Vernon is a city of about 55,000 people located in the northern end of the Okanagan Valley. In recent years, the city has been developing a reputation for being a very desirable place to retire, ranked by Consumer Reports in 2005 as the sixth best community in North America to retire in.
Geographically, Vernon is known for its beaches and lakes, the latter of which includes Okanagan, Swan, and Kalamalka, which help the town draw vacationers in the summer. When the heat hits during this peak season, the town’s Poison Park, which is located in the south at the intersection of Highway 97 and 25th Avenue, offers delightful oriental gardens that provide some much-needed shade and tranquility. The park boasts a charming floral clock, too.
To get acquainted with Vernon’s town history, a visit to the Vernon Museum and Archives should do the trick. The museum has old photographs illustrating the pioneering days as well as exhibits displaying costumes and showcasing carriages and the collection of Indian artifacts.
For another fascinating peek at the past, visit the O’Keefe Historic Ranch, about 7.5 miles (or 12 kilometers) north of Vernon along Highway 97. It is one of the province’s first ranches and belonged to Cornelius O’Keefe, the first cattle rancher in the area. The ranch grew to become British Columbia’s largest by the turn of the 20th century. It is complete with O’Keefe’s original log house, a mansion furnished in period style, a general store, a Roman Catholic church, and a blacksmith’s shop. As an early pioneer, O’Keefe made a concerted effort to populate the region with his wives. His first wife bore him 9 children. He remarried after her death and had many more with his second wife. His family lived at the ranch for more than a century from 1867 until 1977. The furnishings and possessions of the O’Keefes are still there.
In the winters and summers, Silver Star Ski Resort also attracts many tourists. Located 14 miles (22 kilometers) east of Vernon, the resort has something for every kind of outdoor lover. May to September, in particular, is the perfect time of year for hikers and cyclists, as numerous trails provide spectacular views of the Coast Mountains. Skiing and snowmobiling are popular pursuits in the winter when the resort serves up cross-country and downhill ski runs. All in all, the resort looks as though it’s straight out of a Western – the entertainment, restaurants, and lodges. To reach Silver Star, you take Highway 97 and exit off 48th Avenue. Continue along 48th Avenue before turning off Tillicum Road to Cedar Hot Springs where warm mineral spring waters in the middle of a forest provide a delightful setting.
How to Get There
There is an airport in Vernon located to the west of the town, but there are no commercial airlines flying in and out of it. It is used primarily for civilian aircraft. Most people fly into Kelowna International Airport and then drive the 40 kilometers north on Highway 97.
The greyhound bus station in Vernon is at 31st Avenue and 30th street, and service runs from Vernon to Revelstoke, Golden and Calgary as well as to Vancouver, Penticton, and Kelowna.
Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
“Vernon, British Columbia.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon%2C_British_Columbia>
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