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Fairways among the fruit trees at The Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna

Strolling the vineyards at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Tree-ripened apples in one of the Okanagan’s many orchards

Valley views and powder at Big White Ski Resort, Kelowna

Grand Okanagan Lakefront Resort & Conference Centre, Kelowna

Farmers’ market at Davison Orchards Country Village near Vernon

Aboriginal dancers perform near Osoyoos Lake

The wine cellar at Kelowna’s Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

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Okanagan: British Columbia’s year-round leisure and adventure retreat

 Features:

 

  • explore the desert
  • Historic Kettle Valley Railway
  • Wine tours and festivals
  • Ice wine harvest
  • Winter sports
  • Okanagan events

Depending on who you ask, a mere mention of the Okanagan brings an array of activities to mind: golf, wine touring, skiing, spas, and cycling. This diverse region is a leisurely five-hour drive or quick one-hour flight from Vancouver, and there are plenty of reason to visit year round.

The Okanagan is composed of burgeoning cities such as Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops and Vernon, and delightful towns, including Naramata, Osoyoos and Oliver. Many are located by sparkling lakes or on rugged mountains. The fertile region heats up in the spring and summer months, and roadside orchards full of cherry, peach and apple trees burst into beautiful blossoms.

Vineyards also thrive in the Okanagan’s limestone slopes and sage-covered valleys. There are close to 200 wineries in the region, ranging from the grand Mission Hill Family Estate in Kelowna and Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Oliver, and friendly farm-style wineries, like Wild Goose Winery & Vineyards in Okanagan Falls. Visitors can take guided tours of wineries where they can sample wines (including decadent icewine) and learn about some of the 60-plus varieties of grapes grown here.

The town of Osoyoos is just minutes from the United States border. Not only is it home to NK’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal owned and operated winery in North America, it has the distinction of being located in Canada’s only desert. You can tour this patch of the Sonoran desert and explore its interesting ecosystem at the NK’Mip Desert & Heritage Centre.

The Okanagan landscape is also ideal for recreation. Bike paths, including parts of the historic Kettle Valley Railway, let visitors explore at an unhurried pace. Golfers will find an abundance of award-winning courses to occupy their time. The Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna lets people tee off amid fruit orchards. Guests at Predator Ridge Golf Resort in Vernon can relax in the on-site spa after a round of golf.

When the snow starts to fall families and thrill-seekers flock to the many mountain resorts to ski, snowboard and snowshoe. Apex Mountain Resort, which celebrates its 50-year anniversary in 2012, boasts a 610-metre vertical drop, and offers nighttime snowshoe tours under the glow of a full moon. Along with almost 3,000 acres of terrain, Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna has Canada’s largest ski-in and ski-out village and a new 18-metre ice-climbing tower.

 

Top places to go and things to do


1. Cycle the historic Kettle Valley Railway - Ride through tunnels, forests and vineyards on the scenic railway route.

2. Taste the Okanagan Valley’s terroir during the four seasons of wine festivals - Celebrate spring’s return, summer’s heat, the fall harvest and winter wine seminars

3. Celebrate winter sports at Big White - Explore the back country on a snowshoe tour, hit the slopes at night or let sled dogs do the work for an exhilarating experience.

 

See also: Wines in the Okanagan region