This town of 40,000 (in 2019, almost double 1999’s population) is the major business centre for the northern Okanagan. It is located at the junction of four valleys, the Priest, the Pleasant, Coldstream and Mission. The pleasant Valley stretches 75 north past Armstrong and Enderby to Sicamous on Shuswap Lake. The town is also bordered by three lakes: Okanagan, Kalamalka and Swan and has great sandy beaches accessible to all.
The natives called this place “Hun-cul-deep moose-chin” or jumping over place. The city is named for George Forbes Vernon the Chief Commission of Lands and Works. In the 1860s George Vernon and his brother Charles where settling in. Cornelius O’Keefe was driving cattle all the way from Oregon to the Cariboo to provide beef for gold-seekers.
O’Keefe realized that the area’s natural meadows with benchgrass that was chest-high, he could raise cattle right there. By 1867, he had bought land and breeding stock and went on to become the area’s leading cattle baron. The first orchard in the area was planted in 1891 by Scottish-born Lord Aberdeen and his wife, who bough 5,367 hectares from George Vernon and renamed it Coldstream Ranch. It went on to become one of the largest producers of fruit in the British Empire, and Lord Aberdeen also became Canada’s Governor General.
By 1917, after Lord & Lady Aberdeen had moved from the area, the Coldstream Ranch produced over a thousand boxcars of apples and other fruit, worth over $1 million. Vernon’s cooler wetter climate than the Okanagan makes it better suited for fruits like apples, prunes, plums, and crops like hay and alfalfa.
Greater Vernon Museum & Archives
Civic Centre Complex. 3009-32 Ave
Various exhibits open Monday to Saturday.
Greater Vernon Museum & Archives
Civic Centre Complex. 3009-32 Ave
Located in the Civic Centre, the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives presents the history of the North Okanagan through
streetscapes, dioramas, and changing exhibits. Highlights include the Allan Brooks Gallery, military displays, natural hisory
specimens, native artifacts, and an extensive archival collection. The gift shop specializes in books on antiques and local history plus unique jewellery. Wheelchair accessible.
Interior Space & Science Centre
2704 Highway 6.
This museum not only includes a mini planetarium, but also optical ilusions,
and explains the science and technology behind the energy and foreestry
industries. Open 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Sundays.
Okanagan Spring Brewery Tour
This micro-brewery does its brewing on Fridays and offers tours if you call ahead.
Attractions -around town
5 km north of Vernon
This attraction features waterslides, hot tubs, mini golf, RV camping. Open June through August.
6 km west of Vernon
This community was the northern terminus of barges and steamers on the Okanagan Lake until 1936, when the arrival of highways changed everything. In 1886 Captain T.D. Shorts launched the area’s first steamer the SS Sicamous. Visit Paddlewheel Park, which commemorates the history of paddlewheelers to the area, with the SS Naramata on display.
Silver Star Ski Resort
Silver Star Rd, 17.5 km east of highway 97
250-542-0244 or 1-800-663-4431
This resort is the most northerly in the region, and has 55 runs (and night skiing) and a 485 metre vertical drop. The detachable quad chairlift runs along 3 km, and is North America’s longest. There are also 8 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails, connecting to a regional network. In the summertime, the resort features a turn of the century mining town, and offers scenic chairlift rides up 300 metres.
Silver Star Provincial Park
Silver Star Rd, 19.5 km east of highway 97
This 8,714 hectare day-use park offers 80 kilometres of cross-country ski trails and 25 kilometres of snowmobile trails in the winter time.
Swan Lake Bird Sanctuary
5 kilometres north of Vernon
This undeveloped swampland is a protected area for birds, and is home to white geese, swans and herons.
O’Keefe Historical Ranch
about 13 kilometres on highway 97, west of the 97A junction after Swan Lake
This ranch, on the northern tip of Okanagan Lake was one of the first ranches in the area, founded in 1867 by Cornelius O’Keefe. The 8,094 hectare ranch became a major cattle operation, and the historic ranch site includes a Roman Catholic church, a general store a post office, the O’Keefe Mansion, and the Cowboy Ranching Gallery, which is a museum with old cowboy gear including guns and saddles.
See Local Events
Vernon Area Wineries
Here are the wineries in Vernon & Area:
Bella Vista Vineyards
3111 Agnew Road,
Vernon, BC, V1T 5J8
Winemaker: Larry Passmore
Since 1986, this winery’s plantings have been free of pesticides and herbicides and enabling a natural habitat of native weeds, flowers and grasses between rows.. The wine tasting room is open May 1st until the end of September. Tasting room hours are noon until 4:00 PM. Plans to change the tasting room to a public wine lounge and restaurant. Cellar tours are by appointment, so call ahead for a booking or ask your host when you arrive
Hunting Hawk Winery
4758 Gulch Road, O’Keefe Ranch (9380 Hihgway 97)
250-546-2164 or 250-308-6433
Winemaker: Gary Strachan
This historical ranch was established in 1860, and the winery is part of the restoration of this beautiful historic site to the status it enjoyed in its heyday. Hunting Hawk has planted two acres of Ortega (white) and Marechal Foch grapes on a well drained, fertile bench on the north side of the 64-acre O’Keefe property. A fully functional winery has been established in one of the Ranch buildings and our tasting and sales area occupies a portion of the Gift Shop.
Tastings are free and scheduled tours of the vineyard and winery are included with admission to the Ranch. Tour buses and large groups are welcome.
