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Nestled in the heart of British Columbia’s sun-drenched Okanagan Valley, the city of Kelowna is favourite vacation spot year-round thanks to its world-class vineyards, great weather, food scene, beaches and even a couple of ski hills. While Kelowna wine tours are undoubtedly the main draw for most visitors, there are plenty of other great attractions to check out, including some that you’ll only find in K-town. From party boats to wine-infused spa treatments, here are some of the most unique Kelowna attractions.
1) Take a ride on Maeg’s BBQ Boats
What’s better than a sunny afternoon on the water? Adding nine friends, drinks and a barbecue, that’s what! Maeg’s BBQ Boats have proven wildly popular since the unmissable bright orange, donut-shaped vessels first showed up in the harbour, and the concept is simple: guests can charter their own eco-friendly, electric powered boat for an afternoon, and bring their own food or choose the catering option. Up to 10 people can hop on board, and fire up the BBQ while zipping around Okanagan Lake and soaking up the sun.
Maneuvering the boats is easy-peasy, but those who don’t feel comfortable doing it on their own can also request to have a Maeg’s BBQ Boats staffer captain it for them. Another option is to book a spot on one of their 45-minute lake tours which navigates along the busy waterfront, which is a fun way to see spots like downtown from a different perspective.
2) Go wine tasting in the Okanagan Valley
No trip to the Okanagan Valley is complete without some wine tasting, and there’s no better place to do it than in the Kelowna vineyards. Home to dozens of wineries and just a short drive away from even more in Lake Country and Vernon, there’s everything from tiny, family-run operations and quirky co-ops to sprawling estates that look like something straight out of the French countryside.
There are plenty of options for Kelowna wine tours, with the most popular being self-drive or organized group excursions which typically include lunch and stops at three different vineyards. Those looking to splurge on an unforgettable experience can book a customized trip through the valley from the backseat of a chauffeured vintage car, or spring for a heli-wine tour where they’ll arrive in style by being dropped off right in the vineyards by a helicopter. Click here to book
3) Relax at the Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm
This eight-acre, eco-friendly farm is found on the outskirts of town, and visitors are welcome to wander through the tapestry of plants and herbs grown on the property (try to time a visit for early summer, when the purple lavender is in bloom). Everything is harvested to create botanical products like essential oils, body butter, tea and syrup, and are completely free of additives, fillers and artificial preservatives. Products are available for purchase online or at the on-site apothecary shop, which smells so heavenly you’ll find yourself relaxing the second you walk through the doors.
4) Sip on spirits at Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery
This so-called ‘farm to flask’ distillery serves up more than two dozen types of spirits completely crafted from Okanagan grains and fruits. Their impressive collection includes whiskey, gin, absinthe, aquavit, vodka and tonic, alongside fruit brandies flavoured with black current, huckleberry, maraschino and rhubarb. You can load up on them in their beautiful tasting room in the heart of downtown, where staff also lead tours and tastings.
5) Cycle along the Kettle Valley Railway
Boasting views for days, the ridiculously scenic Myra Canyon trestles are the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. This popular half-day trip is just a 40 minute drive from downtown Kelowna, and part of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) which is the longest rail trail network in British Columbia and stretches between Hope and Castlegar. The former train tracks have been converted into a recreation trail, and is a favourite of both hikers and cyclists. To explore on two wheels, rent a bike from Hoodoo Adventures, and pedal through the steep-walled canyon which is photo heaven thanks to its two tunnels and 18 trestle bridges. Click here to book
6) Act like a kid again at Scandia Golf and Games
Get silly at Scandia Golf and Games, which is located just outside the city en route to the airport. This fun centre offers a jungle-themed indoor mini golf course, an outdoor course complete with a castle and fountains, a go kart track, batting cage and huge arcade. Basically, it will feel like your 10-year-old birthday party all over again.
7) Indulge in a wine-themed spa treatment
Kelowna doesn’t mess around when it comes to wine, so it’s no surprise that you can indulge even when you go to the spa. Beyond Wrapture Day Spa offers vinotherapy treatments, where the byproducts from wineries like pips, stems and skins are used to make lotions and scrubs. The spa’s signature treatments include wraps and massages, and antioxidants found in the grapes are said to promote enzyme activity in skin cells and reduce the damage created by free radicals. More proof that wine is the best thing of life.
8) Ride around town on a Dropbike
Cycling is one of the best ways to explore a city, and Kelowna makes it easy thanks to its Dropbike program. The cute, bright-orange bicycles are found all over town, and users simply scan a QR code to unlock them and take them wherever they please. Basic packages start as low as just $1 per hour which makes them incredibly affordable, and the bikes self-lock so you can leave them anywhere that’s convenient versus hunting around for a docking station. Oh, and the tires are made of foam so you’ll never get a flat…how great is that?!
9) Eat all of the things
Kelowna is foodie heaven, and restaurants here take the farm-to-table concept seriously. Standout spots include RauDZ Regional Table which is famous for its award-winning cocktails, and Salt & Brick where guests tuck into shared plates prepared right in front of their eyes. Krafty Kitchen + Bar is beloved for its Hip Hop Brunch, where menu items have names like Boys in Da Hood Benedict and ‘90s rap music plays all morning.
Be sure to stop by the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market which is one of Canada’s largest, and showcases handmade, locally-grown products like cheese and lavender, or pop by one of the roadside fruit stands out in wine country to grab some fresh berries. Those who find themselves in southeast Kelowna might want to drop into Arlo’s Honey Farm to learn about the honey bees and check out a working hive, then head home with some beeswax candles or a jar of honey.
10) Get active outside
Kelowna’s great weather makes it the type of place you always want to be outdoors, so get your workout on by going kayaking around Okanagan Lake, doing yoga on a standup paddleboard, mountain biking, trying a flyboard experience or jogging along the waterfront. There are about a dozen golf courses in and around town, and in the winter skiers and snowboarders can make fresh tracks at Big White Ski Resort or Silver Star Mountain Resort, which are both only a one hour drive away.
Where to stay in Kelowna
Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort– This swanky spot has an enviable location right on the water and is just steps away from downtown. With beautiful rooms, an outdoor pool area with a bar, plenty of resort activities and fantastic dining options, the Grand Okanagan Resort is without question one of the best places to stay in Kelowna. Click here to book
Hotel Zed– This funky spot in the heart of downtown is across the street from a park and just around the corner from some of Kelowna’s best restaurants. Its motel-like setup is big on personality, from the vibrant murals to the ping pong room and rotary phones, which makes this a great option for the younger crowd. Click here to book
Hotel Eldorado– This hotel boasts one the city’s top outdoor patios thanks to its perch on the waterfront. There are plenty of on-site amenities guests can enjoy including water sports, yoga and a pool, and the views are sublime. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Kelowna as a guest of Tourism Kelowna. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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