Kelowna is a beautiful city located right on the shores of Lake Okanagan. Surrounded by mountains, forests, orchards and vineyards, the city offers much to see and do in the surrounding valley.
The city offers a perfect escape for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. There are plenty of hiking and bike riding trails, kayaking on the lake and thrilling activities such as zip-lining and canyoning. In the winter, Kelowna is also known for skiing.
Even if you’re looking for a more relaxing stay, you can easily spend days checking out a city park, one of the beaches, the many nearby wineries or even a Kelowna art gallery. No matter what your interests are, you’ll find Kelowna suits a range of travellers.
This guide to the best things to do in Kelowna BC, will help you plan the perfect trip to this lakeside destination.
How to Get to Kelowna
Being a major city in Canada’s British Columbia province, Kelowna is quite easy to reach no matter how you prefer to travel.
Kelowna has a busy airport located 14km outside of Downtown Kelowna. Despite being labelled an international airport, Kelowna International Airport serves mostly Canada and an occasional flight from Seattle and to/from sun destinations over the winter. There are regular flights between Kelowna other major cities in Canada.
Located almost 400km northeast of Vancouver, Kelowna can easily be reached in a long four hour drive from the city. It’s also a worthwhile place to stop if you’re slowly making your way over to Banff National Park or to BC from Calgary.
If you prefer to use public transport, then there is a direct bus from Vancouver to Kelowna with Ebus, as well as scheduled services connecting Kelowna to other destinations in British Columbia and Alberta.
How to get around Kelowna
Getting around Kelowna is made quite easy by public transport. The compact downtown area can also be explored on foot.
BC Transit operates a frequent schedule around Kelowna, getting you from one side of the city to the other. All of their buses also accommodate wheelchairs, bicycles and scooters, if you need to get around the city with ease.
Best Time to Visit Kelowna
Kelowna is blessed with some pretty mild weather compared to other parts of Canada. This makes it a beautiful destination at any time of the year. However, if you’re planning on doing any outdoor activities, you might want to plan your visit around the seasons.
Summer months in Kelowna are very warm with a top temperature of around 28° Celsius and a low of 11° Celsius. This makes it perfect for any water-based activities and spending the day at the beach.
Fall is a beautiful time to visit Kelowna, with the farm-to-table scene blossoming with delicious fresh produce. The weather is also milder, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking.
Winter can be a bit more moderate than other places in BC or Alberta, but it’s still cool with a low of -6° Celsius and a high of 1° Celsius. There are still plenty of things to do in Kelowna in the winter, with snow sports in the surrounding mountains.
Spring is a nice shoulder season to visit Kelowna. The city is much quieter at this time of year, but the weather is still nice, particularly later in the season as it starts to warm up.
Top Things To Do in Kelowna
If you’re wondering what is there to do in Kelowna, here are our favourite things to do in Kelowna, Canada, so you can ensure you don’t miss a thing on your trip!
1. See Kelowna from Above at Knox Mountain
Knox Mountain Park is one of the highlights of any Kelowna sightseeing tour. The scenic park is the largest natural area in the city offering plenty of space for outdoor activities including hiking and mountain biking.
You can either drive, hike or bike up to the top of Knox Mountain to enjoy panoramic views across the Okanagan Valley and Downtown Kelowna. The peak rises about 300 metres above the water level of Okanagan Lake.
There are plenty of other trails as well, including the popular Paul’s Tomb trail which is around 1.5km from the base of the mountain to the northern edge of the park boundary.
The park is open from 6am to 10pm and is definitely one of the best free things to do in Kelowna.
2. Visit Myra Canyon Park
Myra Canyon is an incredible natural feature to the south of the city and one of the most popular Kelowna tourist attractions. There are plenty of different ways to explore the area.
A popular way to see the canyon is on the restored Myra Canyon Trestles which is part of the former Kettle Valley Railway. The Myra Canyon trail takes you over 18 trestle bridges and through two tunnels, stretching for over 12km. You can either hike it or explore this area on a bike. You can also rent bikes from the car park during the summer months. The Kettle Valley trestles are just 35 minutes from Downtown Kelowna.
