Imagine a lakeside Canadian city boasting 19 golf courses, 40 wineries, a bustling restaurant scene and plenty of epic hiking and mountain biking trails.
No, we’re not talking about Niagara, Ontario.
We’re referring to Kelowna, an urban hub in the heart of BC located on Okanagan Lake that’s just a short flight from Toronto.
Located in the scenic Okanagan Valley and surrounded by mountains, Kelowna is lush with dense pine forests, miles of vineyards and orchards, sandy beaches and some of Canada’s best golfing. Paired with the city’s trendy restaurants, festivals and vibrant nightlife, Kelowna is the ultimate outdoor vacation destination. So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Kelowna is a hot spot for vacationing and retired NHLers. Whether you’re planning a bachelor party, boys’ weekend or a golfing trip with a few friends, Kelowna has everything you need.
First, there’s the golfing. Situated at the northern tip of the Sonora Desert, Kelowna has long, warm summers and mild winters, which means golfers can play an envy-inducing nine months out of the year. The 19 epic golf courses range in skill level, so there’s a course for everyone, from the beginner and the a-couple-times-a-summer golfer, to the seasoned pro looking for a challenge. And with courses overlooking vineyards, orchards and pristine lakes, the picturesque scenery soothes even the worst golf scores.
In addition to golfing, Kelowna offers plenty of amazing hiking and biking trails. The Paul’s Tomb trail on Knox Mountain is an easy hour-long walk with plenty of Instagrammable moments, while the Canyon Falls Park is a more intense two-kilometer hike where you’ll be greeted along the way by 40-foot waterfalls. Mountain biking in Kelowna is for the advanced and adventurous: adrenaline junkies can speed down dramatic downhill runs, journey through pine forests or traverse sub-desert terrain. For more casual cyclists, there’s plenty of options available for road and downhill biking, trail cruising, and even bicycle wine tours.
After a day of hitting the links, hit up one of Kelowna’s trendy restaurants. Because there are so many farms in the Okanagan Valley (which you can explore on a self-guided farm tour), many of the restaurants’ menus highlight locally-grown ingredients. For a fine dining experience, head to RauDZ Regional Table, which offers twists on classic dishes made with local produce, such as fish and chips made with chickpea batter and handmade gnocchi served with preserved tomato jam.
For one of the best al fresco dining experiences in the valley, check out Old Vines Restaurant, where you can snag a seat on the patio overlooking Quail’s Gate vineyard. And if you’re hankering for brunch pre-golf, be sure to visit Krafty Kitchen + Bar. Every Saturday and Sunday, the casual eatery plays 80s and 90s hip hop and serves dishes like the Big Poppa Sandwich, Straight Outta Compton Burger and Boys In Da Hood Benedict.
No trip to Kelowna is complete without visiting one (or five) of the area’s award-winning wineries. Start off at Mission Hill Family Estate, which features gorgeous architecture, breathtaking views of Lake Okanagan, summer concerts and of course, incredible wine. Sandhill Wines and Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery are two spots well worth your attention. Next, visit Summerhill Pyramid Winery, where you can taste a variety of organic wines and tour their geometric pyramid cellar, or dine by the vineyard at CedarCreek Estate Winery. While it’s easy to get distracted by all the vineyards, don’t forget about Kelowna’s craft breweries and distilleries. The craft beer scene here is well on its way to rivalling Toronto’s, and the distilleries produce top-shelf gin, vodka, grappa, single-malt whiskeys, and even absinthe.
As one of British Columbia’s biggest cities, Kelowna also has a diverse nightlife that features laid-back pubs, dance clubs, sports bars and live music venues, where local and touring bands perform nightly. Of course, if you prefer to hunker down at a single brewpub and relax with some of the province’s best beers, we won’t judge you.
Thanks to direct flights daily from the GTA, it’s easy to get to Kelowna for a long weekend getaway or longer summer jaunt. With quaint B&Bs nestled near rolling vineyards and high-end VIP resorts set alongside the lake, Kelowna has accommodations for all tastes and budgets. No matter if you’re a golf lover, outdoorsy type, craft beer connoisseur or wine enthusiast, this magnificent lakeside city has a bit of everything for everyone.