Drenched in sunshine on the shore of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, Summerland was incorporated as a municipality in 1906, thanks to the vision of John Moore Robinson, who enticed future orchardists to the area proclaiming summer weather forever.
After establishing the community of Peachland on Okanagan Lake to the north, Robinson moved south to create a lakeshore community with the patronage of Sir Thomas Shaugnessy, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The name Summerland was chosen by Robinson’s brother, a Methodist minister, inspired by a hymn sung at seances.
Summerland is a theme town done in the same spirit as Osoyoos, only this time they chose to do it olde English Tudor style. Old Summerland is down on the water, but most of the town’s business now thrives up on the hill.
Summerland is serious fruit growing country, rivaled only by Kelowna as the biggest growing and processing town in the Okanagan. Only in the Okanagan could you find Eden-like farms and orchards, world-renowned wineries, and rustic heritage ranches all in one place.
The name Summerland evokes images of warm beaches, bright blue skies and friendly people. Summerland offers all of these things, and more.
Location: Summerland is located on Highway 97 on the western shore of Okanagan Lake, 12 miles (20 km) north of Penticton and 18 miles (28 km) south of Peachland. Directly across Okanagan Lake from Summerland is the community of Naramata.
Orchards: The Okanagan Valley, stretching from Osoyoos at the US border north to Vernon, is laden with orchards, making it especially appealing in spring when the fruit trees are in full bloom.
Okanagan Wineries: Fruit aside, winemaking is the hot ticket in the Okanagan, and British Columbians have long taken inordinate pride in their wines. Summerland’s six wineries have their own unique character and you are invited to join them year round and for an array of special events during the Spring & Fall Okanagan Wine Festivals. Take a self-guided wine tour, and experience the magic first hand.
Wineries in the Okanagan Valley
Pick up the pamphlet of the Walking Tour of Summerland, available at the museum or Visitor Centre. Although many of the town’s historical structures have been lost through fire, Summerland still boasts many fine old buildings, providing us with a link to the past and a key to the future.
Visit the Summerland Trout Hatchery on Lakeshore Drive. Open for self-guided tours, seven days per week.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day, pack a picnic lunch and visit the 6-hectare (15-acre) Summerland Ornamental Gardens, established in 1914 as a gardening showcase for new homeowners to the rough-edged frontier. Situated above Agriculture Canada’s Pacific Agri-Food Research Station, where scientists are still developing new varieties of apples, cherries, grapes and other fruit, the Gardens include rose gardens, a Xeriscape garden, a butterfly garden, a cactus garden, vegetable plots, a sundial, sculpture, meadows, and much more. The Canyon View Path behind the main lawn offers breathtaking views of the Trout Creek Canyon and the Kettle Valley Railway Bridge. Friends of the Garden are the charitable society that maintain this garden and welcome donations.
Trace the history of Summerland at the Summerland Museum & Archives on Wharton Street next to the library. Displays, photographs and videos depict the land, pioneers, farming, packinghouses, Kettle Valley Railway and the early homes of the Okanagan Valley.
Did you know? Summerland was the site of the first electric light service in the Okanagan in 1905, and the first college in Western Canada in 1906. The largest steel girder bridge of its kind in North America spans the Trout Creek in Summerland, built in 1913. Sam McGee, immortalized in the Robert Service poem Cremation of Sam McGee was a Summerland pioneer from 1909 to 1912.
All aboard! The Kettle Valley Railway offers a unique two-hour journey on one of BC’s few remaining fully operational steam railways. From May to October, enjoy a tour along a preserved ten-kilometre section of the original railway. Constructed between 1910 and 1914, the Kettle Valley Railway was an engineering marvel, linking the towns of southern British Columbia, climbing from 1100 to 4000 feet above sea level, and travelling over 18 trestle bridges. The locomotive, a 1924 Shay steam engine, pulls two 1950s passenger coaches, the Kettle Car (open air) and the Kaboose.
Take the Back Road to Princeton! This has always been a favourite day trip for locals and visitors alike, taking in the great scenery and viewing the Okanagan landscape ‘from the top’. After enjoying the pleasurable sights along the back road, take Highway 97 back to Summerland through Keremeos and Penticton.
For awe-inspiring views of Okanagan Lake and Summerland, hike the trails up to the summit at Giant’s Head Mountain Park, an extinct volcano which is now a mountain with a face that resembles the profile of a man. There is a parking lot close to the summit, and hiking trails from there to the park.
Beaches: There are three developed beaches on Okanagan Lake at Kickininee Provincial Park: Kickininee, Pyramid, and Soorimpt (which features a boat launch). Take Hwy 97 about 6 km south of Summerland, and bring your snorkelling gear to explore the lake’s treasures.
Visit in May and you’ll catch the Good Will Shakespeare Festival.
