There’s no shortage of things to do in Shuswap Lake and its eight regions throughout the year, but the most popular season is the summer. Situated in the interior of British Columbia, it’s perfectly located halfway between Vancouver, BC and Calgary, Alberta in the Thompson-Okanagan area.
It’s easy to find local farmers’ markets to pick up the freshest produce for a picnic or to stock up for a vacation stay whether it’s at a hotel, resort, cabin, campsite or on a houseboat. We recommend booking early at this popular destination to avoid disappointment.
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There are plenty of outdoor activities year-round; parks, beaches, attractions and several waterfalls to visit. Also, there’s an endless list of nature trails to explore, thanks to the Shuswap Trail Alliance.
Several food options are available, from tempting bakeries to locally inspired bistros, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Shuswap also has a fine selection of wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries to visit to experience their handcrafted offerings. For the golfer, several championship golf courses are found throughout the area.
These lands are the Traditional Territory of the Secwepemc people. Learn more about the Indigenous culture of the Secwepemc people below.
Don’t miss these other nearby attractions in the area:
Explore Mount Revelstoke National Park Meadows in the Sky Parkway , Epic summer mountain adventures in Revelstoke BC, Three Valley Gap Ghost Town and Car Museum, and Rust Valley Restorers Fans: White Post Auto Museum.
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Why is Shuswap Lake so special?
Did you know that Shuswap Lake is the 10th largest lake in BC and known as one of the warmest lakes in the province? Shaped like the letter H, it has four large arms: Seymour Arm, Salmon Arm, Anstey Arm and Shuswap Main Arm.
The lake is a jewel, with more than 400 kms of shoreline, surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. It lies within the northernmost wine region of the Okanagan Valley.
Fishing is very popular, with 19 different species of fish to land. There are four types of salmon, several varieties of trout, Whitefish, and Burbot, a cod-like fish.
Shuswap Lake Monster
Legend has it, an illusive lake monster, called Shuswaggi lives in the lake. The first sighting of the mystical being was reported in 1904. Some claim the serpent-like creature is about 25 feet in length.
A more scientific explanation might be that this being is actually a giant white sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in Canada. This prehistoric fish is a survivor from the dinosaur age 175 million years ago.
White sturgeons can be massive, weighing over 800 kilograms or 1,765 pounds and nearly 6 metres or 19.7 feet in length.
Top things to do in the Shuswap Lake area
The most popular time to visit the Shuswap Lake area is during the warm summer months. It’s a great time to explore all that the region has to offer. Many families make it an annual tradition to spend time at the lake to cool off and reconnect.
There are plenty of water sports activities and rentals are available for boats, canoes, kayaks, Seadoos, and paddleboards.
Here are a few favourite summer activities in and around the Shuswap Lake region.
1. North Shuswap
North Shuswap is a more laid back area and runs up the north side to Seymour Arm. It has 100 kms of shoreline, two provincial parks, North Shuswap Lake and Tsutswec; sandy beaches, the famous Adam’s River Salmon Run and Celista Estate Winery. Find out more about the wineries of the area below.
The town of Celista runs a farmers’ market runs on Wednesdays. See a map of the area.
Adam’s River Salmon Run
Adams River has the world’s largest salmon run in early fall. This is the time of the year when the river turn red with salmon returning to spawn. Each year, salmon make their long journey home from the Pacific Ocean, up to the fresh waters of the Adams River where they were born. Here they lay their eggs, then die leaving their body for food. Learn more about the journey.
Set in the perfect location, Sicamous is known as the Canada’s houseboating capital.
Serving the community for more than 40 years, D Dutchmen Dairy is a favourite stop to pick up handmade cheeses and taste one of the 62 flavours of ice cream. Children enjoy seeing the farm animals and playing on the tractors in Tractor Town.
Small batch, hand crafted moonshine is made at After Dark.
About 30 minutes east from Sicamous, along the Trans Canada Highway, access Three Valley Gap Heritage Ghost Town and nearby Enchanted Forest. It’s always a delight to explore magical places and the Enchanted Forest has one of the tallest treehouses in British Columbia.
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3. Salmon Arm
We made Salmon Arm our base for this journey and stayed at the Bonvoy Marriott Hotel.
This location offered some views of the lake and extra large comfy standard rooms. The hotel is a good spot to access all of the area’s activities.
There are several beautiful parks with walking trails in Salmon Arm. There is a paved walkway around picturesque Maguire Lake Park for views of the seasonal fountain and Japanese Friendship Gate. The park is a popular spot for wedding photos.
Salmon Arm Bay provides several sandy beaches to relax, picnic, swim and sunbathe. Canoe Beach is one of the most popular. Arrive early, as parking can be challenging.
Salmon Bay Swallows – Birdwatching
Six varieties of swallows make Salmon Arm Bay home from April through to late September. When it’s time to head south for the winter, these elegant birds can fly as far away as Argentina in South America.
