Kelowna is a summer hotspot, but winter doesn’t bring on the frigid temperatures like it does in Toronto. In fact, some of the best Kelowna has to offer can only be experienced in snow season. Plus, you can catch a direct flight from Toronto to the Kelowna International Airport.
From Big White Ski Resort to winter wine tasting, here are the best activities to get you and your BFF hyped for a trip to K-town this winter.
1. Experience the great outdoors at Big White Ski Resort
Eager to hit the slopes and get your ski on? Look no further than the 7,355 acres of impeccable terrain that is Big White Ski Resort.
Less than an hour away from Kelowna, Big White is the perfect place to spend the day and get your ultimate dose of Okanagan champagne powder. Plus, if you fly through WestJet or Alaska Airlines, you can snag a free ski pass at Big White for the day you arrive! Just drop your bags off at your hotel in Kelowna and then head up the mountain.
Carve up as many of the of the 119 trails as you can, catch some air at the TELUS Park jumps and hit the Big White Tube Park for some truly Canadian winter fun.
2. Snowshoe the Kettle Valley Railway trail
Some of the most scenic portions of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) run through the Okanagan and are easily accessible from Kelowna. Grab your snowshoes or winter boots and head up to Myra Canyon to take in the spectacular views of the valley from the KVR trestles.
The steep-walled canyon features two impressive tunnels and 18 trestle bridges, and the trail is marked with info on the KVR’s construction and the natural world it runs through.
We recommend stopping by a nearby winery afterwards to warm up, as you and your friends can easily spend half a day outside exploring this trail. Check out House of Rose Winery if you want to pick up something for the folks back home – their playful wines like Cool Splash, Senior Moment and Rose-eh! make for great gifts!
3. Winter winery hop along the Scenic Sip
Good news, wine lovers: winter doesn’t mean the end of wine tasting. In fact, many of the Okanagan’s best wineries keep their doors open all year.
We love the group of Lake Country Scenic Sip wineries in particular, all conveniently located along the same lakefront path (which equals awesome, Instagrammable views, too). Scenic Sip locations include: Ancient Hill Estate Winery, Blind Tiger Vineyards, The Chase Wines, Arrowleaf Cellars, Ex Nihilo Vineyards, Gray Monk Estate Winery, Intrigue Wines and 50th Parallel Estate. Phew, that’s a big list. Take a Bingo approach and see how many you can hit in a row if you feel overwhelmed by the options, or book a wine tour in Lake Country to get a curated sample. Sip Happens offers a three-hour tour (called “The Winter Sip Disturber,” of course) through four different wineries that’s available throughout the winter.
4. Sample the urban breweries
Not feeling the grapes? How about a lil hops and barley? Kelowna boasts a bunch of urban breweries right in the downtown center, very conveniently within walking distance of each other.
Start with a brew and a handcrafted pizza at Tree Brewing Co., roll to Kettle River Brewing in the northeast end for some live local music, scoot over to Richter street to try new-kid-on-the-block Vice & Virtue and then make your way to BNA Brewing Co., the biggest tasting room in town. With arcade games, bocce ball and a full-scale bowling alley on the second floor, it’s the perfect place to close the night down.
5. Taste the Okanagan at local favourites
You can’t go to Kelowna and not sample the delicious local food, period. The Okanagan is home to hundreds of acres of farmland, producing everything from cheese, to honey, to its infamous peaches.
Kelowna is celebrated for its farm-to-table scene, too. The farmers and chefs in this area are tight, which means the delicious produce you see growing on farms around the city is the often same produce that makes its way onto your plate.
Many local restaurants take full advantage of the bounty with a farm-to-table approach to their menu. Hit up local favourites like Basil & Mint – their house-made duck liver paté is a slice of heaven – or Smack DAB at Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotels & Villas. Be sure to try their truffle spaghetti and meatballs with whipped ricotta. Trust us, it’s to die for.
6. Hit the town
Have you even really visited a city if you haven’t busted a move at a local watering hole? We don’t think so.
Kelowna nightlife in the winter is just as lively as its warm-weather counterpart. Check out the Live Music Happy Hour at Sandhill Estate Winery on Fridays. Put your pinky up at Oak + Cru at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort while sipping on a Sazerac or a Manhattan. Or stop by the newly opened CRAFT Beer Market to sample their truly staggering tap selection.
Yes, Kelowna is a bumping summer hotspot – but the onset of winter doesn’t mean the end of fun.
Whether carving fine lines on a mountain, filling your belly with wine and farm-to-table eats, or getting the grand tour of the local craft beer scene is your bag, Kelowna makes for the perfect winter getaway for you and your pals.
So grab your friends and make your way to the hub of the Okanagan. Good times await!