This city travel guide to Kelowna, BC Canada is a great resource for those visiting or locals who love to explore. Covers everything from recommendations on things to see and do to places to eat and shop in Kelowna.
Nestled in the stunning Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is a beautiful city surrounded by beaches, mountains, orchards and vineyards. This laid-back city in British Columbia’s wine country offers something for everybody. Let me walk you through some of my favourite things that Kelowna has to offer in this guide.
How We Ended Up Here – Wasn’t Planned!!
I moved to Kelowna with my family at the beginning of 2016. We basically ended up here by chance since it was never part of the plan. Most of our lives had been spent in various parts of Ontario (for those not familiar with Canada, it is basically on the other side of the country).
When my boys were tiny little guys, my husband was offered an opportunity to work in Brisbane, Australia. We jumped on it since we were looking for a change. We fell in love with the city and lifestyle, spent 4 years there and planned to spend our lives there…but then we had to leave (that’s a whole other story!). Neither of us wanted to return to our previous lifestyle so I started asking EVERYBODY for suggestions on places in Canada that met my list of criteria. That list included things like: laid-back vibe, surrounded by natural beauty, close to water, hot summers/mild winters (in Canadian terms) and a local food scene. It also needed to be large enough to have an airport and all the amenities of a city.
An online friend at the time (real life friend now!) suggested Kelowna. “Huh – Kelowna? Where’s that?” We had only ever heard of the larger places on the west coast. However, all of our Canadian expat friends in Brisbane who were from Alberta were very familiar with Kelowna and told us all about it. So in November 2015, my husband and I flew over for a few days to check it out. By the way, November is probably one of the worst months to travel anywhere in Canada but we saw the potential and ended up buying a lot. A few months later, we moved into a rental apartment and started to build our home. Although I still miss Brisbane, I have no regrets and have loved the lifestyle here. I have enjoyed exploring the area over the past few years and am still constantly discovering new things.
Kelowna Fun Facts
- Kelowna is the largest city in the Okanagan Valley and one of Canada’s fastest growing cities.
- Nearly 2 million people visit Kelowna annually.
- Kelowna is the Okanagan First Nation word for “grizzly bear”.
- There are over 40 wineries (and close to 200 in the Okanagan region).
- Kelowna receives over 2000 hours of sunshine annually.
Things To See And Do In Kelowna
Kelowna offers an abundance of outdoor activities – everything from hiking, biking, golfing and watersports in the summer to skiing, snowshoeing and skating in the winter. Here are some of my favourites:
Beaches + Watersports
Since Kelowna is located along Okanagan Lake, there are plenty of spots to get out on the water. You can find a full list of Kelowna beaches HERE. Many of the larger beaches also offer kayak and paddleboard rentals. If you want something a little faster, rent yourself a jet ski or boat. We had a ton of fun renting a boat from Sunwave Boat Rentals – was reasonably priced and you can also rent toys like tubes for added fun. Tip: Some of the items in this “10 Amazon Finds For Summer Fun” post would be perfect for a day at the beach. Some of our favourite beaches in Kelowna are:
- Boyce-Gyro Beach (3400 Lakeshore Rd): One of Kelowna’s most well known beaches. It has a large playground, kayak/SUP rentals, volleyball courts, washrooms, picnic areas and plenty of shade.
- Rotary Beach Park (3726 Lakeshore Rd): This beach is just up the road a bit from Boyce-Gyro beach. It has a little bit more of a relaxed feel and features a playground, kayak/SUP rentals, washrooms, picnic areas and plenty of shade. Also a popular spot for kite surfers on a windy day.
- Bertram Creek Regional Park (5680 Lakeshore Rd): This is one of my favourites when I want to get away from the craziness. This beach is a beautiful drive past a few of the Lakeshore wineries and features two different pebble beaches, playground, washrooms, picnic areas, shaded areas and a pavilion that can be used for events.
There are lots of trails to explore in a variety of difficulty levels. You can check out a full list HERE. A few of my favourites include:
- Knox Mountain – Paul’s Tomb Trail: Knox Mountain is located near downtown Kelowna and has a number of trails. The Paul’s Tomb Trail is a 5km (round trip) family friendly hike with gorgeous views over Okanagan Lake. It ends at a beautiful, small beach that is the perfect spot for the kids to play, cool off in the water or have a mid-hike picnic.
- Mission Creek Greenway: This is a 16.5km trail that runs along Mission Creek. There are two phases to this trail and most people just do a section of it. I like the first phase that can be accessed from Lakeshore Road. This phase has a flat, wide pathway perfect for walking or cycling. This is a beautiful hike in the Fall when all the trees along the pathway turn shades of yellow and orange.
