On sunny spring days, British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake shines like a mirror, reflecting mountains and pine trees as you kayak north from the Penticton waterfront. Giant’s Head, one of the valley’s extinct volcanoes, looms across the lake. Come ashore on a shady beach, unpack the local baked goods you brought from town, and imagine the area’s history. Folks used to arrive here by sternwheeler before the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) was completed.

A hundred years ago, Penticton enticed visitors looking for a bit of sun in a region that was becoming the province’s fruit basket. Today, it appeals to people like you: travellers seeking outdoor adventure on the lake and in the surrounding mountains. In the warmer months, the city’s mild climate, dry trails, and bluebird days make it a top destination for a wide range of recreation, from kayaking on Okanagan Lake to hiking, cycling, rock climbing, and more.

Spring is less busy than summer, so there’s plenty of room on the beach, at the trailhead, and inside winery tasting rooms and craft breweries for après. Here’s how to achieve peak recreation in Penticton this season.

Hike for vineyard and valley views…

Photo: Jon Adrian/Naramata Bench Wineries Association

Come spring, most of the trails around Penticton are snow-free, signaling the return of hiking season. Warm up with an easy walk like the stroll from Vancouver Place to McCulloch Trestle on the KVR Trail, a onetime railway line that’s now a recreational pathway. Venture a bit farther north along the KVR to stop at a winery like Ruby Blues or a cidery like Creek & Gully (both are a quick detour off the trail), or sample German-style beers at Abandoned Rail Brewing.

Naramata Creek Falls is a short, shady hike up to a pretty waterfall that’s a nice choice on a sunny spring day. Wear sturdy shoes and bring extra socks in case your feet get wet on the creek crossings. Another classic is the trek up Munson Mountain. Not only will it take you right above the famous Penticton sign with Okanagan Lake below, but you’ll also get a panorama of the Naramata Bench and its patchwork of vineyards.

For more of a challenge, drive to nearby Summerland and hoof it up Giant’s Head on the Grind Trail (be prepared, it’s steep) or take the Friendly Giant Trail for a more moderate climb to the top. You can also head 10 minutes south of Penticton and explore the network of trails in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park — keep an eye out for rock climbers ascending the park’s steep crags (more on that below).

…or put the pedal to the bike trails.

Photo: Evan Wishloff, Swagman

Penticton is quickly gaining a reputation as an epic place to bike. You’ll understand why as soon as you start riding the trails maintained by the Penticton and Area Cycling Association (PACA).

Get your quads firing on Campbell Mountain’s short cross-country loops, catching eyefuls of the lake and vineyards as you go. In April and May, look for yellow Okanagan sunflowers blooming on the mountain’s west-facing slopes. When you’re ready for a more technical ride, try Three Blind Mice and its extensive network of trails, which wind past rocky bluffs and through stands of ponderosa pine with fast, flowy riding. Kick things off on Lookout Loop, a 12.7-kilometre intermediate circuit that showcases the terrain and vistas (if you dare to look up!) that have put Penticton’s mountain biking trails on the map.

For a more leisurely pedal, don’t miss the famous KVR Trail that starts at the edge of town. It’s an easy 17-kilometre cycle up to Little Tunnel, and you can hit a winery or two on the ride back. If you don’t have wheels, you can rent a bike or e-bike from a few different spots, including Penticton E-Kruise, Pedego Penticton, Epic Cycling, and Freedom The Bike Shop.

Get out on the water…

Photo: Stirl and Rae Photography/Hoodoo Adventures

There’s nothing quite as mesmerizing as dipping a paddle into Okanagan Lake and watching a reflection of the surrounding landscape ripple across its glassy surface. Even in spring when the water is still too cold to swim, piloting a kayak or SUP is the perfect way to get in tune with Penticton’s lakeside lifestyle.

Rent a kayak from Pier Water Sports in town (opening May long weekend) and start paddling right from the city’s waterfront, or book a banana boat ride for more of a thrill on the water. Head to the Sun n’ Sup paddleboard shop in the hamlet of Naramata for a leisurely float in the protected waters around Wharf Park. For a few tips on technique, plus a guide to point out the sights and supply snacks, join a kayak tour with an outfitter like Hoodoo Adventure Company. (Or even better, check out their Wine & Kayak Tour!)

…or up on the crags.

Photo: Kari Medig/Destination BC

Just south of Penticton, formidable cliffs rise on the east side of Skaha Lake, revealing multiple faces of gneiss rock in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. The park is a magnet for climbers, with over 1,200 climbing routes of varying grades that are easy to reach via a short walk or hike from the parking lot. This accessibility, plus a climbing season that runs from March to October, makes Penticton one of the best places to rock climb in the country.

But you don’t have to be an expert to climb here. Companies like Skaha Rock Adventures offer full-day climbing and rappelling courses that cover all the basics, from belaying and ascent skills to safety and hazard assessment.

Hit the links and keep on adventuring.

Photo: Visit Penticton/Penticton Golf & Country Club

With six 18-hole courses and six 9-hole courses in Penticton and the South Okanagan area, plus 2,000 hours of annual sunshine and a season that stretches from March to November, Penticton is one of Canada’s premier golf destinations. Tee off at the Penticton Golf & Country Club, a championship course with mountain views, shady weeping willows, manicured gardens, and water features. The valley’s original 18-hole course not only has a reputation for birdies but also for bird-watching from fairways next to the Penticton Channel (or watching floaters on a summer day).

A short drive south will bring you more golfing options, including Fairview Mountain in Oliver and Osoyoos Golf Club in Osoyoos. End any game with a pint of local craft beer or a glass of wine at the clubhouse.

Strutting around fairways is one way to spend a spring afternoon in Penticton. So is ziplining, horseback riding, sailing, or fishing. With so many rewarding ways to get outside and into nature, you’re going to have to visit and discover the rest for yourself.