There are few cares floating with you down the Penticton Channel on a cloudless day in British Columbia’s sunny interior. If you get hot, jump off your floatie into the refreshing water that surrounds you. If you bump into a unicorn inflatable just downstream, well, floatie meet-and-greets are part of the fun during this classic summer activity in Penticton.

When you’re done relaxing on the waterway that connects Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, a colorful Coyote Cruises bus waits to drive you back to the other side of Penticton. This is just one way the small carbon-neutral city strives to decrease the use of fossil fuels. Better yet, Penticton’s compact downtown is so walkable that it’s a cinch to park your car on arrival and get around on foot, by bicycle, or atop a paddleboard or kayak to make your vacation fuel-free…almost.

Penticton’s green ethos extends to its restaurants and wineries, too: farm-to-table food, sustainably produced wines, and breweries that grow their own barley are local phenomena, along with weekly markets where you can buy directly from growers. With fewer crowds than other summer holiday destinations and activities that encourage you to stay in the moment, Penticton embodies slow travel. Here’s how to embrace it on your trip.

Lace up your walking shoes

Photo: Kiwanis Walking Pier/Visit Penticton

As soon as you arrive in Penticton, park your car and tuck the keys away — you can walk or cycle to most places around town. Choose a popular walking path, such as the Kiwanis Walking Pier or the Okanagan Lake promenade that parallels Okanagan Beach from Rotary Park to the S.S. Sicamous Museum, and enjoy the stops along the way. Want to zip around a little quicker? Rent a zero-emission e-scooter from Sparrow Scooters, with various locations to pick up and drop off around town.

Pay a visit to the Penticton Art Gallery to admire local and Indigenous art, or stop by the Cherry on Top Shake Shop (located right across from the beach and in the same location as Lickity Splitz ice cream shop) to enjoy a decadent ice cream “crazy shake.” If it’s Saturday, don’t miss the weekly Penticton Farmers’ Market and Downtown Penticton Community Market on Main Street, where you can buy locally crafted souvenirs like artisan soaps or condiments made from rescued fruit.

Pedal around Penticton

Photo: Max Power/Penticton E-Kruise

Wedged between two lakes, Penticton’s flat geography makes it easy to get around on two wheels instead of four. Bring your own bike or rent an e-bike from Penticton E-Kruise, Pedego Penticton, or Penticton Bike Rentals, then cycle to restaurants, wineries, or between beaches on the Penticton Channel pathway that connects Okanagan Lake Beach with Skaha Lake Beach. If you’re bringing your own bike, you can get a tune-up at The Bike Barn, or stop at one of its free bike repair stations around the city if you need a fix along your ride.

Another trail to try is the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail, a decommissioned railway line that starts at either edge of town and travels north toward Naramata and south to Okanagan Falls. Along the Naramata Bench, you’ll be tempted to pull in at wineries for tastings or explore Little Tunnel, a popular day-trip destination. Give in to those temptations! South of town, the KVR will charm you with secluded beaches along the shore of Skaha Lake, an impressive trestle bridge in Okanagan Falls, and a well-deserved cone from the original Tickleberry’s location, a local-favourite ice cream shop.

It takes more effort to get to Penticton’s mountain biking networks using your own pedal power, but with an e-mountain bike rental from Freedom The Bike Shop, you should be able to cruise up to Campbell Mountain or Three Blind Mice and still have enough energy for a moderate climb. The reward? A fast and flowy descent.

Sip whites or reds that are also green

Photo: Elephant Island Winery/Aikins Loop

Earth-friendly wine touring in and around Penticton might mean letting someone else drive your group to cut back on emissions. Choose a company like Farm to Glass Wine Tours, whose Tesla ferries oenophiles around, then level up the outing with lunch at a farm-to-table restaurant like the one at Naramata Inn. To go completely fuel-free, opt for an organised or self-guided tour where you cycle or stroll between vineyards — Hoodoo Adventure Company and Epic Cycling are two fantastic options for guided e-bike excursions.

Rather get your steps in for the day? Check out the new Aikins Loop Wine & Spirits Cooperative to walk between four wineries close to Naramata. Make your tastings even greener by picking sustainable wineries that practice regenerative agriculture, such as Tightrope Winery, Little Engine Wines, and Hillside Winery.

Get your float (or paddle) on

Photo: Visit Penticton

While in Penticton, be sure to partake in the city’s most beloved summer pastime by floating the seven-kilometre Penticton Channel between lakes. Rent single or double tubes — or inflatable “party islands” that hold up to 12 passengers if you’re travelling with family or a big group of friends — from Coyote Cruises. Opt for the company’s tube and bus combo, which includes group transportation back to the starting point to make the day more carbon-friendly.

If you’d rather be active on the water, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available at numerous spots around town, including Pier Water Sports and both Penticton Boat Rentals marina locations, as well as their new rental location at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. You could also cycle over to Skaha Marina to rent a watercraft, or pedal up to Naramata along the KVR for a rental (or lesson) from Sun N’ Sup, one of the region’s original paddleboard shops.

Fuel your body with local, seasonal food

Photo: The Bench Market/Visit Penticton

Though vineyards now outnumber orchards on the hillsides around town, local farms still grow a huge variety of veggies, fruits, and herbs. This has given rise to a strong farm-to-table movement in Penticton. Walk or cycle to spots that practice sustainability by sourcing ingredients from area producers, such as The Restaurant at Poplar Grove, or fill your picnic basket with goodies from The Bench Market, which stocks local, seasonal ingredients.

To get a little more hands on, hit up a u-pick like Keenan’s in Kaleden (a 45-minute bike ride from town) in early July to pluck the freshest cherries. Round out your haul with juicy peaches and apricots from fruit stands like the Upper Bench Fruit Farm above town. After all that walking, riding, paddling, and picking, rehydrate at Tin Whistle, a carbon-neutral brewery. You’ve earned it.

These are just a few ideas for a “fuel-free…almost” vacation in Penticton. The city also has a number of charging stations for travellers with EVs, plus other outdoor activities (think rock climbing or horseback riding) that are as fun for you as they are easy on the environment. Hurry up and start planning your visit to Penticton — then give slow, sustainable travel a go when you get there.