View of agricultural fields, vineyards, and Okanagan Lake from Giants Head Mountain in Summerland.

Summerland, British Columbia

Summerland is a lakeside district in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. As the name would suggest, this place is known for its long summers and frequent sunny skies. Given the favorable climate, plenty of orchards and their corresponding roadside fruit stands are scattered throughout the area. The many wineries are also a big part of the draw for seasonal tourists. 

Geography And Climate Of Summerland

Vineyards and famland visible from Giants Head Mountain near Summerland, British Columbia.

The District of Summerland is located in the Okanagan region of the province of British Columbia. The town sits on the Western shore of Okanagan Lake, off of Highway 97, between the towns of Peachland (to the North) and Penticton (to the South). Further North is the larger city of Kelowna, a focal point for the interior region, and further South is the border-town of Osoyoos - another commonly sought destination for tourists. 

The Okanagan Valley where Summerland is nestled is sheltered from the rain by the Coast Mountains and the Cascade Mountains. This bubble creates a mild, sunny, and dry climate (particularly by Canadian standards). Typically, over 2,000 hours of sunlight are registered each year. The full temperature spectrum ranges from an average low of 11 degrees Fahrenheit during the December nights to an average daily high of 77 degrees in the peak summer months of July and August. 

History And Economy Of Summerland

A Steam Locomotive Train in the Okanagan Valley near Summerland
A Steam Locomotive Train in the Okanagan Valley near Summerland, British Columbia, Canada.

The entire region from Revelstoke, British Columbia, down to Washington, United States, was the traditional land of the migratory Okanagan First Nations. They moved with the seasons, often frequenting present-day Summerland to harvest bitterroot. First interactions with European settlers came in the form of the fur trade, in which the Okanagans typically exchanged for horses. In the mid 19th century, Americans arrived en masse to participate in the gold rush. Many began settling into a ranching and farming lifestyle, and the fertile lands of the Okanagan were considered prime real estate. Oral agreements were made with the Okanagan groups but were largely disregarded by the settlers. 

Vineyards in Summerland, Canada
Vineyards in Summerland, Okanagan region, British Columbia, Canada.

In 1888, the first commercial orchard sprouted up on pre-empted land (land simply acquired through extended occupation). The name Summerland was then christened in 1902 with the building of a post office. A settlement began to blossom over the next few years, largely centered around the promising agricultural scene. The Canadian Pacific Railway was the main incentive for development. The company's wealth delivered many amenities to the district, including water, a septic tank, electricity, and public service buildings. In 1922, a fire led to the shifting of the settlement from what was then known as Lower Town to West Summerland, which is where the current downtown core lies. 

In 1981, the first winery opened, which catalyzed the growing of grapes in the region. The fruit and wine industries and seasonal tourism continue to be the main economic engines for the roughly 12,400 residents of Summerland.  

Visiting Summerland

people relax on the beach at Sun Oka Provincial Park
People relax on the beach at Sun Oka Provincial Park, a popular summer destination in Summerland. Editorial credit: Amy K. Mitchell /

The District of Summerland can be accessed via Highway 97. Visitors may approach this turnoff from the South, via Highway 3, or from the North, via a network of highways through the interior of British Columbia that leads towards the central hub of Kelowna (the closest international airport). Vancouver, the capital of British Columbia and the province's largest international airport, lies about 250 miles to the Southeast. 

Once you've arrived, the best thing to do in Summerland is to enjoy the sun-soaked leisure. There are five main beaches to settle into, a lovely town center to peruse, and plenty of fresh markets and wineries to indulge in. If the latter speaks to you, make sure to check out Bottleneck Drive, a particularly noteworthy cluster of vineyards that host tastings and organized events/festivals. 

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in  Summerland
A winery in Summerland. Editorial credit: Sun_Shine /

For those interested in more of a leisure approach, head up Giant's Head Mountain for a great workout and a panoramic view of the entire area. Okanagan Lake provides plenty of opportunities for water activities, and Summerland has two award-winning golf courses to try out. There are also plenty of easy-going pathways for walking and cycling. 

The District of Summerland is a pleasant place along an already beautiful stretch of interior British Columbia. The weather is inviting, the fresh fruit delectable, and the long footprint of Okanagan Lake offers a unique, inland beach-resort setting for Canadians and global travelers alike. 

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