Upon visiting Penticton for the first time (or any time, really), it’s not uncommon to turn to whoever is sitting next to you and say, “I could live here.” Which makes sense, since the name Penticton, itself, is derived from the Interior Salish word for “a place to stay forever.”
So consider yourself warned: between the beer, the beaches and the sunshine—you may never want to leave!
Penticton has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to craft beer. Twenty-four years ago when hardly anyone knew or cared about craft beer, the city was throwing a party to celebrate it. Okanagan Fest of Ale (running April 12 and 13, this year) has since become one of the biggest, best-attended and longest-running craft beer festivals in the Pacific Northwest. It’s definitely the most fun.
Today, the lakeside community is home to five craft breweries, with another two on the way (there’s also, like, a million wineries, cideries and distilleries, if that’s your thing). Each one offers a unique experience for the beer-obsessed traveler.
Tin Whistle Brewing is Penticton’s original craft brewery, opening its doors all the way back in 1995. Today it calls the historic Cannery Trade Centre home, where you can sample the beers or pick up some bottles from the retail store.
If you want a front row seat to the art of craft brewing, then pull in for a pint at Highway 97 Brewing. There, the brewhouse is the centre of attention, with the brewery’s tasting lounge overlooking where the magic happens. If you were any closer to the action, they’d have to cut you a paycheque.
If you’re looking for a classic pub atmosphere, then the Barley Mill Brew Pub & Bistro has what you need. We’re talking dark wood, Tudor revival architecture, traditional pub fare and craft beer brewed in the cutest little brewhouse you’ve ever seen.
Maybe you’re thinking about having some food—always a good idea when you’re sampling the local beverages. Well, the folks over at Bad Tattoo Brewing have the best pizza in town, as well as some pretty delicious craft beer to go along with it. Bonus: it’s just two blocks from the beach.
Meanwhile, Cannery Brewing on Ellis Street is always bumping, thanks to 12 taps of craft beer awesomeness, constant small batch releases and live music. On sunny days (which are just about every day in Penticton), they throw open the tasting room’s bay doors and let that Okanagan sunshine in, because nothing pairs better with craft beer than copious amounts of Vitamin D.
Soon, there will be even more craft beer options, with two new breweries on the way: Hatchery Brewing and Neighbourhood Brewing, both setting up shop right downtown. Both will definitely be on the must visit list.
As you are travelling from brewery to brewery, grab a Penticton Ale Trail passport and get it stamped for your chance to win some cool prizes. Last year, Penticton was named Canada’s No. 2 craft beer city, but this year, they seem to be gunning for No. 1. They have our vote!
There’s no shortage of non-beer related activities to keep you busy in Penticton. Since the city is situated between two lakes—one of only two cities in the world that is between two lakes —naturally, Penticton has a ton of public beaches. Okanagan Lake Park and Rotary Park offer more than a mile of sun-drenched beach, while Skaha Lake Park features red sand, warm waters and every amenity imaginable.
Speaking of water, how does whiling away an afternoon tubing down the Penticton River Channel sound? The channel float might be the laziest river of them all. You can rent a tube and get a bus ride back to town through Coyote Cruises.
Make sure to stop by the massive Penticton Farmers’ Market, which takes over most of Main Street every Saturday morning from April through October. Enjoy fresh fruit and veg from farmers and handmade goods from artisans from all over the South Okanagan. You’ll even find some breweries and wineries there offering tastings.
If you’re looking for something a little more active than drinking beer, eating gourmet food and getting sunburnt (to each their own!), Penticton has plenty to keep you occupied. After all, this is the home of the Penticton Beer Run (June 8), mountain biking and hiking on the KVR, adventure parks, rock climbing at the Skaha Bluffs, you name it. You can get the whole rundown over at VisitPenticton.com.
Truly, a place to stay forever.