Apple picking, picnicking and swimming in Vernon this fall | Calgary Herald

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The sun gleams off the rosy red McIntosh apple enticing me to pick it. So, I do just that.

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This type of apple thievery is not only tolerated at Davison Orchard in Vernon, it’s encouraged. In fact, harvesting your own crisp apple right from the tree at Davison is a fall tradition for those on the Johnny Popper Farm Tour.

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The train-style tour sees a tractor pull carts made of apple bins (with you in the bin, of course) through the orchards and fields with stops for trivia and apple picking.

“Fall is fabulous here,” says co-owner Tamra Davison. “We are tours and farm fun, but we’re also farm to fork, a gift shop, produce store, bakery and Farmhouse Cafe.”

Four generations of the family have turned Davison into a 120-acre agri-tourism showpiece that’s become one of Vernon’s biggest attractions. By the way, don’t leave without dropping by the Farmhouse Cafe for Davison’s famous Appleanche – an apple juice slushie to die for.

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Tanya Kaempf, left, and Kerry MacLeod, enjoy the ‘boho chic’ picnic in Sovereign Park set up by Organizing Chaos by Design.
Tanya Kaempf, left, and Kerry MacLeod, enjoy the ‘boho chic’ picnic in Sovereign Park set up by Organizing Chaos by Design. jpg

Fall is still prime time in Vernon. The weather has cooled slightly, the summer crowds are gone and all the North Okanagan attractions are still there. Plus, a fall Vernon getaway is accessible for Calgarians with a six-and-a-half hour drive or a one-hour flight to Kelowna and a quick shuttle to Vernon.

My wife, Kerry, and I make Outback Lakeside Vacation Homes our luxe home base in Vernon not just for the fun at Davison, but also for hiking, biking and picnicking.

Speaking of eating al fresco, who needs a vintage typewriter, antique camera, bouquet of feathers, lace tablecloth, china plates, sterling silver cutlery, a mountain of pillows and an array of faux fur throws at a picnic? You do! That’s the ultimate picnic setup we get after calling Organizing Chaos by Design to prepare the ‘boho chic’ creation on a grassy slope at Sovereign Park hugging Kalamalka Lake.

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We sink into the luxury and devour the charcuterie, cheeses and desserts, feeling bougie as hell the entire time. The picnic costs $150 for two hours, plus the cost of food that you choose and Organizing shops for and presents at the picnic. Organizing also drops by after the two hours to clear up, so all you have to do is indulge.

Picnicking and hiking atop Silver Star Mountain Resort is accessed via gondola.
Picnicking and hiking atop Silver Star Mountain Resort is accessed via gondola. jpg

Organizing can also set you up with picnics with other themes – think Okanagan Classic, Hawaiian, Mexican, 80s, Medieval or Victorian.

We find out that Organizing sources its charcuterie and cheeses from artisan Vernon purveyors Helmut’s Sausage Kitchen and Wedge Cheesery.
So, when it comes time for DIY picnics and hiking at Silver Star Mountain Resort and Ellison Provincial Park over the next two days we stock up on provisions from Helmut’s and the Wedge. Nothing amps up a picnic like a gondola.

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So, we catch the Summit Express Gondola at Silver Star to whisk us one kilometre up the mountain for a picnic with a view of the Monashee Mountains followed by some alpine hiking. The theme repeats itself the next day at Ellison Provincial Park where we follow the evergreen forest trail down to Okanagan Lake for a dip (the water’s still warm enough for fall swimming) and a waterfront picnic.

Our long weekend also affords time to cycle the Okanagan Rail Trail and sip cider while listening to live mambo music at Cambium Cidery. Cambium (the botanical term for tree growth) is the renamed BX Cidery, set in an apple orchard, of course.

The 16 kilometres from Coldstream to Oyama and back is the most spectacular stretch of the Okanagan Rail Trail because most of it is just inches away from Kalamalka Lake’s shimmering turquoise waters and pebble beaches.

Check out TourismVernon.com.

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