WHY The Okanagan Valley, nearly 400 kilometres inland from Vancouver, has a triple reputation for its wines, excellent mountain biking and arid summer climate that makes it attractive to sun-seeking city retirees. Its scenery of lake, mountain and desert landscape is gorgeous, and only added to by vineyards, fruit orchards and lavender fields. Whether you're a wine and restaurant enthusiast, outdoors type or simple scenery gazer, this unusual corner of British Columbia will surely satisfy. \nVISIT Two concentrations of wineries around Kelowna and Penticton, both towns on the 110-kilometre Okanagan Lake, offer ample opportunity to tour and taste. There are over 200 regional wineries, each with their own characteristics, although Sperling Vineyards (sperlingvineyards.com), Mission Hill Winery (missionhillwinery.com) and Tantalus Vineyards (tantalus.ca) are often top of the visitor list. Cellar-door tours are also a pleasant excuse for scenic driving and diversions along the way, such as artists' studios and restaurants. \nEAT The only disappointment at Kelowna's Waterfront Wines Restaurant (waterfrontrestaurant.ca) is that it isn't on the waterfront, but you should certainly make your way here for great internationally influenced seasonal dishes, including delicious tapas-style shared plates and terrific fish and beef mains. Beyond town, the bistro at Summerhill Pyramid Winery (summerhill.bc.ca) not only has tasty nosh (try the local char) but surely Kelowna's most scenic terrace on which to enjoy it, accompanied by award-winning sparkling wine. \nLOOK Okanagan Lake is surrounded by vineyards and fruit orchards and backed by rugged pine-clad hills that dissolve into that most unexpected of Canadian landscapes, desert. Immerse yourself in the scenery via the region's many soft-adventure sports, such as aerial tests of nerves at Wildplay Kelowna (wildplay.com), or taking to a kayak or paddleboard from numerous rental outfits. Most of all, this is considered a world-class mountain-biking destination (mtbco.ca), with trails for all levels of prowess. \nMUST High above town, Kettle Valley Rail Trail (kettlevalleyrailway.ca) winds through two tunnels and across 18 historic wooden trestles overlooking Myra Canyon and, in places, Kelowna and Okanagan Lake far below. It's part of a spectacular 600 kilometres of former railway corridor now used for public recreation. Rent a bike to enjoy this easy 19-kilometre-return section, or join Monashee Adventure Tours (76cycle.com) for an entertaining guided insight into the construction history of the spectacular railway. \nSLEEP Delta Grand Okanagan Resort (marriott.com.au) sits in landscaped parkland right on the lakeshore, a short stroll from downtown Kelowna's restaurant and shopping strip, and just across the road from Prospera Place entertainment centre. It has indoor and outdoor pools, a full-service spa and rents bicycles, kayaks and other watercraft. A pleasant buzz permeates its lobby restaurant and wine bar, which features over 300 wines (many local), and is just the place to enjoy lake sunsets. \nTIP The Okanagan Valley is halfway between Banff and Vancouver, making it a great stopover between coast and Rockies. Take your time out of Vancouver to explore the lush Fraser Valley (thefraservalley.ca) and the river-defying Othello Tunnels walk through Coquihalla Canyon (env.gov.bc.ca). The writer travelled courtesy of Destination British Columbia (hellobc.com) and Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.