From Merritt up to Kamloops, across to Salmon Arm, and then down to Vernon, the craft breweries on this ale trail reflect the geographic diversity of the region with their own individual approaches. No matter what your favourite activity is, you’ll be able to pair it with delicious craft beer.
There is a different attraction here for every visitor, whether it’s an outdoor adventure, a farmyard experience, or an urban exploration.
“All roads lead to Merritt.” Indeed, this small city in the heart of the beautiful Nicola Valley is easily accessible off the Coquihalla Highway. Its resident brewery, the Empty Keg Brew House, provides the incentive to exit the highway, and a wide variety of outdoor activities will encourage you to stay a while.
The rolling hills and fragrant sagebrush of Kamloops invite a sense of improvised adventure for families, and urban and outdoor adventurers. After you’ve explored the outdoors, indulge in a craft beer at Red Collar Brewing or Iron Road Brewing, or dive into a scratch kitchen meal paired with a brew at Bright Eye Brewing, the Noble Pig Brewhouse or its sister restaurant, Underbelly by the Pig.
Nearby at Crannog Ales, you can visit a certified organic, farm-based brewery where hops grown on-site are used to make each batch of beer, and where the spent grains left over from the brewing process are used to feed the farm animals.
Follow the Trans-Canada Highway east along the shores of sparkling Shuswap Lake to your next stop in Salmon Arm: the Barley Station, a popular roadside brewpub with delicious food and beer that makes it one of the best highway rest stops you’ll ever come across.
Last but not least, Vernon is a small city that packs a big punch when it comes to things to see and do: its small-town vibe is melded with world-class amenities, giving it a distinct charm that is well reflected in its popular and attractive downtown brewpub, Marten Brewing.
Before visiting, we recommend that you check directly with the businesses you are hoping to visit to get the latest on-the-ground information. Some businesses are seasonal, and some may have experienced closures due to COVID-19.
Thinking about visiting this region in the winter? Check out the Southern Interior Winter Ale Trail.
Mandolin’s is a great way to start your day with specialty coffees and smoothies, breakfast bagels, muffins, cinnamon buns, and more! Also a great stop for lunch with daily specials, soups, and salads as well as keto and gluten-free options
Enjoy a complimentary tea, coffee, or juice as the helpful staff at the Merritt Visitor Information Booth help you plan your visit. Located in the historic Baillie House.
Explore the latest exhibit in the Arts Gallery and browse local artisan creations in the gift shop. Exhibits change monthly showcasing a variety of visual art mediums that are sure to provoke thought and discussion.
Enjoy breathtaking scenery on a guided horseback ride through the beautiful trails of the Lower Nicola Valley. Ride times vary based on the season, so call ahead to book your tour.
Enjoy a tasting and tour of this family own cidery specializing in small batch traditional English-style apple ciders. Open May to September.
A relatively new addition to Merritt, you will find sushi and Korean fried chicken at Cocos. Try the sushi bakes!
Celebrate Canadian country music artists, songwriters, influencers, builders and broadcasters at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
Empty Keg prides itself on fresh beer, friends, family, and community. This brewery has snack options, and also allows you to order in from neighbouring restaurants - a great dinner choice!
No matter the season, we got you covered with things to see and do in Merritt!
There are plenty of delicious dinner options to choose from – head to the Tourism Merritt website for your guide to Merritt’s food scene.
The Nicola Valley is packed with camping and outdoor recreation activities – find inspiration on their Instagram page.
Head into downtown Merritt for an Indigenous fresh food experience. This quaint gathering place specializes in bannock and all things Saskatoon berry.
Drive to Kamloops, approximately 1 hour
Grab brunch from The Art We Are Café. They are home to a variety of gluten-free and vegan options.
Grab a bike and ride one of BC's largest municipal bike parks. If you don’t have your own bike, rent from one of our local bike shops.
All Aboard for creative craft beer and delicious food.
Stroll or shop around and discover back alley art murals, or take a walking tour of historic buildings or public art.
The perfect spot to settle in for a memorable dinner paired with their unique craft beer.
Underbelly is a locally owned and operated modern casual restaurant in the heart of downtown Kamloops. We feature seasonally influenced cuisine that pair with our craft cocktails, local wines, and inspired brews.
Be sure to browse Kamloops’ event calendar when you’re in town for live music, markets, walking tours and more!
18 taps of rotating craft beer and cider alongside breakfast, lunch, appies, dinner and late night options!