701 Highway 97 South
Vernon, BC V1B 3W4
(250) 542-5111 or (866) 383-5111
Hours: 9am-5pm daily:
Vernon Area Festivals & Events
Here is the festivals listing for this community:
|Vernon Winter Carnival & Hot Air Balloon Festival||early February||Vernon Winter Carnival Society is responsible for co-ordinating and promoting the 100 events that take place, such as the parade, BC snow sculpture competition and hot air balloon fiesta. Silver Star Resort 250–545-2236 Fax:250–545-0006|
|Spring Festival||late April||Silver Star Mountain 250–542-0224|
|Vernon Louis Estates Rodeo||early May||Attracting cowboys & cowgirls from all over Canada to enjoy the sport of rodeo, it is a great event for the whole family. Over 10,000 fans have enjoyed this event so far. Louis Estates Rodeo Arena 250-542-4527|
|Cherryville Days||early June||Cherryville days is the annual major fundraising event for the community of Cherryville. Entertainment for all ages include a parade, pancake breakfasts, horseshoes, other contests, tea garden, concession, face painting, Bavarian garden, demonstrations, races, dances, community barbecue & more. Cherryville Community Hall, Cherryville 250-547-9639|
|Sunshine Downtown Street Festival||June||Don’t miss one of the largest street fair & sidewalk sale in the North Okanagan which draws in 10,000 visitors. Downtown truly comes alive with block after block of outstanding bargains, entertainment, childrens activities, outside street cafes, art, cultural performances & more. Downtown 250-542-5851|
|Creative Chaos Craft Fair||early June||Thisis one of the largest craft sales in Western Canada with over 200 artisans & crafters in 3 buildings, a food fair with performing arts & creative activities. No admission fee, non-perishable food donations appreciated. Vernon Recreation Centre 250-545-6963|
|Funtastic Sports & Music Festival Vernon||end June||The Vernon Funtastic Festival features an adult Slo Pitch Tournament & a Music Festival with various performers. Prizes for Slo Pitch Teams with best costumes Various Locations In & Around Vernon 250-558-7756|
|Lumby Days||mid June||Lumby Days held in the Community Park Complex is a fun & exciting family festival with various events including a parade, amusement rides, agricultural fair & Lumby Air Races. Never a dull moment, & no charge to enter the parks. Community Parks Complex, Lumby 250-547-6360|
|Lumby Hang Gliding Championships||mid June||The 4th Annual Lumby Air Races are being held for Hang Gliders & Paragliders. This will be a fun filled event with multiple flights allowable per open window. 2 classes for Hang Gliders & Paragliders. Since 2006. Coopers Mountain, Lumby 250-547-6841|
|Canada Day Celebration||July||Pancake breakfast, food booths, face painting, fish tank, bounce & play, checkers, balloons, opening ceremony, stage performers & 10:15 pm fireworks to end the day. Canada Day Celebrations 250-545-1361|
|Funtastic Sumerfest and Slowpitch Festival||July||Various Locations 250–558-7756|
|Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts||July||Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts. This annual gala garden party & art auction includes refreshing beverages, delicious fare & the opportunity to bid (live and silent auction) on outstanding art by local artists. Tickets available at Vernon Public Art Gallery. Vernon Art Gallery 250–545-3173|
|Okanagan Landing Regatta||July||Paddlewheel Park 250–558-1063|
|Civic Sounds Concerts||July & Aug||The free concerts will be held each Wednesday throughout the summer, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Bring your own lawn chairs & blankets to take in the sounds of summer. Vernon Library & Museum 250-542-5851|
|Greater Vernon Dragon Boat Race & Festival||late July||Teams from across Western Canada join together to race in this event & celebrate the culture & heritage of China. Throughout the festival spectators can enjoy traditional Chinese entertainment, as well as, many other entertainers. Kalamalka Lake Beach, Coldstream 403-286-6810 or 604-657-7505|
|Komasket Music Festival||end July||This Grassroots Cultural Dynamic Festival is one of a kind, held on First Nations Sacred Land on beautiful Okanagan Lake. Visit website for more information. Komasket Park 250-558-5455|
|Cowboy Festival and Wild West Show||early August||A celebration in honour of the cowboy! An action-packed weekend of cowboy poets, musicians, artists, and gunslingers. Come out and be a part of it all. But don’t forget your spurs! (250) 542-7868 250–828-9700|
|Restoration Music Festival||August|
|Annual Beer Festival||mid September||Silver Star Mountain 250–542-0224|
|Fall Fashion Gala||October||Downtown Vernon Association 250–542-5851|
|Okanagan Wine Festival||mid-October||Consistently ranked as one of the top wine festivals around, the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is sure to leave a lasting impression on wine lovers. With over 100 events on-hand to help celebrate the fall harvest during this 10-day celebration, you’re sure to be impressed. various locations 250–861-6654 Fax:250–861-3942|
|Vernon Festival of Christmas Traditions||end Nov||A showcase of the wonderful products that downtown Vernon has to offer. Complete with a marshmallow roast, carriage & pony rides, entertainment, carollers, live nativity scenes & of course the great downtown merchants & their Christmas cheer. downtown Vernon 250-542-5851|
|Downtown Christmas Light-Up||December||Downtown Vernon Association 250–542-5851|
|Summer Wine Festival||early Aug||The Okanagan Summer Wine Festival is held every second weekend in August at Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon Silver Star Mountain Resort 250-503-0822|