Kelowna is a city in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, full of scenic lake vistas and California-like vineyards basked in dry and mild climate. With a population of about 125,000, Kelowna is the third largest in the Okanagan Valley and one of the fastest growing cities in North America. The city sits about halfway along Lake Okanagan, crossed by Highway 97 via a floating bridge.
Kelowna is the undisputed heart and center of the Okanagan Valley fruit-growing and wine-producing region. This city by the lake is a paradise of greenery. Set amidst rolling hills, Kelowna enjoys an attractive scenery of orchards, vineyards, parks, and gardens. It also claims sandy beaches to go along with its lake, where visitors flock to embrace every type of water sport.
The city’s largest park is the lovely City Park, which boasts beaches, lawns, shady refuges, tennis courts, and an outdoor area where free concerts are performed during the summer. There is also the M.V. Fintry Queen, a paddle-wheeler moored by the park’s lakeside at the bottom of Bernard Road. This cruise sets sail every day and evening, providing dinner, dancing, and entertainment on board.
Kelowna still retains some of its pioneer architecture. The Father Pandosy Settlement, for instance, is located south of downtown and offers the sight of the original mission buildings founded in 1859 by the Oblate priest who was the first to settle in the valley. Still standing is the original school and church. A few other period buildings have been erected on site to provide a complete picture of what life was like in those pioneering days.
The Centennial Museum in downtown at 470 Queensway Avenue is another attraction that will give visitors a window into Kelowna’s history. The museum features Indian arts and crafts and has on display an old stagecoach, an 1861 fully-stocked trading post, and some other interesting exhibits. The Centennial Art Gallery is also located in the same building as the museum.
Kelowna’s Calona Wines is located at 1125 Richter street and is the oldest and largest winery in the province. Visitors are permitted to browse around and do some wine tasting. For hard liquor, the Hiram Walker Distillery produces spirits and Canadian Club Whisky and offers weekday tours.
In the winter, Kelowna has plenty of slopes ripe for skiing. Lake Mountain is on the other side of the lake and has chairlifts and a ski school that gives lessons to skiers of all abilities. Further away is Big White Ski Resort, about 35 miles (57 kilometers) east of Kelowna. Big White is the second largest ski resort in British Columbia after Whistler-Blackcomb. It summits at 2,319 meters high and offers night skiing as well as a tube park for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, and sleigh riding.
How to Get There
Kelowna has an international airport with regular flights to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria, Seattle, Las Vegas, Honolulu, and various places in Mexico. The airport is located along Highway 97 about 20 minutes north of the town.
The Greyhound station in Kelowna is located at 2366 Leckie Road and has regular service to Banff, Calgary, Vernon, Kamloops, and Prince George.
“Big White Ski Resort.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_White_Ski_Resort>
Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
“Kelowna.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelowna
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