— KELOWNA, BC, CANADA — Kelowna is a sunny, laid-back city set in BC’s wine country. You will find this city in southern British Columbia, in the Okanagan Valley, and on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake. This beautiful city offers provincial parks, pine forests, vineyards, orchards, mountains, and a lake. Its downtown area includes a waterfront City Park and a lakeside cultural district. There are more than 40 local wineries to explore.
Each season offers a myriad of fantastic opportunities to delve into Kelowna during your stay. You could go biking, surfing, river rafting, horseback riding, or skiing. On the other hand, maybe you would prefer to relax and go fishing, paddling, golfing, or just resting at the beach. If you love nature, you will have plenty of hiking trails to explore, or why not visit some waterfalls.
There is always something to enjoy while visiting Kelowna.
1. Myra Canyon Kettle Valley Trail
The Myra Canyon Trail is just one section of the Kettle Valley Trail railroad within British Columbia. The Myra Canyon is just south of Kelowna and about 30-minutes from downtown. The Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society restored this section of the Kettle Valley Trail. The trail is 12-km one way through tunnels and over trestles.
In late August 2003, forest fires raged through the hills south of Kelowna, BC. Fire crews battled the fires for two weeks. Still, the fires ultimately destroyed 12 wooden trestles and damaged two steel bridges in the Myra Canyon region.
This section of the Trans-Canada Trail is now a National Historic Site. Funding to rebuild the structures at both the provincial and federal levels offered funding to rebuild the facilities, and the rebuilding process began. The remnants of burnt trees from the fires in 2003 are a reminder.
There are bike rentals for those interested in biking the trail. As well, there is food and drinks for sale in case you forgot to bring water. The walk along the route is picturesque. Walking through the tunnels and over the trestles gives you a sense of how it must have been.
2. Mission Hills Family Estate Winery
Wanting to explore wineries? The Okanagan Valley is the perfect place. Mission Hills is a family estate winery located at the top of Boucherie Mountain in Kelowna, BC. The views from their winery are spectacular. On their website, it states: “At Mission Hill Family Estate, a single philosophy has guided us since 1981 — the relentless pursuit of quality at every turn”.
Tom Kundig designed Mission Hill Family Estates. The architecture is stunning and includes a 12-story bell tower. Your view of the vineyards and Okanagan Lake below will take your breath away.
3. Big White Ski Resort
For those who love to ski, make sure you visit Big White Ski Resort—located just 56-km southeast of Kelowna. Why not fly into Kelowna’s International Airport and grab a quick shuttle (55-minutes) to the resort?
PRO TIP: When planning your trip, always get the latest information about road conditions, closures, travel advisories, and more. For current news, check out www.drivebc.ca.
There are many other activities to experience if you do not ski. For example, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, tubing, and so much more.
Coming in the summer months? You can explore hiking trails, bike riding, play disc golf, or take a scenic ride in a chair lift.
4. Bear Creek Provincial Park
Do you want to get back into nature and breathe in that fresh air? Take a drive and visit Bear Creek Provincial Park in the Central Okanagan Basin on the west side of Okanagan Lake.
The Park offers lakeside camping, sandy beaches, and 5-km of spectacular, well-marked hiking trails. Other activities include canoeing, cycling, fishing, swimming, waterskiing, and wildlife viewing. There are some picnic tables to enjoy a snack or meal, with two playgrounds for the kids. This scenic canyon has been carved into the bedrock by Bear Creek, tumbling onto a cottonwood-lined delta.
5. Oyama Zipline Adventure Park
Need an adventure? Why not visit the Oyama Zipline Adventure Park. They offer a treetop adventure for the entire family. Four attractions stretch above the forest floor. Find the best ones for your comfort level.
This award-winning park has the only full-size aerial rope courses and zipline park in British Columbia. The first ziplines opened in 2011. The Park has added rides for pre-schoolers and adrenaline-fuelled climbing, jumping, and zipping for outdoor adventure-seekers.
