Kelowna is the largest city in the tourist-oriented Okanagan Valley with a population of about 142,000 in the city, and 215,000 in the metropolitan area (2020). During the summer, Okanagan Lake is the main draw, this 135 km-long (84 mi) jewel is a big draw for boaters (power and sail), swimmers and kite-boarders; in addition, golf, hiking and biking are popular summer activities. In winter thousands of tourists come from all parts of the world to ski at Big White resort, which is 55 km (34 mi) from the city.
Kelowna produces wines that have received international recognition. Vineyards are common around and south of the city where the climate is ideal for the many wineries. Tourists also come in the Sep-Nov (mostly) to experience and taste the Okanagan's world-class wines from wineries throughout the valley.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Kelowna is classified as a humid continental climate or an inland oceanic climate, with dry, hot, sunny summers and cool, cloudy winters, and four seasons. Summers in Kelowna are hot (sometimes extremely hot) and sunny. Not unusually, heat waves occur in July, August, and even June and September on occasion, where temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) persist for weeks. During summer, clear, dry air allows night-time temperatures to fall rapidly. Kelowna has the second mildest winter of any non-coastal city in Canada, after neighboring Penticton, caused by the moderating effects of Okanagan Lake combined with mountains separating most of BC from the prairies. Weather conditions during December and January are characterized by persistent valley cloud as Okanagan Lake hardly ever freezes.
Highway 97 is the major highway through Kelowna, with Vernon and Highway 1 to the north, Penticton and Highway 3 to the south, and Merritt (via the Okanagan Connector, a.k.a. Highway 97C) to the west. Highway 33 provides secondary access to points south and east. It's a 4-5 hour drive from Vancouver via the Okanagan Connector, and 8-9 hours from Calgary.
- 1 Kelowna International Airport (YLW IATA), ☏ , email@example.com. Offers direct flights from several Canadian cities including Calgary (1 hour), Edmonton (1.25 hours), Toronto (4.5-4.75 hours), Vancouver (50-60 minutes), and Victoria (1 hour). Direct international flights to Kelowna include from Seattle (1-1.25 hours) and seasonally from Puerto Vallarta.
Canadian airlines operating to Kelowna:
- Air Canada, ☏ , toll-free: . Canada's largest airline with hubs in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. It operates across Canada and services international destinations.
- Air North, toll-free: . A regional airline operating flights within the Yukon and flights in Canada traveling to the Yukon.
- Air Transat, ☏ , toll-free: . Canada's third largest airline with some year round destinations and specializing in seasonal flights to vacation destinations (Europe in the summer and warmer, southern international destinations in the winter).
- Central Mountain Air, toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates flights mostly in British Columbia and to a lesser extent in Alberta. Edmonton, Prince George, and Vancouver effectively serve as hubs for the airline.
- Flair Airlines, toll-free: . A new low-cost airline with flights across much of Canada.
- Lynx Air, toll-free: , CustomerSupport@LynxAir.com. A small low-cost airline with flights to parts of Canada.
- Pacific Coastal Airlines, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Operates flights primarily in the south coast area of British Columbia with its hub in Vancouver.
- Sunwing Airlines, toll-free: . Low cost Canadian airline that operates some flights within Canada throughout the year and specializes in seasonal flights to warmer, southern international vacation destinations in the winter.
- Swoop, ☏ . WestJet's low-cost airline with flights to less-busy airports. Swoop charges a fee for new reservations or changes to reservations made over the phone.
- Westjet, toll-free: . Canada's second largest airline services with hubs in Calgary and Toronto. It operates across Canada and services international destinations.
Other airlines operating to Kelowna:
- Alaska Airlines, toll-free: . A major airline in the United States of America with flights across the country and to other parts of North America. Has hubs in Anchorage, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle.
- Ebus, toll-free: . Daily bus service on the following routes:
- Between Kelowna and Vancouver with stops in Merritt, Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Surrey. Travel time to Kelowna from Vancouver is 5.5 hours, from Abbotsford is 4.25 hours, and from Hope is 3 hours.
- Kamloops and Kelowna with stops in Chase, Sorrento, Salmon Arm, Enderby, Armstrong, and Vernon. Travel time to Kelowna from Kamloops is 2.5-3.25 hours (some trips do not stop between Vernon and Kamloops), from Salmon Arm is 1 hour 50 minutes, and from Vernon is 1 hour.
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Twice per week service between Kelowna and Osoyoos with stops in Summerland, Penticton, Okanagan Falls, and Oliver. This service provide also operates a route between Kaslo and Vancouver with a stop in Osoyoos.
