Kelowna, BC Canada

Three-Day Getaway: Kelowna

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Kelowna is more than a pretty face. Sure, the Okanagan city is thick with vineyards and sunny vantage points; it climbs along verdant, rolling hills and embraces the eastern shoreline of Okanagan Lake.

But there’s much more here to tempt (and explore safely), whether you seek adventurous play, urban delights, or fun with the family. Here’s how to do it all—or at least scratch the surface—in just three days.

BC Map Kelowna Kelowna

Kelowna for Adventurers

There are two priorities when in lake country: Decide which water activity appeals most and slather on the sunscreen.

Try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) along the Kelowna Paddle Trail that stretches 27 kilometres from McKinley Beach to Bertram Creek Regional Park, skimming along beaches, parks, waterfront resorts, and a bird sanctuary. Other modes of transport? You can wake boat, kayak, and canoe. You can even rent a boat to motor along at a quicker pace.

On land, lace up for a hike at Knox Mountain Park (one-way exploration of Apex Trail encourages social distancing), or try two-wheeling along surrounding off-road trails and in skills parks. If you prefer a more cosmopolitan scene, Kelowna is home to nearly 300 kilometres of bike lanes and pathways for safe urban exploration.

With more than 2,000 hours of sun every year, Kelowna is golfing nirvana. Practise or perfect your swing at a host of courses with views of the lake, vineyards, orchards, and surrounding mountains. With distancing protocols in place, you’ll feel like you have the greens to yourself. Just don’t forget priority number two: Wear sunscreen.

The vines at CedarCreek Winery | Andrew Strain

Kelowna for Foodies

This city is a hub for chefs, farmers, winemakers, and brewmasters, and fertile soil and ample sunshine make for ideal growing conditions. Translation: Kelowna is prime real estate for stellar wineries. Visit Quails’ Gate where vintages, produced with respect for the land, pair nicely with local, sustainably sourced fare, including Cache Creek flat iron steak and Peace Country lamb, served at the winery’s Old Vines Restaurant.

If you’re eager for more, check out what the city has to offer—booking in advance is recommended. Like the organic and biodynamic wines that define Summerhill Pyramid Winery—that, and a pyramid-shaped cellar. Order a sparkling wine at their Sunset Organic Bistro, and ask about the star-aligned cellar’s invisible energy and its all-important life force.

For something new, visit West Kelowna’s Frind Estate Winery, a lakefront spot that opened in fall 2019, or sample the reds and whites at Priest Creek Family Estate, new to the South Kelowna wine trail scene in April 2020.

Linger longer, and make a reservation at the beautifully renovated CedarCreek Estate Winery where guided tastings and small-plate pairings are just a taste of what’s on offer. For more culinary delights, Mt. Boucherie Winery offers a brand-new dining experience on their wrap-around patio at The Modest Butcher, with views of the winery’s namesake mountain.

Tree Brewing | Ale Trail

Craft beer more to your liking? You’re covered in Kelowna. Sample the seasonal selection—from Pilsners to Porters—at Kelowna Beer Institute, where small-batch brewing is elevated in a decidedly laid-back environment. Continue sampling what’s on tap at Shore Line Brewing Co. and Jackknife Brewing, the latter offering weird beer and classic pizza.

Few spots offer the casual coolness of BNA Brewing Co. Order a tasting flight at the former cigar factory or opt for BNA’s seasonal, boozy frozen drinks for something a little different. Sink into the abundant oversized seating, and consider pairing your pulls with the kitchen’s seasonal menu. Or take in a few frames at BNA’s 10-pin bowling lanes.

RauDZ Regional Table | and David Mcllvride

The long communal table at RauDZ Regional Table provides a great vantage point to spread out and check out farm-fresh dishes as they make their way to diners. Here, amid a friendly, sharing atmosphere, offerings include chicken leg confit poutine and oat-crusted Arctic char. Tip: save room for the stellar double-chocolate mashed-potato brioche—a RauDZ signature.

Other notable locales? Salt and Brick for Chef James Holmes’s Fresh Sheet Menu of delectable sharing plates and Waterfront Wines Restaurant where fans gather for local, seasonal plates and one-off culinary creations that the restaurant is known for.

Got vegans in your crew? Head to Frankie We Salute You where chefs make the most of Kelowna’s famed veggie growing region with sweet corn queso, carrots on toast (think: lox substitute), and more. Top it off with a treat from QB Gelato, one of a handful of gelaterias that makes their offerings from scratch, using real and raw ingredients.

Myra Canyon Trestles | Snape

Kelowna for Families

While U-pick at a host of farms is a fun activity for the family, there’s plenty more to entertain the all-ages crowd.

If bees are your thing, pop into Meadow Vista Honey Wines or Arlo’s Honey Farm to hear the buzz on local hives, and to taste the fruits of their labours.

For family-friendly cycles, pick up bikes at Myra Canyon Bike Rentals and pedal across 18 trestle bridges and through two tunnels at Myra Canyon Bellevue Provincial Park, all with peek-a-boo views of downtown Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. If you still have energy, head to Myra Canyon Adventure Park for ziplining, climbing, and exploring.

It’s back to the beach (there are 30 to choose from), where the littles can dig to their heart’s content while the adults luxuriate in the sun. To up the squeal factor, check out Okanagan Beach Rentals for the day’s toys, rent a a boat or jet ski, or take to the sky with Ogopogo Parasailing. For a boost, sign on with Okanagan Flyboard, and let the water-powered action begin.

And if a stroll with loved ones is just the thing, wander the city’s downtown core, once home to canneries, railways, a packinghouse, and a cigar factory, or walk or cycle along Kelowna’s boardwalk, a 2.2-kilometre waterfront stretch that showcases the beauty of Okanagan Lake. A picture-perfect way to end your day in the sun.

Where to Stay

You’re bound to be exhausted after a day’s play, and in Kelowna, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Cozy up in lakeside luxury at the historic Hotel Eldorado or opt for a family-friendly, residence-style suite at The Cove Lakeside Resort. For more family options, check in at Coast Capri Hotel or bring the kiddies to Hotel Zed, a spot chock-a-block with a pool, ping pong lounge, and access to bikes, roller blades, and longboards.

The Prestige Beach House, just a stone’s throw from Hot Sands Beach, is decidedly more low key. Something for everyone? Call Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort, with its stylish amenities, indoor and outdoor pools, and balcony views, your new home away from home.

Header image: Aerial of Kelowna | Andrew Strain

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