Another way to explore the canyon is by visiting Myra Canyon Adventure Park. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Kelowna. The park offers a variety of activities that are perfect for the whole family, including zip-lining courses, segway tours and rope courses.
And lastly, the Kelowna Stables Myra Canyon Ranch offers guided horse rides for all ages through the canyon.
3. Go Wine Tasting
The Okanagan Valley is renowned as Canada’s top wine region. There are over 200 wineries in the area and plenty within just a short drive from town, making wine tasting a great activity any time of the day.
The Okanagan Valley is known for its dry red and white varieties, although some wineries in Kelowna also have fantastic red blends. You can sample wines by visiting wineries on your own self-drive wine tour.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery is one of the prettiest wineries to visit. All of their offerings are organic and biodynamic, plus their onsite restaurant serves local produce with some fantastic vegan options.
Tantalus Vineyards is another very stylish place south of Downtown Kelowna, offering lake views from their tasting room. They are known for incredible Riesling.
Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is another of our favourite places in the wine country. Located in West Kelowna, the architecture of the buildings is almost as impressive as the wine. Plus, they have a locavore restaurant and their own wine tours showcasing their cellars and vineyards.
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4. Visit Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market
Kelowna Farmers Market, located just to the east of Downtown Kelowna, is a bustling destination all year round. Open Wednesday and Saturday mornings, it’s the best place to pick up some local food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, plants, cheeses, honey and other artisanal goodies.
Located just across from the Orchard Park Shopping Centre and near Mission Creek Regional Park, the Farmers Market is a great Saturday morning activity. There’s always a lively atmosphere and it’s an excellent spot for breakfast, with coffee, crepes and pies sold by some of the friendly stallholders.
5. Explore Kasugai Japanese Garden
Located right in the heart of the city centre, the Kasugai Japanese Gardens are a peaceful city park to take a break from the crowds. This traditionally landscaped green space features walking paths, ponds with koi fish and stone lanterns.
It is definitely one of the most unusual Kelowna attractions. The Kasugai Garden was completed to recognize the friendship between Kelowna and its sister city, Kasugai in Japan. It’s open from 9am to 5pm every day, and until 8pm in summer.
6. Hang out at Boyce-Gyro Beach Park
While there are so many beaches in Kelowna, Boyce-Gyro Beach Park is a particular favourite because of its playground, picnic spots, volleyball courts, washrooms and snack shop along the sandy strip. It’s definitely one of the most family-friendly places to visit in Kelowna and is perfect for young kids.
If you’re looking for a sandy beach on the shores of Okanagan Lake, head to Hot Sands Beach Kelowna which is one of the most popular in the city for soaking up the summer heat.
7. Explore Kelowna Waterfront Park
If you’re wondering what to do in Kelowna in summer, the Kelowna Waterfront Park is a popular spot to chill out. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Okanagan, it’s one of the prettiest water parks in British Columbia. The park has green landscaped gardens, a beach and swimming area and beautiful city views.
A visit to the park is one of the best things to do in Kelowna with kids! You can head down there to cool off in summer and enjoy a picnic on the grass. You can also rent kayaks, boats and other water equipment for some summer activities.
8. Visit a Farm
Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley is a fertile fruit-growing region with the perfect climate for growing delicious produce. You’ll notice lots of farms around the city and many of them are open to visitors for farm gate sales and fruit picking.
It’s best to visit the region’s fruit orchards in mid to late summer, as this is when you can find ripe cherries, apples, plums, peaches and nectarines. Just east of Downtown Kelowna, Kempf Orchards is a popular cherry farm where you can pick your own fruit across the 14-acre farm.
9. Visit Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery
For a relaxing afternoon while visiting Kelowna, head to Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery. Spanning over two decades of operations, this distillery is an award-winning place, named as Distillery of the Year three times in recent years.
Known for a range of whiskies, gins and vodkas, the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery offers tastings and a storefront. The staff are very welcoming and happy to explain the processes behind the oldest distillery in Western Canada. The distillery is open from 10am to 6pm every day of the week.
