Incredible issues to do in lovely Kelowna, BC
Kelowna, located in the Okanagan Valley, is a vibrant city and year-round travel destination in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. And why is Kelowna popular with Canadians and travelers alike? The sparkling 83 mile long Lake Okanagan combined with sunny, hot, cozy days create the perfect summer mood in Kelowna. Some may say that Kelowna’s popularity is largely due to its world-class wineries and lush orchards, while others argue that Kelowna has good access to nature, including the surrounding mountains and lake.
Whatever the reason, Kelowna appeals to all ages. At certain times of the year you can ski in the morning and visit the golf courses in the afternoon. This is a popular lifestyle among retirees!
Kelowna has a small, busy airport, and its location a 5-hour drive east of Vancouver makes it the perfect stop on a road trip through Western Canada.
How to spend a perfect weekend in Kelowna, Canada.
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Enjoy Lake Okanagan
Lake Okanagan is a huge part of the Kelowna culture. You don’t have to go far in Kelowna before you can find a sandy beach to dip your toes in or start your paddle board.
Here are a few beaches to explore:
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City Park in Kelowna
Get an ice cream at my favorite Moo-Lix ice cream parlor and stroll down the lakefront path. The city park with its breathtaking mountain views has a long sandy beach for swimming, a water park for children, a picnic area and lawn bowling. Bring a parasol!
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Park on the water
Waterfront Park at 1200 Water Street features a lagoon, sandy beach, landscaped gardens, and boardwalk. It’s a little quieter than City Park.
Boyce Gyro Beach
Boyce-Gyro Beach, 3400 Lakeshore Road, has Kelowna’s longest sandy beach. The large park is popular and offers paddle board rentals and beach volleyball courts. Bring a picnic and spend the day!
On the way to Boyce-Gyro Beach, stop in the pretty shopping area full of boutiques and cafes along Pandosy Street.
Buttle Lake in Strathcona Park (Photo: Florian Lubich / Shutterstock.com)
Strathcona Park Beach
This small, sandy beach at 2290 Abbott Street attracts mostly locals and has a large lawn to put a picnic blanket on.
Pro tip: How about on the water? The Lakefront Sports Center is located between City Park and Waterfront Park. Boats, jet skis and kayaks can be rented.
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Hike to the Knox mountain
Just a short detour from downtown Kelowna is Knox Mountain, a popular hiking trail for locals and visitors alike. Park in the free parking lot at the base of Knox Mountain and walk up the hill for the 1 hour hike back. Follow the path through the pine forest to the first lookout point. The view over Lake Okanagan and Kelowna is great.
Follow the path called Paul’s Tomb. This very well maintained trail offers spectacular views of the Okanagan Valley. The blue glow of the mountains and the lake is breathtaking. Make sure to go to the end of this trail as you will find a nice quiet beach. Although the trail is popular, it is rarely crowded on this particular beach. Taking a swim in the clear waters of Lake Okanagan is never a bad idea.
Pro tip: If hiking is your thing, head past the beach to the Lochview Trail, which follows the edge of Lake Okanagan. This path is much steeper than Paul’s grave and has stairs to climb. Let’s just call it a good workout!
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Cycle the Myra Canyon Trail
The Myra Canyon Trail is part of the historic Kettle Valley Railway and consists of 18 relatively flat pulling blocks for driving over and two tunnels. The breathtaking journey through the narrow gorge follows the route on which trains once made their lonely journey on the tracks.
The Myra Canyon Trestle Bridges are the perfect half-day bike tour. If you don’t feel like biking, it’s a nice walk too. The well-marked path between Myra Station and Ruth Station is 12 km in one direction.
If you drive along the trestles, you will pass a lot of burned trees and a forest that is regenerating. Forest fires are a natural threat in the Okanagan Valley, and in August 2003, lightning struck a tree and started a devastating forest fire known as the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. Many homes were destroyed along with 12 of the Myra Canyon Trestles. It took 5 years for all of the Myra Canyon bridges to be fully rebuilt, restored, and open to the public.
