Five Bucket List Adventures for My Summer in the Thompson/Okanagan

Five Bucket List Adventures for My Summer in the Thompson/Okanagan

By Marc Smith.

I’m spending my first summer ever in the Thompson/Okanagan and I couldn’t be more excited. After 26 years in Vancouver and the past three years in Toronto I can’t wait to experience one of the most beautiful places in the world on a deeper level.

All of my previous visits to the Thomspson/Okanagan area lasted for about three to five days, and were mostly about wine touring. As we all know there are some great wines to be enjoyed from Kamloops to Osoyoos.

Since I will be a new Thompson/Okanagan resident for the summer, I will be putting together a bucket list of activities and adventures for me to do. A guide to living my best life here and to make sure I don’t miss out on all the magic the Thompson/Okanagan has to offer.

Here are the first five things on my list, they take me from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm.

Live @ Crush Pad Music Series

In Summerland and part of the Bottleneck Drive Wine Trail, Okanagan Crush Pad makes some of my favourite wines in BC yet I’ve never been able to attend one of their live music events.

Ellen Doty performs Live @ Crush Pad summer concert series

The first concert takes place on June 27 and runs through to August 29th. Ticket cost is $25 and includes a glass of wine along with your ticket. I’ll be coming hungry as they offer charcuterie boards for purchase as well as a food truck on site for other items to nosh on.

One of the concerts is even on my birthday. What better way to celebrate than with friends enjoying some great live music at a vineyard.

Click here to purchase your ticket to the Live @ Crush Pad Music Series, tickets sell out fast!

Area 27 Grand Prix racetrack and driving school

Area 27 Grand Prix is located just five minutes east of Oliver, a world class racetrack designed by Canada’s one and only Jacques Villeneuve.

Area 27 Academy on the track. Photo credit: Darren Brown, Brown Studio Photography and Videography.

The Area 27 Academy offers one day and multi day driving courses throughout the summer. I’ve taken a “drifting” course at racetrack outside of Palm Springs a number of years ago and ever since I’ve felt the need for speed.

The racetrack is also open for public event viewing. If I can’t get in for an Academy course I’ll happily settle for a day at the track watching the likes of Porsche and Mclaren drivers test their skills against the track.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway

I can’t believe that I’ve never set foot on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. One part of the Columbia & Western Rail Trail it is the longest rail trail network in British Columbia. I’ll be focusing my attention on the trails that are near Penticton.

McCulloch Trestle – Kettle Valley Railway Trail. Photo courtesy of Travel Penticton.

There is a trestle bridge, tunnels and some jaw dropping scenery to take in along the KVR. Depending on how athletic I feel I’ll either be renting a mountain bike or an E-bike from one of the local cycling shops.

A backpack filled with a picnic lunch, a couple bottles of water and a fully charged smartphone and I’ll be ready to spend a day on the KVR.

Artisan Cheese Shopping in Salmon Arm

Nothing goes better with a glass of wine than a piece of cheese and here in the Thompson/Okanagan we are blessed with some great cheese producers. I’ve already been to many of them including my favourite, Upper Bench Estate Winery, in the Naramata Bench.

Mozzarella balls on a dark board and clay cup with milk on an old rustic table.

I’ve heard though that Salmon Arm has not one but two great artisan cheese makers. Tanto Latte which focuses on soft Italian cheeses like Bocconcini and Burrata and Grass Root Dairies which produces Gouda, Maasdammer and Mazuda cheese along with milk and other related products.

I can’t wait to sample all the cheeses made by these artisans and add them to my 100% Thompson/Okanagan cheese boards while I am here.

Desert Horseback Trail Rides with Sun Hills Riding Centre

I love to go horseback riding and the chance to trail ride in Canada’s only desert is one I won’t pass up. Based in Osoyoos, Sun Hills Riding Centre offers small group guided trail rides on predominately rescued horses using humane gear.

Sun Hills Riding in the desert. Photo courtesy of Sun Hills Riding Centre.

The biggest choice I’ll have is deciding between a morning or an early evening ride. Do I want to ride the trails in the coolest part of the day or perhaps be on horseback to enjoy the setting sun?

I think the evening ride appeals the most to me as I imagine there will be some spectacular photo worthy moments. The trick is can I take a picture while riding a horse?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things I plan to do during my summer here. In fact, if you have some ideas please send them along to and I’ll do my best to add them to the list.

Do you have your own bucket list? If so let’s compare at the end of the summer and see how many of them we are able to check off.

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Marc Smith BIO Marc Smith is a lifestyle and travel writer sharing his journey on his blog A former community builder and event planner, Marc was inspired to make a life shift in the spring of 2012 and launched a 30 Day Adventure becoming a tourist in his own city of Vancouver. The adventures continued well past the initial 30 days and Marc’s love of travel and adventures has seen him explore England, Portugal, Thailand, Cuba, the United States and almost all of Canada. After 46 years in BC Marc relocated to Toronto to make exploring Eastern Canada easier. You can take Marc out of BC but his heart will always be here. An enthusiast consumer of all things local Marc loves to sample what the region he is in produces. From craft beer to fine wines, Michelin starred restaurants to the local dinner, and any adventure that gets him outside. Follow Marc on Twitter and Instagram at @TheMarcSmith and on his personal blog .


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