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5 Day Plan With Kids

What to Do on a “Family” Vacation in Penticton

Penticton is embraced by two lakes on either end of town.   Both Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake have areas full of activities for kids to enjoy.  Skaha Lake is a bit more laid back, and the activities tend to be more on the “free” side,  while Okanagan Lake has more elaborate activities that tend to cost a little money.    

A Five day Plan

While all the activities mentioned are “worth it” when you’re on vacation,  you will,  in the end,  partially decide what you want to do based on how much you want to spend.     

It is probably best then to start with all the free stuff, and then work up to the more expensive activities involving equipment rentals, theme parks, and boating adventures later in the week as you refresh your budget.    In this context, here is a 5-day plan:

Playground at Skaha Lake where kids can burn off some energy

Day 1:  Skaha Lake.  Beach Day.

Bring an umbrella or a sunshade and plant yourself on the beach. There are many areas that have rafts you can swim out to and there are a few areas that have slides that go right into the water.  Bring a small football or a floatable ball of some sort and play a few games tossing it around in the water.

Swimming at Skaha Lake Park

If you go to the East end of the beach you will come across Skaha Lake Park.   Here, there is more parkland, with more shade and some grassy locations where you can set up for a picnic and spread out a little.  It is also closer to the rest of the activities that Skaha Lake has to offer.   For example, eating ice cream.

Ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers…

Skaha Lake Park also hosts basketball hoops, tennis courts, and a large number of Beach Volleyball nets.  There is never a shortage of activities.

There are plenty of well-maintained volleyball courts available to have a game or two on

There are also plenty of grassy areas to toss a frisbee or kick a soccer ball.   There is even a ball diamond if you want to get some people together and hit the ball around.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy your day!

Day 2:  Skaha Lake Park

At the far end of the beach in the East is a playground and a water park that kids can spend hours at amusing themselves.   There is free parking right there, so it is super easy to access, and a great way to spend a few hours while you are sipping your morning coffee and planning the rest of your day.

Cool off in the spray park

Conversely, it is a great place to hang out at the end of the day when your kids are still too excited to go to bed and need to wear off just a little more energy.  There are benches to sit on, or bring a lawn chair, spread out on the grass, and relax while your kids play. For free.

Playground at Skaha Lake where kids can burn off some energy

The marina, which is walkable from the playground, rents all sorts of equipment such as paddle boards and kayaks. They also rent boats and seadoos and there are people there who will take you out water skiing or wake boarding if you don’t have a licence or know how to drive a boat yourself.   Skaha lake is a bit smaller than Okanagan Lake, therefore it does not tend to get as wavy when the winds come up.    It is therefore perfect for a first time paddle boarder or kayaker.

There are paddleboard rentals available on both lakes

If you rent at the marina you don’t have to transport anything anywhere, and you can just go out for a short time and see if you like it.  Renting in town is generally cheaper, but there is more planning and logistics involved.  If this becomes an activity that you are committed to, then you can look into some longer-term plans.  If you are just “tasting” an activity, then check out the marina.

Day 3: Take a break from swimming

You’ve been here for two full days and you haven’t seen the Okanagan Lake side the town yet.  Time to branch out.

 

Walk the Waterfront Boardwalk

When you’re done taking pictures and admiring the view, hop back in the car and head down to the Okanagan Lake.   Park at the far end of the beach and take a walk along the boardwalk.   You can walk all the way from one end to the other – it’s about 1km in total.   As you wander, you will see all the activities you can do there.   Get excited.   Dream up a “bucket list” of things you want to do before you leave town.  There are also many restaurants and patios along the way that you can stop at and grab a bite to eat as you ponder.

Okanagan Lake Penticton Boardwalk
You can walk the boardwalk for miles

Rent a “Bike”

Rent a “family”  (4-6 person) bike and tour the streets of downtown.  Honk and wave at everyone as you pass them by.   Yes, this may seem like a rather corny thing to do, but you’re on vacation and that’s what people on vacation do.

Everyone can help pedal the bike and everyone can have input into what direction you go.    An opportunity for developing those teamwork skills!

Rent a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler and bike around town.

Visit Munson Mountain

Before you get too engrossed in a particular activity, hop in the car and take a short jaunt up to Munson mountain, where the letters PENTICTON reside.  Take a picture of you and your family sitting on a letter or two, and at the same time, look around and appreciate the expansive view of the city.

Munson Mountain is where the big Penticton sign resides
Munson mountain Penticton sign
The infamous Penticton sign on Munson Mountain

In the distance you can see Skaha lake, the beach, the park.   You can also see the airport.   You can see the canal that you will be floating down tomorrow. And, you will see the expansive waterfront of Okanagan Lake and the boardwalk you are about to walk along. There is so much left to see and do.

View from Munson Mountain

The Dam on the Canal

Sometimes the water is being let through at a faster pace, sometimes it is very slow.  The speed of the water flow will determine the length of time you will be spending in the canal tomorrow.

This Dam helps control the water flow between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake

Look down into the water against the dam and you will see a few fish swimming around, wondering how to get into the Okanagan Lake. (There is a path, it just takes them awhile for them to find it).   Also notice that the height difference in the water levels is quite significant.

