5 fantastic ways to experience the Okanagan Valley

Think of a sunny destination and Canada may not immediately come to mind, but did you know that the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of the westernmost province of British Colombia, boasts more hours of sunshine than Rio de Janeiro or Hawaii? Another astonishing aspect of this increasingly popular tourist destination is the diversity of its landscapes: there are the majestic mountains of the Rockies, freshwater lakes, verdant valleys and Canada’s only desert environment.

The Okanagan Valley was traditionally a favourite summertime escape for Canadian families and a retreat for retirees, but visitors are increasingly coming from further afield, especially nature enthusiasts, epicureans and wine lovers, and those who love outdoor and adventure activities. Here are five different ways to experience the best of what the Okanagan Valley has to offer:

1. Visit a winery and sample their offerings

With over 100 wineries spread over 4000 hectares of vineyards, the Okanagan Valley is one of the world’s top wine destinations according to The Huffington Post, and came second in a recent list by USA Today of the best wine regions in the world to visit. Often referred to as ‘Canada’s Napa Valley’, many of the local wines produced here have won gold medals at international competitions. Vineyards and wineries are dotted along the 135-km-long Okanagan Lake, with the town of Kelowna being the hub of the winemaking industry. Many local wineries offer free tastings and tours throughout the year and the Okanagan Wine Festival has three editions taking place every spring, summer and autumn.

Winery

2. Laze on a sandy beach

Some of the most spectacular beaches in the province of British Columbia are located along the shores of Okanagan Lake. The sandy beaches here stretch on for kilometres with some of the most popular ones located at Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. These beaches are also favourites with families because of their many playgrounds, picnic areas and children’s waterparks. The many luxury beach resorts here offer an exclusive ambiance which makes it easy to forget you’re on holiday in Canada!

beach7.Hornby-Island

3. Go sailing and windsurfing

There are over a dozen lakes dotting the Okanagan Valley, with Okanagan Lake being the biggest, stretching 135 kilometres. Sailors and boating enthusiasts can rent a boat at one of the many marinas or join an organised sightseeing cruise. Windsurfing is another popular activity as well as parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, fly boarding… This is a paradise for water lovers and adventure seekers!

4. Play a round of golf

The mild weather and scenic landscape make the Okanagan Valley an ideal golf destination. The golf season here runs for seven months starting in April and continuing until late October. With no shortage of golf courses to choose from, this is a paradise for golfers: there are more than 50 18-hole courses in the vicinity, with the city of Kelowna boasting 19! Many of the golf courses here are particularly picturesque with scenic backdrops of the Rocky Mountains, lakes and rolling vineyards.

golf

5. Go skiing and snowboarding

The Okanagan Valley is a popular winter destination too. There are four world-class downhill ski and snowboard resorts here: Sun Peaks Resort, Big White Ski Resort, Silver Star Mountain Resort and Apex Mountain Resort – which all offer facilities for every level of skiing and snowboarding ability. They also have ‘ski-in ski-out’ accommodations which offer the convenience of setting off on a ski trail ‘straight from your door’. Four other excellent resorts in the area have cross-country ski trails, snowmobile tours and heli-skiing – off-trail ski and snowboard trails which are accessed by helicopter.

ski

Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande is Director of Passepartout Homes Ltd.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Tom Fakes says:

    I love this area of Canada. I visit a few times a year, as it’s a fairly short drive from Seattle.

    The biggest change over time has been the development of a great foodie and cocktail movement in this area. Restaurants like RAudZ in Kelowna spearheaded this, but now there are many other places to get fantastic food and drinks all driven by local, fresh ingredients.

  2. Tom, this is great feedback. Thanks for the restaurant recommendation. It is interesting to know that the area is great also for food enthusiasts.

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