The Munro family is Calum 12¾, Greg 11½ and Kerry 8½, along with my better half Kenneth (I won’t give away his age!) We’d visited the Okanagan Valley before in winter to ski at Big White so we wanted to sample it in summer as we’d only heard fabulous things about the lake and the vineyards (that was enough for me!)
Part 2: Kelowna, Okanagan Valley – 31st July to 4th August
After our 9 nights in Whistler, we set off at 9am on day 10 to drive to Kelowna, 420km and approx. 5hrs 30mins away. We did it in 6hrs 15mins including a lunch stop in Lillooet. What a drive…it was awesome. A lot of the journey is through First Nations land, the scenic climbs are spectacular and the descent is awesome. The temperature in the car reached 105°f at one stage, so it was seriously hot here.
It was a long day, but we really enjoyed it. We stopped at a fruit market by the side of the road, served by locals who own the fruit farm, and it was the most delicious watermelon I’d ever tried along with juicy cherries. Quite a little find! We even saw the Rocky Mountaineer Train, which was quite exciting, along with lots of wildlife.
Our Hotel – The Delta Grand Okanagan, Kelowna
What a resort! We were actually staying in the Private Residence part of the Delta Grand resort which is all apartments. We had a 3 bed apartment which was massive and totally luxurious (the kids said it was too fancy!) but it meant we had a private pool for only this part and it had the most amazing view over Lake Okanagan. You could bring beers and cold drinks up to the deck, there was a fridge for storing food, cold drinks and ice and you could even order meal service. There were 3 large BBQs which you were free to use at any time, so it was awesome. The hotel had another pool and there were activities for the kids if they wanted to join in.
The Delta Okanagan Resort lies right on the Lake Okanagan, perfect for admiring and trying water sports. This was the chill out part to our trip so we enjoyed a few activities:
Kettle Valley River trail
Just 25 mins out of Kelowna in part of the Myra Canyon, a section of this historic disused railway line has been restored to a 12km each way cycle trail along 18 trestle bridges and 2 tunnels. The views were staggering, and while it felt like we were back in the OK Corral, we were amazed at how a railway line was ever built here in the early 1900s. We rented bikes at the car park and set off armed with plenty of water. The round trip took just under 2 hours and was really interesting. A lovely, local thing to do.
It is such a pretty city that you wouldn’t expect in the heart of Canada, and it is famed for its 1km long wooden waterfront boardwalk. The atmosphere was buzzing with lots of street entertainment at night and cyclists, runners and skateboarders during the day. The lake front here is chock-a-block with boat rentals, from strand up paddle boards, kayaks and jet pack boarding to full on power boats. It’s almost like the Monte Carlo of Canada. This is where the wealthy Canadians come to play in the summer!
There were great snack wagons along the front and play parks –it was really family friendly. Our kids played for an entire afternoon at Wibbit, a water play park like something you see on Total Wipe-Out… I resisted the urge and watched from the safety of my beach position! They had a lot of fun.
We ate out at lovely restaurants too –The Cactus Club Cafe at the Kelowna Yacht Club on the marina was very nice and great for people watching. There was an Earl’s, which always offers great Canadian food, a local Italian called Bordello’s and on the last night we barbecued on the pool deck.
There were some lovely shops in the main street including a Lululemon! Also just 5 minutes’ drive away was a big mall called orchard Springs with over 70 stores, where you can indulge in all the brands at Alberta tax-free prices
One of the highlights was going to a few vineyards. Just 10 minutes’ drive from our hotel in downtown Kelowna was Mission Hill Winery and Quails Gate Winery – both beautiful locations, stunning settings and with fabulous visitor centres. These vineyards make up part of the collection of wineries the Okanagan valley is renowned for and I was so impressed by the quality of these attractions.
We didn’t book a tour but had our own personal guide (Jim Loyd from Big White!) and we just turned up and wandered round. We bought testing vouchers allowing us to sample 5 different wines for $8, which you got back if you bought wine; it was $5 for 4 tastings at Quails Gate. You can book official tours and enjoy the full experience quite easily but with the kids it would have been too much. They both had nice visitor centres and you could enjoy the experience just the same.
There are local tours that run from downtown Kelowna that you can hop on each day and buses that drive round the various wineries, so it’s really affordable. And with over 28 local vineyards to sample, that’s quite a bit of tasting to do! It’s serious business in this region and it’s now well developed; we were talking to other tourists who said they’d been and done the California trails and they much preferred the Canadian Okanagan experience and wines! If it was just a couple on holiday, I’d recommend staying in a few different Okanagan places to really enjoy the most of the wineries, even Kelowna and Osoyoos would be a good mix.
We spent quite a bit of time at the pool in the hotel, especially from 3pm onwards, where the gentle breeze made it very bearable. But this was a place to relax, restaurants get busy at 8pm and the night vibe runs to past midnight, which I only saw once!
Kelowna to Vancouver – drive time 4 hours
A really easy drive as it’s highway for most of the way. The scenery is nice and for the most parts the roads are very straight. The only tricky part is cutting off to get to the airport to avoid driving through downtown Vancouver, but we only missed one sign and did a quick U-turn and were back on track in no time. There is a petrol station just at the approach to the vehicle rental drop off, so it was so easy to fill up the car before returning it to the depot. All too easy!
The flight home departed an hour late, but nothing major wrong and we made up time in the flight, landing in Glasgow at 10am. We got straight through customs, picked up our and we were in the house at 11am.
All in all, a magical holiday.
by Kathryn Munro