10. Sample Craft Beer
While wine is definitely the more well-known drink around Kelowna, there are also some great craft breweries to check out as. In the cultural district to the north of the city centre, you’ll find the popular BNA Brewing Co. This brewpub has an onsite tasting room and rustic restaurant and bar for sipping on a range of their craft beers and feasting on their sharing plates. Plus, a somewhat odd addition to the brewery is the bowling alley, which welcomes the whole family.
If you want to check out some more local breweries, you can also head to Vice & Virtue Brewing Co and Kelowna Beer Institute in the northern end of town.
11. Go Hiking
Kelowna is surrounded by a variety of hiking trails, so it’s no wonder that one of the most popular activities to do in Kelowna is to go hiking. There are some great hikes in Kelowna that range in distances and are suitable for all levels of fitness. Take a look at some of these suggestions.
Bear Creek Loop Trail: A lovely stroll on the loop trail in Bear Creek Provincial Park north of West Kelowna is a great option for the whole family. There are also more difficult trails in the park including the Canyon Rim Trail if you want something more challenging.
Mount Boucherie: A hike up this extinct volcano offers incredible panoramic views across the entire valley and lake. There are three different trails on the mountain. The Boucherie Rush Trail is the most popular. It’s around 6 km return and offers a steep climb with stunning views as a reward.
Blue Grouse Mountain Loop: Another great hike to the north of West Kelowna is this 8km return climb up to Blue Grouse Mountain. From the top, there are stunning views over Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley.
Angel Springs Trail: Located not far from Myra Canyon, this 11.6km round trip takes you through lush forest in the KLO Creek Park. It offers beautiful views of the canyon and natural thermal springs. It’s a slow incline and a moderately graded trail
12. Visit Waterfalls
One of the lesser-known things to see in Kelowna are the beautiful waterfalls within easy reach of the city. Here are some of the best falls to catch during your time in Kelowna.
Christie Falls: These spectacular falls are located north of the city near Fintry. It requires a 2.4km return hike to reach, but the trail is almost as beautiful as the falls themselves. It’s a moderate hike with incredible views of the forested mountains.
Crawford Falls: A short but steep hike near Myra Canyon takes you to this peaceful spot with two falls to see. The first falls are Canyon Falls but if you continue on, you’ll also reach Crawford Falls.
Bear Creek Falls: There is a well-maintained trail for around 1km to reach Bear Creek Falls. It can be very slippery after heavy rain though, with a steep climb but the thundering falls are worth the walk in Bear Creek Park.
13. Go Ziplining
If you’re looking for things to do in Kelowna with kids, then look no further than Oyama Zipline Forest Adventure. This incredible zip lining experience, North of Kelowna near Oyama Lake, is a fun way to spend a few hours.
They offer guided zipline tours and an aerial park with a high ropes course, suitable for the whole family. Their activities range from 20 minutes up to five hours with varying prices.
14. Go Canyoning
The popular adventure tour operator, Western Canyoning Adventure, offers canyoning tours in Kelowna. As one of the best things to do in the Okanagan Valley for thrill-seekers, they can take you rappelling down a waterfall with an experienced guide at hand.
It’s one of the top Kelowna activities to join to escape the summer heat. You can find some completely untouched waterfalls and have an exciting day learning a new skill. Half-day canyoning tours are around CAD $150 per person.
15. Go Skydiving
If you want to see the best of Kelowna from the sky, a thrill-seeking skydive is a very memorable way to finish off a trip to the city. It offers an incredible opportunity to see Lake Country from a different perspective.
Okanagan Skydive offers tandem skydiving trips between Okanagan Lake and Kalamalka Lake. You’ll be able to take in most of the incredible scenery of the valley, including the Monashee Mountain range, the ski resorts of Big White, Silverstar and Sunpeaks Ski Hills and the city skyline.
16. Visit Peachland
Peachland, located South of Kelowna on the shores of Okanagan Lake, is one of the nicest places to go in Kelowna for a day trip. Similar to Kelowna, it offers plenty of outdoor activities within close proximity.
It’s also a nice town to visit if you want to check out some other wineries and farms in the surrounding region. Peachland is smaller than Kelowna and can be a nice alternative if you’re looking for a more laid-back place to explore on Okanagan lake.
