Whether you’re into wine, golfing, outdoor adventure, or spending time around Canada’s warmest lake, there are so many things to do in Osoyoos.
Located in the beautiful Okanagan, just 3.6 km (2.2 miles) north of the United States border, Osoyoos is home to some of Canada’s top wineries, Canada’s favourite desert, loads of delicious restaurants, and beautiful mountains making this the perfect place for a holiday. Osoyoos is also located just south of Penticton and Oliver, making it a great addition to an Okanagan road trip.
So whether you’re interested in golfing, wine tasting, or simply whisking away your days at a spa, we’ve got you covered in this guide to the best things to do in Osoyoos, British Columbia.
Did you know? The origin of the name Osoyoos was the word sw̓iw̓s (pronounced “soo-yoos”) meaning “narrowing of the waters” in the local Okanagan language (Syilx’tsn). The “O-” prefix is not indigenous in origin and was attached by settler-promoters wanting to harmonize the name with other place names beginning with O in the Okanagan region (Oliver, Omak, Oroville, Okanogan).
Spend Time at Osoyoos Lake
Since Osoyoos derives its name from the lake, it makes sense to spend some time enjoying the beautiful water. Whether you’re interested in boating, floating, swimming, or just relaxing on the shoreline, Osoyoos Lake should be at the top of your list.
The town of Osoyoos is basically located around the middle of the lake, which actually extends all the way down into Washington state. The entire lake is about 43 kilometres long, with several sandy beaches dotting the shoreline.
One of the reasons why Osoyoos Lake is so popular is because it happens to be the warmest lake in Canada, with water temperatures reaching between 26 and 33 degrees Celsius in July and August.
Boat rentals, including canoes, kayaks, and the aforementioned Sea-Doos, are available from various outfitters around town but be mindful to not cross the border.
Visit the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Located right across from the famous Nk’Mip Winery, the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is a great place to visit if you’re interested in learning about indigenous culture. Offered by the Osoyoos Indian Band, this interpretive centre presents information about the unique geology of the desert conservation area, the wildlife that calls this region home, and the First Nations people who have inhabited the land for centuries.
The building itself is beautiful and inside you’ll find interactive exhibits, artifacts, and videos, as well as a gift shop offering authentic First Nations merchandise ranging from art to books to edible treats. Outdoors, you’ll find 1.5 kilometres of antelope and sage desert walking trails, that also happen to lead you to a traditional First Nations village.
The centre is typically open year-round, but visitors can plan ahead by visiting their website. However, if you visit during the summer months, you can also speak with interpreters that offer guided walks around the property.
Visit World-Class Wineries
For the wine-loving travellers who are looking to expand their knowledge of New World grapes, there is no better place to look than Osoyoos – a strip of land just south of Kelowna. Despite being lesser known than its neighbour to the north, Osoyoos absolutely deserves to be on your list when touring Canada’s incredible (and vast) wine country.
There are so many wineries in Osoyoos to explore, with some of the most popular options being Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Hidden Chapel Winery, Rust Wine Co., Kismet Estate Winery, and Nk’Mip Cellars, the first indigenous-owned winery in North America.
Looking for a wine tour? Check out this private Oliver & Osoyoos Full-Day Wine Tour that features five wineries in the Oliver and Osoyoos wine country, famous for their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. Click here to see availability and reviews.
See the Spotted Lake
If you love unique natural attractions as much as we do, then you won’t want to miss Spotted Lake, which is just 8 minutes from Osoyoos along Highway 3. This polka-dotted lake contains several rich mineral deposits like magnesium sulphate, sodium sulphate, and calcium. When the temperatures rise and some of the water evaporates, the concentrated mineral deposits create what appear to be big spots on the surface of the lake. These “spots” are tinted in various shades and colours depending on the particular combination of minerals in that area at the time.
Besides being an amazing thing to see, Spotted Lake is also an ecologically sensitive place and a culturally important area for the Okanagan Syilx people. For these reasons, the lake is closed to the public but you can still admire the views from the fence around the lake.
