British Columbia’s warm sun and cool breezes beckon you for an unforgettable road trip adventure—from Vancouver’s hustle and bustle to the tranquil wineries in BC’s Thompson Valley. When it comes to soaking up Canadian scenery and sipping top-notch wine, few places do it better than Kamloops and its surrounding regions.
Since you loved our previous fall wineries and waterfalls road trip story so much, we’ve come out with a summer edition.
Within just 4 hours of Vancouver, you can be in the Thompson Valley, a destination known for its unique landscapes, unmatched adventures, best-kept-secret wineries, and hospitality as warm as its weather. From undiscovered wilderness to crisp, fruit-forward wines, a summer road trip out here promises a chill-paced escape from the crowds of urban parks and other well-known wine destinations.
So, pack your bags, fill up that gas tank or charge your EV battery and let’s hit the road for the summer trip of a lifetime!
Part One: Vancouver to Kamloops—The Scenic Route to Wine Heaven
In any great road trip, the journey is as important as the destination. When you set your wheels rolling from Vancouver, aiming for the wineries in BC, especially around Kamloops, you’ll be graced with sights, sounds, and experiences that turn the drive itself into an unforgettable adventure. Two such pit stops are Harrison Hot Springs and the charming town of Hope.
Harrison Hot Springs
If you have always dreamt of soaking in a natural hot spring while surrounded by scenic beauty, Harrison Hot Springs is a detour that you can’t afford to miss. Located just a couple of hours away from Vancouver, this resort town offers something for everyone.
Explore Harrison Lake
While you’re in the area, don’t overlook the expansive Harrison Lake. Whether you opt for a leisurely paddleboat ride or a more exhilarating jet ski experience, the lake is the perfect playground for water enthusiasts.
The Village Atmosphere: When you step out of the water, take some time to explore the village itself, characterized by its small boutique shops, artisanal food joints, and a relaxed atmosphere that personifies Canadian hospitality.
Insider Tip: If you visit during the summer, don’t miss the Harrison Festival of the Arts, a week-long celebration of multicultural arts, music, and dance.
Hope: More Than a Pit Stop
Nestled against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains, Hope is a small town with a big personality. Known as the “Chainsaw Carving Capital,” this quaint town promises an exciting mix of art, history, and outdoor adventure.
Hope is also home to more than 80 chainsaw carvings, each representing various figures and scenes, including local wildlife and historical moments. Take a self-guided tour; maps are available at the local visitor center.
If you are itching to stretch your legs, take a short drive to Manning Provincial Park. Known for its hiking trails and stunning alpine scenery, the park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Coquihalla Canyon and the Othello Tunnels
Another local gem is the Coquihalla Canyon, most famous for the Othello Tunnels—a series of old train tunnels and bridges that cut through the solid granite walls and pass over the wild Coquihalla River. While Othello Tunnels and Coquihalla Canyon Park remain closed for the 2023 season due to extensive flood and storm damage in 2021, you can keep an eye out for updates when planning future visits.
Insider Tip: Stop by the Blue Moose Coffee House for a refreshment. This cozy café is an institution in Hope, offering delicious baked goods and a wide range of coffees and teas to fuel the next leg of your journey.
Part Two: Kamloops—The Heart of Wine Country
Once you’ve reached the beautiful city of Kamloops, you’ll find golden rolling hills, the glistening Thompson Rivers and three hidden gem wineries. With hot, dry summers and cooler evenings, the wines here have a signature balanced and bright acidity leading to vibrant, deep and complex flavours. The wineries are all family-owned and loved for their casual tasting experiences without the crowds. Despite the Thompson Valley only being officially recognized as a BC-designated wine region in 2018, it has quickly become a favourite and boasts 125 acres of planted vineyards.
If you can’t choose a designated driver or want to learn about the region from experts in the area, we recommend booking a guided wine tour and choosing either a 3-hour, half-day or full-day tour. If one day isn’t enough, stay overnight at the romantic and riverside South Thompson Inn or the boutique, pet-friendly Hue Hotel. For many other accommodation options, check out Tourism Kamloops’ accommodations page.
Insider tip: If you’re in Kamloops during the weekend, make sure to visit the Kamloops Farmers’ Market, which runs every Saturday from April to late October.
Privato Vineyard & Winery + Woodward Cider Co.
First on our list is Privato, a boutique winery situated adjacent to the North Thompson River and about 20 minutes from downtown Kamloops. Along with award-winning, single-vineyard Burgundy wines, Privato is loved for its intimate location and community charm. Along with picnicking in the gorgeous garden and hanging out with Jenny, the resident winery dog, keep an eye out on their social media pages and website for summer music events. The Privato property is also home to Woodward Cider Co. so make sure to grab a tasting of their delicious cider made from 100% BC apples.
Monte Creek Ranch Winery
Perched overlooking the beautiful South Thompson River and sprawling vineyards, the elegant Monte Creek is Kamloops’ largest winery and was even voted the city’s Best Winery and Wedding Venue for 2023. Along with the unique architecture, Monte Creek is loved for its summer al fresco patio dining, wine-inspired gift shop, award-winning wines, and sustainable approach. This is a winery you will not want to miss!
Last but not least is Sagewood Winery, a small, casual and boutique vineyard. Located on the north banks of the South Thompson River, tastings here are so intimate you’ll feel like you’re just relaxing the day away in a friend’s garden! Please ensure to reserve a tasting via their website prior to visiting.
Part Three: Around Kamloops—More Than Just Wine
The Kamloops wineries are a big draw, no doubt. But the surrounding region is chock-full of other fascinating activities and sightseeing opportunities that round out any visit.
The Hidden Gem of Barrière
Consider a stop inBarrière, a small, inviting town hidden amid mountains and forests with some hidden gems of its own. Offering a blend of rural charm and natural beauty, Barrière is known for outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and boating. Its proximity to Kamloops makes it an ideal spot for those seeking a quieter time while still having access to urban amenities.
Barrière Farmers’ Market and High Five Diner
The town hosts the Barrière Farmers’ Market every Thursday, an excellent place to support local artisans and farmers. For another food option, take a step back in time and visit High Five Diner, an establishment that serves hearty classics.
Dunn Creek Hatchery and Lakes
Operated by the Simpcw Nation, the Dunn Creek Hatchery offers a fascinating look at local fish species and their importance to the local ecosystem. To cool off, head to Adams Lake, North Barrière, or East Barrière Lake—perfect for a refreshing dip or a laid-back paddle.
A Summer Road Trip for the Record Books
From the cosmopolitan buzz of Vancouver to the rugged allure of Kamloops, this road trip offers an unparalleled Canadian summer experience. With a mix of city life, serene nature, exploring the charming towns along the way, and exceptional wineries, this adventure truly has something for everyone. And if you still crave more adventure or just a longer road trip, consider going all the way to Wells Gray Provincial Park to explore some of Canada’s most breathtaking waterfalls!
So, are you ready for an epic summer road trip to the best wineries in BC and beyond?
Let the adventure begin!