The largest city in the interior of British Columbia and along the shores of Okanagan Lake, Kelowna’s name originates from the Syilx/Okanagan peoples’ word for grizzly bear. Kelowna is cradled within a glorious range of mountains and is a sanctuary filled with pristine lakes, pine forests, abundant gardens, orchards and vineyards, sandy beaches and superb amenities.
Kelowna has miles of beautiful parkland and several sandy beaches that provide wonderful opportunities for boating, swimming, waterskiing, windsurfing and fishing in the summer. As well, you can hit the links at one of the many golf courses nine months out of the year. In cooler months, the snow-capped mountains and pine-filled forests are a haven for skiers, boarders, snowmobilers and outdoor adventurists of all types and levels.
Orchards and vineyards thrive within a 10-minute drive from the downtown core and provide year-round seasonal delights. You can pluck ripe cherries or juicy peaches from trees or spend a day sampling award-winning internationally acclaimed wines.
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That’s not all. Kelowna’s growing Cultural District covers several blocks in the downtown area and features a concentration of galleries, museums, theatres, artists’ studios, fine dining, unique shops and a vibrant cultural life all year long.
Any time, any day, any season, Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley offer a world of things to do. The options are endless and there’s something for everyone.
Kelowna is the birthplace of winemaking in British Columbia; it’s known for its top-quality wines that regularly win national and international awards.
With more than 40 wineries within a 20-minute drive, you’ll find plenty of terroir to swirl, sip and savour. The area has five unique wine trails: Kelowna’s Southeast Bench, Lake Country’s Scenic Sip, Westside Wine Trail, Lakeshore Wine Route and Downtown Grapes & Grains. Explore the wine country where you’ll find an abundance of culinary experiences as well as unforgettable winery and vineyard events throughout the year.
READ MORE: Wine Events Return to the Okanagan Valley!
Averaging more than 2,000 hours of sun every year, Kelowna offers one of the longest, driest golf seasons in Canada. Vineyards, orchards, semi-desert terrain, rolling hills and expansive lakes make the golf courses in the area some of the most picturesque in the country. Many golf courses also offer amazing dining experiences that range from casual to gourmet.
With courses that range from easy-going to ego-shattering, there is something in Kelowna for every skill level. Build your own golf package, view sample golf packages or book tee-times to experience the mild weather, stunning scenery and more than 19 exceptional courses that make Kelowna a must-play destination on every golf enthusiast’s list!
Farms, Orchards & Markets
Kelowna’s agricultural roots go deep. You want fresh? You’ve come to the right place. Kelowna is internationally renowned for its locally grown fruit and produce.
Each season is celebrated with special festivals. Stop at a roadside fruit stand. Visit a farm or orchard. Gorge yourself on cherries, bob for apples and stomp grapes. The region’s micro-climate and predisposition for a long, hot growing season mean you can tour stunning floral gardens, take tractor tours of orchards, and stroll vineyards.
Farm to Table Dining
Here in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley, farmers and chefs take pride in their commitment to quality and share a passion for locally grown food. Because the farms and restaurants are so close together, chefs can pick products at just the right moment to create tasty works of art, all in the same day. So go eat local and give it a taste.
READ MORE: Kelowna restaurant’s TV premiere shines spotlight on Okanagan
Stunning Okanagan Lake spans 135 kilometres (84 miles) from the north (at Vernon) to the south (at Penticton). Kelowna sits just about half way, and the east and west sides of the lake are connected by the wondrous five-lane William R. Bennett Bridge, one of very few floating bridges in the world, suspended over the lake floor almost 200 feet below.
Okanagan Lake is known for its beaches with over 30 throughout the region. Many beaches are equipped with playgrounds, concessions and bathrooms.
Enjoy the lake from a stand-up paddleboard, wake boat, sailboat, pedal-boat, charter boat, flyboard, kayak, or canoe — boats are available for every kind of water enthusiast. Okanagan Lake’s water temperature in July averages 19°C to 23°C (69°F to 71°F).
The lake is welcoming and refreshing during the summer but it also has mysteries — creatures, hidden coves and tombs. Search for Ogopogo, hike Paul’s Tomb trail at Knox Mountain or snorkel in the crystal clear water of the quiet, secluded bays.
Where to stay
Want a budget-friendly vacation with the family or a couple’s getaway? Rest assured knowing that lodging in Kelowna will exceed your expectations, wants and needs. From outdoor camping at provincial and regional parks to cosy bed and breakfasts with lake and valley views, lakeside resorts along the shores of Okanagan Lake and family-friendly hotels with pools and waterslides, there are many options.
If easy beach and lake access is top of your list, consider the historic Eldorado Resort with its charming boutique hotel that is perfect for couples, or the more urban resort hotel that’s a fit for a family. The Delta Hotels by Marriot Grand Okanagan Resort is conveniently located downtown within easy walking distance to all amenities. The Cove Lakeside Resort located on the western shores of Okanagan Lake features all suites, making your stay feel like home away from home.
Hotels with pools and waterslides make for a perfect family-friendly stay. Try the Comfort Suites, newly built Hyatt Place Kelowna, Coast Capri or Prestige Beach House. All have great amenities including breakfast, parking and convenient locations to easily explore Kelowna and area.
– This story first appeared in SOAR Magazine, the in-flight magazine for Pacific Coastal Airline.
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