Watch for swallows searching for food, on the surface of the lake near the shore.
Food and Drink in Salmon Arm
Two cideries are located in Salmon Arm; Northyards Cider Company and Shuswap Cider Company, three wineries; Marionette, Larch Hills and Ovino, a distillery, Shuswap Highland Stills and craft beer at Barley Station Brew Pub. See more information below.
Tappen Valley offers a scenic drive through stunning landscapes and is also the home of the White Post Auto Museum and the Rust Bros.
Two wineries, Sunnybrae Vineyard and Winery, and Recline Ridge Vineyards and Winery produce award-winning wines in the Tappen area. Shuswap’s newest craft brewery, Ricochet Brewing is located just outside Tappen on the road to Herald Park, a few doors from Sunnybrae Winery on the shore of Shuswap Lake. See below for more details.
Herald Provincial Park
Just off the Trans Canada Highway in Tappen on the southern shore of Shuswap lake, Herald Provincial Park provides a great beach and day area, as well as a nature walk to Margaret Falls.
The Shuswap River provides great water activities for tubing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and swimming. The river is also a great spot for birdwatching. Look for blue herons, cranes, hawks, eagles and more. Take an easy walk along the Jim Watt Heritage Riverwalk to learn about the area’s history from the informational signs and to listen to the songbirds sing.
In the summer, watch movies under the stars in Enderby. The Starlight Drive-in has the largest outdoor movie screen in North America. It is a 120 x 50 foot screen. Tickets should be bought online in advance
In the town of Sorrento, during the summer months plan a visit to the Thursday night Market by the Bay featuring local artisans, food and music. And remember to check out Crannóg Ales brewery, Canada’s first Certified Organic and on-farm microbrewery. Growler sales, with tours and tastings on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dreamcycle Motorcycle Museum
A stop here is a dream come true for any motorcycle fanatic. The Dreamcycle Motorcycle Museum has more than 100 rare, vintage, and unique motorcycles from all over the world. It has the largest collection of its kind in Canada.
The Armstrong area has one family owned and operated cidery, Farmstrong Cider Company, located on a heritage farm dating back to 1896. Find out more below.
Armstrong is home to one of the best blooming tulip festivals in BC. The Bloom Flower Festival is expected to run May 4-27. A Sunflower Festival can be found here as well, starting mid-August to early September, depending on the weather.
Travel the Barn Quilt Trail
Explore less travelled roads when you go on a self-guided tour of BC’s first Barn Quilt Trail. To date there are 40 painted block squares on barns, homes or businesses in this region of Armstrong and the North Okanagan Valley. Here is a map to view these beautiful works of art.
The Barn Quilt Trail started in Ohio in 2001. Since then, the grassroots art project has grown from coast to coast with more than 7,000 works.
The Canadian Barn Quilt Trail started in Ontario. Seek out other Canadian barn quilt tours.
7. What can you do in Chase?
Memorial Park offers a public beach and wharf to enjoy the mountain and water views along with a variety of water activities, including kayaking, boating and swimming.
Don’t miss the Village of Chase Music on the Lake Series held during the summer months at Memorial Park or find other year-round festivals.
Pick up fresh local seasonal produce at the farmers’ market on Fridays from May to October. This area is known for its delicious corn.
Find waterfalls along Chase Creek. The trail to the falls is a short walk from the Chase Creek Falls parking lot just outside of town.
Learn about Indigenous culture of the Secwepemc people
Learn about and celebrate Indigenous culture of the Secwepemc people at the Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort at Little Shuswap Lake in Chase. Unfortunately, there was a fire at the lodge and accommodations will not be available until the rebuilding is finished some time in 2025.
In the meantime, the Lek7e Spa is open and golfing is available seasonally. The following cultural experiences are planned for the summer.
- Take part in a traditional Smudging Ceremony
- Experience a visit to a “Kekuli” or pit-house, the traditional winter home
- Learn about different types of plants still in use today for medicines and food on the Ethnobotany tour.
8. Falkland has one of the oldest rodeos in Canada
The Falkland Stampede has been serving up fun for all ages for more than 103 years. It is one of the oldest stampedes in Canada and it is legendary. People come from all over the world to watch the professional cowboys at the Falkland stampede! This three-day rodeo takes place over the May long weekend. This year it will be May 20-23, 2023. Buy your tickets early to avoid disappointment.
Shuswap Lake Houseboating
Some call Shuswap Lake the houseboating capital of Canada. There are plenty of marine parks and secluded family beaches to enjoy while on a houseboat. Nielson Beach a popular stop for nightlife.
Shuswap Wineries, Breweries, Cideries and Distillers
Wines produced in the Shuswap region, just north of the Okanagan Valley, are mostly from cool climate varieties. It is one of the furthest north grape growing areas in North America.