- Bear Creek Provincial Park – Canyon Rim Trail: This 2.5km loop features beautiful views of Okanagan Lake, staircases, bridges and a waterfall!
Tons of biking options in Kelowna! With nearly 300km of bike lanes, Kelowna has the most extensive bicycle network in Canada for a city its size. Click HERE for a Kelowna Cycling Map. There is also the Okanagan Rail Trail – 50 km trail from Kelowna to Vernon with many scenic views along the way.
Big White Ski Resort is a short drive from Kelowna and truly is a winter playground. It is also known as “Canada’s Favourite Family Ski Resort” and one of the best powder destinations in Canada. Outdoor activities include skiing, boarding, snowshoeing, skating and tubing. You can also enjoy special events like weekly fireworks and take a break or enjoy your “apres ski” at one of the many restaurants/bars in the village.
There are lots of great yoga studios if you want to embrace your inner yogi. My reality as a Mom tends to be solo early morning sessions in my basement but here are some great places in Kelowna to get out for a practice:
- Modo Yoga Kelowna: This beautiful studio is known for hot yoga but also has a room where they offer other types of yoga.
- The Hot Box Yoga: This modern studio has locations both downtown Kelowna and across the bridge in West Kelowna.
- Yoga In The Vineyards: Many of the wineries offer yoga classes throughout the summer. Some wineries may just offer a few classes during the season while others like Off The Grid Organic Winery offer weekly classes. Combination of beautiful surroundings + wine = Perfection!
You can’t go far without spotting a winery. This is wine country after all! There are over 40 wineries to explore and if that is not enough for you, the entire Okanagan region has close to 200 wineries. We are still trying to work our way through them all! 🍷
Check out this list of Kelowna Wineries or this online guide to explore your options. The area has 5 unique wine trails to discover: Kelowna’s Fab Five, Lakeshore Wine Route, Lake Country’s Scenic Sip, Westside Wine Trail and Downtown Grapes & Grains. Pick some that you want to check out on your own or book a tour with one of the many wine tour companies in the area like Beach Bum Tours.
Here are a few of my favourites:
- Summerhill Pyramid Winery: This biodynamic, organic winery is the most visited winery in Canada. I love the wines here, especially the sparkling wines which they are so known for that they even have a large sculpture of a bottle out front. Also has beautiful views, a pyramid shaped cellar and an organic restaurant on site.
- Mission Hill Family Estate: Large, must-see winery with beautiful architecture and hilltop views. Also has an acclaimed restaurant and offers a concert series and culinary classes.
- The Vibrant Vine: Fun, colourful winery with lots of 3D artwork. They also have a large lawn area to relax on while enjoying a glass, playing lawn games or listening to live music.
- Blind Tiger Vineyards: Laidback, organic, family-owned winery. They have amazing woodfire pizza available in the summer and live music.
- Meadow Vista Honey Wines: Cute little winery to visit when you want to try something different. This artisan farm winery produces delicious wine from a traditional method using honey and other locally sourced ingredients.
- Off The Grid Winery: This organic winery is a fun place to visit for the whole family. Goats live on the grass roof of the fully sustainable, off the grid building. Also has farm animals to interact with, picnic area, seasonal food truck and yoga.
- Ricco Bambino: Located right downtown, making it a great place to have a drink while in the area. This winery utilizes natural winemaking practices, ages in concrete tanks and has a super cute, “insta worthy” space.
Craft Breweries + Distilleries + Cideries
Kelowna also has a lot of great craft breweries, distilleries and cideries to check out. You can find a full list HERE. Some of my favourites are:
- Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery: The Family Reserve Gin is my favourite and always stocked in my pantry for when a G+T craving strikes. Wide range of award winning spirits available here including whisky, vodka, gin and liquers.
- Tree Brewing Beer Institute: We love stopping in here for a drink when we are downtown. It is also family friendly with a ton of board games and delicious homemade chips and pizzas to snack on.
- Kettle River Brewing: Cozy, inviting brewery with an amazing, authentic, handmade ramen trailer out front on certain days (The Little TOKYO Ramen Trailer).
- Vice and Virtue: Hip, modern space offering beers that are brewed in house and delicious food. The branding on the cans is also super cute!
- Barn Owl Brewing: This is a new brewery located inside a really unique space – a heritage barn from the 1920s.