- Silver City Stagelines Limited, email@example.com. Multiple days per week bus service between Trail and Kelowna with stops in Nelson, Castlegar, Christina Lake, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Midway, and Rock Creek. Travel time to Kelowna from Trail is 6 hours, from Nelson from is 5 hours, from Castlegar is 4.25 hours, and from Grand Forks is 3 hours.
There is no train service available to Kelowna however you can use the nearest train terminal in Kamloops (about 90 minutes north-west of Kelowna by car).
Traffic can be quite heavy on major roads in Kelowna during the summer months, especially at the approaches to the floating bridge. A lack of advance left turn traffic lights contributes to accidents at major intersections.
- Kelowna has an extensive network of bike lanes. Cyclists are advised to use bike lanes (when not obstructed by parked vehicles) and intersections with caution. Cycling on local highways is not recommended. See the City of Kelowna website for a detailed map.[dead link]
- There are several boat launches along the lakeshore with parking facilities. Be prepared to queue in the summer months. As for the lake itself, it can get crowded out there, especially with small watercraft.
- The downtown area is pedestrian-friendly, especially along the waterfront.
By public transit
- BC Transit (Kelowna Regional Transit System), ☏ . Operates bus service in Lake Country, Kelowna, Peachland, and West Kelowna. Most routes operate daily throughout the day. Best times to travel are early mornings and late afternoons on weekdays. High traffic routes (such as Lakeshore #1, University #8, Rutland #10 are the most efficient and numerous routes). Bus drivers are generally courteous and will on request call ahead to your next bus to facilitate a timely transfer. When school is in session, expect to miss a bus (or two) due to over-filled buses. Check the user website for more details and schedules. $2.50 cash fare as of 2022. .
- Bus route 97 is a limited stop frequent route. It travels between the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus (UBCO) and West Kelowna with stops in Rutland and downtown Kelowna. At most hours, it is the only option to cross Okanagan Lake between Kelowna, and West Kelowna and Peachland.
- BC Transit (South Okanagan-Similkameen Transit System), toll-free: . Operates bus route 70 from Monday to Friday between Penticton and Kelowna with stops in Summerland, Peachland, and West Kelowna. From Penticton, routes are available to Osoyoos and Princeton. Travel time to Kelowna from Penticton is 1 hour 20 minutes and from Summerland is 50 minutes.
- BC Transit (Vernon Regional Transit System), ☏ . Operates bus route 90 multiple times daily between Vernon and Kelowna (51 minutes).
By ride hailing
- Budget Car Rentals
- Enterprise Rent-a-Car
- Avis Car Rentals
- Discount Car and Truck Rentals
- McScoot's Motorcycle & Scooter Rentals
The Downtown Core is easily accessible with public transit as well as taxis and bicycles, once downtown you have two major parkades to choose from if you decide to drive yourself one is of Pandosy Street (the Verve Restaurant is in the first level) or at the library by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Station, so parking shouldn't be a chore.
The rush hour (usually 4:30PM-6PM) can be a challenge in the downtown core as well as on the main transportation arteries: Highway 97C, Highway 33, Lakeshore Rd.
- 1 Bertram Creek Regional Park, end of Lakeshore Rd. One of the best kept secrets of Kelowna is Bertram Park at the end of Lakeshore Road, with beautiful beaches and grassy areas to picnic on it is one of the most idyllic places in Kelowna, it offers BBQ's as well as change/wash rooms.
- 2 City Park (Downtown City Park), Abbott St at Leon (west of Abbott St between Bernard and Harvey, car access from the corner of Abbott & Leon). A great environment in the summer to sun tan, play and enjoy yourself, or be with your family at the playgrounds. The water and skate park offer a great time in the sun.
- 3 Gyro Beach Park, Lakeshore Rd & Swordy Rd. Enjoy the half submerged playground in summer -- you can let yourself slide along the rope into the lake within which you may come across our lake's resident the Ogopogo (we are not joking, Loch Ness isn't the only body of water with a lake monster [the term monster is used loosely]). If you see Ogopogo make sure to be friendly as it is his home you're swimming in ;).
- 4 Knox Mountain Park, Knox Mountain Rd (accessed from the end of Ellis St). 6AM-10PM; vehicle access only in summer M-Sa 9:30AM-9PM, Su noon-9PM. Large park and natural area north of Kelowna's downtown. The view from the top has great views of the valley, including downtown Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. There is a road most of the way up with parking, that is open in the summer. There are also many trails for walking and biking that lead to other viewpoints and Paul's Tomb, the only beach in the park.
