Kelowna is a Canadian oasis, offering long beaches, world-class wineries and outdoor adventure just an hour direct flight from Seattle. If Seattle’s soggy spring left you and your family craving hotter, drier climates, relief is on the horizon.
For around $350, you can fly direct from Seattle/Tacoma to Kelowna in beautiful British Columbia and be sipping cider by the lake in less time (about an hour) than it takes to drive the I-5 on the Fourth of July.
For road trip fans, the 311-mile drive from Seattle to Kelowna runs about four and a half hours.
No matter how you and the kids get there, BC’s Okanagan region is a natural getaway for those who enjoy the best of what the outdoors has to offer. If it’s time to get out of town, Kelowna can deliver everything you need from a vacation—with a few surprises.
Paul’s Tomb trail ends at a private beach where the kids can swim and play. Image Credit: Matt Ferguson
Best known for: Beaches and lakeside hikes
Kelowna is the largest city in the Okanagan and is located on the edge of the region’s most beautiful natural wonder, Okanagan Lake. Okanagan Lake spans 84 miles, and its shores are home to more than 30 beaches. A tangle of trails winds its way through the mountains that surround the lake, providing plenty of lookout points from which to take in the valley’s natural beauty.
Tip: Families should check out Paul’s Tomb trail, an easy 60-minute round-trip hike, or the curving path through Kalamoir Park. For something a little more zen, check out activities like stand-up paddle boarding or lake cruises at the Downtown Marina.
Best-kept secret: Cabin rentals
Beaver Lake Mountain Resort provides the quintessential family summer getaway—think campfire S’mores, trout fishing and dock leaping—with rustic log cabins situated on Beaver Lake as well as a back-country lodge. There’s also a campground on site, hiking and biking trails, and a petting zoo. Plus, there’s Wi-Fi, for those who don’t want to stray too far off the grid.
Tip: The resort features a wellness spa where you can enjoy various massages, reflexology, acupressure, a detoxifying sauna, kinesiology and more.
Journey over 18 historic trestle bridges and explore the history of the Kettle Valley Railway.
Best known for: The Kettle Valley Railway
No visit to Kelowna would be complete without a trek through Myra Canyon. This 15-mile portion of the historic Kettle Valley Railway hugs a steep-walled canyon and features two tunnels and 18 trestle bridges built by hand at the turn of the last century. Budget at least half a day to take in the spectacular scenery on two wheels with Myra Canyon Bike Rentals. Bike sizes for adults and kids, with tag-alongs and child trailers to pull the little ones.
Tip: Consider a guided cycle tour of downtown Kelowna with Giro Rentals, who will curate the perfect route for your family. If you like it the first day, why not go again? Their guides will take on you a different route each day!
Best kept secret: Kangaroo farm
No need for a flight to Australia; once you’ve disembarked from your direct flight to Kelowna, you can hop over to Kangaroo Creek Farm to visit with the park’s kangaroos and wallabies. In addition to these exotic creatures, the farm is home to peacocks, pot-bellied pigs, emus, capybaras and goats.
Tip: Leave your hotel or B&B early to take advantage of the farm’s early bird special from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., when adult admission is half price!
Kelowna’s warm climate makes it the ideal place to grow grapes, cherries, peaches, apples and more.
Best known for: Farm-fresh food
Noshing in Kelowna can be non-stop, thanks to the region’s unparalleled roadside stands showcasing fresh fare from farms, orchards, and gardens. Look for them everywhere! There’s also an abundance of restaurants and farm-to-table dining experiences.
Tip: If you’re feeling inspired, take the kids to any of the nearby U-Pick farms around the city. Harvest your own fruits and produce to take on a picnic or take it home to enjoy the flavours of Kelowna even after your trip has ended.
Best-kept secret: Honey and sweets
Get the sweet lowdown on honey at the tasting bar and immerse yourself in a true farm experience of grassroots beekeeping at Arlo’s Honey Farm. Nestled amid beautiful landscaping and lots of blooms to attract bees, get the buzz on pollinators and learn how garlic repels more than just vampires. Be sure to grab a gift in the gallery before you leave (choose from pure beeswax candles, honey recipe books, natural skin care products and more).
Tip: Watch for other winged creatures at Arlo’s: hummingbirds. The farm has recently added a Hummingbird Observation Area for viewing.
SpierHead Winery is one of many that invite families to enjoy entertainment and drinks.
Best known for: World-class wineries
Sorry Seattle, but you’re not the only savvy city when it comes to sipping. Kelowna is home to a keg-full of microbreweries, cideries and distilleries, and boasts more than 40 award-winning wineries. Book a guided tour or explore on your own; some even offer juice tastings for the kids to enjoy alongside their parents.
Tip: This summer, post and tag a photo from each winery, brewery or distillery you visit for a chance to win a case of local wine valued at $300. On Instagram: #SipKelowna + @TourismKelowna + location. On Twitter: #SipKelowna + @Tourism_Kelowna + location.
Best-kept secret: Summer in a can
After more than 80 years and three generations of growing, harvesting and shipping fruit such as apples, peaches, cherries and pears, BC Tree Fruits decided to “liquidate” its assets. The BC Tree Fruits Cider Company was created with one thing in mind: To hand-craft a premium hard cider from 100% B.C. fruit picked from the company’s orchard.
Tip: To continue your tour of Kelowna’s cider scene, pop into BC Tree Fruits Cider Company’s tasting room and share a glass with your significant other.