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Rent a bike and / or go on a bike ride right from the parking lot. Make sure you book in advance.
The Myra Canyon Trestles Trail is a 40-minute drive from downtown Kelowna. Follow McCulloch Road from Kelowna to Myra Forest Service Road. The last climb leads past vineyards and orchards to the parking lot of the Myra station on a gravel road. Outbuildings are the only facilities available.
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Cycling in and around Kelowna BC
Hike to the water in Kelowna and you will instantly notice all the bike paths and cyclists. It really is a cyclist’s paradise around Kelowna! Kelowna has approximately 186 miles of on-road bike paths and 25 miles of separate multipurpose lanes.
Mission Creek Greenway Regional Park has ten miles of shaded trails that Mission Creek follow for exploration. Bring a picnic lunch and relax on the rocks by the creek.
For avid cyclists, there is a new 51 mile trail, the Okanagan Rail Trail, which connects Kelowna with another town in the Okanagan Valley, Vernon.
Rent a bike from Kelowna Bike Rentals at the base of Knox Mountain. This rental kiosk offers a wide range of bicycles including e-bikes. Bicycles can also be rented at the Lakefront Sports Center and Kelowna E-Kruise.
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Enjoy the fresh products
There are countless orchards in the Okanagan Valley, with its perfect temperatures and growing conditions! I love driving around Kelowna, past fruit stands and rows of trees. I’m always curious: are those loaded with apples, pears or cherries? The season starts early in Kelowna with apricots and strawberries. Kelowna is known for its juicy local peaches.
Follow one of the many U-Pick signs and fill your baskets to your heart’s content. It is so rewarding to nibble on juicy fruits or make cherry pies once you have picked the fruits yourself.
If that doesn’t make your heart sing, check out the bustling Kelowna Farmer’s and Crafter’s Market. There is a lot going on here on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Find the market on the corner of Dilworth and Springfield and enjoy live music, French galettes and fresh produce!
Support a local cafe
There is nothing I like better than supporting local coffee shops. I’m a coffee fanatic and have a sweet tooth too, so I’ve been known to try my fair share of cookies!
Sprout is a fabulous cafe that bakes and sells lots of divine breads.
The serves its own roasted coffee and has a wide variety of sweets. I adore their signature cookie and have been known to take a detour to get one!
There are several Bean Scene locations in Kelowna; My best choice is the Bernard Avenue location.
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Visit some wineries in Okanagan
You really can’t get to the Okanagan without visiting a winery. Vineyards extend down the slopes of Lake Okanagan or are located on hills overlooking the lake. There are great views from many wineries and lots of tastings to do. Pinot gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay are just some of the wines to be enjoyed. Each winery is unique and has its own story to tell. Two of my favorites are Mission Hill Family Estate and Cedar Creek Estate Winery. This article by Vanessa Chiasson describes some of the best wineries in the Okanagan Valley.
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Discover the Big White Ski Resort
Located in the Okanagan Valley overlooking the Monashee Mountains and just an hour from Kelowna International Airport, Big White Ski Resort (also known as Big White) is a year-round playground for adventurers. In winter, Big White is known for its fluffy powder. Hit the slopes for a wide range of skiing and driving challenges from beginner to expert.
Alternatively, enjoy a Canadian winter wonderland, snowshoeing or dog sledding past snow-covered trees. Round off the day with a hot après-ski chocolate or a drink in the village.
The summer season at Big White runs from July 1st to September 6th. Do you fancy a hike? Take the panorama lift up the mountain and follow the marked hiking trails. If you are a fan of mountain biking, Big White is the place for you. Rental on site (book in advance) and a variety of forest trails for a challenging and fun descent.
Spending a day on Big White’s trails, whether winter or summer, will be an unforgettable experience.
Pro tip: Big White is Canada’s largest ski-in, ski-out village. Ski right to your front door after a day on the slopes! Plan your stay at the Big White right here.