The Getaway
15 Things to Do in Osoyoos

There's nowhere quite like Osoyoos, the British Columbia town that's home to Canada's only desert and its warmest lake. This vibrant destination combines natural beauty, a rich cultural heritage and history and plenty of exciting activities that should please all ages and interests.

Osoyoos sits less than 2 miles from the U.S. border, making it an ideal cross-border destination and a perfect stop on a cross-country road trip. And there's so much worth stopping for! A lake just made for swimming and exploring, sprawling vineyards open for tours and tasting sessions, family-friendly activities, cultural discovery and a world of outdoor adventure are waiting for you.

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01 Explore Osoyoos Lake

Osoyoos beach walk. Osoyoos lake overview on warm summer day, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada

Big beautiful Osoyoos is Canada's warmest freshwater lake, with average temperatures of 75°F in the summer months. Its temperate waters, gorgeous sandy beaches and graceful surrounding landscapes make the lake a little slice of paradise.

The water is clean and gorgeous and the beaches are welcoming and safe for all the family. Dive into a range of watersports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, tubing, boating, and tubing, or just make the most of the warmer waters and take a dip surrounded by incredible views.

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02 Visit the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre

British Columbia Canada,June 22,2017:Three tipis and a metal characiture to show a typical Okanagan village. Bob C / Shutterstock.com

To really gain an understanding of the history and natural splendor of Osoyoos, you can't miss a visit to the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Through a variety of exhibits and trails, this unique interpretative center is the perfect place to learn about the local desert ecosystem and the land's indigenous culture.

As well as walking trails, hands-on displays and a pair of multi-media theaters, the center has several recreated Aboriginal structures for you to explore, such as a tipi and sweat lodge. And if you're an animal fan, look out for the Rattlesnake Research Program, where you can discover rare insights into the lives of Western rattlesnakes, Great Basin gopher snakes, and their role in the local ecosystem.

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03 Discover local wineries

Wine Vineyards in the south Okanagan near Pentiction British Columbia Canada with Vaseux Lake and mountain cliffs in the background

Canada isn't exactly famed for its wines, but after a visit to one of Osoyoos' wonderful wineries, you'll find yourself thinking that has to change. The sun-soaked vineyards of the region make for great quality wines, with varieties to suit every palate.

Whether you're a dedicated wine buff or you just love to share a bottle over dinner, you'll have an amazing time on an Osoyoos vineyard tour or tasting session. Tour options include limo tours, hop-on hop-off shuttles and fun themes like 'Corks and Cactus' or the 'Sẁiẁs Spirit Tours', which invite you to share in the living culture of the indigenous Okanagan people as you discover hidden gems not found on other tasting events.

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04 Marvel at the Spotted Lake

Spotted Lake in British Columbia, Canada

Osoyoos' Spotted Lake is a geological wonder like nothing you've ever seen before. For much of the year, it appears to be a beautiful but rather ordinary lake. But come summer, much of its water evaporates, revealing its rich mineral content—the different minerals become concentrated and form the pattern of spots the lake is famous for. It's an ever-changing natural tapestry of blues, greens, and yellows, with the spots changing in color and size as more water evaporates or the weather changes.

Spotted Lake is of deep cultural, as well as geological, importance. Known as kłlilx'w to the Osoyoos area's First Nations people, the lake is a sacred site, believed by the local Syilx people to hold unique, individual healing properties within each of its circles. To preserve this special place, no development is allowed in the area, giving lucky visitors the honor of continuing to share its beauty with the First Nations people who protect it.

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05 Tee off at championship golf courses

A golf course in the Okanagan Valley near Osoyoos British Columbia Canada with Osoyoos Lake and mountains in the background

With not one but two elite courses boasting sensational views, Osoyoos is a dream destination for any golfer.

At Osoyoos Golf Club, the only desert-style golf course in Canada, you can take on 36 holes of championship golf—right in the heart of BC's heady wine country. And tucked away amid vineyards and lush rolling hills, you'll find Sonora Dunes, a truly unique 9-hole golf course. Other great options include the truly stunning Fairview Mountain Golf Club and Inkaneep Point Reserve, right on the shores of Osoyoos Lake.

These beautifully appointed greens are open to golfers of all skill levels. So, whether you're a complete novice or a seasoned pro, head out, have some fun, and soak up the incredible views.

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06 Enjoy winter sports at Mount Baldy

Just a short drive from Osoyoos, you'll find the Baldy Mountain Resort, a family-friendly ski and snowboard destination with something for everyone—from groomed ski runs with perfect powder snow to beautiful shaded glades begging to be explored.

With a variety of trails and runs to suit all ability levels, Mount Baldy is the perfect place to try out exciting winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and disc golf. Beginners can join the resort's Snow School or choose from the many tuition options, and rentals are available for all the equipment you may need.

07 Experience the thrill of Area 27 Motorsports Park

Calling all speed junkies, gearheads, and car enthusiasts! Area 27 is a luxury motorsports club with a unique racetrack that takes advantage of the area's natural changes in elevation and features a variety of corners designed to test even the most skilled drivers.

If you want to try the electrifying circuit for yourself, you can book a variety of experiences, from 3-hour off-roading challenges to multi-day academies designed to teach you to master any racetrack. The club also hosts thrilling race days and events throughout the year.

