What’s great about Kelowna?
Everything. By Aura Rose.
Everyone who comes to our city for work, recreation or lifestyle has been lured by the climate, the lake, the spectacular scenery, the shopping, dining and entertainment, the learning opportunities, the hiking and biking, the cherries, the apples and oh yes, the wine. And the best part? All of it is found in the heart, or within minutes, of the city.
Welcome to Kelowna – the largest city in the Okanagan – with 2,000 hours of sunshine annually. The fruit trees come into bloom in early April and our summers are hot and sunny with temperatures sometimes exceeding 35 degrees, hot enough to melt your Popsicle.
A mere 11 inches of rain during the average year means we can get by without ever owning an umbrella and some years we don’t have so much as a flake of snow to brush or shovel. We’ve been called Hawaii of the North, holding true for most of the year – at least until winter sets in and snow is king on the nearby slopes. Big White, with 17 lifts, 118 designated trails, 65 miles of marked runs, and tons of fluffy, powdery snow annually is just a short commute from city centre.
It’s only natural
Hike the nearby trails and prepare to discover a true natural paradise. Find a trail to match your skill level and you’ll soon be breathing fresh air and learning something about the world around you and quite possibly a little about yourself.
Put your best foot forward at Knox Mountain and Mission Creek Trails. Knox Mountain Park has a nice easy trail along the east shore of Lake Okanagan. Park at the bottom and walk to the first pavilion where the trail begins, or start your hike at the pavilion and follow the trail to the beach and picnic area. One hundred feet above Lake Okanagan is Paul’s Tomb where pioneers Rembler and Elizabeth Paul were buried early in the 1900s. Step it up a notch at Angel Springs and Glen Canyon and prepare for a workout at Kalamoir Park and Trepanier Creek.
Like to get around on two wheels? Our city has over 240 km of bike lanes. We are a bike friendly community with bike racks and lockers in a variety of locations. Even the transit buses provide bike racks to help make cycling a breeze. For a map of bike trails, helpful information and all there is to see and do in Kelowna, visit Tourism Kelowna.
If indoor exercise is up your alley try the H20 Centre with fun for up to 500 swimmers. Facilities include a whirlpool, steam room, water play area, wave pool, river run and wave/surf simulator. The Centre is open to members and the public.
Where’s the Beach?
Being situated on a big, beautiful lake has its advantages. Miles of sandy beaches and 22 beachfront access parks are just a few. City Beach Park is one of the most popular family areas, but there’s a beach for everyone with amenities including grassy areas, water parks, boardwalks, picnic areas, playgrounds, concession stands and washroom facilities.
Get your Feet Wet
Imagine how welcome a dip in sky-blue Lake Okanagan feels on a warm sunny day. At 135 km long and 4 km wide, there’s plenty of room for everyone. Rent a canoe, try windsurfing, the paddleboats, jetsking, or houseboating. Everywhere in Canada a licence is required to operate any motorized watercraft, but vendors can assist you with your licence and basic instruction to help you have a safe and enjoyable time.
• Cellphone – just in case you run into difficulty, not to check your email
• Maps, guides or handbooks
• Sunglasses and a hat
• Seasonal clothing, including a jacket, to take away the chill when the sun goes down
• Water – keep hydrated during your busy day
• Sunscreen – use generously, especially out on the water
• Lunch – Picnic on a peak, in the park, or on a sandy beach
• Caution – wildlife can be unpredictable, slopes can be steep and slippery and winds can come up suddenly when you’re out on the water. Safety always comes first.
Golf, of Course
You know what they say. A bad day on the golf course beats a good day at the office.
17 public and semi-private golf clubs are located within minutes of downtown Kelowna. The choice is yours. Some are ranked in Canada’s top 50, some are championship, some are 4-star and some are short courses that allow plenty of time later on for shopping, lazing on the beach, taking a wine tour, or enjoying a night on the town. Kelowna area courses are open eight months of the year.
You don’t need to be a student to enjoy UBC. In fact it’s one of Kelowna’s hidden gems and one of long-lasting value. As a visitor you will discover a warm and welcoming atmosphere to enjoy great food, recreation, architecture and a variety of other amenities, year-round.
Students will discover a rapidly expanding campus that has retained its enviable reputation as an intimate learning community. Faculty and students have created an environment of academic excellence and personal growth.
A little Retail Therapy
It takes less than ten minutes to walk along popular Bernard Avenue in downtown Kewlowa, if the stores are closed. We guarantee you will want to spend much longer window shopping and checking out trendy and fun shops – the coffee houses, art galleries, specialty bakeries, gift and pet stores. Bernard Ave. is a groovy little spot.
