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Here’s an idea: You love travelling and enjoy a drink or two, but your latest trips have only been to the liquor store. It’s summer and you wish you were basking in the sun somewhere, but don’t want to take the risk with flying right now. You are looking for a getaway that is easy to get to and most importantly, gives you a recharge in Vitamin D and fun, something you haven’t heard of since that one fateful day in March. If you check all the boxes, why then, camping in a vineyard in sunny Peachland might be the perfect itinerary for you.
Thanks for listening to my elevator pitch. No really, at least for me, setting up a tent in a vineyard sounds just about the most appropriate way to do camping in Peachland. After all, Peachland is in the Okanagan Valley, a region known for its wine and warm, summery weather.
There are 3 things you should know about Peachland: it is home to world-class wineries and the elusive lake monster Ogopogo, and, contrary to what its name leads you to believe, there are no peaches. Well, not since the town shifted to the more profitable business of winemaking after WWII. Not that I’m complaining, since they are so good at it. Anyway, one recent weekend, my friends and I had a much-needed getaway camping in a vineyard in Peachland. And let’s just say, it was peachy.
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Booking the campsite on Campertunity
With travel restrictions lifting in BC, this summer is as good a time as any to get out of the city, get away from the crowds, and discover the great outdoors. But the problem is, I’m not the only one with this plan. Since the reservation system for BC Parks opened up at the end of May, many of the popular campsites have been completely booked up. It was then I heard about Campertunity, which is essentially like the Airbnb of camping. At first, I had a hard time convincing my boyfriend to, I quote, “sleep in someone’s backyard”, but the photos and reviews on the site speak for themselves. Also, I guess I kind of just went ahead and booked the campsite.
It was easy to use Campertunity’s interactive map to zone in on campsites within a reasonable drive from Vancouver. Many of the campsites on there are working farms or homesteads in interior BC. I love that these private listings offer a unique and secluded getaway that you don’t normally experience with campsites in provincial parks. I narrowed it down to campsites in the sunny Okanagan Valley and found Daryn’s campsite in Peachland, advertised as Back Forty Vineyards.
On Tourism Kelowna’s site, you can also find listings for campsites and RV parks with pretty amazing vineyard and water views!
Our 3 days, 2 nights itinerary
Peachland is about 20 minutes away from downtown Kelowna and just under 4 hours from Metro Vancouver. We stopped for gas and to get breakfast, and arrived in Peachland’s lakefront in the early afternoon after a scenic drive. It’s such a privileged thing to say, but it feels like it’s been forever since I last went on a trip. I was definitely getting pumped up just packing for the trip and getting away from the city. While waiting for our friends, I stopped by Okanagan’s most famous and award-winning bakery, Bliss Bakery, and of course had to get a drink called the Ogopogo GoGo, to go with our view of Lake Okanagan.
Peachland Historic School
Further down Beach Avenue is Peachland Historic School. The historic schoolhouse has been given a fresh makeover and a new purpose. It now houses the visitor centre, the Peachland Art Gallery, and is a community meeting space. It’s pretty cool to see the artworks created by local artists, inspired by the local landscape. Of all the heritage pieces on display, my favourite was broken shards of a blackboard from the original schoolhouse, with a message written in chalk still visible.
The compact Peachland Museum inside a church makes use of every inch of its walls, counters and shelves to give visitors a comprehensive view of Peachland’s history. A scale model of the Kettle Valley Railway runs through the upper level of the museum, while downstairs, coins, photographs, and binders full of historical documents invite visitors to browse through and get to know the lakeside community. Out of curiosity, we asked the staff why there are no peach orchards in Peachland. He told us about the war that ravaged the population and left the orchards to neglect. Since then, Peachland’s peaches live on in its name, and the region has become better known for its wine and vineyards. I’m hoping that the peaches will make a comeback. In the meanwhile, there is a Peach Festival in nearby Penticton which will resume in summer 2021.
Vineyard camping in Peachland
Our vineyard campsite, Back Forty Vineyards, is away from the main drag of town. We drove up the hills and passed by rows upon rows of grapevines. It was incredible to think that this was going to be the view outside of our tents for the next few days!
Views, views, views
We set up our tents in a clearing, directly facing the vineyards that stretched into the horizon. Although there were a couple other small groups nearby, we didn’t have to worry about loud neighbours, with all this space in front of us. Instead, we found neighbours in a couple of marmots who came out to perch on the rocks several times a day. Oh, and Bernie is the cutest puppy ever.