Those interested in golfing will also love Osoyoos, which is home to several beautiful golf courses. Both The Osoyoos Golf Club and the Sonora Dunes Golf Course at Spirit Ridge Resort are within 5 minutes of the downtown core, making them super convenient.
There’s also the famous Fairview Mountain, which happens to be one of the most popular golf courses in the entire province. Although it’s technically located in the town of Oliver BC, it’s only a 15-minute drive from Osoyoos. This public golf course is famous for its challenging terrain, stunning views, and the fact that it’s kept in pristine shape.
Also in Oliver is the Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course, which offers 18 holes that will challenge golfers of all levels. As a bonus, they also offer a 14-stall driving range with a practice area, both of which are included in the green fees. This walkable course is well-maintained and you can grab a tasty bite to eat afterwards at the on-site restaurant.
Walk Along the Osoyoos Lake Oxbows
Those interested in easy hiking and bird-watching opportunities will love the Osoyoos Lake Oxbows, which can be found at the north end of Osoyoos Lake. The Oxbows are a beautiful protected wetlands area that features an easy 5-km return trail. As a bonus, the parking lot is the same one used for the International Hike and Bike Trail, so you can do both attractions during the same visit.
Visit the Okanagan Art Gallery
Those interested in art can rejoice at the Okanagan Art Gallery on Main Street. This art gallery showcases the work of some of the most talented artists in the region. Many of the pieces reflect the local landscapes and the pieces on display are constantly changing, meaning you can always revisit and find something new.
In addition, local artists can often be found on-site to answer any questions you may have and they also offer a variety of live demonstrations, workshops, and classes throughout the year.
Take the Kids to a Theme Park
Located right next to the Best Western Plus, Rattlesnake Canyon is a great theme park to bring the kids. Located on the east side of Osoyoos Lake, this resort features a variety of rides, bumper boats, go-karts, a 35-foot rock climbing wall, an 18-hole mini golf course, and even an arcade with 30 different games to enjoy. Unlike many theme parks, this one is actually free to enter as each activity is priced separately. Not only does this mean you can just enjoy a couple of hours or an entire day but it also helps when parents don’t actually want to indulge in the activities themselves.
Experience the Osoyoos Wibit Floating Obstacle Course
Few things look as fun on the lake as running around an inflatable obstacle course and falling into the water. Whether you’re young or young at heart, this family-operated business has quickly become a very popular summer attraction for both locals and tourists alike.
This floating obstacle course boasts climbing walls, monkey bars, slides, trampolines and more, helping to push customers out of their comfort zone while creating memorable, highlight-of-the-summer experiences of fun and laughter. If you’re looking for fun on the lake, this is a great option!
Relax at a Spa
Sometimes, one of the best things to do is to simply relax and be pampered. Luckily, Osoyoos has a number of options for spas offering everything from massage to restorative treatments that will whisk that stress away.
One of the most popular options is Solterra Desert Spa, which offers a series of body treatments inspired by the Osoyoos desert. Spa-goers can choose between a sea salt scrub combined with a sun-dried rose clay application or a sage and cedar oil treatment paired with a full body scrub.
There’s also Levia Wellness Spa, which is located in downtown Osoyoos and offers an array of services. People tend to rave about their facials, reflexology, and a herbal body balance that consists of a sweet-smelling lavender rosemary exfoliation and massage, complete with an in-house blended, herbal-infused massage oil.
These are only two of the many options within the town so whether you’re looking for a massage or another type of spa treatment, you’re bound to find it in Osoyoos.
Eat Delicious Food
Another great thing about Osoyoos is the array of delicious cuisine in such a small town. From simple bites at cafes in town to fine dining at wineries overlooking the valley, there’s something for everyone in Osoyoos.