While you are just outside the gates of Loco landing, take a short jaunt on a path beside the Rose Garden towards the canal that joins Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake – upon which you will be swimming tomorrow.   At this particular spot you will find the dam that controls the water flow between the two lakes.

Visit the S.S. Sicamous

Pop in at the Sicamous and learn a little bit about the history of the region. The Sicamous was a paddle wheeler that transported people and goods up and down the lakes before the roads were any good. You can walk around the boat and appreciate what a voyage would have felt like. There is also a mini re-creation of the Kettle Valley railway in the hull of the ship.   It is fun to watch as the train travels through tunnels and across ravines.  While the actual railway is no longer in operation, you can still catch a ride on the train through a small stretch of remaining track in Summerland.  You can also walk, or bike, much of the trail, as the railway bed has been preserved for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike.

A well-preserved piece of history

Visit Loco Landing

While it does cost a bit of money, Loco Landing is a fantastic place to take the kids.  There are so many activities there, and is a nice break from the water.  Ride the go-carts.  Play some mini-golf. And climb a rock wall, to name a few activities.

Fun at Loco Landing

Right beside this park is a free skateboarding/biking park for youth. It is one of the largest in Western Canada, and is a great place for the slightly older kids to work on some of their many talents.

Visit the Kid’s Skate Park

Penticton boasts one of the largest skate parks in Canada – and it’s all FREE.   It is located right beside Loco Landing

One of the largest and best skate boarding parks in the Okanagan is located right beside Loco Landing – just down the way from the Sicamous

Day 4:  Float The Canal

Floating down the canal itself is free. But you will want something to float on. You can buy a floatie at Canadian Tire, Walmart, or even at the Dollar store.  It really depends on the quality you want, and how often you are going to use it once you’re done.

Floating down the canal is a very popular thing to do on a hot day.

The trip can take anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours depending on how fast the water is running. Usually it takes around three hours.   You can also bail half way.  There is a restaurant with hot dogs and hamburgers and music playing half-way down the canal where you can stop and take a break, or stop and call it a day. The bus will take you back to the start from there as well.

The entrance to the canal for the floaties is just up the road from the Loco Landing and the skate park. You can bring your own floatie or you can rent one there.

They have a deal there for a floaty and bus transportation back to the start for $12 per person.  You can also arrange your own transportation back to the start or anywhere you want to go afterwards.   Some people park a vehicle at the end of the run and have a friend drop them off at the beginning.

Canadian Tire sells a LOT of floaties in the summer

Day 5: All Things Okanagan Lake

OK, today is the day to scratch off everything on your bucket list. This is your final day, so get up early and get it all done. Or extend your vacation for another day or two because by now you know you will never possibly get it all done.

You have toured the beaches, you have been around the town a bit, and you know all that there is to do. You should have a big list. But if you don’t, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Parasailing
  2. Banana boat ride
  3. WiBit
  4. Try Fly Boarding
  5. Rent a SeaDoo or a Boat
  6. Take a waterski or wakeboarding lesson
  7. Take a cruise around the lake

Our Section 10 Things to do on the Water has more details on each of these activities.

Alternative Things to Do

If you are completely done with the water – which isn’t likely – you can always go for a hike or a bike ride along the Kettle Valley Railway trail – there are many starting points to choose from.    Or drive out to Summerland and go for a ride on the actual train.   While you’re in Summerland you can climb Giant’s Head mountain if you feel ambitious.   Check out a post on that Here.

If you are looking for a lot more adventure and something far more challenging, try out our post on Adventure, Games and Activities. 

There is always wine.  With over 250 wineries there is plenty to see.  Check this post out Here.

Extend Your Stay!

As you can plainly see, there is far more to do than could ever possibly be done in 5 days.  You really should tack on a few extra days and “get it done”.    Experiences are what you remember when you are older – looking back on what you have done and all the good times you’ve had.

Regardless, whatever it is you didn’t get to do this time…it will be waiting for you for next time.  Have a great rest of your year!

Okanagan Falls

You also have not been down to Okanagan Falls yet.   This is a very short drive <20 km or 12 miles.  There is a wonderful park with a playground for the kids and easy access to the water.   There are also a few beach volleyball nets and tons of picnic tables.   This beach is typically less crowded than the ones in Penticton.

Okanagan Falls sports a much quieter beach and park on the South tip of Skaha Lake

Okanagan Falls has a boat launch, a dog park, a picnic area, and a playground all located along the beach front.   And there is always less people here than at the Northern tip in Penticton.

Visit Naramata

Naramata has a wonderful park with beach access as well.    You can also rent paddle boards in the town if you haven’t tried that yet.

Naramata has a beautiful park with shade trees, a water slide, and a boat ramp.

Take a drive out past all the Naramata wineries and follow the curve in the road down into the town of Naramata.    The main beach is located straight ahead,just after you get through town, but there is a much larger park and beach located a little bit south of the main street.  (Turn left just before you get to the general store.)

On Wednesday afternoons from 3:00-6:00 they have a fun little market at the beach downtown that you can wander through.  It is fun and relaxing.

Fruit

There is lots of fresh ripe fruit available in fruit stands along any roadway.  In addition, there is fruit available all summer at the farmer’s markets.

If you would like to try your hand at picking your own fruit, there are also opportunities to do that as well.  It is cheaper, you know you are getting the absolute freshest fruit, and it is a fun activity even for the kids.