The region of Okanagan Valley is home to over 180 wineries, which includes its notable hub Kelowna, and the city of Kamloops which bills itself as the “Tournament Capital of Canada”. Here are the top things to do in Okanagan Valley next time you happen to stop by.
The Okanagan Valley is still a bit of a hidden gem in the Northwest region of Canada. In recent years, it has been an increasingly popular destination for those interested in wine or those drawn to one of the hundred tournaments held in the area every year. Sports and wine aside, there’s a lot more to this region that meets the eye.
Wine Lover’s Paradise
If you’re a fan of wine, or just enjoy the aesthetics of a vineyard, this is the place to be. Canada has had a recent boom in wineries, and the designated hub for wine in the Western region seems to be the Okanagan Valley. Kelowna in particular is home to over 40 unique wineries, some of which have won top awards both national and international, all within a 20 minute driving distance. Quail’s Gate, Mission Hill and Summerhill Pyramid are some of the top vineyards you’ll want to check out while you’re in the area. Known as the “Wine Capital of Canada,” Oliver has tons of amazing wineries such as Burrowing Owl, Silver Sage or River Stone Estate Winery. On the emerging Kamloops Wine Trail, you’ll discover locally produced wines, from riesling to pinot noir. Kamloops also boasts a growing craft beer scene, celebrated with live music at the Brewloops Beer Festival. Of course, all of these locations come with guided tours throughout the year, even during the cold months of winter.
You can’t have all that delicious wine without pairing it with a delicious meal. Luckily, no matter which city or town you decide to hit up, there will be no shortage of great restaurants. The region as a whole has a surprising amount of unique options for whatever you’re in the mood for. Hit up one of my many cafés or bakeries for something light or sweet. If you’re feeling more casual, there are a number of wonderful diners with the perfect amount of local charm. And if you really want to make the most of the wine available in this region, you have your pick from a great list of fine dining establishments. Many of the wineries include some of the top restaurants in the region. Some popular options include Hillside Winery & Bistro in Penticton, The Lookout Restaurant in Lake Country and Home Block at Cedar Creek in Kelowna.
Known as the “unofficial capital of the Okanagan,” Kelowna lies on the eastern shore of the Okanagan Lake, filled with waterfront fun and stunning nature views. Sailing, boating and fishing are only some of the activities you can partake in during your stay. The city, lined with rolling mountains as a backdrop, is of course the perfect place to go for a hike or stroll in lush greenery. During winter, you can hit up the Big White Ski Resort for a day of slopes and hot chocolate in the village. There are also several parks both on the shores of the Okanagan Lake or within the mountains framing the city. Bear Creek Provincial Park, Knox Mountain Park and the Waterfont Park are some of the more popular options you can explore on your trip.
One of the more popular destinations in this region, Kamloops burgeons with outdoor activities, history, culture, and culinary choices. At the Kamloops Museum, enter an 1843-built log cabin or delve into the history of fly fishing. The Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park, situated by the South Thompson River, showcases local native culture and hosts one of Western Canada’s largest pow wows each year. Art lovers also dig the colorful downtown murals and other works by local artists at the Kamloops Art Gallery. Visit the nearby Sun Peaks Resort for prime downhill and Nordic skiing – Sun Peaks has 12 lifts and more than 4,000 acres of skiable terrain, plus snowmobile tours and dog-sledding. In the summer, golf at the 18-hole, par-72 course, go mountain biking at the Sun Peaks Bike Park, or hike around Tod Mountain, Sundance Mountain, and Morrisey Mountain. If you enjoy spectator sports, check out the Kamloops Blazers in exciting hockey games at the Sandman Centre.