Plenty of fun attractions to enjoy in Kelowna. You can find a long list HERE or check out some of my favourites:
- Myra Canyon Trestles: The breathtaking scenery and fantastic views of the surrounding mountains can be enjoyed on foot or by biking. Biking is the way to go if you want to see it all since it is 12 km each way. Myra Canyon has two large tunnels and 18 trestle bridges originally built as part of the Kettle Valley Railway.
- Ziplining + Aerial Courses: If you are after some outdoor adventure, check out Oyama Zipline Adventure Park, Myra Canyon Adventure Park or WildPlay Kelowna.
- Waterfront Boardwalk: Beautiful walk located downtown Kelowna along Okanagan Lake. While you are downtown, also check out the hidden Kasugai Garden Park – tranquil Japanese garden with a pond stocked with Koi.
- Farms + Orchards: Kelowna is known for locally grown fruit and produce. You will find many orchards, farms and roadside fruit stands. Have a fun and delicious day checking some of them out.
- Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm: Explore the beautiful gardens and all the hand-crafted botanical products in the boutique. They also offer a number of workshops.
- Start Fresh Cooking Classes: These classes are a ton of fun and an excellent way to spend an evening. The space is very inviting and you are greeted with a glass of bubbly and some delcious items to snack on. The classes that I have taken have been both informative and entertaining. And the best part is that you get to eat all the delicious food afterwards!!
- Scandia Golf & Games: My kids love this place – mini golf, go-carts, batting cages and arcade games.
- Indoor Activities: Is it a rainy or cold day? Here are some fun indoor options: H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre, Planet Lazer, Arcadia VR Lounge, McCurdy Bowling Centre, EnergyPlex, Fun Bugs Indoor Playground
Where To Eat In Kelowna
Kelowna has an amazing local food scene which includes an abundance of wineries (see section above), orchards, farm-to-table restaurants and food artisans.
Here are a few of my favourite restaurants in Kelowna:
- The Bohemian Cafe (known as “The Boh”): Seriously the best eggs benny ever!! This eclectic cafe serves breakfast and lunch using quality, locally sourced goods. There is usually a wait but it is definitely worth it!
- Little Hobo Soup & Sandwich Shop: This is the first place that we had a bite to eat when we came to scope out Kelowna as a place to live. The friendliness and sense of welcome we felt here may have played a role in our decision. They have since moved into a larger location but still make delicious homemade, comfort food to enjoy weekdays for breakfast or lunch. My favourites are the soups, bisuits and the best perogies I have ever had (made on Tuesdays only)!
- Antico Pizza Napolentana: This is the real stuff which I absolutely love! You can taste the quality of ingredients and I could eat the sauce by the bowlful – it is so good! This is a casual restaurant offering authentic Neapolitan style pizzas from a wood-fired oven.
- RauDZ Regional Table: This is the place to go if you want an amazing, special dinner. The food is incredible in this relaxed, contemporary space. They focus on fresh, locally sourced dishes.
- Micro Bar & Bites: This small, iniviting, rustic space, located next to RauDZ serves amazing cocktails and small plates (like their amazing charcuterie and duck fat popcorn). Fun spot for a date night or for a pre-dinner drink.
- BNA Brewing Co. & Eatery: This is a super fun space to visit. It is a craft brewery with an attached restaurant. They have a really cool rustic space with great food and retro bowling alleys, bocce and video games upstairs.
- Krafty Kitchen + Bar: This is a casual, farm to table restaurant that is open for brunch, lunch and dinner. They focus on locally sourced ingredients and on the weekends have a hip hop brunch with a 90’s inspired menu and hip hop jams.
- Zabb Thai Restaurant: I love the delicious thai food here that is packed full of veggies (just the way I like it!). We get take out from here quite often for stay at home date nights.
One of the best parts of the summer is chilling on a patio. Here are some of my favourite patios in Kelowna:
- Smack Dab: This is Kelowna’s largest lakeside patio and the perfect place to spend some time on a gorgeous day. They offer a casual, gastropub style menu. Or if you prefer a more upscale menu, you can dine on the patio of Lakeside Dining (Hotel Eldorado) next door.
- Craft Beer Market: This is Kelowna’s biggest rooftop patio and offers views of downtown Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. With over 100 beers on tap, the hardest part is deciding what to drink with your meal.
- Perch Cafe & Lounge: This cool patio offers panoramic views of the city since it is located on the rooftop of the Innovation Centre. Come for the view and stay for the menu that utilizes locally sourced ingredients.
- OAK + CRU Social Kitchen & Wine Bar: They are located inside the Delta Grand and have a patio on the lake. The farm to table inspired menu and great cocktails make this place an excellent choice when downtown.
