Most Western Canadians are familiar with the Okanagan Valley area but not too many have heard of the Similkameen Valley which is essentially, and offshoot of the Okanagan. Situated right at the base of K Mountain, is a stunning little town called Keremeos. Also known as the Fruit Stand capital of Canada. This town is full of orchards and wineries and is a colorful sight to behold come summer time. While there are only a few hotels in town, I personally preferred to stay at K View Mountain Vacation Suite, a quaint AirBnB overlooking the town and a full view of K Mountain.
While the town itself is enjoyable to hang out in, make sure that you spend some time touring the valley. If you are interested in wines and ciders, this valley has your name written all over it. There are hundreds. To make it even more fun, there are wine passports that you can get at the majority of wineries or cideries. The passport will give you a map of all the wineries/cideries in the area and as you visit them, you get a stamp. After a specified number of stamps, you fill out the information section and you can enter to win a prize.
If you follow the highway West, towards a little town called Hedley, you come to a spot called Bromley Rock Provincial Park which is situated right on the Similkameen River. Be sure you pack your sunscreen, bathing suit, water and some lunch because you will want to hang out here all day. You will be greeted with a golden, soft, sandy beach that also has a spot to cliff jump and an awesome swimming hole. Known mostly to locals, you won't find many tourists hitting up this beach.
If you head East from Keremeos, you hit the town of Cawston, also known as the Organic Capital of Canada. There are gardens and orchards everywhere in Cawston and the markets are all full of fresh local produce. There are also some trendy art boutiques, if that's your style.
This entire valley is chalk full of lakes. There are so many it is hard to talk about just a few, but to start I'll name the big ones. The Spotted Lake is not one that you can swim in but it's a neat thing to stop and see. This lake is a saline endorheic alkali lake, which basically means that the lake is mineral rich with calcium, sodium sulphates, and magnesium sulphate. As the water in the lake evaporates during summer, these concentrated minerals form visible spots on the lake. These spots will also be variations of blue, green or yellow, depending on the mineral makeup of each spot.
The next two lakes are larger lakes that are accessible with just a short drive into Penticton. Now, while this post is about the Similkameen Valley, a lot of people like to drive from there into Penticton to enjoy Skaha Lake and Lake Okanagan as there are more varied lake activities that can be done here. Both of these lakes are quite large with Lake Okanagan being significantly larger. One can spend an entire day sun tanning, swimming, kite surfing, parasailing, floating, etc. on either one of these lakes. It truly is like being in Canada's tropics!
The next time you are looking for the perfect summer vacation, don't pass up the Similkameen Valley. It is truly one of Canada's hidden treasures!