08 Take a walk through history at the Osoyoos Museum

The Osoyoos & District Museum and Archives is home to around 10,000 fascinating artifacts that bring the area's rich history to life. The museum's focus is on telling the community stories of Osoyoos and the areas surrounding it through exciting exhibitions and diverse collections.

Every aspect of the area's history is covered, from its natural habitats and indigenous culture to farming and urban development. Highlights include a vast archive of photographs, antique farming equipment, and a timelessly charming mural painted by celebrated Canadian artist Jack Campbell.

09 Make a splash with Watersports and Boat Adventures

You can really let your adventurous side run free in Osoyoos—and where better than on the water? There are tons of exciting watersport options you can try out, including wake surfing and wake skating, jet skiing, water skiing and kneeboarding. Or, if you prefer the laid back life, why not spend a tranquil day exploring Lake Osoyoos on a paddleboard or rental boat?

There are several rental companies in and around Osoyoos where you can get kitted out with everything you need for a wild (or relaxed) day on the water. Surf Osoyoos, ATB Water Sports, and Wakepilot at Walnut Beach Resort are all highly regarded and well-reviewed, so you can just pick whichever is most convenient for your location and dive right into the adventure.

10 Hike and bike on scenic trails

With so much natural beauty all around, there are few more enjoyable ways to spend your time than simply wandering or cycling Osoyoos' many trails and getting lost in nature for a day.

For spectacular views, hike or bike along the Mount Kobau trail, which takes you past incredible sweeping vistas over the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. If you're hoping for magical wildlife encounters, try the Osoyoos Oxbows trail, which takes you through protected wetlands for exceptional bird watching opportunities, or the Nk'Mip Desert Loop where you can also learn more about indigenous history and experience the unique desert landscape and plants.

Experienced hikers shouldn't miss the Nʕaylintn (McIntyre Bluff) trail for some of the best views in Osoyoos—and unbelievable photos to immortalize them—while mountain bikers will want to try the awesome Skyfall or chunky Punch Bowl trails.

11 Relax at a rejuvenating spa

If you need a break from all the exploration and adventure, then a well-earned pampering session at one of Osoyoos' spas will have you refreshed and raring to go again in no time.

At Solterra Desert Spa, you can indulge in a range of rejuvenating treatments that take inspiration and use ingredients from the desert landscape that surrounds it. Discover deep relaxation with a desert stone massage or desert sacred mud wrap. Levia Spa at the Watermark Beach Resort offers a wide range of treatments, including massage, reiki, reflexology and a floatpod experience, as well as a range of hair and beauty services.

12 Attend vibrant festivals and events

Osoyoos has a strong and vibrant community spirit, showcased in its annual festivals and celebrations.

Oliver's Annual Fruits and Roots Expo is a celebration of the area's thriving agriculture and proud heritage, held in the summer. The two-day festival usually includes a colorful parade, rock 'n' roll picnic, arts shows and demonstrations, a petting zoo, fruits and roots contests and even a wacky vegetable car race!

2023 saw the arrival of the first South Okanagan Fire & Ice Festival, a thrilling winter extravaganza that the organizers hope to make an annual event. The festival invites locals and visitors alike to come together and celebrate winter in the valley, with food, wine, and culture at the forefront. Previous highlights included a dazzling fireworks and bonfire display and the spectacular Fire & Ice Carnival.

Other exciting Osoyoos events include the Pride Arts festival, craft fairs, lively St Patrick's Day celebrations, wine tastings, estate dinners, farmers' markets, Baldy Mountain's annual Slackcountry Cup, Easter festivities, and so much more—there's always something happening, in this joyful town!

13 Shop for unique local art and crafts

Osoyoos has a growing arts and crafts scene, allowing you to pick up the perfect memento or special gift. Stop by the Okanagan Art Gallery or the Art Gallery Osoyoos to discover emerging local talent, or look out for one of the many local events with bustling stalls selling handicrafts and one-off art pieces.

If you visit between May and September, then be sure to check out the Osoyoos Farmers' and Artisan Market, where you can pick up all sorts of homemade goods—from homegrown produce to local crafts and works of art.

14 Explore the International Hike and Bike Trail

Beginning at the north end of Osoyoos Lake, the International Hike and Bike Trail stretches just over 11 miles and winds through beautiful vineyards and picturesque farmland. Hop on your bike or take a leisurely walk along the Okanagan River Channel and soak up the scenery— make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, especially in the wetlands area where visitors include turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks.

The wide trail is relatively flat and well-kept, making it easy to navigate and a great way for anyone to get a feel for the area and take some time out to enjoy Osoyoos' natural beauty.

15 Enjoy fun for the whole family at Rattlesnake Canyon

Located just a block away from Osoyoos Lake, Rattlesnake Canyon is an amusement park with attractions and entertainment for visitors of all ages. Themed after a western mining town, the park is free to enter and has plenty to keep the whole family entertained for a day or more.

Attractions include go-karts, bumper boats, aeroballs, mini golf, a climbing wall, arcades, and a host of fairground-style rides and amusements. You can even go for ice cream in the Okanagan's only authentic windmill!

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