One caveat, disappointing as it may be, is that the stay obviously does not come with free-flowing wine. While the vineyard is a working one, there is no winery nearby and therefore no wine to go with our camping experience. But we’ll get to that later.
At night, it started getting a bit chilly and after dinner, there was no better way to spend time by the fire. Luckily, Daryn offered firewood for sale. Sometime before nightfall, Daryn let us know that we would get to see a moon rising tonight. I looked out the window on our drive back to the campsite and sure enough, this has got to be the coolest moon I’ve ever seen! We didn’t even need a flashlight walking to the outhouse at night. The short walk across the vineyard was so illuminated and peaceful.
A friendly tip
The only downside was that there was no shortage of bugs. We came prepared with bug spray and strongly suggest that you do too!
The next morning, I woke up bright and early because I’d stayed up late reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. I scared myself into thinking that the rustling of leaves throughout the night were hungry bears looking to call dibs on our delicious hot pot dinner. But soon, I forgot about the fatigue because wow! The view is incredible in the morning sunlight. I’m a bit obsessive about the colours of the seasons and can say summer is when BC truly shines! Such lush, vibrant colours and it’s just the beginning.
Our first stop of the day was a leisurely stroll to Hardy Falls. The entrance to the falls was just off a residential road and nestled inside a lush green walkaway. The rolling stream is said to have yearround Kokanee salmon, although we didn’t see any. We took less than 15 minutes to get to the falls, so we decided to fit another hike into the day. But first, refreshments.
Farmers and Crafters Market
The Peachland Farmers and Crafters Market is on the same beach strip we went to yesterday. It’s small but lively. It’s the kind of place you’d come to catch up with the folks and pick up some handmade soap and honey. I thought it was really cute and a great way to support local tourism.
One thing to note is that the shops in Peachland close pretty early. Go early to avoid disappointment!
Pincushion Mountain is a moderate hiking trail that takes about 30 minutes each way to complete. That said, it is a bit steep and has lots of loose gravel. In the summertime, the traffic on the trail is fairly busy and you might see wildlife on the prowl. It’s also hot and dry in the summer, so water bottle, a walking stick and hiking boots are recommended. We were motivated to see the panoramic view at the top but at the same time, was too hot to bother. After a mere 15 minutes up, we stopped at a boulder to take in the view. We could still see the lake. Good enough! And then we headed back to the lakefront for ice cream at Ships-A-Hoy.
When in Peachland, life revolves around the gleaming water of Lake Okanagan. After lunch, we headed back to the beach once again to enjoy the water. Peachland Beach Rentals is just in front of the lake and has both kayaks and paddleboards for rental. We went with the kayaks since the water looked a bit choppy. It’s been a while since I paddled and as much as we tried to kayak to the other side, the big waves sent us on a roller coaster and it was both thrilling and exhausting. So we settled into a more relaxed pace and drifted slowly back to shore as the afternoon sun dwindled down. When we went back to shore, we could see families just coming back out for a cool dip after an afternoon siesta. What’d I tell you, life here is a beach!
On the last morning, we took in the view once more and drove across the bridge to the other side of the valley for a furry destination.
Kangaroo Creek Farm
Kangaroo Creek Farm is a sanctuary for rescued animals such as parrots, capybara, sugar glider and several types of kangaroos and wallabies. Despite the soaring temperature, the farm was buzzing with visitors. I wished there was more shade and it looked like the animals felt the same way! One kangaroo dug at the dirt with their stubby front legs for a bit, then quickly gave up and just plopped down. Only they did such a half-assed job that only half of their body would fit!
With hundreds of wineries in the region, Hainle Winery stands out with some really cool claims—it’s the first winery to produce ice wine in North America, and, get this, Earl Spencer liked their wine so much that its wine was served at William and Kate’s 2011 wedding.
The region is ideal for growing grapes with fertile, volcanic soils and chilly temperature at night, which calls for the workers to harvest in the middle of the night to retain the grapes at their very sweetest state. Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Take a sip and I’ll let you be the judge.
Thanks to the hospitality of the owner, we savoured glass after glass of some really amazing wine. My favourite was the“goats-are-meaner” gewürztraminer, and you bet I brought a bottle home to remember Peachland by!
Camping in a vineyard is a bucket list item I never knew I needed until this summer. Aside from the unbelievable views, there’s nothing quite like a camping trip with friends. Whether hanging out by the campfire with a beer or tasting from one award-winning wine to the next royal wedding-worthy one, Peachland turns out to be a good getaway.