Tee up and swing your clubs on this remarkable golf course, rated #1 Public Course in BC by Canadian Golf Magazine. Open spring and summer.
This bright, welcoming tasting room will lure you in; the beers and food will keep you coming back.
Kamloops’ downtown brewery is a gathering place for beer lovers.
Drive to Chase, approximately 45 minutes
Get the adrenaline going for the day, stop in at Treetop Flyers in Chase for your swoop through the sky. We recommend you try the “Screaming Eagle Swing.” Open May to September.
Canada’s first certified organic on-farm brewery.
Drive to Salmon Arm, approximately 30 min
Take a stroll on the longest curved inland wharf in North America in Salmon Arm.
This popular brewpub is much more than just another roadside attraction.
A dozen ways to get on the water—choose from canoes, kayaks, sea-doos, fishing boats, stand up paddle boards, or even a double decker pontoon boat! Shuswap Lake is not to be missed.
Drive to Vernon, approximately 50 min
Fuel up at EATology. Their fresh, homemade hearty breakfasts are cherished by locals.
Grab your bike rental from Sun Country Cycle, or just your hiking shoes, and hit the trails. We recommend Kalamalka Lake Provincial Parks.
Grab an iced coffee or nitro-brew at Ratio Coffee and Pastry before your next stop.
Beach yourself, or get in and swim in the colourful water. At different times of the year the colour of the lake will range from teal and cyan to indigo. Look for the Kalavida Surf Shop for SUP rentals and more.
Enjoy lunch on the lake side patio at Alexander Pub’s.
Craft beer and barbecue are on the menu at this beautifully converted venue in downtown Vernon.
Be sure to browse Vernon’s event calendar when you’re in town for live music, markets, walking tours and more!
Road Trip Tasting Notes: Kamloops, Shuswap & Vernon
Lucas Aykroyd dives into BC’s “InBEERior Trail”
The feeling of freedom and excitement is undeniable as I drive north on Highway 97 toward Vernon. On a gorgeous March day, I’m ready to kick off my latest craft beer-tasting odyssey, which will also take me to the Shuswap region and Kamloops.
Produced In Collaboration With
The Shuswap boasts a small town feel and big country activities; and this may be the finest place to get back to getting down-to-earth.
The Shuswap is a region comprised of communities centered around Shuswap Lake, just north of the Thompson-Okanagan region, near the centre of BC’s interior.
Our region is the home of the world-renowned Shuswap Lake and is one of Canada’s premier warm water destinations. Our mild weather, varied geography (alpine meadows, warm lakes, desert-like rolling, arid hills, enchanting forests) and four-seasons ensure that there are a variety of new adventures and experiences to be found.
Kamloops is more than a city, it’s a state of mind. It’s a small-town kind of friendly with metropolitan flavours on the side. Far from the hustle and bustle, it’s a place where you skip the crowds, stretch your legs and expand your horizons. Resting on the shores of two picturesque rivers, the landscapes invite a sense of improvised adventure.
Be amazed by twisty single-track bike trails and winding walkways. Tee off on award-winning golf courses. Cast a line on trophy stillwater. Poke around local shops and boutiques. Engage with the vibrant arts and culture scene. Sample an assortment of food that promises to satisfy and satiate even the most discerning of palates. Indulge in a burgeoning bevy of wineries, craft breweries, restaurants and cafés that are overflowing with culinary enthusiasm and intensity.
A four-season playground where adventure awaits around every corner. In the Spring, hike, bike and adventure through fields and valleys bursting with blooms. Summer is all about our warm-water lakes – swimming, boating, SUP and more have visitors returning again and again. In Fall, experience a harvest season second to none, with all the beauty and bounty you can expect of the season. And in Winter, take home tales of champagne powder snow and horse-drawn sleighs.
Vernon is magical in any season; you’re invited in every season.
As a hub in British Columbia’s Thompson Nicola Region, it is often said: “All Roads Lead to Merritt”. Situated right off the Coquihalla Highway, Merritt is nestled in the heart of the Nicola Valley. There is never a lack of places to stay, food to enjoy and events to attend. From large music festivals to viewing great local art while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee, we have you covered. Flourishing under the sun, Merritt is home to numerous murals in historical downtown Merritt and proudly has “A Lake a Day as Long as you Stay!” We hope you have an enjoyable visit to Merritt and be sure to tag us online at #ExploreMerritt!