Rolling golden hills as far as the eye can see and large blue lakes down below make Vernon an unforgettable part of the Okanagan. The city of 40,000 is easily navigable by car, with a quaint downtown lined with antique shops and restaurants. Though less wine-focused than the South Okanagan, Vernon is making its own way in the service and food and beverage industries. Where to go, though? Start with the three Cs.
Coffee: Unassuming from the outside, Triumph Coffee opens up to a surprisingly airy, big, and bright interior. Edison light bulbs and comfy booths give it a fresh, hip feel as baristas politely warn you that the macchiato they serve is traditional (not, well, Starbucks-ified). Find beans from Elysian (Vancouver), Phil & Sebastian (Calgary), and Bows & Arrows (Victoria), plus a selection of fresh food options including salads and sandwiches.
Cheese: Mid-day snacks are found at Midtown Bistro, a cozy restaurant known for sourcing the best in local products. Order a charcuterie board, which comes with an array of cheese from The Village Cheese Company in Armstrong (including a decadent merlot-aged cheddar) and cured meat from Helmut’s Sausage Kitchen in Vernon. Consider a bonus C, the Caesar, and opt for the juicy cheeseburger slider as a garnish.
Cider: Located on a third-generation family farm, The BX Press cidery grows, picks, presses, and ferments its apples right on site. A cute tasting room lined with apple boxes, plus an outdoor seating area with living edge wooden tables, makes The BX Press a welcoming and warm environment in which to sample the different variations of its dry and dangerously drinkable cider. Learn the history of the orchard from someone on staff, and pick up a few bottles to take home.
The Valley is brimming with cities and towns to visit, dotting the map along lakes Kalamalka and Okanagan. And while Vernon might not have the oenophile clout of Naramata or the food-forward reputation of Black Sage Bench, its unforgettable backdrop and budding craft culinary scene make it a place worth exploring.
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