- 5 Mission Creek Regional Park, 2363 Springfield Rd, ☏ (EECO Center). Open during daylight hours. Park set on both sides of Mission Creek. The EECO Center has environment exhibits and park information. The creekside trail has a fish ladder, an old homestead site, interpretive signs and a playground/picnic area. Salmon return to the spawning channel in Sept-Oct each year.
- 6 Stuart Park, Water St, between Mill & Doyle. 6AM-11PM. Waterfront park with some nice views. Notable for Bear Plaza and it's public art, and the outdoor skating rink in winter.
- 7 Waterfront Park, 1200 Water St. 6AM-10PM. Another park along downtown Kelowna's waterfront. It's well-maintained with a boardwalk along the waterfront, gardens, a sandy beach for swimming (Tugboat Beach) and seasonal concession stand and washroom facilities. There's also a bird sanctuary (Rotary Marsh) at the northern end.
- Another "best kept secret" is a beautiful beach located off Lakeshore in the Mission area. To get to it, turn down Truswell Road and take a left on Martin Road. If you walk keeping on the right to the end of Martin, you will come to a river. Turn right down a narrow bank alongside the river and walk along it for a short distance and you'll find and absolutely gorgeous beach frequented mainly by the younger crowd. If you bring beer or "other things" BC is famous for, be careful, as this beach is certainly not a secret to the police. This beach is referred to by locals as "Hidden Beach", often reduced to "Hidden", or "Skim Beach".
Wineries and wine tours have become popular things to do in Kelowna. There are over 20 wineries in Kelowna and the surrounding area, ranging from some of the biggest names in BC wine to small boutique wineries. The list below includes wineries that are in Kelowna only — several popular wineries associated with Kelowna, such as Mission Hill and Quail's Gate, are in neighbouring West Kelowna and covered there.
- 8 CedarCreek Estate Winery, 5445 Lakeshore Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tastings 10AM-7PM (July-Labour Day), short hours other times of the year; tours daily at 11AM, 1PM and 3PM May-Labour Day, by appointment at other times of the year. One of B.C.'c first 8 pioneering wineries, CedarCreek has also twice been named as Canada's Winery of the Year. Join in for wine tastings, winery tours or a meal at the 'Farm to Table' Vineyard Terrace Restaurant. The Vineyard Terrace Restaurant wraps around the wine shop and has views of the vineyard and Okanagan Lake. Open June 1- Sept 18, 2016. Daily: 11am for Lunch and Dinner. Tasting bar $5 (four tastings), tour $12. Private tours are available with advance notice.
- 9 Summerhill Pyramid Winery, 4870 Chute Lake Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . Tastings 9AM-6PM; tours at noon and 2PM. An organic winery that produces a variety of red, white and sparkling wines from grapes sourced from their vineyard and others in the Okanagan. Wine tours explain their organic methods and the role of the distinctive pyramid wine cellar. There is also an on-site bistro that is open for lunch and dinner Tues-Sun. Tour is $10 (includes four tastings).
- 10 The Vibrant Vine / Okanagan Villa Estate Winery, 3240 Pooley Rd, ☏ . 11AM-6PM May-Sept, 1PM-4PM Oct-Dec. Small but distinctive winery. The tasting room is a 3D experience with the art and vivid bottle labels all in 3D (glasses included for free). There's live music on summer weekends and a stage for theatre performances. The wines are mostly whites, with a couple of red blends. The WOOPS? label (a blend of several Okanagan varietals) won Best White Wine in The World 2013 at the World Wine Competition, Geneva.
- Explore: Kelowna Wine Trails and tour Mission Hill Winery, Quail's Gate Winery.
- 1 Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, accessed via McCulloch Rd (main entrance) or June Springs Rd. Home of the famous wooden trestles of the old Kettle Valley Railway, which were rebuilt after being burnt down. They provide a unique and beautiful view of the Kelowna area, and of the uninhabited areas surrounding it. These are about an hour's drive outside of Kelowna - up a dirt road.
- 2 Kelowna Rockets / Prospera Place, 1223 Water St, ☏ (box office), (team office). M-F 9:30AM-5:30PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. The Rockets are the local team in the Western Hockey League (players are 16-20 years old). Tickets can be purchased online or through the box office at Prospera Place, their home arena. $17-24 for a bowl seat (child/adult).
- Okanagan Sun football.
- 3 Knox Mountain Climb (two viewpoints). An annual hill climb is one of the highlights of this peak.
- Mission Creek Greenway.
- Swimming - many sand beaches great beaches. Some feature swimming platforms (Gellatly bay aquatic park) and swing lines (Gyro park).
- Bike and hike the local mountains (Kettle Valley, Myra Canyon, Knox Mountain) [dead link]
- Golf on any of the many great golf courses.
