Wander west along the tree-shaded shores of Okanagan Lake to see the SS Sicamous (1099 Lakeshore Dr. W, 250/492-0403, daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m. mid-Jan–mid-Dec., extended hours 9 a.m.–9 p.m. in summer, adult $5.50, senior $4.50, child $2), a Canadian Pacific Railway sternwheeler that operated on Okanagan Lake from 1914 to 1936. Now resting on the lakeshore, it’s easy to spend an hour wandering through the ship, peaking into the purser’s office, admiring the furnishings in the grand dining room, and clambering up to the observation deck.
The adjacent rose garden (free) is worth a stroll to see perfect blooms and manicured lawns, and to read all the stats on the Okanagan Lake Dam and flood-control system.
At the opposite end of Lakeshore Drive (to the east) is the Penticton Art Gallery (199 Marina Way, 250/493-2928, Tues.–Fri. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday noon–5 p.m., adult $2, free on weekends), home to locally themed exhibitions.
Penticton Museum (785 Main St., 250/490-2454, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $2.50, child $1) houses an excellent collection of western Canadian artifacts, covering natural history, local native peoples, the fur-trading days, the gold rush, railways, early Chinese residents, and sternwheelers. It also features an enormous taxidermy section; mining, ranching, and ghost-town artifacts and treasures; and assorted military miscellany.
A 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) secondary road runs northeast out of Penticton , skirting the east side of Okanagan Lake and passing through the small community of Naramata. The first of many well-respected wineries along the way is the Red Rooster Winery (891 Naramata Rd., 250/492-2424, daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Apr.–Oct., daily 11 a.m.–5 p.m. the rest of the year), easily recognized by the mission-style tasting room beside the highway. No tours—instead, enjoy a tasting session of the winery’s acclaimed pinot gris and chardonnay wines, then soak up the lake views over a cheese platter or slice of quiche on the verandah.
Next up is the aptly named Hillside Estate (1350 Naramata Rd., 250/493-6274), with an impressive three-story wooden building holding the main winery. Hillside is known for its pinot noir, but it also produces an unusually dry but fruity riesling. Its wine shop and restaurant are open daily in summer.
Naramata itself is a charming lakeside village, far removed from the commercialism of Penticton. Access to the lake is somewhat limited, although the public beach at Manitou Park is good for swimming.
Continue through Naramata and up into the mountains, where the road fizzles out near the south border of undeveloped Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, still recovering from wildfires that swept through in 2003. The only way to get into this piece of untouched wilderness is to walk or boat over. Hike in for the day for a picnic, some fishing, or to explore the 24 kilometers (15 miles) of trails.