is a corruption of the Salish phrase
pen tak tin
- "a place to stay forever" - but this is not a sobriquet the most southerly of the Okanagan's big towns even remotely deserves. Its summer daily average of ten hours of sunshine ranks it higher than Honolulu, making tourism its biggest industry after fruit (this is "Peach City"). That, along with Penticton's proximity to Vancouver and the US, keeps prices high and ensures that the town and beaches are swarming with water-sports jocks, cross-country travellers, RV skippers and lots of happy families. Off the beaches there's some festival or other playing virtually every day of the year to keep the punters entertained, the key ones being the
in May and the
Most leisure pastimes in Penticton - water-oriented ones in particular - take place on or near Okanagan Lake, just ten blocks from the town centre.
is the closest sand to downtown and is usually covered in oiled bodies for most of its one-kilometre stretch;
, 4km south of town on Skaha Lake, is a touch quieter and trendier - both close at midnight, and sleeping on them is out of the question. If the beaches don't appeal, you can take your sun from a cruise on the lake aboard the
, which departs from 45 E Lakeshore Drive (call 492-4090 for times and prices).
If you're determined to sightsee, the
at 785 Main St has a panoply of predictable Canadiana (Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; donation) and you can take tours around the SS
(May-Sept daily 10am-4pm; Oct-April Mon-Fri 10am-4pm; $3), a beached
off Lakeshore Drive on the Kelowna side of town (take in the lovely rose gardens alongside the boat while you're here). Just off Main Street there's the
South Okanagan Art Gallery
, 11 Ellis St, which often carries high-quality shows, and apparently qualifies as the "world's first solar-powered art gallery" (Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat & Sun 1-5pm; donation). More tempting perhaps, and an ideal part of a day's stopover, is a trip to the
Tin Whistle Brewery
, 954 W Eckhardt Ave (drop-in tours and tastings year-round), which offers three English-type ales and a celebrated Peaches and Cream beer (summer only). If your taste is for wine rather than beer, head for the
Hillside Estate Winery
, 1350 Naramata Rd (tel 493-4424),
Lake Breeze Vineyard
, Sammet Road (tel 496-5659), or
Casobello Wines Vineyard
, 2km south of town off Hwy 97 on Skaha Lake Road, all of which offer tours and tastings. Otherwise, Penticton's main diversions are the curse of many Canadian tourist towns - the water slides.
Other useful information
for tourists (each section contains more specific sub-sections):