1. Polson Artisan Night Market
Our first stop is at the brand new 2021 Polson Artisan Night Market. This market is held in Polson Park starting at 4 PM until 8 pm on Friday nights and consists of all local vendors who either make stuff, build stuff or grow stuff. It’s a much different feel to what you will experience at the Monday and Thursday Farmer’s Market, although some of the vendors are the same. It’s a really nice location to hold a cool little market like this although it’s really not that little, there are lots to look at, lots to buy or eat and you can hang out in the shade, on the grass, by the creek and enjoy the market and the park itself which is a centerpiece of Vernon.
2. 2900 Plaza
Also new for 2021 is the closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue July through September 7 in the east end of downtown. The road is now closed to traffic, and picnic tables have been placed for people to lounge around dine in the middle of the street, or out in front of their favorite restaurant, there are flowers and it’s lit up at night for ambiance. During the day around lunch hour most days of the week, there are street entertainers as well. It’s a fun place to visit so don’t miss out if you’re in Vernon before September 7.
3. Tour Vernon by Scooter
Another new addition to the Vernon streets is these funky little Neuron e-scooters. I’ve seen similar scooters in other cities and now they have debuted in Vernon this summer. They are painted with safety orange and come with an unlockable helmet. The idea is for riders to be able to social distance, reduce greenhouse gases because they’re electric, and help Vernon meet its Climate Action Plan goals. You can book your scooter through the app and they seem pretty reasonably priced! I haven’t actually ridden one quite yet, however, they can be spotted pretty… much… everywhere.
4. Visit a Fruit Stand
Although visiting a fruit stand is not new to the Okanagan, it’s certainly something that you will want to do if you’re staying for a while or just passing through. All the latest and greatest local produce is available at any one of the area's fruit stands so make sure to load up on some of the area’s finest.
5. Go to the Starlight Drive-In
So when is the last time you were at a drive-in? Maybe when you were a teenager you snuck in with all your booze and 10 friends stuffed in the trunk of your Dad’s 1974 Cadillac. I know I did! There are very few outdoor drive-ins still in existence across Canada, 36 left actually in Canada and 3 in BC, and this one in Enderby is one of them. This one is actually relatively new for a drive-in movie theater as it was only opened in 1996 and apparently their 50' x 120', the screen is one of the largest in North America. Pets and motorhomes are also welcome here at the Starlight Drive-in.
6. Visit the Lobster Pot Food Truck
Here is a great little success story - 3 years ago this Lobster food Truck located close to the Vernon Library was the lone location, however now these P.E.I. Entrepreneurs have 2 locations, one they opened in Kelowna a year after they started in Vernon, and I believe it’s another two trailers that travel around as well to different spots. With lobster flown in fresh from the Bay of Fundy, they proudly only use the lobster knuckle and claw meat because the tails are actually too tough to make a great lobster roll. You have choices to order the traditional version with homemade garlic aioli and celery, or the just dipped in butter version, both decadent and an awesome treat with the lobster cold and the bun is hot. Everyone who works serving you at the Lobster Pot is either a Maritimer or married to one. People are always lined up to get their lobster fix from these super fun easterners who always give you a smile and great service, and of course, the best lobster roll you’ll ever eat right in the heart of Vernon BC.
7. Check out Interesting Boats on the Lake
If you have a boat or a Sea-Doo or have rented one, a fun thing to do is check out all the interesting boats. This first one is a cool-looking paddle-wheeler called the Fintry Queen. This is a 326 passenger ship and for more than 60 years she was part of Kelowna's downtown waterfront, carrying more than 25,000 passengers during the summer months.
The Fintry Queen was built in Vancouver in 1948 where she became one of three car and passenger ferries crossing Okanagan Lake. In the eighties, there were cruises to Peachland and Penticton. Today the ship lies at anchor waiting for the next chapter in her life story.
Then there is the famous little tugboat the MV Okanagan. This was the first diesel CP Rail tugboat launched in 1947 and during her service, the Okanagan pushed railway barges up and down the lake filled with fruit and other cargo and broke the ice during winter for the steamships.
These two floating pieces of history are moored at the Indian Arm, in the Newport Beach area, which is at the north end of Okanagan Lake.
And if you are out and about around dusk you will see these boats heading out and you may wonder what the heck they are. These are shrimp boats for freshwater shrimping. In the ’60s, these shrimp were brought into Okanagan Lake with the idea that they would feed the declining population of Kokanee, however as it turned out the shrimp and the kokanee live at differing depths in the lake, and instead of the shrimp feeding the kokanee, they’re now eating all the kokanees food and the shrimp population has absolutely exploded. To such a point that these boats go out at dusk every night and put out their nets when these shrimp come up out of the depths to eat, and when they are netted and turned into fish food.