Kelowna is a small city found in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. The Okanagan Valley is well known for its sunny weather, stunning scenery and views, award-winning wineries, hiking trails, fruit orchards and campsites -perfect for the outdoor types.
Downtown Kelowna itself is filled with great restaurants, cool bars, museums, art galleries, boutique shops and more. Located on Okanagan Lake, you can be sure that you will find plenty of fun things to do in Kelowna – such as fishing, boating, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, beach volleyball or swimming – something for everyone.
This is a guide on the best things to do in Kelowna BC and other travel tips.
Things to do in Kelowna BC
Kelowna offers suitable activities for people of all ages and budgets.
Visit the beaches of Lake Okanagan
There are several beaches to choose from around the lake, each with its own unique vibe and personality. Hot Sands Beach is a popular spot for soaking up the sunshine and Gyro Beach is a favourite due to its playground, volleyball courts, washrooms and snack shop. If you are travelling with a dog, head to Cedar Creek Park, the only dog-friendly beach in Kelowna.
Gyro Beach was my favourite beach in Kelowna because of the volleyball courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, snack venues and rental shops.
Is a large national park with abundant hiking and biking trails. Locals and visitors love Knox mountain, found just a few minutes from downtown Kelowna. Here you can hike, bike or drive up to the top of the mountain. From Knox Mountain, there are a number of panoramic viewpoints offering amazing views of Kelowna and Lake Okanagan. Don’t forget your camera.
Pauls Tomb is a great area to hang out by Lake Okanagan, located within Knox Mountain. From the base of Knox Mountain, you must hike approximately 1.5kms to reach Pauls Tomb. This is an easier hike in Kelowna.
Visit a winery
You can’t go to the Okanagan Valley and not visit a local winery, there are so many amazing wineries to choose from. There are over 200 wineries in the Okanagan Valley home and 30 wineries in Kelowna itself, all offering the finest local wines. Why not spend an afternoon winery hoping? Mission Hill is a great place to start.
Myra Canyon Trestles
Take the hike or bike up Myra Canyon to experience breathtaking views of the Canyon. This popular, well maintained and scenic portion of the former Kettle Valley Railway comprises 18 giant trestle bridges and two tunnels, features some amazing views over the lake. Stretching just over 12 kilometres, you can walk the popular portions of it or bike the whole way. You can rent bikes from Myra Canyon car park during the summer. This is a great activity to do from spring to fall and is recommended for the more athletic types.
An activity for the adventure seekers out there, but if you are on a backpackers budget, not to worry, there are plenty of other free activities in Kelowna.
Go boating on Lake Okanagan
Nothing beats a day on the water in beautiful Lake Okanagan. Boat rentals are available from a number of locations in town. Enjoy swimming off the boat or other water sports including tubing and water skiing.
Get adventurous on the water
Okanagan Lake offers every type of water sport you could think of – if you’re looking to get adventurous, try parasailing, jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or boating. You can rent kayaks, motorboats and other equipment from the main marina in town. The equipment rentals will include life jackets and a safety instruction and there are options for hourly or daily rentals.
Hike to Angel Springs
The four-kilometre journey to Angel Springs will expose you to fascinating mineral deposits and geological formations.
Hike Dilworth Mountain
This is an easy three-kilometre hike that will reward you with some great views of the city.
Pick your own fruit
Kelowna is well known for its perfect conditions for growing juicy and delicious fruit. If you want to experience the best selection of fruit in Kelowna, you should plan your trip for the mid to late summer from July to September. You’ll see orchards everywhere filled with ripe cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines and apples. Many of the local orchards allow you to pick your own fruit by the pound. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Take a waterfront walk
Follow the boardwalk along the waterfront from Waterfront Park, past City Park and all the way up to Gyro Beach – a total of 4kms one-way along a flat path. If you prefer a shorter walk start from Waterfront Park and walk to the bridge near City Park; this was the nicest section of the walk.
Camp at James Lake
James Lake is a campground and day use area located an hour out of Kelowna. We spent a week camping here and fell in love with the Lake. If you are camping around BC, make sure you check out my Guide on Camping Free in BC. James Lake was by far my favourite free campsite in BC.
Kelowna Farmers Markets
From 8 am to 1 pm every Wednesday and Saturday morning from April to November, you can check out the Kelowna Farmers’ Market off Springfield and Dilworth. This giant outdoor market features over 165 vendors and offers everything from local fruits and vegetables to local meats and dairy. It’s a great way to see what’s in season and to try out the very best local produce.
Ice Skating at Stuart Park
If you happen to be in Kelowna in the cooler months (December to February), then the place to be is skating outdoors at Stuart Park on Water Street. Open from 6 am to 11 pm every day, you can rent skates right on site and experience Kelowna’s largest outdoor ice skating park.
Recommended trip length
I recommend staying in Kelowna for 5 nights. You could easily spend longer exploring Kelowna if you had the time to spare!
Getting to and around Kelowna
Located approximately 400 kms (240 miles) from Vancouver and 600 kms (360 miles) from Calgary on Highway 97, Kelowna is easily accessible by air, bus and car.
Kelowna does have a small airport, however, I recommend flying into Calgary or Vancouver and driving to Kelowna. Not only will it be cheaper, but you will also see more of beautiful British Columbia.
Getting around Kelowna will be easiest with a car as attractions are spread out. Alternatively, a bike would be a great option. Kelowna also has a local bus service.
Where to stay in Kelowna
Kelowna offers a range of accommodation, whether you are looking for a simple and comfortable budget room or you want to treat yourself to a more luxurious stay.
For budget travellers, I recommend Samesun Backpackers. Centrally located in the heart of Kelowna, Samesun offers free breakfast and Wi-Fi for guests. The Samesun hostel is the most suitable option for backpackers in Kelowna.
Search for cheap accommodation options here.
Budget for Kelowna
$ – Expect to pay around $30 CAD for a bed in a hostel dorm room.
$$ – Expect to pay around $150 + CAD for mid-range hotel room.
$$$ – Expect to pay $500 CAD for a luxury hotel room.
Car hire starts from $60CAD per day in Kelowna.
You could survive on $15 per day for food if you cook your own meals. A meal in a restaurant will generally cost $15+, CAD – more for drinks.
Currency in Kelowna
The currency used in Kelowna is CAD – Canadian Dollars. Some businesses also accept USD.
Travel Insurance for Kelowna
Safety in Kelowna
Before setting off on a hiking or outdoor adventure in Kelowna, be sure to check the weather forecast and be aware of wildlife in the area. Bears are common and it is recommended that hikers carry bear spray. In winter, be aware of the snow and avalanche forecast as the area has a high risk. Always tell someone where you are going and carry a means of communication.
Vaccination for Kelowna
Check the Travel Doctor website to find out if you need any vaccinations for your trip to Kelowna.