This spring, dive in to lakeside Kelowna. With their international airport servicing Edmonton daily, the “Napa of the North” is easy to access for a short weekend vacation or a week-long wellness retreat. Home to the Canadian Culinary Championships and where BC’s wine industry began, you can savour the regional cuisine and sample from over 40 wineries and an assortment of local breweries, cideries and distilleries. Many restaurants feature fresh, local, organic and flavourful foods with ingredients from the farm down the road or the orchard around the corner.
Artisan shops and one of Canada’s largest farmers’ markets showcase local products like cheese, honey and lavender. Activities and attractions are abundant including skiing, biking and hiking trails and fitness classes on what seems like every corner. With Kelowna’s temperate climate, you’ll be able to check out their many world class golf courses to get an early start on your golf game this season. Or if you’re just looking for some downtime to get away from it all and relax, Kelowna’s downtown features shops, galleries, museums and a beautiful waterfront park with numerous beaches for you to soak your worries away in all that Okanagan Lake has to offer.
Here’s our suggested itinerary for a 3 day, 2 night weekend to take in all Kelowna has to offer and have you looking forward to your next visit.
Aim to arrive early to take advantage of a full day exploring the city. With daily trips from Air Canada and Westjet, it’s less than an hour plane ride from YEG. Book a ride with Current Taxi from the airport in a Tesla. For the same price as a cab ride (often less) you can ride in style in a Model X or Model S car. We recommend booking before you arrive as they are very busy (but who can blame them).
Arrive at the Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas and drop your bags at the front desk before setting out to explore the area. The Manteo and its sister property the Hotel Eldorado next door are situated on Okanagan Lake and offer superb waterfront views. After leaving your bags at the front desk, head out for a walk along the boardwalk and sit on the beach enjoying the views and breathing in the mountain air.
If you arrived early, it would be a great idea to check out Smack DAB located in the heart of the Manteo Resort for a light lunch before heading out to partake in your afternoon of activities. With it’s beautiful lakefront views, Smack DAB is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering healthy options like our favourite the Mediterranean Garganelli pasta. It’s a great vegetarian option (but we added Steelhead Trout to it for some extra protein).
If you’re up for it and it’s warm enough, The afternoon is a great time to head out on the water at Kelowna City Park. Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is available year round (you just might need a wet suit in the spring) or explore searching for Ogopogo in a kayak. Both are great ways to enjoy a warm afternoon in the sun. Afterwards head over to Oranj Fitness for a Circuit Express class. Located on Lawrence Avenue, Oranj offers a selection of fitness classes ranging from group workouts to spin and yoga classes. With over 100 classes per week, there are plenty of options to choose from, with each class taught by world-class instructors.
Wind things down your first evening in Kelowna by making a reservation at BNA Brewing Co & Eatery. BNA has a great story about the building they’re located in. If you get a chance to chat with the Front of House Manager Spencer, he’ll be happy to share the details. Part great restaurant/bar part rec room filled with oddities and fun games, you’re sure to be entertained. They’re even planning a bowling alley in the future to keep their guests enjoying themselves. We recommend the Char Sui Pork Roast for dinner. 48 hour sous vide Chinese BBQ’d awesomeness. It pairs perfectly with their Pamela [blonde ale] brewed in house.
Take advantage of your time in Kelowna by setting your alarm clock and walking across the street to Esther & Sons in the Playa Del Sol resort. They make a great matcha latte and breakfast sandwich or homemade muffins/bars to energize you for the day.
An early morning workout at New Wave Fitness will have you working off the beers from the night before at BNA if you happened to have a few too many (no one’s judging here…) New Wave offers a Saturday Session workout that changes weekly. The description on their website says it perfectly. “Hangovers, one night stands and walks of shame all welcome.” They might be inside, outside, doing strength training, cardio, core, yoga - or all of it inside and outside at the same time. The plan is that there is no plan.
A quick stop at Glow Juicery downtown to refresh and refuel then it’s off to SPINCO for a heart pumping spin class. Their full-body spin classes are designed to strengthen your body, energize the mind and feed the soul. Our class led by Jordan was super energizing and motivating to keep us working hard through the 50 minute workout. Regardless of your instructor though, your workout will inspire and uplift you for the rest of the day. And if you’re lucky, you might get a visit from their friendly little pooch.
After a morning of exercise, head over to nearby Salted Brick restaurant for lunch. With a menu that changes regularly and features locally sourced ingredients (and the most extensive assortment of salt varieties I’ve ever seen) there is something to suit everyone. We had the brisket sandwich and the porchetta sandwich (that just came out of the oven and you could smell the beautiful aroma from outside the front door.) These definitely hit the spot and tasted even better with a glass of Pinot Noir from one of the local wineries. Chef James Holmes tells us that they only feature local wines produced by small vineyards. No corporate brands here.
After your lunch, this would be a good time to either walk along the lake taking in the scenery, or better yet, spend a few dollars supporting the local economy by visiting one of the shops along Bernard Avenue. There are tons of local gems including Raw Athletics to pick up some athletic apparel, Lakehouse Home Store for some great cooking and home accessories, or Pulp Fiction Coffee House for your caffeine fix (and to check out their quirky book collection).
A visit to Kelowna isn’t complete without a visit to the Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm. Originally planted as an apple orchard decades ago, the farm began to replace the trees in 1994 with over 60 varieties on lavender plants over their 5 acres. The smell in the summer time is nothing short of intoxicating. With beautiful views of Kelowna and the surrounding agricultural lands as well as their presentation centre, be sure to pick up a unique gift box for someone back home (and something for yourself of course).
Time for a little R&R back at the Manteo hotel before heading to your dinner reservation at the Lakeside Dining Room right next door at the Hotel Eldorado. Since 1926, visitors have been visiting the hotel and its award winning views of Okanagan Lake. With a wine selection of over 150 labels and a menu featuring locally sources cuisine, you’re in for a treat (be sure to book a table next to the window for some amazing views). We recommend the Scallops and Pancetta for an appetizer and the Johnstons Farm Suckling Pig for your Entrée (you worked hard today, so sneak the Vanilla Crème Brulee for dessert).
Check out but leave your bags at the desk because you still have another day of adventures planned. What’s a visit to Kelowna without taking in a tour of one of the many wineries. We recommend stopping by Quails’ Gate Winery for a tour of the vineyard. If you’re visiting in the summer, their yoga series may be happening so check in to see if classes are available either indoors or on the grass overlooking Okanagan Lake. We were lucky enough to attend a class put on by Oxygen Yoga & Fitness that loosened our tight muscles from the past couple days activities and there’s nothing better than getting your mind right with a view like the ones from the Estate.
Quail’s Gate Sunday Brunches are the talk of Kelowna and Old Vines Restaurant was named as one of the Top 100 Restaurants in Canada. It’s an “all-season culinary destination” that offers guests the ultimate food and wine experience in a spectacular vineyard setting and we weren’t disappointed. Start with some oysters and a glass of Chenin Blanc (served to Kate the Duchess of Cambridge when she visited with Prince William in 2016). Then we recommend the ever popular Eggs Benedict (either the classic or the wild salmon versions) or Brioche French Toast with a glass of Valley of the Moon or Optima wine respectively.
After brunch, a visit to the Tasting Bar is a must. It’s a great way to sample some of the local varieties you’ll have a hard time finding back in Edmonton. Just don’t make the same mistake we did and forget you have to check your wine at the airport and can’t bring it on the plane with you…. Quails’ Gate delivers if you plan to fill your wine rack or cellar with all the options. We picked up a couple bottles of the Dry Riesling and splurged a bit on the Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir.
There’s still time this afternoon if you book a late departure for a tour of the historic Kettle Valley trestles in Myra Canyon. You can do it on your own if you’ve rented a car, but we recommend taking a guided tour with Ed Kruger from Monashee Adventure Tours. It’s a bit of a drive (and Google Maps takes you to the wrong location apparently) but the time is well spent listening to Ed’s stories about the history of the area and some tips and words of wisdom about the geology of the region. Monashee offers cycling, hiking, snowshoe and snowbike tours around the valley including the Myra Canyon trestles and tunnels. The region was devastated by the fires that ravaged the area in 2003 and many of the trestles were either damaged or completely destroyed, but the community and province rallied together to raise the funds to rebuild the beloved bridges. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Kelowna.
Your final stop is back at the Manteo to grab a bite to eat at Smack DAB before collecting your bags and heading off to make your flight back to YEG. We’re sure you’ll find plenty of other gems to hit up on your next trip to Kelowna. We’re already planning our next visit. Wellness retreat anyone?