- Summerhill Pyramid Bistro: This restaurant is located at the Summerhill Pyramid Winery and the patio offers stunning views of Okanagan Lake and the vineyards. The menu highlights organic BC ingredients including those from an onsite garden. Best of both worlds – start off with a wine tasting and then head out to enjoy the patio!
I love ice cream and we sure have some good places to treat yourself in Kelowna. Some of my favourite ice cream places are:
- Parlour Ice Cream: They are located right downtown across from the sails. The ice cream is made from local ingredients and they have some unique flavour profiles. Try the salted caramel on a fresh, house-made waffle cone – my favourite!!
- QB Gelato: This place is delicious! They make handcrafted gelato completely from scratch out of locally sourced ingredients.
- Amore Mio: Not only can you get authentic Italian gelato here but they also have daily fresh baked goods, coffee and Italian pastas and paninis.
I love exploring all the local food shops and food artisans and am constantly discovering new ones! Here are a few of my favourites:
- Farm Goods: The Kelowna Farmers Market is a must-see in Kelowna. It features farm, food and craft vendors. Great way to experience the local food scene! Don O Ray Farms is one of my favourite farm stands. Not only do they have an excellent selection of fresh produce but they also have butter chicken sauce that is out of this world and a petting zoo/farm adventure area for the kids. For a fun outing, I love to visit Arlo’s Honey Farm where you can taste all the varieties at the tasting bar or Carmelis Goat Cheese farm where you can sample a large selection of goat cheese and goat milk gelato (also stunning views).
- Bakeries: Okanagan Grocery makes traditional artisan breads using natural starter, flaky mouth-watering croissants and other pastries. You really can’t go wrong with anything here! Sprout Bread is an artisan bakery and cafe. You can find naturally fermented bread, coffee, pastries and some simple food in this modern, airy, heritage space.
- Chocolate/Coffee/Tea: Karat Chocolate makes unbelievably good chocolate. I am not even a chocoholic but these chocolates call my name. They make high quality, hand crafted chocolates that incorporate local ingredients. They also make gorgeous desserts and have a really cute space to sit down and relax in. If you are looking for coffee (like my husband always is), Canoe Coffee Roasters is a specialty, small batch roaster with a beautiful, modern space to enjoy. If tea is more your thing (like it is for me!), then you need to check out Chaibaba. They are a loose leaf tea cafe and shop that sources organically grown tea leaves, herbs and spices for their blends.
- Grocery: Urban Fare is a specialty grocery store that carries a wide range of local products. Nature’s Fare is an organic grocery store that also has a bistro where you can grab a smoothie or bite to eat. Quality Greens is a farm market that partners with many local suppliers. If you are looking for German or European items, then check out Illichmann’s. They have been in business for over 50 years and offer meats, deli, custom sausages and a variety of imported European specialty items.
- Seafood: Codfathers Seafood Market is the place to get fresh, 100% sustainable seafood. They also have a small seafood restaurant attached to them that serves amazing fish and chips and other items.
Places To Shop In Kelowna
So many cute little shops and boutiques to check out. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Funktional: There are so many cool things in this shop. They have a variety of items from Canadian (BC focus) artisans.
- The Green Vanity: This full service, clean beauty boutique is such an inviting and informative place to check out. They are super friendly and will help you figure out which products will work best for you.
- Boheme Collective: This is a great little boutique with a curated mix of clothing, accessories and gifts.
- Alchemy: This is a lifestyle store with an eclectic mix of home decor, jewellery and more.
- Olive & Elle: This is a lifestyle boutique with a beautiful curation of quality home items.
- Lakehouse Home Store: They have two spaces downtown. One of them focuses on a wide array of quality housewares while the other is located in a beautiful heritage building showcasing furniture and a cooking school.
Places To Get Pampered In Kelowna
Sometimes you need a little pampering…am I right? Here are a few places to treat yourself:
- Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa: Less than an hour drive outside of Kelowna and you will arrive at this European-inspired spa resort. Stunning views, Swarovski crystal decor and home to the 40,000 sq ft KurSpa featuring pools, steams, saunas and a variety of treatment areas.
- Orah Spa + Salon: This is an eco-luxury full service spa with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. They offer just about everything you can think of.
- Namaste Day Spa: A boutique day spa specializing in organic facials.
Wow! Who knew I had so much to say about this city (and I could have gone on and on even more!). I hope that this guide provided you with plenty of ideas of things to see and do in Kelowna. I will leave you with this cute video from Tourism Kelowna. Have fun exploring!!!
Have you ever visited Kelowna? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to know what some of your favourite things to see and do are!
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