A trip to Canada’s Napa Valley is a trip well spent! When you visit the Okanagan, you’ll be met with bountiful beauty in nature, wine galore, thrilling lakebound excursions and sunny days on end! But what if you only had 24 hours to spend in Kelowna, perhaps as you make your way to the West Coast of Vancouver, or to the Rocky Mountains of Banff? Here are the top things you MUST do, even if you had but a day and a night to spend in the wine country valley city of Kelowna!
As I mentioned above, the Okanagan is the Napa Valley of Canada so you can never go wrong with a refreshing wine tasting and a tour of a vineyard in Kelowna. Though there are 40+ wineries in Kelowna – all of which have their own unique features that you will love – Summerhill Pyramid Winery takes the cake. This place has it all: an unbeatable view of Okanagan lake with a gorgeous vineyard, affordable pricing, complimentary wine while in line, and all of their wines are organic and vegan (I had no idea wine could be non-vegan)! The fact that the wines are all made organic and processed to be vegan certified means that the wines are SO smooth with no odd aftertaste due to pesticides and animal products.
Though many wineries are not hosting vineyard tours due to COVID for the remainder of 2020 (Summerhill Pyramid included), most of them are now back to normal operating hours for their tastings. Summerhill Pyramid’s wine sessions are available 11am-7pm daily on a drop-in basis and they’ve been very diligent at maintaining proper health protocol. Their pricing is also very reasonable in that they charge $10CAD/person for the tasting but waive the fee if you make a wine purchase. Your wine taste consultation also comes with 4 wines of your choice to try out – and yes, that includes the quite expensive $100+ ice wines too! Not bad, right?
Sunset Waterfront Promenade
Head over to Waterfront Park to walk along the marina and boardwalk and grab a bite to eat in the Cultural District! The area is amazing for families and adult groups alike. I mean, who can resist the temptation of sinking your toes in warm sand along the lakeshore while watching the sun be covered behind the mountains? The park’s boardwalks are also perfect for a romantic stroll with a close looksee of the higher-end hotels in town. Make your way south to the Cultural District to enjoy happy hour or for some bar hopping!
Knox Mountain Park
Knox Mountain is where it’s at if you want to catch sweeping views of the valley and the lake while getting a hike in. In normal circumstances, Knox Mountain Drive is open to drive up to some of the lookout points. However, this year to ensure measures for physical distancing, the hikes are one-way up and one-way walking down the road as it’s now blocked off from vehicles. Apex Trail is the most popular route to summit Knox Mountain (1.5 hours roundtrip), but there are plenty of other trails to check out if you manage to spend more than a couple of hours in the park. If you want to enjoy sunset from above, this is the place to do that! The trails are all ranked easy to moderate, and – especially during this time while you have to make your down by walking on the paved road – it should be fairly safe to do so during blue hour given that you have everything you need on you to walk in the dark.
Sunrise Hike in West Kelowna
Knox Mountain Park isn’t the only area with trails and a view. Across the lake on the west side, you’ll find Bear Creek Provincial Park and a notable easy/moderate hike I highly recommend you do here is Bear Creek Canyon Rim Trail. There are stairs, bridges across the running water, wide vistas of the canyon and gorgeous lookout points to watch the sun wake up on the East. We also got to snap some cool shots of cars driving up Westside Road, which is the same road you take to get to the trailhead! For this hike, you’re able to park on the side of the road near the park entrance as provincial parks have opening hours that are typically after the sun’s already up, so you wouldn’t be able to park in the lot early morning!
Fruit Picking & a Visit to the Farmer’s Market
You can’t leave the Okanagan without a trip to the orchards (some of the best in all of Canada) or a stop by the Farmer’s Market for the freshest of fruits and locally-made products! Bring home some goodies with you or a few organic treats for the road. The best times to visit are in the mornings around 9-10am for some prime choices. Depending on the season, fruit picking can be such a steal so don’t miss out on a wonderful experience AND cheap, fresh, organic produce!
Where to Stay
Looking for a place to stay the night in Kelowna? These two are our top choices!
- The Royal Kelowna, an all-suite luxury hotel with a top location (next to Waterfront Park) and the best lakeside view in town
- The Kanata Kelowna Hotel, an affordable and comfortable 3-star hotel right off Highway 97 for easy road access, the most welcoming staff and best bang for your buck