan Falls in under and hour.
Upon your return to Okanagan Falls, head out into the countryside in the other direction in order to visit Liquidity Wines and the National Geographic Photo Ark featuring images of species in captivity which are largely at risk of extinction. Photographer Joel Sartore’s work will be on display at Liquidity until September 3, 2018 and is well worth a visit.
If you are looking for an escape from the South Okanagan heat, head for Linden Gardens in Kaleden. One step into this garden oasis will have you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. A popular wedding venue, Linden Gardens makes a great mid-week destination if you are searching for a little peace and quiet. With 9 acres of lush gardens and water features, it is easy to lose yourself while strolling walkways with names such as Azalea Alley and Day Lily Dive. The Frog City Café, located right in the heart of the gardens, is the perfect place for a snack, drink, or lunch of delicious soup and sandwiches in the dappled sunshine.
If you are looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, Okanagan Falls and Kaleden in the South Okanagan offer plenty of places to explore away from the crowds.
Published: August 9, 2018
Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.