Here’s a question for all you folks who know Osoyoos: What’s the Number One thing to do in town?
Ask that question on Main Street and you’re likely to come up with the usual suspects — boating on the lake, a ride up Anarchist to the lookout, a visit to a local winery or a round or two of golf at the Osoyoos Golf Club.
But according to TripAdvisor — based on reviews by its many respondents — the No. 1 thing to do in Osoyoos involves getting out of the sun and into the great indoors.
Specifically, into the mini world of the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad.
The unique Osoyoos attraction is included in TripAdvisor’s list of Canada’s top specialty museums — right up there with Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum and Montreal’s Barbie Expo — and was recently added to the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame.
“We’ve been Number 1 on TripAdvisor in the valley for many years now,” said owner Poul Pederson. “Not many people expect to see something like this in the small town of Osoyoos.”
Getting into the Hall of Fame is no small feat. It’s an honour bestowed worldwide for tourist and hospitality businesses that have received a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years, meaning a business has consistently earned great user reviews and an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five.
About 10% of businesses on TripAdvisor have received a Certificate of Excellence. The Osoyoos Model Railroad has earned a Certificate for each year since 2012.
So what’s the big deal about such a little place?
The Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad houses Canada’s largest Marklin HO-scale lay-out, with up to 45 computer controlled trains running on more than two km of track. But it’s not just the trains that capture the imagination.
“It’s a different world here,” says Poul. “It’s one of the most detailed layouts in North America. The colour scheme we use in here is so different from anywhere else.”
The Pedersons — Poul and Ulla — describe the museum as a “world-class miniature wonderland.”
Ulla runs the gift shop downstairs. Upstairs, Poul is the train master.
Poul’s attention to detail as he has painstakingly recreated the mountainous German countryside is apparent throughout each diorama — right down to a stork circling over its nest and chickens pecking in a farm yard.
You’ll even find the occasional vehicle — buses, cars, trucks — moving like magic along local roads.
According to Poul, you can also find little rabbits on one of the hill sides, monkeys in a zoo, a rock concert and even a raft moving about a tiny lake.
“We also have a bungee jumper and there is a very naughty little boy who is running away with his mommy’s bikini top.”
The Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad, located at 11611 115th St — in the Buena Vista Industrial Park just off Hwy. 3 west of Osoyoos, is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.