Whether you’re looking to try something new or getting to know BC a little better, Kelowna makes a great home base for exploring the Okanagan Valley.
Centrally located, you can pretty much head off in any direction and, within an hour or two’s drive, find great places to visit. Bring your hiking boots, put your bikes on the rack, throw the kayak on the roof, or simply bring your appetite for delicious Okanagan wine: there’s adventure to be had!
Just across the bridge – or – The other side of the lake
The communities of West Kelowna and Peachland both offer recreation and cultural attractions that can quickly fill up a day. Hop across the W.A.C. Bennett Bridge to West Kelowna, detour to Boucherie Road and stop at both the Quail’s Gate and Mission Hill wineries. The Westbank First Nation is a West Kelowna neighbour; a stop at the Snc?wips Heritage Museum gives visitors a glimpse into local First Nations history and way of life.
25 minutes southwest of Kelowna, you’ll find Peachland’s charming lakefront stroll—with retail shops, restaurants and other businesses on one side of Beach Avenue and Okanagan Lake the other. Plus if you’re looking for a little adventure, Zipzone Peachland can accommodate, delivering Canada’s highest freestyle zipline—400 feet above Deep Creek Gorge and more than two kilometres of zipline in total.
The South Okanagan
Less than an hour south of Kelowna, the town of Penticton is sandwiched in between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake and is known as the float capital of Canada—locals love the canal that connects the two lakes. Beginning in mid-May, they throw their floatables in the water at the north end and climb aboard for a leisurely junket south.
From Penticton to Osoyoos, you’ll find plenty more wineries, orchards and fruit stands to visit. Stock up as you make your way toward one of Canada’s warmest welcomes—both figuratively and literally. Osoyoos is home to Canada’s only pocket desert. Visit the Desert Centre, a 67-acre interpretive park that includes a 1.5-km elevated boardwalk where you can look out for rattlesnakes, coyotes and black widow spiders.
Headed home, be sure to stop at Tickleberry’s in Okanagan Falls for an ice cream treat. If time allows, you might want to include a quick scamper to Naramata and a tour of the many wineries located on the southeast side of Okanagan Lake.
East on Hwy. 33 to Rock Creek
Not as popular at Hwy. 97, Hwy. 33 is nonetheless a great day trip from Kelowna. You’ll quickly find yourself in British Columbia’s back country.
Big White, about an hour’s drive from Kelowna on Hwy. 33, is known for its amazing winter fun. But the warmer seasons are almost as good. The fresh alpine air and hiking trails invite you into fields of mountain wild flowers and chance encounters with all sorts of critters. Summer hiking and sightseeing opens at Big White in early July.
Hwy. 33 ends at Rock Creek, a small community at the confluence of the Kettle River with the eponymous Rock Creek, The community was once a booming gold rush town and you can still try your hand at gold panning at the Canyon Creek Ranch. Or bike or hike the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Travel far enough along the trail and you’ll find yourself almost back in Kelowna.
North to Sicamous and Salmon Arm
North of Kelowna, Lake Country beckons with attractions as diverse as Kangaroo Creek Farms, Hoof prints Barnyard Petting Zoo, Bridlewood Riding Centre and Gatzke’s Farm Market. Some of Canada’s best golf can be had at Predator Ridge while both Wood and Kalamalka Lakes offer endless water-based activities. All of which are less than a 45-minute drive from downtown Kelowna.
1.5 hours north of downtown Kelowna, Okanagan’s Lake Country gives way to the Shuswap Country and the houseboat capitals of Sicamous and Salmon Arm.
Along the way, you’ll pass through Vernon, Armstrong and Enderby. Cruise Okanagan, based out of Vernon, delivers a sightseeing experience into the heart of the Okanagan Valley from the north end of the lake. Armstrong is home to the Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) , a late-summer draw you’ll want to add to your calendar. Enderby boasts one of a handful of drive-in theatres still open in Canada; double features show every spring and summer evening at the Starlight Drive-in Theatre beginning May 1.
The heart of the Shuswap is Shuswap Lake, the perfect place to rent a boat and enjoy a day’s fishing, water skiing or paddling. You can find boat rentals in both Sicamous—north on Hwy. 97A—or Salmon Arm—north on Hwy. 97B.
Feature image: Jeff Turner