While we haven’t sampled every restaurant in Osoyoos, we have tried quite a few of them. Some of our favourites include:
15 Park Bistro: As one of our favourite restaurants, we can definitely recommend 15 Park Bistro. While the Smoked Bacon Popcorn was very tasty, we especially loved the Lobster Ravioli and the Braised Beef Short Rib with Crispy Mashed Potato. However, what really stood out was both desserts, including the Cinnamon Banana Chimichanga and the White Chocolate Soup. This is fine dining so you can probably expect to spend at least $50 per person not including drinks.
The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry: Overall, this is probably the top restaurant you don’t want to miss, not only because of the tasty food but because of the incredible views of the valley. Located at Spirit Ridge Resort, this restaurant features indigenous-themed food with options for vegetarian/vegan, meat, fish, and dessert. If we could only pick one single meal out of our entire trip to the Okanagan, it would be their Duck & Bean entree, which features confit duck leg, white bean cassoulet, chard & chard chutney, elk chorizo, beets, and saskatoon berries.
Rooster Mafia Foods: If you’re looking to pick up some high-quality European meats, cheeses, sandwiches, and soup to eat elsewhere, this is the place to go.
JoJo’s Cafe: Located in downtown Osoyoos, this is a great spot to get your coffee fix. They also make a pretty good breakfast sandwich as well.
Junction 3: Another great spot to grab your coffee and espresso-style drinks, as well as a really delicious breakfast wrap!
Plus, for those that love fruit (who doesn’t?), Osoyoos is one of the top fruit-growing regions in Canada, which means you’ll find plenty of fruit stands and places selling things like cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, and plums, just to name a few.
If you’re into camping, you’ll love swiws park. Located on the traditional territory of the Osoyoos Indian Band, swiws park (also known as Haynes Point Provincial Park) juts out into Osoyoos Lake, providing impressive water views from almost every angle. This is such a beautiful spot to experience the lake, but as you can imagine, is also very busy during the summer months when the days are super hot. However, if you can nab a spot, it’s definitely one of the best places to go camping in the Okanagan.
Even if you don’t camp here, it’s worth visiting just to enjoy the sandy beaches, go for a walk around the lake, or jump in the water for a swim.
Admire the Views
Another one of our favourite things to do whenever we visit a place as beautiful as Osoyoos is to get a view from as high up as possible. One of the best and easiest places to score this type of view of Osoyoos is from the Anarchist Lookout.
Located along the Crownest Highway, which will take you into Alberta if you continue driving, this lookout point offers views of Osoyoos from 4,045 feet! The drive to get there consists of multiple switchbacks and you’ll ascent more than 3,000 feet in just a few minutes, so make sure you drive slow and take your time.
Attend an Event
As with many places, Osoyoos come to life even more when there’s an event taking place. Although these events can make the town busy, they can add so much more to your vacation.
While we certainly can’t list every event that takes place in this guide, we can certainly name some of the most popular, such as:
Canada Day: Home to the biggest display of Canada Day fireworks outside of Ottawa.
Pride Arts Festival: Held in September, this is a proud celebration of art, culture, and inclusion. Gyro Park will be filled with local musicians, dancers, speakers and performers, as well as visual art exhibitions under tents throughout the park. Food trucks, non-profits, local wineries, breweries, and businesses will all be welcome to partake, showing their support for the local artist community, and most notably, artists who identify within marginalized communities of 2SLGBTQIA+, Indigenous, Black and/or People of Colour.
All Hallows Festival: This event takes place in October. All Hallows Festival celebrates the South Okanagan’s diverse bounty of local artists in a progressive, family-friendly Halloween harvest-style event.
Osoyoos’ Christmas Lite Up: This event features carolling, late-night shopping, breakfast with Santa and a parade.
Enjoy the International Hike and Bike Trail
The International Hike and Bike Trail is an 18.4 km (11.4 mi) trail beginning at the north end of Osoyoos Lake that follows along the Okanagan River Channel passing through vineyards and farms. It’s an easy and beautiful trail to enjoy on foot or on a bicycle and doubles as a great way to enjoy the wineries along the way. However, keep in mind that there is very little shade, so make sure you prepare for that.
