Kelowna is nestled in wine country AKA the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. In fact, it is the HIDDEN GEM of Western Canada! Kelowna is home to delicious wineries, orchards with the freshest fruits you’ll find, and tons of fun activities including a drive-in theater and a free river float!
To be perfectly honest, we had never heard of Kelowna or the Okanagan Valley before we went to Canada. We had been exploring Canada’s National Parks and asking locals for their opinions on where to go next. Over and over, people kept saying we need to go to Kelowna! Not we ‘should’ go, we ‘NEED’ to go!
We are so so glad that we listened to the locals and made this our stop in between Jasper National Park and Vancouver. Side note, if you are interested in our guides to hiking and things to do in Canada’s National Parks:
We spent 3 days exploring Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley in Canada with our friends Matt & Sofia AKA Finglish Explorers. Each day provided new adventure that was so unique and special compared to the day before it!
Now, every time someone asks us what they should do in Canada, we always ask if they’ll be anywhere near the Okanagan. If so, this is a MUST stop. Now, let’s get to it, our guide on things to do in Kelowna BC:
Where is Kelowna?
Great question! Kelowna is nestled about halfway between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Crest. If you are driving between Vancouver and Calgary, you are probably going to pass right by it!
Being nestled between these mountain ranges, you might think Kelowna still has a high elevation and never gets warm. You would be wrong!
Kelowna is at just over 1,000 feet of elevation and gets absolutely BEAUTIFUL in the summer! We visited in late July and the weather was HOT! We are talking upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the heat of the day!
Needless to say, we were surprised to find these temperatures in Canada of all places. Doesn’t everyone play hockey here? Tough to play ice hockey in the summer heat of Kelowna, that is for sure.
We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!
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So what can you do in this heat? Well, you can grow some of the best fruit in the world. Especially grapes, meaning… yep, wine! Let’s go to a winery!
Best Winery in Kelowna – Off the Grid Winery
Off the Grid Winery was our favorite winery in all of the Okanagan Valley. In fact, this was the most unique and special winery we have ever been to! What made it so awesome? A few things!
First off, as you might have guessed by the name, this winery is completely off-grid. They get electrical power from a set of solar panels mounted on the roof of their building. They get water from a well deep beneath the grape fields.
On top of that, there are goats and sheep on site! Why? Well, so you can take pictures and post on your Instagram! That is one reason, but actually it isn’t the only one! The goats and sheep eat the weeds on the grounds and keep the grape vines healthy, and their manure is used as fertilizer for the plants!
Folks, we aren’t done yet. Off the Grid Winery’s building is insulated with items grown naturally on the grounds. You have to see it for yourself! There are so many unique ways in which this place went ‘Off the Grid’!
The second reason you have to visit Off the Grid Winery is because of the wine! The wine they serve onsite is absolutely delicious! We personally got the Gewurztraminer and the Ever After, the wine they specially make for on-site weddings!
Side Note: In the extremely rare case that you are reading this AND planning a wedding in Western Canada soon, this would be an epic place for a wedding!
Finally, the grounds and the view. You can explore the grounds when you visit, which is an awesome experience! Learn about the different grapes they grow, meet all the animals, and walk the grape vines.
And there is an incredible view from the winery itself! The view looks over all of Kelowna including the enormous Okanagan Lake! Do yourself a favor and check out Off the Grid Winery when you visit Kelowna.
Best Orchard in Kelowna – Kempf Orchards
Maybe the one thing that Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are known for is their orchards. If you have purchased cherries before, there is a pretty good chance that you’ve purchased cherries from the Okanagan Valley. Cherries from these orchards are sent worldwide and are known for their sweetness and excellent taste!
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Now, there are many options for orchards to visit in the Okanagan. Some let you pick your own, some don’t. Some are known for one breed of cherry, some have many! A few orchards even grow other fruits like peaches and apples. Our recommendation for which orchard to go to? Kempf Orchards.
Kempf Orchards is located right in the heart of Kelowna, and this orchard was everything we could have asked for and more. We were on the hunt for an orchard where we could pick our own cherries. We wanted to learn about the history of cherries in Kelowna and most of all, we wanted to have fun. Kempf was perfect for all of that.
Side Note: We could bring our pup Kobe along for the adventure! Call ahead to make sure dogs are okay, but we had an awesome experience with Kobe along for the ride!