17. Take a Drive to Penticton
Continue your self-drive tour farther south from Peachland to visit Penticton. It’s uniquely located between Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake and serves as another popular destination on the Okanagan Wine trail. The city offers a similar vibe and attractions to other places in Lake Country with wine tastings being the most popular thing to do here.
18. Go Skiing
While the winters in Kelowna are milder, it’s still a great place to be for winter sports with plenty of things to do in Kelowna in winter. There are a few popular skiing destinations in the region, including Big White Ski Resort and Silver Star Mountain Resort.
Even in the off-season, some of these resorts stay open to visitors offering hiking trails and biking activities.
Best Restaurants in Kelowna
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing lunch or bar hopping at night, there are plenty of good restaurants to check out.
Basil & Mint: Located in the southern part of the city on Lakeshore Road, this beautiful restaurant offers a mix of local and international dishes. The moderately priced restaurant aims to use only the best of the local produce from around British Columbia.
Sprout Bread: Located in the cultural district, this popular bakery is known for home-baked goodies, including delicious bread and pastries. It’s busiest in the early morning when people head there for a morning coffee.
Orchard Room: Located near Kelowna City Park, this stylish place lives up to the hype. Serving delicious cocktails and Mexican inspired food, it’s a top choice in Kelowna.
Terrace Restaurant: For a truly special dining experience, the Terrace Restaurant is an incredible place at Mission Hill Family Estate. Offering lake views from your table, they serve high-quality food with the perfect wine pairing.
Krafty Kitchen & Bar: This place offers an incredible farm to table experience, specialising in local cuisine and sustainable produce. With outdoor dining and a young vibe, it’s a popular place for lunch and dinner.
Salt and Brick: Focusing on artisanal small plates and sharing platters, this intimate space is perfect for a romantic dinner. Their extensive wine list also features some of the best local wines.
CRAFT Beer Market Kelowna: One of the most popular local restaurants, you can’t go wrong with a visit to CRAFT at any time of the day. With an incredible patio and rooftop area, it’s especially popular at happy hour when you can taste some of the best craft beers in the city.
Memphis Blues Barbeque House: Located in the city centre, this barbecue restaurant offers delicious comfort food, with large servings and a fun vibe all evening. Their stand-out feature is a wine selection of bourbon, whiskey and spirits.
Where to Stay in Kelowna
No matter your budget, you’ll be able to find some unique places to stay in Kelowna. Here are some of our recommendations:
Budget/Camping Accommodation in Kelowna
If you have camping equipment or travelling in a van, then Bear Creek Provincial Park is an ideal spot in West Kelowna. It’s a beautiful park with walking trails, a sandy beach located not far from some popular places to see in Kelowna.
The campground is open to the public from the end of March until mid-October. Over summer it can be extremely busy so booking ahead is essential. Camping fees are $35 per night per vehicle, with added fees for power. There are over 140 sites available, with all the facilities including hot showers, toilets, picnic areas and a playground.
Other Hotels in Kelowna
Comfort Suites Kelowna: A popular mid-range place to stay, this hotel features an indoor pool and hot tub and complimentary breakfast along with comfortable rooms. They’re a designated sustainable hotel property with outlined commitments to reducing their environmental impact.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Kelowna: A nice mid-range accommodation option located just east of the city centre. They offer free breakfast, high-speed internet and pet-friendly rooms, within close proximity to all the attractions in Kelowna.
Myra Canyon Lodge Ranch: For a very secluded stay within the Myra Canyon, this high-end lodge and ranch offer stylish self-catering suites just 30 minutes drive from Downtown. The nature retreat also offers plenty of activities including horse riding and biking.
How Long do you Need to Spend in Kelowna
As you see from above, there are so many places to see and things to do in Kelowna BC. You could easily spend 3-5 days in and around the city.
If you have less time to explore, you can simply spend the day in the city centre, discovering the beaches, city parks and delicious foodie scene. Otherwise, if you’re into outdoor activities, then you can certainly extend your stay to longer than a week.
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