First of all I would like to draw attention to the fact that this is my first blog post WOOT WOOT! For those of you who don’t know, the Okanogan Valley is located in South-Eastern British Colombia.Set in a beautiful mountain valley surrounded by wineries, orchards, and turquoise lakes, in a place like this there is not shortage of things to do. This post will focus on two things lakes and wineries and two other really cool activities.
We stayed with friends who live in Vernon, about 45min from Kelowna, the two closest lakes to Vernon are the beautiful Kalamalka Lake and the Okanogan Lake, both are incredibly clean and surprisingly warm (or not surprising considering the constant heat waves). My absolute favourite is Kalamalka Lake, or as the locals call it, Kal lake. If you’re staying in Vernon, you’ll probably find yourself at Kal beach, which is a pretty nice sandy beach, although at peak hours it can get pretty crowded. The beach has washrooms/change-rooms and a small canteen where you can buy water, snacks, etc. If you’re wanting to rent a paddle board you’ll have to walk a few feet off the beach to Kalavida Surf Shop, here you can rent a paddle board for $15-70CAD depending on whether you want the board for a day or just an hour. I highly recommend renting a paddle board (but remember this is a long lake so if you’re planning on SUP-ing across it be prepared for a WORKOUT). I rented a paddle board for $25 for 1 hour (a cheaper inflatable SUP is $15 for 1hr), they’ll give you a life jacket (you don’t have to wear it but you do have to have one on the board) and paddle, tell you which board to grab and send you back down to the beach where all their boards will be leaning against the fence. This saves you from having to cart everything across the road! All of my equipment was new within two years, and in great condition, they help you size everything so it should all work comfortably, if not be sure to go back to the store immediately to remedy the issue.
Another really fun activity in Vernon that doesn’t involve wine or lakes (for when you’re too wined or lake-d out) is Bee Planet, they make their own honey and have so many different kinds! Orange-blossom, Clover, Lavender, and so many more! If honey, isn’t your thing they’ve also got mead, bees wax candles, bee pollen, and other bee related products. They’ve even got a window looking into a real working beehive if you’re interested in bee-coming (cheap joke I know) a bee voyeur.
While we’re on the topic of Vernon, I simply have to mention Davidsons Orchard, they’re family run and make the best peach pie and apple juice! If you’re travelling with young children (or just love animals like me) then make sure you head to the petting zoo in the back, they also have a little train that will take you around on a tour of the farm. While you are getting the peach pie, do not under any circumstances forget about the apple juice, I know what you’re thinking, ‘apple juice… really?’, but I guarantee this will be the best apple juice you will ever experience, in fact this apple juice will probably ruin you for all other apple juice!
On to wineries!! The first picture above is the view from my favourite winery, Grey Monk, if you love white wines this is for you, the Sauvignon Blanc is to die for, it’s their specialty and the winery is even named after it! I highly recommend going here for lunch, make sure to sit on the balcony that looks over the Okanogan lake and grape vines! The food here is just as good as the view, which is saying a lot! I had the Vegetarian trio and honestly it may have been one of the best things I have ever eaten! The stuffed mushroom was a perfect mix of mushroom and cheese, and the four-bean terrine was delightfully flavourful as well as protein packed. We also ordered a cheese plate as a starter and it more than lived up to expectations, so I highly recommend!
Silver Sage is another winery that I really love! It’s much farther South than Grey Monk, in the town of Oliver. They specialize in sweeter wines, and fun fact their wines are made with no sulphates, so no hangover! This winery does large tastings, all as a group opposed to smaller ones split up by your own group, but the sisters that run the winery are hilarious and will teach you about the wines as well as entertain you with anecdotes and stories. If you are staying in Vernon, or Kelowna, and don’t want to do the drive to Oliver, I would recommend that you do if only for the gorgeous views of the Lakes and orchards. If you drive from anywhere North of Oliver you will pass Tickleberry’s Ice-cream, and whatever you do not drive past them, pull over and get in line (there will be a line but it’s totally worth it) they have hundreds of flavours and give you massive portions!!
My final recommendation is the Kangaroo Creek Farm, just outside of Kelowna, this is an attraction that has been gaining a ton of attention in recent years. Here you can pet, kangaroos (even hold a joey), capybaras, mini ponies, sugar gliders, parrots, goats, pigs and so many more! Plan to get here early and spend a couple hours here as it can get pretty hot and most of the animals will be hiding/sleeping in the shade, like these little cuties above!