6. Kelowna Waterfalls
For those who love to chase waterfalls, take a moment to check out these trails. The easiest way to find information and directions to these waterfalls is to use AllTrails.
- Fintry Falls – To get to this waterfall, there is a short 1.0-km lightly trafficked trail that will take you up to a wooden staircase through the forested canyon to spectacular views of its three waterfalls and deep pools.
- KLO Creek Falls – To get to this waterfall, take the Mission Creek Upper Trail in Kelowna. A 3.2-km lightly trafficked out-and-back trail features a waterfall and is suitable for all skill levels.
- Crawford Falls – To get to this waterfall, take the short 1.5-km heavily trafficked out-and-back trail. The trail descends steeply into the canyon and awards you at the end with gushing Crawford Falls. Unfortunately, the track is periodically closed due to bank destabilization, so make sure you check the status before heading out.
- Christie Falls – Christie Falls is a spectacular, free-falling waterfall located near Kelowna. You will need to drive 28-km up a bumpy, pothole-riddled forestry road to reach the trailhead. It will take you about an hour. There is a parking lot that offers plenty of room for those wanting to explore the waterfall. There is 2.9-moderately trafficked out-and-back trail to the waterfall.
- Hardy Falls – This waterfall is within the Hardy Falls Provincial Park in Peachland, BC. To get to this waterfall, take the 1.5-km out-and-back flat trail that is good for all skill levels, including wheelchairs. The walk to the waterfall is along boardwalks that follow the creek. On your way back, you will find a few picnic tables to enjoy a picnic lunch.
7. Parrot Island Sanctuary
Parrot Island is a sanctuary for abandoned and abused exotic birds. Ray Parkes and his wife Valerie care for these birds. Ray and Valerie have both devoted their lives to the protection of these beautiful birds. You can find this sanctuary in the sunny Okanagan Valley in Peachland.
You will immediately see this couple’s love for these birds and the birds for them when you visit. They can become quite loud with their chatter, but Ray knows how to calm them all. You can see the love between man and bird. Make sure you check out the gift store on your way out. If you have the time, Ray would love to tell you some great stories.
8. Paynter’s Fruit Market
While visiting the Okanagan Valley during the summer months, make sure you visit the fruit markets. Paynter’s Fruit Market was a dream of Edwin Paynter’s desire to create a family farm. After World War 1, Edwin and his wife Margaret moved to Canada in 1919 to fulfill that dream.
After 102 years, the farm has continued to be a family-run business and passed down through the generations. Their mission statement is to provide healthy local food to our community forever.
While driving home from a family reunion in Kelowna, we stopped at Paynter’s to buy fresh fruit for our return trip. The colors and aromas of the fruit and vegetables were hypnotizing, especially the smell of the juicy peaches.
9. Okanagan Military Museum
You must check out the Okanagan Military Museum in Kelowna for those who love to visit museums. After visiting, you will find that you have a better connection to those men and women who served. This museum dedicates the conservation and greater awareness of Okanagan military heritage.
As well, they will divulge how the locals contributed to events on the world stage. While exploring the museum, you can glance at the uniforms, insignia, badges, and one of the best firearms collections in Canada. You will learn that these artifacts are from the Boer War, World War I and World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, and contemporary military operations.
10. Art Galleries & Studios
Maybe you would prefer meandering through an art gallery or studio. Kelowna offers a booming arts scene that includes many enjoyable artist studios and spectacular art galleries. Meet the artists at work in their studio environments. You will find Kelowna’s inspirational side that is sure to liven up your getaway.
Kelowna offers something to every visitor. Why not spend a day and visit some of the fantastic wineries? There are plenty of trails to explore for nature lovers, waterfalls to visit, bike riding along the Kettle Valley Trail in Myra Canyon, or spending some time on the water or relaxing on the beach. Your options are limitless.
*Opening photo ©Flickr
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Last Updated on August 26, 2021