By Natalie Appleton
It’s little wonder why dozens of the tourists who visit the Okanagan each year eventually become residents. This sunny valley in British Columbia, Canada, offers stunning lakes and landscapes, 365 days of outdoor activities, and hundreds of vineyards, orchards, and golf courses. And when you stay at one of the many hotels in Kelowna—the region’s largest city—you’re right in the middle of it all.
Summer: Get Wet, Get Set
Okanagan city streets empty in the summer as locals and tourists spend their days at the lake sun-bathing, swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, paddling, and diving. The popular and vast Lake Okanagan is home to Otter Bay, Western Canada’s first freshwater scuba-diving and snorkeling park. Many Kelowna hotels overlook the lake, often dotted with people participating in the hottest new watersport: stand-up paddling.
It’s a good thing bottoms don’t get sunburnt. You’ll want to take a seat at some of the Okanagan music festivals and theatre productions. Tickets to book before it’s too late: The Keloha Music & Arts Festival held in Kelowna’s Waterfront Park each July; the Caravan Farm Theatre’s annual summer production, held on an Armstrong farm and performed by Canada’s top professional actors; the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, held each August and attended by world-renown musicians; and Peachfest, Penticton’s notorious August peach harvest and musical celebration.
Fall: Bobbing for Apples, Hunting for Balls
The Okanagan is a golf-lover’s paradise. Because of the sunny, almost wind-less weather, many golf courses are open and busy well into October. A short drive from your Kelowna hotel will bring you to several world-class courses, including top Canadian course Predator Ridge and the Fred Couples-designed The Rise.
Apples abound in the Okanagan from August on, but some of the valley’s best varieties—from McIntosh and Red Delicious to Royal Gala and Braeburn—are available in September and October. You’ll find apple stands along the highways, crates full at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, and special events on site at many farms across the valley, including Davison Orchard.
Winter: Spas and Skis
Skiing and snowboarding
The Okanagan’s champagne powder and sunny slopes are a haven for boarders and skiers. Nearest to hotels in Kelowna is the Big White Ski Resort, and a little further away is Silver Star, recently named the best place to ski in January by the New York Times. Both resorts offer dynamic and challenging trails as well as winter fun for the whole family, from tubing to ice skating. If cross-country skiing is more your style, the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre offers world-class trails traveled by Olympians.
Soothe those ski legs with a treatment or two at one of the many impressive spas in the Okanagan. In addition to the modern and traditional treatments, you’ll love the views and the fixings (local fruit) you’ll find on site at Kelowna spas. Some Kelowna hotels even offer their own spa services to conveniently add relaxation to your well-deserved getaway!
Spring: Wine and Bicycle Trails
With grapes in bud break and wineries opening their doors for the season, spring is the ideal time to tour the nearly 200 wineries located across the Okanagan. In addition to sipping some of the world’s favourite BC wines at Mission Hill and Quail’s Gate, visit some lesser-known but just as lovely vineyards during the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival, held annually in May.
Step away from the cities and be immersed in the lush vegetation of the great outdoors. The Okanagan boasts many easily accessible hike and bike trails. The most famous being the Myra Canyon. Its 24 kilometres of bike trails attract 50,000 cyclists every year who are drawn to its two tunnels, 18 trestle bridges and breathtaking canyon and lake views. The Myra, located south of Kelowna and part of the Trans Canada Trail, was recently named one of Canada’s six best bike trails by Chatelaine magazine.
Planning a trip to the Okanagan? Make Kelowna your launch pad and stay at the centrally located BEST WESTERN PLUS Kelowna Hotel & Suites, offering a spa, a mineral pool, free hot breakfast, activity packages, and pet-friendly rooms. Book your reservation today!