48 hours of fun in the Okanagan

July 17, 2017

by Zoe Grams

With clear waters, majestic mountains and more mouthwatering food and drink per square kilometre than almost anywhere else in the country, the Okanagan has become synonymous with adventure and luxury. Just a few hours by car from Vancouver, and less than an hour by air, the region is the ideal place to discover new favourite activities, flavours and sights. [Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Kari Medig]

48 hours of fun in the Okanagan

Getting there

Travelling to the Okanagan is a seamless road trip from most central and southern parts of British Columbia. Most visitors choose to drive via the Trans-Canada Highway and 97C to Kelowna, or the picturesque Crowsnest Highway that runs through Princeton and Keremeos, up to Penticton. Kelowna International Airport is served by multiple airline carriers, with flights from Vancouver starting from $100. For those who fly, renting a car or arranging a wine tour allows for the most enjoyable weekend. While some cycling enthusiasts bike from winery to winery, a vehicle is recommended.

Drink some wine

It goes without saying that the Okanagan is one of Canada’s most celebrated wine regions, drawing hundreds of thousands of British Columbians, Albertans and international travellers to sample its complex pinot gris, mouthwatering chardonnays and bold merlots. Samples can be requested at wineries across the region, but an ideal place to begin exploring is the BC VQA Wine Information Centre in Penticton, where visitors can browse through the 800 wines on sale, receive tasting tips from the experts and pick up handy maps of specific regions to delve into over the weekend. Naramata Bench and Oliver produce some of the most interesting, lauded wine to be had.

Try the hops, too

Craft breweries and distilleries have begun to make a name for themselves in the Okanagan, proving that there’s complexity and depth of flavour to be had in all types of booze. Okanagan Spirits in Kelowna offers tastings of their artisanal vodka, gin and whisky. Braver connoisseurs can try their absinthe, too, or take home a gorgeous, tall bottle of cherry or haskap liqueur. Kettle River Brewing Company, also in Kelowna, was launched by a young team of friends in July 2016. The three flagship beers – IPA, saison and stout – can be sampled alongside more seasonal experiments in their quaint, bright tasting room.

Take a hike

The rolling hills of the Okanagan may offer a perfect home for grapes to soak up the sun, but they also make for a stunning workout backdrop. From Kelowna to Osoyoos, there are dozens of hikes snaking through valleys in the region. Carrot Mountain Bluffs in Kelowna will test even seasoned walkers with its steep precipices, but the waterfall and stunning views are a welcome reward. In Oliver, McIntyre Bluff can be accessed via organic vineyard Covert Farms, an idyllic spot to enjoy a picnic before or after you sweat it out. Both hikes take approximately three hours.

Eat from the earth

As anyone who has eaten a fresh Okanagan peach will attest, the region grows far more than just grapes. Farmers’ markets brim with colour and burst with flavours, and run every Saturday (and the occasional Wednesday) from April to September in multiple cities and towns, from Armstrong to Kelowna, Naramata to Osoyoos and beyond. Penticton Farmers’ Market is particularly worth a visit, taking over the main street for a joyful, family-friendly day exploring the strip of stalls and activities. Kelowna’s market includes a wide variety of artisan and cultural products in addition to dinner supplies.

Enjoy spa time

After working hard to sample as many tastes as possible, relaxing with a spa treatment is the perfect reprieve from hot days and busy schedules. Sparkling Hill Resort – overlooking Lake Okanagan in Vernon – is the pinnacle of spa offerings in the region. The luxury hotel’s spa facilities include aromatherapy saunas, experience showers, an igloo and indoor pool with underwater music. Visitors looking for a shorter visit in their itinerary can try local favourite Solterra Desert Spa in Osoyoos or O Spa in Kelowna.

With such an abundance of activities and treats, the most difficult part of a weekend in the Okanagan is deciding exactly what you’d like to do.

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