What to do in Kelowna BC: The Best Kelowna Guides for Every Season
I was born in Vancouver, BC but all my childhood memories are from growing up in Kelowna. Kelowna has been my hometown for the vast majority of my life and I will always consider it home. If you’ve never been to Kelowna, you simply have to visit. Kelowna the third-largest city in British Columbia with a population of 120,000 (estimate from 2015). Located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, the city is surrounded by big, beautiful mountains and a huge deep blue lake. Kelowna is a semi-arid desert so the air is dry, summers are super hot and winters can get quite cold. Due to this, Kelowna, BC, is simply gorgeous all year round and visitors can experience all four seasons in full bloom. Here’s what to do in Kelowna for EVERY SINGLE SEASON!
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A Bit of History: What does ‘Kelowna’ Mean and Whose Land am I On?
The word ‘Kelowna’ means grizzly bear and comes from the Okanagan language. The first people to live in Kelowna are part of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation. If you look on their website, you will see that the Syilx/Okanagan Nation is made up of seven different communities including the Okanagan Indian Band, Osoyoos Indian Band, Penticton Indian Band, Upper Nicola Band, Upper and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands, and Westbank First Nation along with the Colville Confederated Tribes in Northern Washington. If you want to learn more about the Syilx/Okanagan Nation please visit the timeline of history on their website and take some time to listen to their songs. To support the Syilx/Okanagan community directly, visit this shop on their website where you can buy a variety of books.
To learn more about Kelowna’s history you can check out this article.
Kelowna Tourism: Where to Stay in Kelowna
I lived in Kelowna from age 3 to age 24 and having family and friends visit from out of town I had the opportunity to check out a ton of hotels in Kelowna. Without a doubt I can say that the four nicest hotels to stay at in Kelowna are Manteo Resort, the Eldorado Hotel, The Cove Lakeside Resort, and The Delta Grand Hotel. All four of these hotels sit right on Okanagan Lake, have beautiful rooms, gorgeous views and more. If I absolutely had to pick favorites I would say Manteo Resort and The Cove.
My grandparents often stay at Manteo Resort when they come visit my family in Kelowna. It’s right on the lake, has a lovely swimming pool, and the colors of the buildings are all very inviting. I once went to a birthday party at Manteo and found out that they even have a private theatre that you can rent out!
My husband and I also visited The Cove together and had the best time. My parents booked the room for us since we had just gotten married and we were totally blown away. We thought we would be opening the door to see your standard hotel bed, maybe a mini-fridge, and a bathroom. Instead, we opened the door to a hotel suite complete with a kitchen, living room, and upstairs loft! The food at the restaurant there the next morning was also incredible. The Cove is in West Kelowna and a bit quieter than the other hotels due to its proximity to downtown.
One last hotel I would recommend, especially for young adults, is Hotel Zed. Hotel Zed is better for you if you are on a budget. I haven’t stayed there yet myself but I have eaten at the restaurant at their Victoria location and heard great things about staying there. It’s super colorful (perfect for getting some Instagram shots) and they have a pool, waterslide, hot tub, ping pong lounge, and more! They are also pet and motorcycle friendly.
If these hotels aren’t your style and you want to save some money, don’t worry. You can check out more accommodation options here. I’ll also be covering some good campgrounds in Kelowna as well down below. You can also skip ahead to the section on camping by going to the table of contents above.
What to do in Kelowna: Year-Round Activities
Kelowna is constantly expanding and so is its food scene. There really is something for everyone in Kelowna, especially downtown. It seems like new restaurants are popping up constantly! I’m vegetarian and I have still found there to be tons of choices for me as well.
Some of my favorite restaurants include Social 242, The Curious Cafe, Naked Cafe, La Lupita, Soy Fusion, and Zabb. These are honestly just a few of my favorites off the top of my head. There are tons of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Kelowna as well!
I also love how many cute cafes there are in Kelowna. Some of my favorites include Bean Scene, Bliss Bakery, and The Marmalade Cat Cafe. Plus I heard there’s a new vegan cafe that just opened called The Salty Caramel Kitchen and I can’t wait to try it out as well. There’s so much more to choose from than just those, but they’re a great place to start. Also, don’t forget to check out the Kelowna Farm to Table Guide. There are tons of restaurants, cafes, and wineries in there that source everything locally which is amazing.
If you’re like me, you also view hiking as a year-round activity. With all the beautiful mountains surrounding Kelowna, there’s really no end to the number of beautiful hikes you can enjoy. Rain, shine, or snow, some of the most popular hikes in Kelowna include Knox Mountain, Canyon Falls, Kelowna Mountain, and the Myra Canyon Trestles. If you’re willing to go for a bit of a drive or want more options, then check out this article I wrote for Explore Magazine on 10 of the Best Hikes Near Kelowna. By the way, one hike that didn’t make the list on Explore is called Scenic Canyon and you should definitely consider hiking there too. I honestly think it’s Kelowna’s most underrated hike and there are rarely any big crowds.
While I’m not much of a partier myself, there are lots of places downtown to grab a drink with your friends. My personal favorite is BNA Brewing. Since I’m not too into the party scene I don’t want to give out too many of my own recommendations because I just don’t have that many. However, you can check out this page on Kelowna’s Tourism website to find out more about clubs, bars, and other nightlife events on the calendar.
Kelowna Guides for Every Season
Click the pictures below for Kelowna guides curated for each specific season of the year!
Other Kelowna Posts to Help You Plan Your Trip
- 12 Kelowna Beaches to Visit this Summer
- The Most Underrated Hike in Kelowna: Scenic Canyon Regional Park
- The Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Kelowna BC