- Play Tennis
- Enjoy the Athletic Centers (Parkinson Recreation Center, Athens Recreation Center, Capital News Center).
- Sailing, Seadoo-ing and Boating on Okanagan Lake.
- Skateboarding/longboarding--the skateparks are average but lots of great hills
- Or the best yet... just be lazy and lay at the beach... or in winter in a jacuzzi surrounded by snow.
- Hangout in city park and walk along the boardwalk.
- See a Ballet Kelowna performance
- 4 H2O Adventure and Fitness Center, 4075 Gordon Dr Kelowna, BC V1W, ☏ . H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre is the largest municipally owned water park in Canada and features an Olympic-length 50-m pool, wave pool, river run, 3 water slides, children's water play area, and an ocean wave surf simulator. And, for the fitness enthusiast, a 12,000-square-foot cardio, weight equipment and exercise space await you.
The main industry in Kelowna is tourism, with its requisite offering of service industry jobs at or slightly above minimum wage. The local ski hill Big White offers winter employment for ski/board instructors, liftees, servers, and so on. With the boom in housing, there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople in the construction industry.
- Bernard Avenue (between Richter and Water Street) & the downtown area: Frock (vintage clothing), Olive & Elle (beautiful household items), Funktional
- Pandosy St at/around KLO Road
- Okanagan fruit tree co-operative, 816 Clement Avenue, Mon-Sat 9-5
- Kolu, Rosebuds consignments
- Orchard Park shopping centre
- 1 Bohemian Cafe, 524 Bernard Ave, ☏ . W-F 7:30AM-2:30PM, Sa 8:30AM-2:30PM, Su 8:30AM-2PM. Cafe that serves breakfast, soups and sandwiches. Focuses on local sourced ingredients and makes their own bagels and bread. Breakfast $5.50-16, lunch $7-17.
- 2 Lake Tai Vegetarian Restaurant, 1958 Kirschner Rd, ☏ . M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 12:30PM-9PM. Awesome little Taiwanese vegetarian restaurant serving light, healthy meals even carnivores will love. Almost all dishes are also vegan and gluten-free. Also serves wide selection of teas, bubble tea. Incredibly nice people, great service. Accepts credit cards. Try the honey crispy bean! $10-15.
- 3 Mad Mango Cafe, 551 Bernard Ave (across the street from the bargain shop on Bernard), ☏ . Tu-Sa 7:30AM-6PM, Su 7:30AM-5PM. Small and popular cafe that serves a mix of Asian cuisine — won ton soup, pho, Malaysian curries, sweet and sour rice and vermicelli noodles — as well as a small selection of sandwiches and breakfast items. $4-7.50.
- 4 Subcity Donair, 1007 Rutland Rd N, ☏ . 9AM-9PM. Local Subway or Quizno's style of restaurant with locations downtown and around the city. Offers chicken and beef donairs, small selection of subs, and fries and other sides. $7-10 for a donair or sub.
- The Marmalade Cat cafe, #103-2903 Pandosy St, ☏ .
- Bai Tong Thai food - On 275 Bernard Avenue, one of Kelowna's best Thai food places!
- 5 Memphis Blues, 289 Bernard Ave, ☏ . A fantastic BBQ house, close to the water in downtown Kelowna.
- O-Zeki Japanese.
- 6 RauDZ Regional Table, 1560 Water St, ☏ . 5-10PM. Popular and well regarded bistro. Dishes focus mostly on BC seafood or meat from BC or Alberta. Seating is varied — there's one long communal table or you can choose a more traditional booth seat. Mains $16-32.
- Chop Steakhouse & Bar. Steak, seafood & drinks for a special night out.
- The Fixx.
- Gulfstream Restaurant. Steak
- Mon Thong.
- 7 Bouchons Bistro, 1180 Sunset Dr #105, ☏ . 5:30PM-10:30PM. Elegant French restaurant with many French classics — bouillabaisse, cassoulet, foie gras, duck confit, rabbit, lamb Provinçale and pommes frites. There's also a weekly "Chef's Table", a three-course fixed price menu. Mains $23-40, Chef's Table menu $45.
- The Rotten Grape.
- La Bussola Restaurant.
- Waterfront Restaurant.
Pubs close at 1AM and clubs at 2AM.
- The Grateful Fed, Bernard Ave, the main strip downtown, and has live music in the later evenings, with pub/deli style eats and drinks, and a patio in the warmer months.
- Flashbacks Nightclub on Ellis Street (Close to Prospera Place)
- The Blue Gator A Blues Club located on Lawrence Street. Has an outdoor sidewalk patio where you can eat/drink.
