A Local’s Perspective: Must-Do’s in the Okanagan Valley

Take it from a local: the Okanagan is an incredible place with tons to offer. All too often, we do not appreciate everything that this beautiful valley has. Upon some reflection, I have decided to highlight some of my favourite places to go and things to do in the Okanagan Valley.

Wineries & Breweries

Maybe I’m biased because it’s my hometown, but I think most people will agree that the Oliver-Osoyoos region makes the best wine around. There is so much variety, and new wineries are popping up every year. Check out some of my personal favourites below.

Maverick Estate Winery, Oliver

Maverick has incredible wines, grown from the soils that used to support an organic fruit farm. They have clearly kept their practices and it shows – Maverick is one of my all-time favourites. Their wine is delicious and fairly priced. My personal favourite is their Sauvignon Blanc.

Black Hills Estate Winery, Oliver

Black Hills is a winery with a reputation. They are a bit more exclusive and their wines are definitely more expensive than most. However, the price is worth it for incredible wine. In particular, their reds (especially their Syrah and acclaimed Nota Bene) are exceptional. It will be hard to resist buying a bottle. While you’re there, you can order some of their flatbreads to accompany your wine tastings, which definitely won’t disappoint either!

Hester Creek Estate Winery, Oliver

Hester Creek provides a wide variety of good quality wine, both red and white. This is the place to go if you want a good choice, no matter what you pick, for a great price too. Best of all is their on-site restaurant, Terrafina. The food is absolutely amazing. Their charcuterie board is the best I have ever had in terms of the amount you get and the variety you get (meats, cheeses, veggies, bread, spreads…yummm). My personal favourite, though, is the Potato Truffle Pizza (seriously… when I die I want to be buried with this so I will go to heaven). And it’s not just me that thinks so: Terrafina is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Oliver. Do yourself a favour and order the pizza. I promise you won’t regret it, and it pairs well with many of Hester Creek’s wines.

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Here are some more of my top picks in the South Okanagan:

Liquidity Winery & Bistro, Okanagan Falls

Liquidity is a smaller winery that offers a good selection of wines. My personal favourite is their Bubbles. Though I am not really a champagne person, I found this one soft enough for me to thoroughly enjoy.  Their on-site bistro offers avant garde food selections that pair nicely with their wines.

Bad Tattoo Brewery, Penticton

Bad Tattoo produces some of the best beer. Hands down. (Trust me… I know this and I don’t even drink beer). That’s how popular their stuff is, especially the Los Meurtos Cerveza Negra. If you’re a beer drinker, I am certain that you will not be disappointed. You can order a flight to try samples of a variety of their beers. They also serve delicious pizza on-site in a variety of flavours, including a blueberry compote & blue cheese pizza (might sound weird, but it was delicious). I would definitely recommend checking this place out!

Elephant Island Orchard Wines, Naramata

Elephant Island has got to be one of my favourite wineries of all time. The people are so nice, they have a really relaxed atmosphere, and the wine shop is located in the middle of the orchard. Such a cool vibe. Plus, their wines are amazing, especially their fruit wines! All of them blow me away, but if I had to pick a favourite, I would probably go with the Black Currant or the Cherry. Sooo good.

Serendipity Winery, Naramata

Serendipity recently opened a new wine shop, which makes you feel like you are in a secluded Italian villa or something. Its super nice! They have a great selection of wine, but my favourite is their Rose. Seriously, it is the best Rose I have ever had. You have to give it a try!

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The Central Okanagan also has some great places. Here are some of my top picks:

Off the Grid Winery, West Kelowna

Off the Grid is a small winery that produces organic wine. They also have a small farm on-site, so it is very family friendly: goats, bunnies, and more roam around and can be pet by kids (and adults). They have a nice view over West Kelowna and an intimate tasting room. All of their wine is incredible, but the Pinot Gris is one of my favourites.

Quails Gate Winery, West Kelowna

Quails Gate is a very popular winery, and for good reason. The combination of friendly staff, delicious wine, an on-site restaurant, and an incredible view of the vineyard and the lake makes for a great tasting experience. Similar to Hester Creek, all of their wine is good quality and a good choice no matter what you pick. Spend some time roaming through the vineyards and admiring the lake view.

BNA Brewing Co. & Eatery, Kelowna

BNA is a recent development in Kelowna, and a great one at that. The Brewery makes their own beer in house, and offers tastings during the day. At night, the main portion of BNA becomes a popular hangout spot for locals. You can order a wide selection of drinks from the bar and spend time upstairs, downstairs, or on the patio. They offer beer, cocktails, wine, and a locally-inspired food menu. Very different vibe, especially when it gets late on the weekends.

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Restaurants

Akin to wineries and breweries, the Okanagan knows how to serve up some delicious cuisine. Apart from these suggestions, almost every winery restaurant will leave your mouth watering.

jojo’s café, Osoyoos

A great place for breakfast, jojo’s makes incredible coffee and breakfast sandwiches. It is a popular spot among locals, so try to swing by early before it gets busy.

Salty’s Beach House, Penticton

Salty’s serves up incredible seafood and delicious cocktails. The pirate-themed atmosphere doesn’t hurt, either. Their calamari cannot be beat, so make sure to give it a try.

Burger 55, Penticton

A unique place to get burgers in Penticton, Burger 55 gives you the option of building your own burger with a large variety of different toppings (including mac n cheese, etc). They are delicious and very filling.

Bliss Bakery, Peachland

Bliss has some of the best treats and coffee around. It is usually always busy, but it is well worth the wait. A great place to stop at if you’re driving from one end of the Okanagan to the other.

The Bohemian Café, Kelowna

Serving up a wide selection of options for brunch, the Boh is a popular spot for locals. The food is well worth the wait though!

Basil & Mint, Kelowna

One of the top restaurants in Kelowna, Basil & Mint offers incredibly delicious cuisine, great cocktails, and a great wine selection. The atmosphere is perfect for date night or a girl’s night. The seafood risotto is actually to die for. Sooo goooood.

RauDz Regional Table, Kelowna

Another one of the top restaurants in Kelowna, RauDz has incredible cuisine and a great wine selection. I would recommend trying the gnocchi, it’s amazing and you will probably end up licking the bowl clean.

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Activities

There are so many activites to do in the Okanagan that don’t revolve around eating or drinking, I promise – though they definitely aren’t as much fun 😉

Beach activities include spending time in the sand, taking a dip in the lake, boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more.

You can go hiking at one of the many surrounding mountains, or cycling down a mountain trail or along the KVR trestles. You can explore one of many parks. The skihills are always a good option too, for summer and for winter.

Even just going for a drive from Osoyoos to Kelowna will provide you with incredible scenery. It takes around two hours to get from Osoyoos to Kelowna, so it is easy to do a day trip.

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With all of these options in the beautiful Okanagan, it’s easy to understand why some people never want to leave! Check them out and let me know what you thought about these places and activities, or share your own recommendations with me below 🙂

 


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