25 Jul Kelowna: British Columbia’s Hidden Gem
We love British Columbia, Canada but Kelowna wasn’t even on our radar until someone mentioned that Alaska Airlines highlighted it on their Next Stop series. So we decided to add it to our road trip itinerary– and we’re really glad we did!
The main summer attractions in Kelowna are outdoor activities and wineries. Since it’s just a one-hour flight from Seattle on Alaska Air, it makes a fantastic long weekend destination from the Pacific Northwest.
To keep our budget low, accommodations on our one-month road trip are primarily tent camping and staying with friends or family. But for this short leg of the journey, we stayed a total of three nights in AirBnB rooms (one night near Vancouver, two in Kelowna; about $50/night). This allowed us to get priceless sightseeing tips from locals as well as some extra amenities, like use of a kitchen and laundry.
Activities in Kelowna
Hiking and Biking
We took our road bikes out for a spin in town when we first arrived. Then we made use of our one full day in town to attempt three different hikes! Yes, three hikes. We wanted to see as much as possible and had several great recommendations from our AirBnB host. (We didn’t make it too far on the third one.)
Downtown and Waterfront Kelowna
Biking through City Park, Waterfront Park, and others along the lakefront was an excellent way to get a feel for the city. People were out in droves on a summer evening, swimming in the lake, picnicking, playing beach volleyball, and more.
Kelowna has a fair share of bike lanes in town but where it really shines is with its “bike highways” which are separated from vehicle traffic by a median. Even the pedestrian walkway is separate. Our favorite was the trail that parallels the lake and connects a series of small beach parks tucked into the neighborhoods, running south of City Park. It was flat, paved, and beautiful for miles (or rather, kilometers).
Knox Mountain Park
Our first hike of the day was on the outskirts of town, Knox Mountain Park. It was close enough to our AirBnB rental that we reached the entrance by bike in about 5 minutes. We got the sense that a number of local folks use the trails regularly for exercise. One such lady struck up a conversation with us and recommended we hike to the two overlooks. (She also advised us to “not pay attention to the warning signs about bears!”)
This hike in Myra-Bellevue Park features a series of transformed “trestles” which were formerly used for a railroad system. Hiking didn’t get us very far along the trail so if we have the chance to go back, we’d definitely do it by mountain bike and see more of the trestles.
The Canyon Loop at Bear Creek Park, across the lake from Kelowna, was a relatively short hike but one with quite a bit of uphill climbing. It follows the edge of a canyon with several viewpoints to look down into the crevice at the stream and beyond to the lake.
Fruit Farms and Wineries
We are suckers for fruit stands, so we were pleased to see a lot of them while driving through the countryside around Kelowna. We got plums, peaches, cherries, and raspberries (not pictured here because we ate them too fast).
Kelowna is also in the heart of the Okanagan wine country. We passed tons of vineyards during our short time in the area. We made a stop at Summerhill Pyramid Winery– again, based on the recommendation of our AirBnB host.
The grounds of the winery were, of course, beautiful. Summerhill sets itself apart by aging its wines inside a pyramid, of all things. While there, we had the chance to share a wine tasting (4 wines for $5). We could definitely see how Kelowna would make a great wine tour destination with so many vineyards to visit, all very close to each other.
Kelowna Farmer’s and Crafter’s Market
We were lucky enough to be in town during Kelowna’s Market, which is open in the summer on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. It’s a pretty good size with a selection of food carts, fruit vendors, meats, cheeses, jewelry, hand-sewn clothing, etc.
We were really glad we added Kelowna to our itinerary. It’s a great town to visit in the summer for a simple holiday- laid back but still plenty to do.
Have you been to Kelowna? Had you heard of it before? We’d love to hear about your experience there.
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