Go Horseback Riding
If you’re dreaming of riding horses through Canada’s only desert, you can do just that at Indian Grove Riding Stables.
Indian Grove Riding Stables have led horseback trail rides through the Osoyoos desert and along mountain trails for over 40 years, offering safe, fun-filled tours that offer spectacular views. Children’s rides are also available in the corral.
Walk the Downtown Core
Although downtown Osoyoos is small, it’s certainly worth a visit. Many of the sidewalks are covered to help with the hot sun, and you’ll be able to visit the many galleries, coffee shops, and boutiques.
The town is also not far from the lakefront and you can also enjoy the paved and bike-friendly Pioneer Walkway along Osoyoos Lake. This scenic path continues down the east side of Main St for a couple of kilometres, showcasing several benches, gazebos to catch some shade and planters brimming full of seasonal flowers.
Go Skiing at Baldy Mountain Resort
If you happen to be in Osoyoos during the winter, you’ll be pleased to know that a winter paradise exists just 50 minutes away at Baldy Mountain Resort. Featuring 360 acres of ski trails and 240 acres of glade runs, Baldy Mountain Resort is perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. With two chairlifts plus a magic carpet, skiers can access all the runs quickly and efficiently and due to its small size, you’ll spend more time in the snow rather than in a line.
Plus, even if you’re not into skiing and snowboarding, they also offer five kilometres of cross-country ski trails and five kilometres of snowshoeing trails. They also rent snowshoes and skis if you need them.
Where to Stay in Osoyoos
After jotting down all the things to do in Osoyoos that you’d like to experience, you’re probably wondering where to stay. Here are some popular options to consider:
Spirit Ridge (luxury): As the most luxurious hotel in Osoyoos, Spirit Ridge offers 226 suites, condos, and villas in adobe-style structures that blend into the desert environs. All come with full kitchens and many feature lake views. The resort is also pet-friendly and some of the amenities include a golf course, swimming pool, restaurant, and spa. Click here for availability and reviews.
The Watermark Beach Resort (luxury): Another luxurious option is the four-star Watermark Beach Resort, a family-friendly resort that has its own beach, restaurants, a swimming pool, a hot tub, a spa, and easy access to the marina. They also offer rooms and suites, including those with full kitchens. Click here for availability and reviews.
Walnut Beach Resort (luxury): Another four-star option includes Walnut Beach Resort, which offers rooms with lagoon or mountain views, a private beach, a swimming pool, a hot tub, and an on-site restaurant. Click here for availability and reviews.
Best Western Plus (Mid-Range): This property sits right next door to the Rattlesnake Canyon theme park making it a great option for families. They also offer spacious rooms, free breakfast, a swimming pool, and a hot tub. Click here for availability and reviews.
Lakeview Motel & Suites (Mid-Range): Those seeking value will also enjoy Lakeview Motel, which offers rooms that come with kitchenettes and pullout sofa beds as well as a heated saltwater swimming pool. Click here for availability and reviews.
Coast Osoyoos Beach Hotel (Mid-Range): Another great three-star option is Coast Osoyoos Beach Motel, which offers a private beach on the lake with sun loungers and a picnic area as well as an indoor swimming pool with a waterslide the kids will love. Click here for availability and reviews.
The Super 8 by Wyndham (Budget): Those seeking budget-friendly accommodation will enjoy the Super 8, a two-star hotel that offers clean and comfortable rooms, free breakfast, and a heated swimming pool and hot tub on-site. Click here for availability and reviews.
The Westridge Motor Inn (Budget): Another good option is the Westridge Motor Inn, which offers pet-friendly suites, kitchenettes, interconnected rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a covered patio, and even on-site laundry service. Click here for availability and reviews.
Looking for More Things to Do?
As much as we love Osoyoos, there’s so much more to the Okanagan and British Columbia in general. For more ideas on what to do, check out these travel guides below: