Looking for things to do in Kelowna, BC? We’ve got you covered. While on a road trip from Vancouver to Revelstoke, we had the chance to revisit one of our favorite places in British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley. It had been a while since we explored this beautiful community and quickly learned why so many people are moving to Kelowna. This town not only has a glorious wine scene but there’s also a fabulous food scene, distilleries, and outdoor activities galore. When planning a weekend getaway from Vancouver or exploring the province of British Columbia makes sure to put Kelowna at the top of your list.
Things to do in Kelowna British Columbia
Kelowna is located in Okanagan Valley in the interior of BC. It is situated halfway between Vernon to the north and Penticton to the south. It is a four-hour drive from Vancouver and sits on the east side of Okanagan Lake. Kelowna is surrounded by vineyards, orchards, mountains, and of course the gorgeous lake. A visit to Kelowna is a must on any British Columbia itinerary and below are the reasons why. So, read on to see all the things to do in Kelowna to help you plan your trip.
Myra Canyon – Kettle Valley Railway
This was by far our favorite of all the things to do in Kelowna. Everyone we met along this trail commented how spectacular it was and we agree. The trestles of the Kettle Valley Railway in Myra Canyon offer one of the most spectacular views in British Columbia, let alone the Okanagan Valley. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail itself runs from Hope to Castlegar and is actually 650-kilometers long, but the most beautiful views are located just outside of Kelowna in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park.
You can hike or bike to see the 18 trestle bridges that cling to the sides of Myra Canyon. There are two impressive railway tunnels carved through canyon walls and the views are glorious. Get out early in the morning and either go hiking or you can rent bikes starting at 9:00 am from the bike rentals that are set up at the trailhead.
There are a whopping 40 wineries within 20 minutes of Kelowna, so it is no wonder that wine tastings and wine tours are some of the most popular things to do in Kelowna. Pick up a Wine Trail guide to take a self-guided tour on your own, or you can book a wine tour in Kelowna. The Okanagan Valley makes some of the best wines in Canada from Summerhill to Cedar Creek where you’ll have the chance to taste its delicious vintages. Make sure to enjoy lunch on one of the terraces overlooking the valley and Okanagan Lake. When you find a wine you like, you can even have it shipped home. Book this Kelowna Wine Tour to explore established and family-run wineries in a Mercedes.
Take a Tour of Okanagan Lake
Speaking of Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is located on the eastern shore of the Okanagan Valley’s largest lake. This fjord lake is a deep lake that was carved by glaciers creating a 135 km (84 mi) long reservoir that is ripe for exploring from Vernon to Penticton. The lake warms to a balmy 19-23C (69-71F) in the summertime making it an inviting place to go for a dip. From the Kelowna waterfront, you can rent stand-up paddleboards (SUP), kayaks, pontoon boats, and pedal boats. You can even try your hand at flyboarding.
If you are looking for something unique to do in Kelowna, take a Maeg’s BBQ boat tour. You can either go on a 45-minute guided sightseeing tour or you can rent your own Barbecue Boat Float and have your own bbq on the water as you explore Kelowna’s shores.
Watch Sunset from the Beach
Kelowna has some beautiful beaches that are perfect for watching the sunset. There is a beach right downtown beside the Kelowna visitor center and marina, but there are other beaches around town. Our favorite for sunset was Rotary Beach Park. There are 30 beaches in Kelowna with lakeside parks scattered along the shores of Lake Okanagan.
The beaches are great places to hang out even if you aren’t watching the sunset. Many have amenities, playgrounds, and watersport rentals. Some of the more popular beaches in Kelowna are Hot Sands Beach, Boyce-Gyro Beach, Sarson’s Beach, and Strathcona Park.
Kelowna has a beautiful waterfront and the city has made the most of that view by building the lovely Waterfront Park. A long paved trail winds its way along the lake creating a great vibe for an afternoon stroll. There are plenty of green spaces and parks, art sculptures, and art along the way. There are restaurants nearby, sandy beaches to relax, and there are even Muskoka chairs (Adirondack Chairs) set up for people to relax while taking in the view.
Wander Through Kasugai Gardens
In the heart of downtown is a tranquil escape that you will most certainly miss if you don’t know it’s there. Kasugai Gardens was created in honor of Kelowna’s sister city in Japan, Kasugai. It is a typical Japanese garden with waterfalls, rock gardens, a Koi pond, and lanterns. Make sure to wander through this garden for a little escape.
Okanagan Spirits and Craft Distillery
The Okanagan Valley may be known for its wine, but spirits are fast taking over. Head to the Okanagan Spirits and Craft Distillery to sample whiskey, gin, and vodka in their tasting room. They offer free shipping to Canadians on orders over $125 and Americans pay a $30 flat fee. Or you can simply sit on the patio while enjoying a cocktail.
Craft Beer Time
Not everyone loves wine. I know my brother will have a beer over wine any day. And luckily, there are several craft breweries in Kelowna. In the past few years, several breweries have popped up around Kelowna thanks to the Great Okanagan Beer Festival that takes place annually each May. Breweries offer flights and tastings with great food. One of the more unique breweries to visit is BNA Brewing that is connected to a bowling alley. The Kelowna Brewing Company is also a great choice to enjoy views of Kelowna from their heated patio while sampling a local beer. Website here.
Kelowna Food Tours
Book this walking food tour of Kelowna. Kelowna has a blossoming food scene and the best way to indulge in local cuisine is to take a tour with a local guide. This tour offers up to 8 food and drink stops at local eateries but it also explores the history and beauty of downtown Kelowna.
Okanagan Lavender Farm
The Lavender Herb Farm is the place to visit in early summer when the lavender is in full bloom. We visited in late summer so we weren’t so lucky, but you can still go shopping to purchase some lavender products and essential oils. We have a few diffusers at home and love filling our house with the fresh smell of lavender.
Seeing the Okanagan Valley from the sky is a must. The beauty of Okanagan Lake really comes alive when seeing its shores from above. This massive 351 square km lake is massive and is the largest lake in the Okanagan Valley. Book a helicopter tour to get a birds-eye view of not only Okanagan Lake, but the Myra Canyon Trestles, and Okanagan Bridge. We didn’t do this in Kelowna, but in nearby Penticton, we took a Helicopter tour overlooking the Okanagan Lake and it was spectacular. Watch it here.
Hike to Knox Mountain Park
Knox Mountain Park is a great place to go hiking and overlook Kelowna. There are two hiking trails taking you to different viewpoints. One of the most popular hikes is Paul’s tomb Trail was named after a local Okanagan Pioneer and is a 3 km loop that offers gorgeous views of Okanagan Lake. You can hike up from the parking lot, or drive right to the top. If you want to tackle a longer hike, the Apex Trail is a moderate 5km trail that takes you to views of the city and valley.
Ski Big White
I will admit, we went skiing in Big White years ago while living in Vancouver and haven’t been back since but when we were there, it was amazing! I’ll never forget driving from Vancouver for a long weekend and hitting the powdery slopes. It was one of the last times we went skiing before taking up snowboarding. It has a lot of intermediate runs which we were at the time. I remember loving the mogul runs. We are more on the black diamond runs these days on the snowboards, but this was an excellent resort for families. Another place we went skiing in the Okanagan Valley was Apex Mountain Resort near Penticton.
Stroll The Shops of Downtown Kelowna
Kelowna has a lovely downtown filled with eateries, brewpubs, and shops. The main street is steps away from Waterfront Park where you can sit on an outdoor patio to enjoy a microbrew.
If you are in Kelowna on a weekend getaway from Vancouver, now is the time to stock up on your fresh produce. Depending on the season, you can stock up on apples, fresh berries, and cherries. One of my favourite things to do is to hit a farm and pick my own berries. It makes for a great day outside. Plus, you can eat all the berries you like as you stock up on treats for the road.
Kelowna Farmers and Craft Market
If you don’t want to go to a farm, visit the Kelowna Farmers and Craft Market downtown where you can pick up fresh seasonal fruit to local arts and crafts. It is open year-round by going indoors during the colder months. It is only open on Saturdays during the winter months at the Parkinson Rec Centre (Indoors) and on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the corner of Dilworth and Springfield during the summer months. There is also a satellite market on Sundays in Kerry Park.
Golfing in Kelowna
We aren’t much for golfing, but The Okanagan Valley is considered one of the best places in Canada for golfing. Kelowna has the longest golf season in Canada thanks to its abundance of sunshine attracting golfers to come to the area strictly for golfing. There are courses for every skill level and you can even build your own golf package using the Kelowna tourism website.
Where to Stay in Kelowna
We stayed at The Sandman Hotel & Suites. It is located a bit out of downtown but has all the amenities you could want with an indoor swimming pool, gym, and two restaurants connected to the hotel. There is a shopping mall and Moxies within walking distance as well. With free parking, it was a great base for exploring the top attractions in Kelowna. Visit their website for rates and availability.