- 97 Street Pub At the intersection of Hwy 97 and Leckie Road (Beside the Best Western Hotel)
- Doc Willoughby's Downtown Pub, 353 Bernard Ave.
- Skinny Duke's Glorious Emporium (https://www.skinnydukes.com/), 1481 Water Street.
- Tonics Pub, Ellis Street. Good food, and great prices on drinks. Nice atmosphere and friendly, helpful staff.
If you will be staying in Kelowna between May and September, book your accommodations well in advance, especially for weekends.
- 1 Kelowna International Hostel, 2343 Pandosy St, ☏ , email@example.com. The recommended of the two hostels in town. Interesting atmosphere, not overcrowded. There are 4-bed dorm rooms and a small number of private rooms for 1-2 people. Bedding and towels are provided and rooms have lockers for each guest. It has a limited number of beds, however, so it's easiest to book ahead. Office hours are 7AM-11PM. $25 dorm, $60 private.
- 2 Kelowna Okanagan Lake Hostel, 730 Bernard Ave (Intersection of Bernard and Richter Street Kelowna), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A comfortable hostel in downtown. Great for downtown shopping and beach strolling. Dorm rooms and some private rooms. Office hours are 8AM-9PM. $26 dorm, $49-84 private. Rates are higher May-Aug and on holidays.
- 3 Samesun Backpacker's Lodge, 245 Harvey Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Clean with good facilities and a very friendly party atmosphere. Outdoor courtyard area with DJs, BBQs and a pool in the summer. Daily activities year round. 4-8 bed dorm rooms and some private rooms. $27-29 dorm, $69-79 private.
- Best Western Inn Kelowna, ☏ . 2402 Highway 97 N.
- Days Inn Kelowna, ☏ . 2649 Highway 97 N,
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, 1655 Powick Road, ☏ .
- The Hopeless Romantic Bed and Breakfast, 735 Lone Pine Drive, ☏ .
- 4 Ramada Hotel & Conference Centre, 2170 Harvey Avenue, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Across from the Okanagan's largest shopping centre; features 135 upgraded (as of 2015) 100% non-smoking guest rooms and suites. Indoor pool, hot tub and an upgraded fitness room. Complimentary Wi-Fi and guest parking. Perkin's Family Restaurant and Bakery, Mickie's Sports Pub and Summer Patio and Kelowna's only drive-through cold beer, wine and spirits store on premises.
- 5 Delta Grand Okanagan Resort, 1310 Water St, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Large hotel and conference center on Okanagan Lake. There are over 350 rooms, ranging from the standard two queen beds to suites with a whirlpool. The hotel includes a pool and fitness center. $350 and up in summer.
Kelowna is a growing city and therefore has its growing pains, with these come the following recommendations; avoid Leon & Lawrence Avenues between Water and Ellis during night time. City Park at night is patrolled, however can be somewhat dodgy after hours too. Be cautious when visiting the other local parks and beaches during the evening as well as they are known for transients and illegal activity.
As long as you keep yourself aware of your surroundings, you will be fine.
In summer, the city is also prone to forest fires, having suffered large fires in 2003 and 2009. Depending on the season, there may be campfire bans or parks may be closed.
- West Kelowna - If you're looking to round your wine experience, West Kelowna on the other side of Okanagan Lake via Hwy 97, is a good place to stop. It is home to some of the valley's best known wineries like Mission Hill, Mount Boucherie and Quail's Gate.
- Penticton - 45-60 minutes south of Kelowna is Penticton, another popular summer vacation spot with loads to do. Hang out at a beach, float down a canal, rock climbing, walking and biking trails are all within the city. There are also many wineries in the area.
- Peachland - A small community on the west side of Okanagan Lake between Kelowna and Penticton. The waterfront has a number of beaches while the hillside affords views of the lake and valley. There are also many walking trails along the waterfront, up the hillside and through Hardy Falls Regional Park.
- Vernon - About 45 minutes north of Kelowna along Hwy 97, Vernon is a smaller quieter but still popular holiday destination. Highlights include the many parks that offer swimming, walking and hiking trails, a handful of wineries, and Predator Ridge, an acclaimed golf resort.
- Big White — Ski resort and village southeast of Kelowna via Hwy 33. It lays claim to having to more ski-in ski-out accommodation than any other resort in British Columbia. Summer activities include hiking and sightseeing.
|Routes through Kelowna|
|Vernon ← Lake Country ←||N S||→ West Kelowna → Penticton / Merritt via|
|END ←||W E||→ Big White → Rock Creek|