Located on the west side of Okanagan Lake, Summerland lies between Peachland to the north and Penticton to the south. Kelowna, the largest centre in the region, is approximately 50 km (31 mi) to the north. The district is famous for “Bottleneck Drive,” a system of roads that connects various wineries.
Summerland’s first inhabitants were the Syilx (Okanagan Salish), with the First Nations boundaries extending from Kamloops to southern Washington State. Settlers began arriving in the late 1880s. The town was still known as Trout Creek when they established the first commercial orchard.
In 1906, the District of Summerland was incorporated as a municipality. By the 1920s the city had developed what is now downtown Summerland. Hunting and fur trading, ranching, and transportation helped build the town. Agriculture, featuring fresh tree fruits (peaches, cherries, apricots, apples and pears), and canneries were the economic engine of the region until the late 20th century. Stone fruit and apples are now produced mainly for the fresh market.
More recently, tourism has helped sustain the town, thanks to the town’s location on Okanagan Lake. The lake region is a destination for visitors from Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
Over the past 20 years, Summerland has become home to several world-renowned wineries and several golf courses. Summerland is also home to the historic Kettle Valley Steam Railway and an extinct volcano, known locally as Giant's Head Mountain. This hill dominates the town's land features and provides an hour's hike to the top for an expansive view of the Okanagan Valley.
The climate around Summerland is semi-arid. Mule deer, Canada geese, California quail, ravens, coyotes, red wolves (half coyote, half wolf), blue grouse, bald eagles, and among the wildlife inhabiting the area.
The average cost of a house in Summerland in 2019 was $526,000, an increase of two percent over the previous year.
As of the 2016 Canadian Census, Summerland’s population was 11,615, a 3.0 precent increase from 2011. There were a total of 8,742 people in the population centre.
There are several hiking trails in the hills near Summerland. In summer, Okanagan Lake is popular for boating and swimming.
Sports teams include the Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The historic Kettle Valley Steam Railway takes tourists on a trip around the Dale Meadows region of Summerland and further, eventually ending at Trout Creek Trestle.
The Summerland Art Gallery features six openings a year with a focus on local and regional artists. The permanent collection features artists such as Marjorie Croil, Bill Hibberd, Michael Hermesh and Bettina Somers. Somers not only produced stunning works of art in her lifetime, but also worked on the world’s first, top-secret computer in Britain in 1940.
Summerland is home to one of Canada’s largest wine industries. Famed wineries include Giant Head, Thornhaven, Dirty Laundry, Sleeping Giant, SummerGate, Sumac Ridge, Heaven's Gate, SilkScarf, 8th Generation and Estate Thurn.
The town is also known for its collection of one-of-a-kind artist galleries and boutiques. And for the quilters, Cherry Tree Quilts awaits.
Popular restaurants include Zias Stonehouse, True Grain Summerland, and Peacock’s Perch Neighbourhood Pub.