With more than 150 stores and a food court you can find just about anything in Orchard Park Mall. This lively shopping centre appeals to every age group and has recently undergone an expansion, bringing with it all-time favourite stores and unique boutiques.
Love at First Bite
No question about it – the best summer treat by far is fruit, fresh from the tree. You can’t come to Kelowna and not go to an orchard. Some of the larger orchards offer a choice of fruit according to season – apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums – as well as gift shops, bakeries, delis and amusements for the kids and the whole family. Watch for signs pointing the way to u-pick orchards, check with Tourist Information Centres for directions, or browse the local papers for the pick of the crop.
Out on the town
Looking for entertainment? Kelowna is home to the Okanagan Symphony, sports teams outdoor concerts, movies, business events and workshops, live music at pubs, bars and dance clubs, performing arts, and wine & film festivals. Our calendar of events is always full. Tourism Kelowna will provide you with a list of current attractions.
History, Arts and Culture
The Okanagan is a treasure trove of history. Museums and galleries bring the past to life and take you on a journey of First Nations history, the days of the fur trade, the gold rush, cattle drives and the farm and orchard industry.
Our (human) history in the Okanagan is thought to date back 11,000 years, when First Nations made their homes close to water and hunting grounds. Collections of First Nation artefacts are on display at the Okanagan Heritage Museum, and provide a valuable insight into native culture.
A number of Kelowna studios and galleries showcase wood, stone and precious metal carvings, paintings and intricate jewellery created by First Nation artisans. Their skill and artistry is admired worldwide.
Round out your Kelowna experience with a visit to as many as 19 heritage and historic sites. The Father Pandosy Mission, for example, is one of BC’s oldest buildings and is open to the public from Easter to Thanksgiving.
Okanagan wineries began producing wine early in the 1900s and now there are more than 150 in the Valley alone. Blame it on the moderate climate. Although wine country has five separate sub-regions, each brings subtle differences to a wealth of smooth, rich and distinctive wines.
The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is listed as one of the top 100 events in North America. Why not get off the beaten path and wend your way through some of the most picturesque country in the province on a self-directed, or guided wine tour. Many wineries are open year round and welcome you to stop in, meet the winemaker and enjoy a sample or two in the wine tasting room. It doesn’t matter how much you know about wine, all you need is a thirst to learn and enjoy. Visitor Information Centres have information on wine touring by the barrelful.
Many interesting and inviting smaller communities are a short drive away. Just 30 km south of Kelowna airport lies West Kelowna, home of year round recreation. Skiing, boating, fishing, great beaches, parks and hiking trails – West Kelowna offers the same superb amenities as other Okanagan communities. Lakefront camping, resorts, natural beauty and quality of life are second to none in this fast growing area.
Kettle Valley Railroad
In the late 1800s impossibly rugged terrain made the dream of a railway, from the Southern Interior westward to the Pacific Coast, an almost insurmountable task. In its heyday the KVR crossed three mountain ranges and provided a much-needed commercial link from the Kootenays to Hope.
It took other feats of engineering to complete the KVR mainline, but constant washouts, slides and economics ultimately forced the closure of the track. With the tracks gone, the trail up to the trestles in Myra Canyon won attention as a world-class recreation area, drawing an estimated 50,000 hikers and bikers a year.
Continuous restoration work improved the trails, however in 2003 a wildfire raged and destroyed 12 of the trestles and made the area virtually impassable. Fortunately the trestles were rebuilt and became a National Heritage Site. Drive to Myra Station to avoid the relentless upward grind (an excursion reserved for only the most hardy) then bike or hike the rail bed to Ruth Station. The trail south from McCullough Station southward is also a popular route, however all outdoor trail conditions vary according to weather and usage. Caution is recommended at all times.
A small but vital part of history also remains alive and intact at Summerland. Thanks to the Kettle Valley Railway Society and other benefactors the KVR line was preserved, allowing the unmistakable sound of the steam locomotive to return to the countryside. From April through October that sound lures tourists and rail buffs on breathtakingly beautiful 90-minute voyages into another era.
Great food and a glass of wine go hand in hand. Whether you sample a slice of locally made cheese, visit the orchards and farmers markets for fresh fruit and vegetables, or reserve a place at any one of hundreds of dining establishments, you’ll soon share our passion for the fruits of the land. Our eateries delight in presenting only the finest foods, wines and aperitifs, locally produced of course, but it’s up to you to discover whose cuisine reigns supreme.
Many restaurants have a strong Asian influence. Most are non-chain and are privately-owned, and lend authentic flavours to Cantonese, Szechuan, Thai, Mandarin, and Vietnamese presentations. For example, Bina and her husband Dongmin Lai have relocated from Beijing and have brought their cooking style and chef with them. The “Beijing Bina Cooking House” serves Authentic Chinese Cuisine.