Sun-Oka Beach Provincial Park, 6 km south of Summerland on Hwy 97, has one of the most superb beaches in the valley and features two public boat launches nearby. Its name combines the words ‘sunny’ and ‘Okanagan’.
There are 168 campsites in two separate campgrounds on the west side of the lake in Okanagan Lake Provincial Park, 10 km north of Summerland. This is a scenic, well-developed site, with sandy beaches along the lake backed by uplands of ponderosa pine and sagebrush. The park is open year-round and is suitable for day use and picnics, but campers should be prepared for crowds during the peak season.
Across Okanagan Lake, opposite Peachland, are 10,000 hectares of remote wilderness in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. There is no road access into the park; it’s boat, bicycle, or hike-in only. Secondary roads from Kelowna offer access to parking lots on the park’s northeastern boundary. Souls looking for more undisturbed places will not want to miss the wilderness walk-in campsites in the park, which is well suited to backwoods camping.
Hiking: Hiking trails provide an excellent opportunity to ramble around and see unique plants and animal life in this semidesert wilderness region. The lake and mountain views are good from the top of Okanagan Mountain, but wear sturdy footwear (this park is in rattlesnake country) and carry water between camping areas if you’re hiking in summer. In addition to the backcountry campsites, facilities also include horse-loading ramps in the north and south parking lots, as well as marine campsites and mooring buoys on Okanagan Lake. Hike to the top of Okanagan Mountain on the Divide Lake North Trail (moderate; 16 km return) from the Rimrock Rd parking lot for beautiful views of the lake to the west and the Monashees to the east, and check out the four archaeological sites in the park.
Golf: Summerland offers two fine golf courses: Summerland Golf and Country Club is set amongst pine and poplar trees and perched upon a majestic plateau 300 meters above Okanagan Lake, offering a breathtaking view of the area. 18 Holes, 6,555 yards, Par 72. Sumac Ridge Golf Club is a 9-hole public golf course located 1 km North of Summerland on Hwy 97. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Okanagan Lake: Sun seekers can enjoy miles of warm sandy beaches on Okanagan Lake, where public beaches around. Sample the sand at Powell Beach, Kin Park, Gordon Beggs Rotary Beach, Peach Orchard Beach and Crescent Beach.
Kettle River Recreation Area: The Kettle Valley Railway right of way remains largely intact today, and open to use by outdoor recreationists. The railway forms a spectacular cycling and hiking route, as it winds its way through mountain passes, valleys, towns, tunnels and over the trestle bridges of Myra Canyon. Users should note that bridges and tunnels along the route are no longer maintained, and may be unsafe to travel on.
Apex Mountain Ski Resort near Apex Mountain Provincial Recreation Area is located 32 km southwest of nearby Penticton off Hwy 97. Justly renowned in western Canada as one of the three prime ski and snowboard destinations in the Okanagan Valley, it’s fast becoming a popular destination for summer hikers and mountain bikers. The provincial recreation area covers Mount Riorda and Beaconsfield Mountain. From the summits of these mountains, you will enjoy the vistas of Manning and Cathedral Provincial Parks, Peachland Hills, and the rolling Okanagan Highland. More than anything else, skiers and snowboarders will love the fluffy powder snow that accumulates here. Powder fills the gun barrels of twelve steep chutes that lead skiers down from the peak of Beaconsfield Mountain (elevation 7,187 feet/2178 m), reached by the high-speed quad Westbank chairlift. The mountain is also served by a triple chair and a T-bar. Total vertical rise from the base to the peak is 2,000 feet (605 m). The 50 trails at Apex are divided between 16 percent novice, 48 percent intermediate, 18 percent advanced, and 18 percent expert ability levels. Almost anything’s possible when you have ideal conditions, and light crowds to boot. Apex Alpine also offers 7.5 miles (12 km) of cross-country trails. The trailhead is located beside the resort’s RV park. Skiing is free on the cross-country trails. Skiing & Winter Activities in the South Okanagan Valley.
Just 6 kilometres from Apex Mountain Resort is the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre in Nickel Plate Provincial Park. Access to the 30 km of groomed and track-set trails here is from Hwy 97 in Penticton on the Apex Mountain Road or northeast of Hedley via a 30-km gravel road off Hwy 3A. The weather conditions that make downhill skiing at Apex such a joy provide light powder snow at Nickel Plate.
Darke Lake Provincial Park is about 20 km northwest of Summerland off Hwy 97 on Prairie Valley Rd (20 km of gravel road). It has a small campground (5 vehicle/tent sites), with good rainbow and brook trout fishing. In winter, the lake is the site of ice fishing and skating. From Darke Lake, it’s only 4 km farther to Eneas Lakes Provincial Park, a lovely undeveloped area consisting of four lakes on a fir- and pine-forested plateau. It’s 20 km west of Peachland; road access is limited and rough, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.