Summer Holidays: How to Road Trip to the Okanagan

It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for the Classic Canadian Road Trip!

These Okanagan roads were meant for drives like this. Curving through lush mountain passes, cruising with the windows down along glistening lakes, stopping at quirky roadside attractions, it’s what memories are made of.

The Journey is More Important than the Destination

(Make that your mantra.) If all you needed to do was get there, you’d be taking a much more expeditious method of transportation, right? “There” will still be there at the end of the road. Enjoy this vast country of ours along the way.

Reflection of hillside on Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes in the BC’s Okanagan Valley

First of all, it’s Canada. With only 35 million people in the second largest country on the planet, there’s a lot of room for beauty. Take it in. The scenic route might be slower (and, fair warning, probably a lot curvier), but it’s worth it. Majestic forests, dramatic rock formations, shimmering plains and breathtaking bluffs –no matter where you look, Canada comes alive!

There’s no need to speed. We share this place with a lot of animals. A lot. Anyone who’s ever been waylaid by a herd of asphalt-munching mountain goats on a Jasper highway can attest to that. Remember, no matter how fast your car is moving, it will lose any fight with a meandering moose. Slow down, enjoy the ride, and count how many bears you can spot (from afar!).

Put down the devices (as often as possible). Yes, that’s a tough one in this digital age, and there are some devices that are essential to a modern road trip (music players and GPS come to mind). And, of course, there are long stretches of sameness during which restless smaller passengers just need a distraction. Or that lady on your GPS is being demanding. Or you’ve downloaded a very juicy beach novel that you’re keen to get back to. But if your eyes are on the screen, you can miss out on so much.

Let Yourself Go

Get a Parks Canada Discovery Pass. This will give you unlimited access for a year to any of the more than 80 Canadian national parks. For the entirety of 2018, kids 17 and under have free admission! You’re likely to be winding your way through one of these parks, anyway; take advantage of the excellent Parks Canada information centres and knowledgeable staff to glean a little history and perspective. (n.b. Provincial and regional parks are equally awe-inspiring and absolutely worth the visit, but are administered separately from Parks Canada.)

Flexibility is the key to a successful road trip. It’s always good to have a loose itinerary –know what attractions lie along your route, know where to stop for the night, and pay attention to “Last Gas for 400 km” signs. But leave yourself plenty of time for unplanned pauses, like the Instagram-worthy Spotted Lake in Osoyoos, or the always-fun Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland.

Sometimes, these detours bring the greatest rewards. Canada has so many hiking trails that are easily accessible from main roads –follow one! You might wind your way through true wilderness to an amazing waterfall or an unparalleled vista, and chances are you’ll be the only people around. Never forget that handmade signs can lead to the best surprises, too. “Fresh Homemade Pie Here” as you pass through a stretch of hardworking farms? Yes, please!

Speaking of pie, do not forget the all-important cooler full of snacks. That’s what the back seat footwells are for! Plenty of water (pack a 4-litre container in the trunk for emergencies, too), trail mix, and definitely some sweet treats can help to detour any hangry feelings. Also, gas station beef jerky. Little known fact: sodium and nitrates fuel road-trip creativity. Not a meat-eater? Salt & vinegar chips are equally inspirational.

peaches & cherries at an Okanagan fruit stand

The Okanagan is famous for its fruit!

In many parts of Canada, especially the lush Okanagan Valley, you’re bound to encounter your fair share of low-key roadside fruit stands. There are few things more memorable than biting into a succulent Okanagan peach, or grabbing a handful of juicy red cherries that were just plucked from their trees. Do it. No regrets!

The Okanagan and Similkameen have also gained a global reputation for world-class wines. Stopping in at some of these amazing wineries along the way is a definite highlight of any road trip. Do a tasting, and buy a few bottles to enjoy later (when you’re not behind the wheel!).

Tired of tires?

children in pool rafts

A different kind of “wheeled vehicle” in the Watermark pool

Take an extended pit stop at Watermark Beach Resort. With full-service suites, excellent resort amenities, and an ideal location in Canada’s not-to-be-missed desert wonderland, it’s easy to feel at home, here. Driving can be interesting, exciting, educational, and definitely memorable, but when you’re ready to stretch your legs and you’ve had enough of eating at roadside restaurants, the South Okanagan is the place to settle in for a stay.

Watermark’s condo-like units make it easy to relax. Ready for a home-cooked meal? Prepare dinner right in the comfort of your own kitchen, or throw your fresh catch on the resort’s beachside barbeque. You don’t need to go anywhere to enjoy the family-friendly saltwater pool, the locally-inspired Restaurant, the Levia Spa, or the quiet sandy shores of Lake Osoyoos. A quick walk down quaint Main Street (no wheels required) will lead you to a wide array of shopping and charming eateries. There’s no end to the adventure, here!

Refresh. Rejuvenate. Recharge your batteries (bonus points if you’re in an electric vehicle!) before heading back out on the road for your return journey.

So, are you ready to road trip? Grab the kids, pack the trunk, pop in the playlist, and let’s hit the Holiday Road.

Watermark Beach Resort is always worth the drive (no matter where you begin). Contact us to reserve your suite, and enjoy the trip.

Looking for some must-see routes for your Okanagan road trip? Check out these websites and articles for some great ideas:

Family Fun in Osoyoos
Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association – Route 97
Hello BC

Courtesy of the Globe and Mail: here are some excellent tips to consider as you plan your perfect family driving adventure.