Each vineyard is unique with its own microclimate.
Sunnybrae Vineyard and Winery is just outside Tappen on the road to Herald Park. New this year, is a 60 seat patio serving local beer cider wine and charcuterie. Live music is on Saturday nights and food trucks on most weekends.
Larch Hills Winery started in Salmon Arm in 1997 and was the first winery for the Shuswap region. They grow grapes on 100 acres in the area. Their signature wine is the Ortega.
Ovino Winery, also in Salmon Arm, is a smaller vineyard and has a tasting room.
Marionette Winery grows grapes in Salmon Arm from traditional European regions producing: Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Gruner Vetliner. The tasting room is open seasonally and the lounge is open all year on Fridays and Saturdays.
Recline Ridge Vineyards and Winery produces award-winning wines in Tappen.
Celista Estate Winery won 110 medals in 12 years. These award-winning wines rank among the best nationally and internationally. The winery is not open during the winter and opens at the end of April. It offers tours twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from May to October 15 at 11 am.
Craft breweries in the region are part of the Southern Interior BC Ale Trail.
Crannóg Ales Brewery located in Sorrento, is Canada’s first Certified Organic and on-farm microbrewery. Growler sales, with tours and tastings on Fridays and Saturdays.
Barley Station Brew Pub in Salmon Arm serves up small batch craft beer and kombucha made without chemicals or preservatives. They offer a good selection craft beer year-round and serve an assortment of pub food with gluten-wise options.
Ricochet Brewing is Shuswap’s newest craft brewery. It is located just outside Tappen on the road to Herald Park, a few doors from Sunnybrae Winery, on the shore of Shuswap Lake. Their products are all locally sourced and locally brewed. The brewery is open for sales and tours during weekends in the months of July and August. Look for Ricochet at local farmers markets, and events in the area, local Shuswap private liquor stores, as well as in Kamloops, Vernon and Revelstoke.
Did you know that ciders pair well with food?
Farmstrong Cider in Armstrong has been brewing since 2016 after purchasing the heritage family farm dating back to 1896. The owners Jeff and Halee Fried started farming in 1989 and their four children share their passion. They offer premium craft small batch ciders with blends of apple, cherry, pear, peach, black currant, rhubarb and apricot. While here pick up some of their Farmstrong poultry and beef in the tasting room.
Shuswap Cider is located at the Westgate Public Market in Salmon Arm. It opened in 2020 and is owned by three women, Kailee, Lindsay and Gena. The taproom offers classic ciders, small batch series, cider cocktails and specialty blends as well as delicious foods and artisan pizza. Live music is provided at the cidery on some Friday nights in the summer.
Northyards Cider is located in Salmon Arm on a historic 29-acres, 115-year-old orchard. The farm grows 6,500 apple trees growing 32 different varietals. The taproom provides ciders on tap and in the can. The Raspberry Cider is a fan favourite and the seasonal Cranberry Orange sounds delicious for the fall. The orchard and cidery tour is available during the week from May until the September long weekend, with a minimum of eight people.
Shuswap Highland Still is located in Salmon Arm. The fruit grown on their farm is crafted into microbatch fine spirits and liqueurs. The distillery is open on weekends.
After Dark Distillery in Sicamous creates vodka, gin, whisky, eight flavours of moonshine and a traditional moonshine, all made with local grains and mountain water.
Chasing Waterfalls in the Shuswap Lake area
Take a day trip to explore some of the waterfalls of the area. There are four falls with easy access.
1. Margaret Falls is in Harold Provincial Park, near Tappen. It is a fairly easy to moderate trail and the lower trail is wheelchair accessible.
2. Syphon Creek Falls Trails near Salmon Arm is a nice easy trail that will take 20 minutes to reach the falls.
3. Chase Creek Falls, near Chase is a short easy walk to impressive looking falls.
4. Sutherland Falls in Blanket Creek Park is a little further, but definitely worth the trip. The falls are just south of Revelstoke. This may call for an overnight stop to explore the Revelstoke area!
How to get to Shuswap Lake from Vancouver or Calgary
Vancouver to Shuswap
The drive from the Vancouver area to Salmon Arm will take about 5.5 hours, without stops. It’s a quick easy route along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Hope. Then head north up Highway 5, over the Coquihalla Summit to Merritt. Merritt is the halfway point and a good choice to stop for something to eat or a coffee.
The route from Merritt continues north on Highway 5 to Kamloops. At the junction of Highway 5 and the Trans Canada Highway, head east to the Shuswap Lake area.
Calgary to Shuswap
The drive from Calgary, Alberta to Shuswap will take about 6.5 hours, without stops. Head west out of Calgary on Trans Canada Highway 1, through the Rocky Mountains to Golden, BC, then on to Shuswap. Golden is the halfway point and a perfect spot for a break.
Have you been here? Want to go or have other tips or comments. We'd love to hear from you.