Kelowna

Discovering Kelowna — Peaceful World of Natural Beauty

by Isabella Thordsen

In the far West of Canada lies British Columbia, or “Beautiful British Columbia” as the locals call it. And after 3 weeks of exploring the cinematic state, BC continues to be the most amazing gift that keeps on giving. With over 2000 km covered, my friend and I decided to explore one of the lesser-known paradises of Canada in search of some downtime and wellness with The Royal Kelowna hotel.

And today I wanted to share how I found a little slice headspace in Kelowna, a small jewel in British Columbia’s wine region called The Okanagan (pronounced; Oh-Kar-Nar-Gan).

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Arriving at the Royal Kelowna Hotel in the evening, here I was sat overlooking the majestic Okanagan Lake. A quick elevator ride later, I was at the top of this traditional wood-panelled hotel and walked into a world of beautiful dark pink colours, blue rolling hills and a few glimmers of orange light reflecting off the lake…….

“Aaaand breathe…” the little voice in my head started saying.

There is something humbling and inspiring about being infinitely smaller than the natural wonders around you. The cinematic cliffs, breathtaking mountains, rolling hills, and vast lakes of the world’s more untouched landscapes really make you check yourself and evaluate our small role to play on this earth whilst so many bigger forces are around us.

After a cold drink at the panoramic bar on top of the Royal Kelowna, it was time to wind down and enjoy the weekend exploring this magical valley (and its famous vineyards, of course!).

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Our suite was already awaiting, and a well-earned snooze was needed before waking up to beautiful sunshine for our Sunday stroll around town.

Waking up with a list from the helpful staff here, we had a curated “To-Do” list for all the sights in the area, and after a watermelon breakfast, we headed for a stroll along the boardwalk and harbour in front of the hotel.

A few minutes’ walk from the hotel to the melting pot of the centre, and it was clear straight away that Kelowna was a happy, community-driven, family town. And how could they not be — a stable climate all year round, some of the best ski areas on their doorstep in the Winter and some of North America’s most acclaimed vineyards within walking distance. 

Less than 100 m from the lake-front, you can find the main street which is full of stylish coffee shops, trendy Poké bowl takeaways, bohemian bars and urban wineries — it really was buzzing! We decided to sample everything available and fell in love with the Poké bowls at Pacific Poké.  The spicy tuna “build it yourself” bowl was a little slice of heaven as we watched families and friends enjoy the last of their weekend together. It was a heartwarming day all round!

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Another must-visit location in the Okanagan Valley is, of course, the Westside Wine Trail just over the bridge from Kelowna.

Following the beautiful lake views, you can drive through the magnificent vineyards set on either side of the road and try a multitude of old world and new world wines.

After a few stops, we made it to the stunning Quails Gate Winery nestled in the foothills above Lake Okanagan. As one of the oldest wineries in the region, we had to sample a few of their award-winning bottles and couple it with a few treats from the restaurant. 

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The winery has a great design and certainly has a premium feel as you wander around the grapes and their beautiful restaurant. Another great stop for a visit and to see a view right down the valley.

With life so fast-paced thanks to apps such as Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon Prime making everything so instant, places like Kelowna, far removed from the hustle and bustle, provide a little break from the noise of normal Millennial life. Their natural beauty almost gave us an “excuse” to live in the moment and not in our screens, as if their beauty is so magnificent it would be almost disrespectful to not take it all in when you are here.

Top Things to do in Kelowna in Summer

By Lisa Kadane

Kelowna shines in every season, but during the long, hot days of summer, visitors can do everything from wine tour to set sail, and most activities and attractions are easily accessible from The Royal Kelowna. Need some inspiration for how to spend your summer holiday? Here’s a curated Kelowna bucket list.

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Visit iconic vineyards on a Westside Wine Trail tour

Stop in for wine tastings at Mission Hill and Quails’ Gate estates, along with two or three more boutique wineries, on a tour with Uncorked Okanagan. Along with varietals from Merlot to Viognier, appreciate vineyard vistas and lake views while someone else does the driving.

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Tee up at The Harvest Golf Club

Grab a fruit snack right from the tree while swinging through this championship-length, 18-hole golf course that’s nestled among fruit orchards in pastoral southeast Kelowna. After a great game, grab a bite at Masa’s Grill and pair local wine with seasonal favourites.

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Set sail on Okanagan Lake

See the city and the surrounding Okanagan Highlands from the glassy surface of Okanagan Lake on a boat tour or private yacht charter. Kelowna Cruises runs sunset dinner sails with live entertainment in July and August, while Holy Doodle Sailing Charters offers a more intimate experience on an S2 8.5-metre yacht.

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Cycle the Myra Canyon train trestle trail

Rent a bicycle from Myra Canyon Bike Rentals, located on site seasonally at the Myra Station trailhead, and then pedal 12 kilometres (one way) over 18 historic train trestles and through two tunnels as the most scenic stretch of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail bends around the deep canyon. Pack a picnic and stop for lunch at one of several viewpoints of Okanagan Lake and downtown Kelowna.

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Dine with a lake view at the Red Fox Club

Watch the light fade across the valley from the patio at the Red Fox Club, located on the grounds of Indigenous World Winery in West Kelowna. Match award-winning wines with reimagined Indigenous cuisine such as the Bannock Board, Wild & Cultivated Mushroom Pie or Local Foraged Juniper Scented Beef.

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Try a Vinotherapy treatment at Beyond Wrapture spa

Literally soak in wine during a Vinotherapy treatment at one of Kelowna’s premier day spas. Beyond Wrapture’s popular massage treatment rubs in Red or White Vino-lotion that’s high in antioxidants for a protective effect on the skin that also helps strengthen and repair connective tissue.

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SUP a section of the Kelowna Paddle Trail

Exercise your abs on a stand-up paddleboard and explore part of Okanagan Lake’s new 27-kilometre paddle trail that passes by 20 beaches, two bird sanctuaries and the Downtown Marina between McKinley Beach and Bertram Creek Provincial Park. SUPs, kayaks and canoes can be rented from Okanagan Beach Rentals at four beach locations around town.

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Hike to the top of Knox Mountain

Trek 300 metres above the lake for a great workout and the best views in town from the top of the city’s largest natural area park located just five minutes from downtown. Look for native species including the pretty Okanagan sunflower, stately ponderosa pine, and mule and white-tailed deer, on the two-kilometre (one way) grind up Apex Trail to the summit of this extinct volcano.

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Bowl with a side of craft beer at BNA

Quaff a seasonal saison or hipster IPA between bowling frames at Kelowna’s coolest craft brewery. Located inside the historic British North American Tobacco Company building in the city’s vibrant Cultural District, BNA has become a hub for nightlife thanks to its food and drink, six 10-pin bowling lanes and retro-casual vibe (check out the retrofitted Airstream trailer that doubles as a bar).


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