The employees at Kempf Orchards were extremely helpful and answered any questions we had. They helped us pick our first few cherries, told us how to spot a ripe (and unripe) cherry, and how to pick them with the stem still attached! Fun fact: when you pick a cherry with the stem attached, it stays yummy longer…
We spent a few hours walking through the orchard and picking a few different breeds of cherries, sampling a few along the way (don’t tell on us…). We ended up with a few pounds that we got to munch on for the next few days! We highly recommend Kempf Orchards for your Kelowna experience.
Drive in Theater – Starlight Drive-In
Quick question: what is one piece of entertainment that you love but is going extinct?? Our answer: drive-in theaters!
We absolutely LOVE going to drive-in theaters. And we almost NEVER get to do them because there are fewer and fewer that exist! However, there is one in the Okanagan: the Starlight Drive-In.
There’s a few reasons we love all drive-ins, but specifically Starlight Drive-In. First off, they do double showings! And the showings always go hand-in-hand. If you love one of the movies, you are going to love the other one!
That is just smart to us. Why do one action movie and one cartoon? Do two cartoons one night and two action movies the next! Starlight knows this.
When we were there, it was a double showing of the live action Lion King and the live action Aladdin! Being children of the 90s, we could not have hand-picked movies we would rather go to!
Clothing We Love
You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!
A second reason we love drive-in theaters is the experience itself is so dang fun. We drove up, found a parking spot, grabbed some camping chairs, grabbed some of our favorite snacks and uncorked a bottle of wine! Was it the same wine we got at Off the Grid Winery… It was!
We even played some Spike Ball while we were waiting for the show to start. Can you think of a more fun night than playing spike ball before an outdoor showing of Lion King and Aladdin beneath the stars?? Sounds pretty unbeatable to us!
Floating the Penticton Channel
The Penticton Channel is on the south end of the Okanagan Lake and connects that lake with Skaha Lake. Fun fact: the channel was actually man-made in the 1950s to better control flooding in the area!
After the channel was built, locals began realizing how fun it was to float down! They came down in droves, all with their inflatables, and had hours of fun floating down the channel like a lazy river!
Lucky for us (and you!) the channel is still wide open for flotation and is absolutely FREE to use! Isn’t that great?? Some free family fun that is open for everyone!
Now, it is free to use, but you are going to need a flotation device. You can rent one from Coyote Cruises for about $20, however we recommend you purchase one ahead of time and bring it along. First off, it’ll be about the same price to buy versus rent, and then you get to keep the tube!
Also, you can do the float on multiple days if you’d like to, and purchasing a float will mean you can float the channel unlimited times while you are in the area! We did the float twice on back-to-back days, and had even more fun the second day than the first!
Tubes for Floating Penticton Channel
One Person Float
Two Person Float
When we floated the channel we personally rocked the two person float. However, if you have a party of 4 we recommend the group float for more fun! Plus you won’t have to worry about a tube floating off as you make your way down the channel.
Another benefit of the group float and the two person float is the space in the center for supplies! Of course, you could bring some refreshments (soda, beers or wine, whatever you’d like!) and snacks along to make your experience as fun as possible! We even saw a couple with a full charcuterie board on their tube… Next level!
We love to read, especially on a trip! We get our books on a Kindle so we can bring multiple books anywhere. Reading is a great way to relax and unwind while also getting caught up in a great story. We love everything from novels to self-help, business books to memoirs. Here are our favorites!
Camping in Kelowna BC
We were able to find free campsites to live the van life while in the Okanagan Valley! When you consider that we floated the Penticton Channel and camped for FREE, you can see how Kelowna could be a very cheap vacation destination! Just another reason we love this area.
We found all of our free campsites near Kelowna using the iOverlander app. This is a great crowd-sourced van life app that shows you free campsites in destinations around the world!
We also put together a fun video showing all of the adventure we had in the Okanagan Valley! Check it out and let us know what you think. We would also GREATLY appreciate if you would subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
Whether exploring the vineyards or floating the channel, you are probably going to want to get some pictures of your time in Kelowna! We use the following GoPro and drone to capture our adventures, and love them. These tools allow us to get new perspectives no matter what activity we are doing (and the GoPro is waterproof, great for underwater use!).
GoPro Hero 7 Black
GoPro Floating Handle
DJI Spark Drone
There you have it folks. Our guide on why you need to go to Kelowna BC, and how to have an epic Canadian adventure once you’re there. Enjoy the Okanagan Valley!
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