British Columbia Travel Series - The Okanagan
So for those of you that know me I grew up in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Victoria BC on Vancouver Island. I now live in London which is a very stark contrast to the rain forests and ocean shores. I miss it daily and I am often asked the same question when people find out where I am from “why do you live in London” lol! I also love London and think it too is on the of the best cities in the world but for different reasons and I will save that for a future blog. But for this one I am going to share my top picks from our most recent holiday. I hope you enjoy it.
One thing for sure its there is not a lack of choice or things to do when you visit the west of Canada. I think that time is the only restraining factor, as you know Canada is a large place and the drives from one place to the other can be lengthly, for me it is ok, but if you are not used to a 5 hour drive being not too long then you will pace it a little differently.
On our last holiday we decided to split it between 3 beautiful places, Kelowna in the Okanagan (my parents retired there lucky me!), Whistler and Vancouver on the coast. We flew direct to Vancouver and then took a short connecting flight to Kelowna, both Westjet and Air Canada fly to the Okanagan if you are looking for the fastest route (we have driven this too but it is really just dependent time and when you arrive).
Kelowna BC is known for everything from stunning lakes, orchards (with the best cherries and peaches in the world!) skiing and of course vineyards and world class wines. We have been in every season, Summer being the busiest and of course hot and amazing for all things summer and we have been in winter too for great skiing. Let’s talk vineyards as I really think that this area for wine is not so well knows outside of Canada.
Kelowna, West Kelowna, Naramata, Pentiction and Osoyoos have many vineyards and tasting rooms to choose from, you will be spoiled for choice. I have a few faves though and will list them as we go. One summer we hired bikes and did a ride on the Kettle Valley Railway. This I really recommend. You start your ride from downtown Penticton and head through the vineyards and work your way up the mountain. I would say to start early to avoid the heat and make uphill more enjoyable. The KVR a pretty easy ride as most of the beginning is paved, you get to gravel further in. We rode half way to Chute lake as it was super hot, we had water and provisions (very important as you are remote and will not have any access to water of food on route) and we wanted to have lunch at a winery on the way back, why not right?! The vineyard we had lunch at was Hillside Winery and Bistro. It has a shaded terrace and a great menu to choose from and of course some incredible wine! You will pass it on your way from Penticton heading along the trail and you can easily head down and park your bikes.
My other favourite in Naramata is Red Rooster, again you can eat here or just sample the wine. For wineries in Osoyoos, I like Burrowing Owl, Quails gate (the pinot noir is what dreams are made of), Silver Sage in Oliver and in West Kelowna I really enjoyed Little Straw, they also have dinners here and the man who was in the tasting room was the chef and it really was not only super fun (he had the best SOH) but he made me so sad that we wouldn’t be dining there, the food pairings were chosen specifically and really sounded incredible.
Kelowna in the summer is a buzzing lakeside town. There is a vibrant pub scene and lots of beaches along the lake to visit. Walking along the waterfront boardwalk is lovely and there are plenty of places to eat and sit on the water. You can easily walk Downtown and there are many galleries and little museums too.